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Mar 15, 2011 10:04 AM

3 days in Philly, good food choices?

Hi there,

So excited to visit your beautiful city from Toronto in May. We are both foodies so of course already planning what to eat. Below is our itinery, would love some feedback. We will be staying at the Penns View Hotel so if you have better dinner suggestions near that area, we are open!

Monday arrive at night, will grab cheesesteak from Jims or Campos due to vicinity (which do you think is better?). If not too full, Franklin Fountain for some ice cream action.

Tuesday we will be checking out the sights and plan to have lunch at Beau Monde and dinner at Friday, Saturday, Sunday (love the cheap wine!)

Wednesday will be a full day shopping and eating in the area of Reading Terminal. Think we might hit it in the morning for brekkie at the Dutch Eating Place (pancakes and apple dumplings)
and then LINNER (lunch/dinner) mid afternoon at DiNics (roast pork) and whatever else catches our eye. WIll take some snacky things back to the hotel for later.

Thursday we are heading to the Philadelphia Outlet Mall and then on to Lancaster for the night. We were thinking Honey's Sit and Eat (I think that is the name) for Brekkie before heading out of town and then hitting Dienners smorgasbord for dinner on our way to the hotel.

Friday we head home to Toronto (boo hoo!)

Would love some feedback :)

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  1. Welcome to Philly!

    I think that Campos is better than Jims but I'm not enthrallyed with either of them to be honest with you.

    Wednesday sounds like my kind of day. You will want to "check in" at DiNic's shortly after lunch to make sure they are not running out of pork (or whatever you had in mind) that day because it happens now and then.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bluehensfan

      Thanks Bluehensfan, where would you go for an authentic philly cheesesteak? I know it is a very personal preference and I have read so many differing views. If there is a good option in the reading terminal, maybe we can get both the roast pork and a cheesesteak and share. Leaves us with Monday night open to check out Buddakan, Continental or Percy's BBQ which were all restaurants I was interested in checking out.

      1 Atlantic Ocean Unit 3108, Atlantic City, NJ 08401

      1. re: Louise4071

        "Buddakan, Continental or Percy's BBQ"

        I would say that if you're coming here to eat our best food, No, No, and No.

    2. OK:

      Monday: I'd skip the cheesesteak and go to Zahav, it's right near your hotel and is (IMO) the city's best, most interesting restaurant. Also, your plan already includes Philly's good sandwich: the roast pork with rabe and provolone.

      Tuesday: I'd skip both of those places, neither is good enough to warrant a trip if you're just visiting. Lunch options are numerous but I'd go to Amada, it's near your hotel and does a great lunch:

      I like Fri Sat Sun's wine pricing but you know what's better than $10 over cost? At cost. Due to our ridiculous liquor laws, restaurants pay retail prices for their wine, so when they say their wine list is $10 over cost, that means over the cost you'd pay in the store.

      I'd grab a bottle at one of our literally several horrible wine stores and go to a great BYO for dinner. My favorites in the city are Kanella, Bibou, Fond, and Koo Zee Doo. KZD and Fond may be a little far off the beaten path for you, and Bibou is a tough reservation even two months out. Any of those places would be great.

      Wednesday: I like the RTM but it's not that big, you can see the whole place twice over in a couple hours. Your food picks there are good but I'd move Linner to Lunch and plan to do something else for dinner later. My pick for that would be Barbuzzo, it's in the same general area as RTM and is fantastic Italian-inspired food. It's super-hot right now but you can probably call them to make a res. for your visit since it's so far in advance.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        Not to confuse things. I love Zahav, especially when you get the prixe fixe with the lamb shoulder. It's a lot of food though. Amada is great for small plates and I actully really like the brisket at Percy Street and the desserts there. Skip Buddakan and Continental but if you must do a Starr restaurant I'd eat at Parc. And I know I am in the minority here but Barbuzzo (except for the antipasti and the budino) did not bowl me over.

        1. re: bluehensfan

          I don't think my reply went through so I will try again.

          The prix fixe looks amazing. Is it too much food for just 2 people? Granted we are good eaters and I love me some lamb!

          1. re: Louise4071

            I prefer the prix fixe that doesn't include the lamb shoulder, it includes more of the mezze small plates so you get to taste more variety. The lamb is a lot for 2 people, also, and you won't be able to take leftovers home.

        2. re: Buckethead

          Buckethead's advice is great. I do agree with bluehensfan that the brisket at Percy St is something special, it is a very good example of Texas-style BBQ. Coming to Phila from Canada to eat Texas style BBQ is a bit weird, though, and the rest of the meats don't really do it for me.

          It seems we have been getting a lot of visitors from Toronto recently, is it something to do with being the last two cities in North America to still use subway tokens?

          1. re: barryg

            I thought Percy's looked damn good. Not authentically Philly but hard to get good bbq in Canada. Not sure why the influx of Torontonians? I think maybe it is because of the good shopping and that Philly is more affordable to visit than NYC? Regardless, sooooo looking forward to it!

            1. re: Louise4071

              If you do go to Percy St. make sure to get the moist brisket. Good side choices include the sweet potatoes with marshmallows and the mac and cheese.

              As far as dessert, I think the banana pudding and the key lime pie are very good but they have a killer homemade pecan pie that is absolutely out of this world. I don't even like pecan pie all that much and really enjoyed it.

              1. re: bluehensfan

                Question about Percy St. Can you "trade in" your two sides for just the mac and cheese as a side? As we were waslking out the last time, I thought I saw someone with a platter in front of them that just had the mac and cheese as the side. Or maybe they just ordered the meat and the mac and cheese separately.

                Just wondering if anyone knows.

                1. re: Philly Ray

                  I think the mac thing is not a side per se but an appetizer...but you could always ask!

                  1. re: Philly Ray

                    Actually, you can order two sides: mac & cheese and mac & cheese :)

                    And if BBQ is unavailable in Toronto, Percy St brisket and mac & cheese is worth a visit.

            2. re: Buckethead

              I don't know bucket--we're from here and have grown up on RTM. A year or two ago some colleagues from Brazil & Argentina came to work at our site for a few months. I took them to RTM one day and they seemed truly bummed I hadn't brought them earlier as I think they would have spent many spare hours there. And I do mean that day they spent HOURS there--tasting, looking, smelling, talking to vendors, purchasing.

              1. re: gaffk

                I LOVE RTM and go there multiple times when I'm in town but I don't see how one can spend that many hours there. If nothing else, the food you buy will eventually start to go bad! Better to make it a leisurely lunch on a day filled with other adventures as well.

                1. re: kukubura

                  Oh, they were buying honey, candy, jams and souvenirs. They were eating ice cream, pastries, and sandwiches. They were in the beer garden for an hour +. It was a real eye-opener for a native Philly girl.

                  1. re: kukubura

                    How I do it (RTM). When I go into town I bring an iced cooler in my car trunk. Make perishable purchases last (especially meat). Back to the car (garage is just across 12th Street). Then have lunch there then play in Phila.

                  2. re: gaffk

                    I just think it's different to go there as a visitor to the city vs. if you live here (or are staying here long-term, I guess). If you're just visiting, you're probably staying in a hotel and aren't cooking for yourself, so a lot of the great things about RTM (Iovine's, Giunta's, Fair Food Farmstand, etc.) are not much use to you in that situation. Not that it isn't fun to browse...

                  3. re: Buckethead

                    Barbuzzo is great. If you REALLY wanna go pro, it's on a very strong stretch with other fabulous restaurants, including Lolita (owned by the same people as Barbuzzo) and Sampan. Since all feature small plates you COULD just wander down the street grazing... Just a thought...

                  4. I don't see Paesano's on there...

                    1. Loving all the replies, keep em coming please! So what do you think of Friday, Saturday, Sunday? I love the look of the menu and the area but no one seems too jazzed about it. Also, there is a restaurant in the hotel (which I generally avoid) but apparently it has a wonderful wine bar. Panorama or something like that? Any views on that.
                      One of my clients mentioned a restaurant in center city but for the life of me I can't remember the full name (something tavern I believe). He said it is in a historic building and the food was great. Sadly, he is no longer with the company so I can't find him to ask him again. Anyone know which I might be talkign about.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Louise4071

                        Ohhhhh Supper looks good as well. I love restaurants that use local ingredients. Is that a good call?

                        1. re: Louise4071

                          If he said City Tavern, don't bother. It is supposed to be a representation of American Colonial food (served by people dressed like Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin).

                          While I have never eaten there, I have never heard great things about the food.

                          1. re: Philly Ray

                            Thanks Ray, I think that was it. Not into theme restuarants ;)

                          2. re: Louise4071

                            Panorama has a great wine program, I'd definitely stop in there for a glass or two at some point. The food is OK but I wouldn't waste a meal there if you're just visiting. Supper is much better but I still wouldn't put it on the list of must-visit restaurants.

                            1. re: Buckethead

                              I second the idea of Barbuzzo. Man, did I have a great meal there last week. I can't believe how many plates the 4 of us had, and how affordable it was. I am sure I'll get some flack here, but their pizza is better than one I had at Osteria a few weeks before. Best pizza I've had in I don't know how long. Anyway, I really think you have try a Garces restaurant as well. And I totally agree about Zahav. Do it. Have fun, and eat lots!!!

                            2. re: Louise4071

                              I've always found Fri Sat Sun pleasant enough and good food, especially for a romantic evening for two. Is it cutting edge Philly cuisine? Definitely not. But it does have a historical place in the city's scene as it was part of the original Philly restaurant Renaissance. If the menu choices appeal I certainly wouldn't steer you away.

                              Panorama is great for wine and the apps are ok, but the main courses have been disappointing in my experience. I'd go for a wine flight at the bar and maybe some light bites but go elsewhere for the main meal.

                            3. Thanks so much! I am thinking now Barbuzzos and Vetri for dinners, look great! I am not sure that my hubby is a Zahav type of guy but I think Amada looks great for a lunch and RTM for the other.

                              So a question about RTM. Is there a place there to get a good philly cheesesteak? We are definately going to do the roast pork at DiNics but really don't want to miss out on at least trying a cheesesteak (we will split them).

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Louise4071

                                Barbuzzo is a awesome (best meatballs i've ever had) and great pizza. The best cheesesteak by far is at johns roast pork on snyder ave but get there early they close at 3pm

                                1. re: Louise4071

                                  The plans sound like they are improving nicely :). You are aware that Vetri is prixe fixe only, $135pp right? Only pointing it out because it is a pretty big departure from your original plans.

                                  1. re: barryg

                                    Barry, thank you so much for letting me know this! Food sounds good but I can't justify that amount for dinner on a tuesday night :) Will find a nice italian BYOB or stick with Friday, Saturday, Sunday as originally planned. Kanella looks amazing as well so that might be another good option.

                                    As far as AMADA goes, does anyone want to give me suggestions on dishes to try? We have never done the tapas thing before but it looks lovely.


                                    1. re: Louise4071

                                      Vetri operates two more affordable restaurants--Osteria and Amis. Both have liquor licenses. There are several Italian BYOBs in Center City; I really like Melograno.

                                        1. re: Louise4071

                                          My favorites at Amada are:

                                          Pernil Asado (a MUST have every time I go there)
                                          Ensalada de Jamon
                                          Spanish Octopus
                                          Clams and Chorizo
                                          Short Rib Flatbread

                                          1. re: Philly Ray

                                            At least two of those dishes are not on the lunch menu.. the flat bread and the clams and chorizo,. And the short rib flatbread is wonderful.

                                      1. re: Louise4071

                                        In the terminal you can get a decent example of a cheesesteak at Carmen's and also at Pasta by George.