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Former Philadelphian Back for a Visit - Need Food Advice

I lived in Philly when I was young and poor. Moved away in 2005. I am now going back for a weekend and need advice on where to eat. I have become a semi-foodie and would like to know where are must-eats these days. Still not rich, so I am not looking at Le Bec Fin here, but I am willing to spend a bit of dough. If you would be so kind, please give your input on the following:

1. Breakfast/Brunch options
2. Dinners (used to love La Viola and Monks. How are they these days? I am all about gastro pubs. Interested in checking out some of the neighborhoods that came up since 2005 like East Falls or Northern Liberties)
3. Cocktails (up for anyplace that I won't have to stand in line outside. I love anything from fancy cocktails to beer at dive bars)

Thanks so much for your time!

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  1. 1. Sabrina's both locations are great italian market & near the art museum area, Honey's in Northern Liberties.
    2. Depends what you want for dinner lots of great BYOB, La viola is ok still, you have Zahav for mediterrean near 3rd and walnut, Any Jose Garces restaurant is a must, Amada, Distrito, Villa di Roma if you want Italian, Pub & Kitchen is good bet for a gastropub food, resurrection ale house in grays ferry is a good bet
    3. I would do R2L for the view and the cocktails can't go wrong there it's a fairly new restaurant, you do have to get dressed up

    1. Dec 17th ranking of gastro pubs. So many choices so little time. Try reading some earlier threads. I would suggest Zahav or Tria at either location for small plates. You are a few click away from many choices and conversations regarding same in previous threads.

      Have fun eating Philly!

      1. For #1, I'd go with Cafe Estelle or Kanella (BYOB, Greek Cypriot, 10th and Spruce)
        Actually, I'd put Kanella in #2 as well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: urbanfabric

          +1 for kanella- their breakfast is my favorite and visitors from out of town always request that we go here. dinners good too

        2. PhillyMag's top 50 restaurant list just came out. Of course it's controversial but is a good start.

          There is a new and well received gastropub in East Falls, Fork & Barrel, but otherwise there isn't really anything to do/eat/drink of note in East Falls. Besides NoLibs, check out East Passyunk Ave between Dickinson and Broad in South Philly, you will be really impressed I think. Lots of good restaurants and pubs down there now. 13th Street between Chestnut and Walnut is totally revitalized, too, with many good eats. Girard Ave at Frankford and further up has also come a very long way with some great bars and eats, but isn't as fun to stroll as Passyunk or 13th St.

          I'd skip La Viola and Monks, there are definitely better Italian restaurants and gastropubs around now. Too much good Italian to name but if a place with a bar is ok, you could check out Le Virtu at the foot of East Passyunk if you go down there.

          For gastropubs, check out this thread:

          You could make a whole trip out of eating at gastropubs, and see a lot of the neighborhoods.

          For cocktails, the three top spots are The Franklin, Ranstead Room, and Chick's. You might have to wait a little for the first two during peak times on weekends, but other than that you'd be fine. I've never seen Chick's get to that point.

          1. Two words: Village Whiskey. Best burger I've EVER had and fantastic cocktails. Go at a weird time tho, it's tiny (I recommend Sunday or Saturday at 3 pm).

            1. Can I chime in and recommend Southwark on 4th and Baimbridge? Awesome food and very very excellent cocktails. Welcome back, hope you enjoy your visit.

              1. + 2 for Le Virtu. Although I also like La Viola, Branzino.

                Village Whiskey does have best burger, but I've had the burger at his new place in the Cira Center and think it's just about as good if not same and no crowd (no egg option, but for plain burger it's good.)

                1. If you are into neighborhoods, you might get a kick out of the Jazz/Blues BBQ that Le Cochon Noir delivers in the Parkside area of West Philly. Off the beaten path, but a great place to get real dry-rubbed smoked ribs or check out the Blues brunch with some chicken and waffles and grits.

                  It's pretty unique for the area, and the most authentic BBQ (ribs) I have found in the area.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: phillyjazz

                    If you are into gastropubs, go to South Philly Tap Room, between 15th and 6th on Mifflin Street. Eat from the special menu. Drink an incredible selection of beer. It is hard to beat this place. It doesn't have the bullshittiness of places like Village Whiskey - and has a completely different burger, and as I say, eat from the special menu.

                    Tap Room
                    10 Palmer Sq E, Princeton, NJ 08542