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Bostonhound visiting Philly

We will be visiting July 4th weekend and are looking for moderate priced restaraunts in the city.
would like to taste Philly food. ( ethnic food too)

Thanks

Does Johns have the best roast pork sandwiches

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  1. try dinic's in the RTM unless you plan to go out of your way for Johns.

    my personal recommendations
    BYOB: kanella and matyson
    italian: Osteria / Amis
    Tapas: Tinto and Amada
    Ethnic: Zahav (must visit)

    Some other restaurants are fun too - dandelion, adsum, etc.

    1. I second "pacific2atlantic" you cannot go wrong with those choices. I would strongly recommend Zahav because I doubt you will find a place like it in Boston, their cuisine is truly unique. If you want true philly fare I would definitely head to Dinic's for lunch(the line will be atleast 20 minutes for lunch). I would split three sandwiches between 2 people, try the Pork, Veal Scalopini, and Sausage sandwiches. If you're interested in going the cheese steak route, just pick a joint somewhere in the city that fits your personality. It's easy to nit pick when it comes to cheese steaks(the 'best' philly cheese steak does not exist, its all based upon personal preference)

      18 Replies
      1. re: twlaz

        i strongly disagree. oleana in cambridge is much, much, much better than zahav. don't bother.

        frankly, i don't get all the zahav love on this board. it's fine. it's not great, and it's not an excellent value ($8-12 for run-of-the-mill hummus? no thanks.)

        1. re: coookie

          I agree oleana is great. However, I don't think it's a fair apples to apples comparison - they are both unique in their own merit and your comment about the zahav hummus being 'run-of-the mill'...is suprising. it's been repeatedly lauded as one of the best in philly...but opinions are opinions.

          I love little fish and modo mio as well, buth other than the BYOB aspect, the type of food can be found in boston.

          1. re: pacific2atlantic

            sorry, this is a (probably irrational) pet peeve of mine, coming from that region of the world. good hummus isn't terribly difficult to make, so when i see it fetishized, put on a pedestal and served at double-digit prices, i get a little frustrated. several fancy places in NYC do this too and it drives me nuts.

            obviously, there's no reason that middle eastern food can't be given the "haute cuisine" treatment like anything else, but if that's the case, i expect a little more creativity. hence my preference for oleana. basically, i think ana sortun is doing more interesting work with middle eastern flavors.

            1. re: coookie

              understood. and I agree - I'm of Asian descent and lived overseas for the majority of my life and have the same peeve about some of the hype around Han Dynasty (I love the place, but some dishes are very average too).

              I guess people do love zahav though - the chef just won the james beard award!

              1. re: pacific2atlantic

                really??? gaaahhhhh...

                i'll admit to hyping han dynasty. will try to keep it under control.

                1. re: pacific2atlantic

                  What do you recommend at Han Dynasty?

                2. re: coookie

                  When was the last time you ate at Zahav? The "expensive Israeli street food" complaint was valid in their first year, I would say, but the last few versions of the menu have had some very creative dishes that are not just precious versions of stuff you can get in the shouk. That said, I've never been to Oleana.

                  1. re: barryg

                    about a year ago. has it changed that much since? i looked at the menu online before posting above and it seemed pretty similar to my last experience.

                    1. re: coookie

                      No not really I don't think.

                    2. re: barryg

                      I have had the pleasure of eating at Oleana 3 times in the past and can't
                      rave enough about the spectacular food there, it is in a class by itself ! Worth a trip to Cambridge !

                      I read that to make the ultimate hummus you have to remove the skins from the chick peas. I tried it once, the resulting h. was ultra creamy, very nice indeed BUT it's only hummus and to me, not worth the trouble.

                    3. re: coookie

                      Random sidebar:

                      Recently heard from someone that worked at Zahav that the reason the hummus is so good is b/c there a stick of butter in each batch! I scoffed at the thought thinking that could not be the case, but then it really got me thinking and it really just sounds disgusting. I am one of those people that really did not enjoy my food experience at Zahav either. Have no interest in ever going back. I am probably one in a million though...

                      1. re: micreynolds

                        This has been discussed on here. Only the Turkish hummus has butter (and is described as such on the menu); the hummus-tahina (the traditional one) is non-dairy.

                        1. re: barryg

                          Yes, i know, but a whole STICK of butter?!?!? ah, that just gets me. And this is coming from someone that uses the phrase "butter makes it better" on a daily basis.

                          1. re: micreynolds

                            But how big is the batch? How many servings does it yield? I bet if you break it down, there isn't much butter in the serving on your plate.

                            1. re: Philly Ray

                              Here's a version of the recipe. Unfortunately the picture is broken.
                              http://www.citypaper.net/blogs/mealti...

                              It does have a lot of butter but I don't think it's crazy for a rich restaurant dish.

                              1. re: barryg

                                It just looks like the butter takes the place of the tahini you would find in "normal" hummus.

                                1. re: Philly Ray

                                  If you read the discussion with LaBan and Solomonov today, he implied that the butter takes the place of the olive oil ... if I interpreted what he said correctly.

                            2. re: micreynolds

                              there is more butter than you think happening in most dishes at most restaurants...

                3. Byob: Little Fish, Modo Mio, Monsu, Pumpkin
                  non-byob: Meme and Fish
                  Cheesteak: Jim's on South St.

                  1. I'd like to echo this question. I am meeting my brother in Philly for dinner tomorrow night. We are from Boston, though I live in DC now. He is staying in Society Hill. Ideally, we'd eat close by, but I'd be willing to take a cab across town if necessary. It seems like Amada is the natural nearby choice, but I'd prefer a BYOB (I don't mind paying $12-14 for tapas, but it looks like Jose is cleaning up at $38 for a bottle of Garnacha!). We both like to eat and tend to bring a big appetite. The sweet spot is between $20 and $30 per entree. Italian, seafood, and Mexican are probably the top three cuisine types for us - not necessarily in that order.

                    Through research and recommendations, I've been told to try Mercato. Can anyone second that? Disagree?

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: ADemaio12

                      Amada is really a great choice (and a worthwhile splurge - it really is that good), however - you will spend more money than you are willing to there. For BYO, I thought Mercato was OK, nothing really to write home about. I would second the others on the board and vote for Kanella (short cab ride, or a 15 minute walk tops).

                      1. re: ADemaio12

                        For Italian BYOB I like Melograno and Modo Mio both much more than Mercato.

                        1. re: barryg

                          I heartily second this vote.

                        2. re: ADemaio12

                          If you insist on a BYOB, I would say Melograno/Modo Mio for italian. You can make reservations for Modo Mio always, but only weekdays for Melograno.

                          IMO, you should just go to Osteria. the Pastas are world class. People say the place is expensive, but typically I go and do family style, I focus on the Pastas and just get one entree (spit roasted suckling pig special is the best) to share.

                          1. re: pacific2atlantic

                            Thanks everyone, I think we will try Modo Mio, Zahav and have lunch at the RTM.
                            We really like the hummus at Cafe Barada in Cambridge,

                            1. re: bostonron

                              Make sure to get the lamb shoulder at Zahav. It's fabulous...

                              1. re: bostonron

                                cafe barada is another place that i think is a better value than zahav. but this is all subjective. enjoy your meals!

                                1. re: bostonron

                                  One thing I might add is that it's worth stopping into a Stephen Starr restaurant, even if for drinks only. I'm not crazy about the food at most of the ones I've been to. But at least when I lived in Boston, there was nothing comparable for sheer high concept over-the-topness. And the Starr empire has come to set the tone for some of the restaurant scene here.