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The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Philly Edition

Ok, so I'm doing some restaurant research of New Orleans since my husband and I are going early June for a trip (hooray!). And there was this thread: Best Thing I Ever Ate: New Orleans. It was such a cool way to read about the restaurants worth visiting, as well as the specific dishes they ate as kids or adults.

So....what are the best dishes you ever ate in Philly?

I have to start it off thusly...

Best Burger: Village Whiskey. Get the duck fat fries with the Sly Fox sauce and DUNK YOUR BURGER IN IT.

Best cheesesteak: John's Roast Pork

Best dessert: Creme Brulee, Valanni, New Years Eve menu

Best Salad: Belgian Endive Salad, Blue In Green (sadly closed now)

Best Pasta: Tagliatelle (or is it Papardelle?) with Mushrooms and Pecorino, Melograno

Best Iced Tea: El Rey Sol (little mexi place on South Street years ago)

Best Ice Cream: Bassett's Cinnamon

Ok, I could go on...

Your turn!

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  1. Best Pork: The roasted suckling pig at Amada (With all the sides, maybe even the best meal I have ever eaten in Philadelphia)

    Best Pork (mini version): Pernil Asado at Amada

    Best Pasta: A tie between the Almond Tortellini at Vetri or the Pappardelle with mushrooms at Paradiso

    1. Best sandwich: Gustaio at Paesano's

      1. Best fish: skate with spinach spaetzle at Little Fish, tied with skate with truffle spaetzle and parmesan broth at Fish

        Best cheese plate: the generous, from the Italian market, cheese plate at (dear departed) Pif, where they let you choose which cheeses you want (eg. two of the same and another...)

        Best dessert: red velvet cake at Golosa

        Best bread: the bread they used to serve at Pif from boulangerie artisanal, with the small ramekins of unsalted butter topped with Hawaiian sea salt

        Best whole fish: branzino at Meme

        Best dessert: blood orange sorbet at Pumpkin

        1 Reply
        1. re: JanR

          Just realized I posted two best desserts. A tie.

        2. Best bread: Modo Mio

          Best cholesterol: breaded bone marrow, seared foie gras and sweatbreads at Bibou

          Best BBQ: Carolina-cut pork ribs at Smoke Daddy's

          Best crab cake: Smith Island crab cake at Capt'n Chucky's

          Best dessert: goat cheese cake at Le Bec Fin

          Best offal (my definition): deep-fried shrimp heads at Bluefin

          Best pasta: Elysian Fields lamb papardelle at Blackfish

          Best pork: Berkshire Pork Belly with Okinawan sweet potatoes at Fond

          Best steak: Grilled 31 oz bone-on prime rib at The Prime Rib

          Best tasting menu bargain: Monday-Thursday prix fixe Matyson

          Best sandwich: burnt ends sandwich at Smoke Daddy's

          6 Replies
          1. re: Tir_na_nOg

            Best dessert: Osteria's Polenta Budino with gianduia mousse and candied hazelnuts
            Best pasta: Osteria's Candele with boar ragu
            tied with Melagrano's Papperdelle Tartufate (wild mushroom with truffle oil)
            Best Asian apps: Vietnam's Cha Gio
            Best bread: Parc Bistro
            Best ice cream: Bassett's Vanilla
            Best pad thai: Chaaba Thai
            Best croissant: Baker Street
            Best wonton soup: Cin Cin
            Best steak: Blackfish

            1. re: asmith

              Even though I already listed two best desserts, I am going to have to revise that. You are correct, asmith, the best dessert IS Osteria's polenta budino. Are they still serving that?

                1. re: asmith

                  I have to give an emphatic third vote for the Polenta Budino at Osteria's.

              1. re: asmith

                PS Best pizza: Lombardi at Osteria

            2. Best pasta: Osteria, chicken liver rigatoni
              Best fried chicken: South Phila Tap Room
              Best dessert: Barbuzzo, salted caramel budino
              Best fancy pizza: Kennett, porchetta pizza
              Best calamari: Bomb Bomb BBQ, calamari & peas
              Best octopus: Estia, grilled octopus
              Best soup: Hardena, Indonesian chicken soup
              Best bar snack (tie): South Phila Tap Room, wild boar tacos
              Best bar snack (tie): Royal Tavern, bacon wrapped tater tots
              Best slow cooked meat: Zahav, lamb shoulder
              Best coffee drink: Ultimo Coffee, cappuccino
              Best cocktail: Ranstead room, Penicillin

              6 Replies
              1. re: barryg

                Best pasta -- ANY pasta at Vetri, Osteria or Amis
                Best pizza -- lombardi pizza at Osteria
                Best appetizer -- foie gras at Bibou
                Best dessert selection -- pastry cart at Le Bec Fin

                1. re: barryg

                  Seconding the salted caramel budino at Barbuzzo -- I'd heard so many superlatives about it before going that I was almost tired of hearing about it, but oh, man... It really is all that.

                  1. re: barryg

                    One more vote for the lamb shoulder at Zahav. Aside from the weekly pancake inhalation, it's probably the most memorable thing I have eaten in Philly for a while. It brought back memories of the opening of the Flintstones when the large portion of meat was placed on Fred's car causing it to tip over...

                    1. re: bluehensfan

                      Michael Solomonov NEVER fails to impress me when I go to Zahav. The difference between the great Philly chefs and a lot of other places? They're in the kitchen.

                      1. re: ladybugthepug

                        During my last dinner at Zahav, Solo was definitely not in the kitchen--but it was still stellar. I don't know how much he cooks these days, he seems pretty focused on Federal Donuts.

                        1. re: barryg

                          Admittedly, I haven't been there in three months (I live in Cleveland). The three times I've been there he's been in the kitchen twice and was in Israel the other time. Don't even talk to me about Federal Donuts. I'm wondering if that spice master guy at Zahav was coming up with the fried chicken breading FD. If my travel schedule wasn't so full for the next few months, I'd definitely be getting in on a long weekend in Philly.

                  2. Best steak-Grilled 31 oz, bone in prime rib
                    Best sandwich-Nick's roast beef, overboard with rabe
                    Best Jewish sandwich-Hot Pastrami at Hershel's
                    Best bread-Modo Mio
                    Best cheesesteak-Chink's
                    Best burger-Rouge
                    Best oysters-Long Island Salts at Snockey's
                    Best restaurant hosts-Charlotte and Pierre of Bibou
                    Best pork-Pork belly at Cochon

                    5 Replies
                      1. re: BelgianBeerMistress

                        Sorry there is a new fav pork belly in town, that of The Dandelion. In fact, as of now it is my best Philadelphia dish of 2011. Served on great lentils , get a side of their fab fries.

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Has anyone had the pork belly at Dandelion this fall? It is definitely back on the menu, served on a bed of cannelinni beans, with duck confit.

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          I live 50 miles north, and get into Philly about six times per year. Last fall, we did some research and ended up at Tony Luke's nearly under rt. 95. I got the roast pork, provolone, and broccoli rabe. It was pretty close to the best thing I've ever eaten! I rarely eat lunch, but had no problem polishing off the entire sandwich. Truly fantastic!

                      2. Best items not yet mentioned

                        Best fried shellfish: sizzling mussels at Meme

                        Best slow-cooked meat pasta combo: short rib ragu gnocci at Mercato

                        Best under-the-radar pork belly: Happy Rooster

                        Best dessert: Baked Alaska at Butcher and Singer

                        Best unconventional pizza: Polpo at Osteria

                        The best non-fried chicken I've ever eaten: Jidori chicken at JG Domestic

                        Best take on a cheesesteak: Ansill's oxtail "cheesesteak" at Ladder 15

                        Best comfort food appetizer: cheese-stuffed meatballs at Barbuzzo

                        1. Best Lyonnaise Salad : Cafe Estelle. HUGE (like 1'x1'x1') house made lardon , tangy sherry vinaigrette, poached egg all atop a pile of frisee. One of the best things I have eaten in Philly ever.
                          The same salad at Parc paled by comparison.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: missclaudy

                            Noted. Thanks much. Haven't been there yet.

                            1. re: missclaudy

                              I forgot the delicious cubed fried potatoes which sit on top of the frisee.

                              1. re: missclaudy

                                Thanks for this post....I have been searching for a good Lyonnais salad and you're right, Parc doesn't cut it and even Le Bar Lyonnais is not really what i'm looking for....this may be dinner tonigh!!

                              2. The Combo at Lennys in Feasterville. Fish cake and dog, no bout a doubt it!

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: DoubleBurger

                                  Good one. Personally I prefer just a dog with pepper hash and spicy brown mustard washed down with a Levi's Black Cherry soda. A taste of nostalgia.

                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                    The Combo has pepper hash. That place is on my list when I fly home in a few weeks, also, Tony Lukes pork sandwich and a hoagie from Sarcones, the Uncle Louis! God I miss Philly!!!!

                                    1. re: DoubleBurger

                                      Try Moe's Hot Dog House on 26th and Washington Ave (right at Grays Ferry Ave). They even have Champ Cherry.


                                      1. re: Philly Ray

                                        Chili cheese dog, american with chopped raw onion, at Jack Frost in Glenside. Not a Philly staple, but best I've had in the area. Did not expect to be that impressed.

                                  2. re: DoubleBurger

                                    I didn't realize there was still a Lenny's. I have fond memories of the one on Castor Ave. in the Northeast. That was more than 45 years ago when my friends and I were walking around on the avenue looking for something to do. I wouldn't say it was my favorite ever food - but I definitely liked a hot dog with mustard, pepper hash, and sauerkraut. I will need to check this one out.

                                  3. I'm not clear if this is your all time best or best of current places. I will go with my all time best - things I still remember although the places are gone. This post is just dessert.

                                    Best dessert - non ice cream - H&H - Chocolate fudge whipped cream cake. Real whip cream.
                                    Best dessert - plain ice cream - at least this is still around Bassetts vanilla fudge. With some add ons - Three Threes also long gone had a vanilla ice cream with candied chestnuts that was absolutely delicious.

                                    1. I'm finally getting around to this great thread:

                                      Best cold cucumber soup: Nan

                                      Best foie gras: Bibou

                                      Best pizza: Taconneli's

                                      Best chicken liver appetizer: Davios

                                      Best bread: Parc

                                      Best dessert: Coconut custard pie at August (not always on the menu)

                                      Best dessert runner up: many things at Matyson

                                      Best mixed fries: Good Dog

                                      Best Guinea hen: Vetri

                                      Best veal filets: Tre Scalini

                                      Best sandwich: Roast Pork at John's (it's been a while)

                                      Favorite Caesar salad: Yang Ming

                                      Best pastas: Can't do it. Love Vetri, Le Virtu (lemon), and too many others.

                                      Thanks for listening!

                                      1. Best app: the wontons in chili oil at Han Dynasty. I could eat a million of those things.

                                        1. Michael Symon chose the pasta tasting menu at Vetri, declaring it to be his favorite restaurant in the country.

                                          “If I had to go to one place for pasta, I would go to Vetri in Philadelphia, my favorite restaurant in America. I’ve never had a pasta there that is anything less than the best pasta I ever ate. [...] Marc’s pasta is breathtakingly perfect.”


                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Sensuous

                                            Best Salad: Koo Zee Doo's chopped salad with red wine coriander vinagrette
                                            Best Lamb: Zahav's roasted shoulder
                                            Best Bread: Parc
                                            Best Potatoes: LaCroix's fried potatoes with fleur de sel (at brunch)
                                            Best Fried Chicken: Until I get to Federal Donuts, I'm still loving Popeyes.

                                            1. re: DaisyM

                                              Best Oysters//Best Steamed Seafood: The Huge Oysters at Taste Queen, NE PHilly, Krewstown Shopping Center: Steamed with light soy sauce, ginger and scallion.

                                          2. zahav has been mentioned numerous times for their lamb shoulder, which i have not had. their halvah mousse, which i recently just had again (not sure how long its been back on the menu) is easily my favorite dessert ever.

                                            1. my favorite food of all time in Philadelphia is:
                                              Best Pasta Chicken Liver Rigatonia @ Osteria!!!