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Help with a 1st Timer in Philly

My girlfriend and I will be venturing to Philly for 2 nights December 20-22. We are looking for places to eat and really have no idea as to where to go. Neither of us have been to Philly and this will be the final stop in our trip from Charleston(home)>DC>NYC>Boston>Home. I have the following ideas in mind...

--BYOB Restaurant for dinner - new american, nothing too expensive, but good food. Entrees under $30?
--Philly Cheesesteak - cliche, i know, but I love them and i'll be damned if I leave Philly without one
--Chinatown? We love dim sum and all chinese food

We are big foodies and like just about everything, we're not too picky but we don't want the run of the mill dining experience, we'd like to experience local places that are big on farm to table. Chain restaurants are no go's for us. Given the trip's length I know we're really limited and because we aren't on a spending spree our budget is limited, but we want to enjoy ourselves.

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1. Fond on E Passyunk Ave. in South Philly. We have a few excellent New American BYOs, this is my favorite. Entrees are all in the $20s. Farm to table isn't their raison d'etre or anything but they usually list the source of the main ingredients on the menu. Most places in Philly that trumpet their farm to table cred are not that good. Bistro 7 is another excellent one, the prices are slightly higher than Fond and I do prefer Fond. Sonata is another good place, I haven't been there since they opened but it was very good at the time and they just got a good review. It's very slightly less expensive than Fond.

    2. Please skip the cheesesteak and get an Arista from Paesano's at 9th and Christian.

    3. Han Dynasty in old city is the best Chinese in the city that I know of. We don't have any excellent dim sum here, but I'm not a big fan of dim sum to begin with so I'm biased. If you want to try something you probably won't find at any other stops along your trip, Rangoon in Chinatown is Burmese food and is excellent.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Buckethead

      I agree with Buckethead about Paesano's Arista sandwich, get it and walk across the street to George's just below Christian on 9th and get a cheesesteak if you must!

    2. 3. Rangoon, absolutely. There's a lot of great Chinese places, but if you really want something not run of the mill, it's one of the most unique places we have to offer - and I really believe one of our best as well.

      1. For the BYO, I highly recommend either Matyson (New American w/global influences), or Bibou (French). Matyson has a fantastic weeknight (M-TH) prix fixe for $45. It changes every week and is based around some theme, often seasonal. The food is consistently excellent.

        I second Rangoon for the second dinner. Burmese is sort of a cross between Thai and Indian, quite unique, very delicious, and very reasonably priced.

        Another great Philly place to check out during the day is Reading Terminal Market - a giant indoor market with a mix of prepared food and grocery stand. You can get the classic Philly roast pork sandwich with greens and provolone there from DiNic's (much better than a cheesesteak, and just as Philly).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

          I agree that Rangoon is a good choice, but if you are a fan of soup dumplings stop at Dim Sum Garden (a dive on 11th street between Market and Arch) or Sakura Mandarin right up at 11th and Race. They are exceptional. Both places also have good scallion pancakes and I recently had great hand drawn noodles from Dim Sum Garden.

        2. 1. Matyson would be my pick. Tasting menu or regular (when I go with the SO usually one of us gets the tasting and the other does selections from the regular.)

          2. I like Jim's on South Street, if you must do the cheesesteak thing. Better pick would be roast pork from DiNics in Reading Terminal Market.

          3. I always loved Kingdom of Vegetarians all-you-can-eat dim sum, even for non-vegetarians. Otherwise in Chinatown love Vietnam Palace and Rangoon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sockii

            I concur with your choice of Matyson. Four course tasting menu for $45 each and very high quality.

          2. This may give you some places to find a good cheesesteak.

            http://www.philly.com/philly/restaura...

            Done in 2002 and by four college kids, they did hit some of the good places. As a lowly pizza steak (tomato sauce and provolone) lover I am not worthy to comment on cheese steaks but only to give directions to information regarding same.