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Casual options to counter shmancy choices for weekend of eating

My Philadelphia eating experiences have been pretty much limited to grabbing a sandwich when in town for work. I haven't really explored what the city has to offer, although I have already been to Reading Terminal. I made reservations for dinners at Vetri and Zahav. I am looking for one lunch and two breakfast options. We will be in town from NYC just for eating purposes (staying probably at the Sofitel or Westin). I'm a vegetarian, husband is not. Not interested in the LaCroix brunch. I think it is probably fantastic for a non-vegetarian, but it doesn't look that appealing to me. All cuisines are fine, although my husband doesn't love Chinese. Thanks so much in advance!

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  1. mama's vegetarian for the falafel for sure, think id have another lunch at one of the taquerias in south philly.

    for breakfast, id maybe try le miel for some sweet stuff? carmen's is a ton of fun for breakfast but it's pretty hearty. not a light meal. and dim sum isnt really our thing. kinda drawing a blank here

    1. Lunch: Sandwiches at Paesano's: the Panelle for you, the Arista for your husband.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        +1 for Paesanos. It truly is the Philadelphia sandwich experience taken to the next level. Its every good as Buckethead says it is.. and then some.

        If you want to enjoy an italian meal that will perhaps not be as fancy as Vetri, but as satisfying, go to Modo Mio for the turista menu.. 34 dollars, BYO.. beautiful well prepared food in an unpretentious atmosphere. I personally would only do 1 of the 2 great meals that you are considering.. it will feel more special.

          1. re: InSearchOfTacos

            Do do the Paesano's thing for lunch after hitting the Dutch Eating Place for breakfast because even though you've been to RT before, it really fits the bill of what you're looking for as far as breakfast.

            1. re: bluehensfan

              Paesanos will be closed for a week in September - check before you go.

        1. Great choices for dinner, both are very veg friendly and delicious. Is there any particular kind of breakfast food you are interested in? Do you just want pastries and coffee, or a real cooked breakfast/brunch?

          I'd think about Carman's Country kitchen for a fun, different breakfast. Or something like Green Eggs cafe or Honey's Sit & Eat. None are close to your hotel, but a good way to see other parts of the city and eat good breakfast/brunch food.

          I agree that Paesano's is a fun choice. Also in the samer area, there are lots of taquerias for delicious Mexican (I find it better than NYC Mexican). They all have bean options in addition to the various meats.

          1. A little out of the way (maybe two miles from the hotels?) is Cafe Estelle great for breakfast/brunch or lunch! http://www.cafeestelle.com/about_us.php

            1 Reply
            1. re: Bigley9

              Cafe Estelle is really good. It's just in a weird location where there is little else around there (or so it seems). But the food is really good and inventive.

            2. Really enjoyed our breakfast at Sabrina's when we stayed overnight in Philly. If you are there on a weekend, there's likely to be a line so call ahead and they'll put you on the list. Also, many of the dishes are large but there is an option (not on the menu) to order a half-portion.

              Another suggestion would be Parc Bistro. Haven't been there for breakfast but have enjoyed lunch there. Maybe someone could chime in on how Parc is for breakfast?

              2 Replies
              1. re: cook262

                I have had brunch there many times and it's delicious. They have a really good bread basket (complimentary) and very good egg dishes. The pancakes and french toast also look very good.

                1. re: cook262

                  i think sabrina's is overrated- if you happen to be in the italian market, stop by monsu for brunch (i hesitate to recommend this as id like to get into brunch w/o a reservation). not your typical brunch fare with stuffed french toast and lots of egg dishes, but the food is really spectacular

                2. WOW! Thanks for all of the suggestions! I will have to go through the menus carefully and also check out what is nearby for these alternatives. We are coming in October, so we should be okay if we go with Paesanos. Green Eggs has some nice vegetarian options!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Olive123

                    For brunch, check out Cafe Lift too, http://www.cafelift.com/menu. I've been to all the above places, which are all good and great options, but this is my absolute fave. (I'm a huge fan of brunch.) Just above Chinatown, it's a little out of the way, but still walking distance and if you're in town just for the food, I'd imagine the trek isn't a deterrence! I've also never experienced a wait there (which I know is a huge problem at Sabrina's and Honey's). The breakfast burrito is to die for. The fried egg panino, Jen's crespelle, and the magherita pizza, all get a huge thumbs up as well.

                  2. l accept l am a curmudgeon, thus you know what is coming to a board fav.. Went with a friend this AM for breakfast at Dutch Eating Place, my first time, and was looking forward to it.

                    First, the people, both customers and servers, could not have been nicer, they were a delight, if only anything else was.

                    We ordered homemade fresh squeezed lemonade, tasted exactly like minute maid junk

                    Raisin french toast, the bread had never touched egg before going in frying pan. It was like raw
                    bread with egg outside.

                    Side of scrapple, was fried grease with no flavor and barely tepid, l love good scrapple, this was not that.

                    Two eggs over, it was fine

                    coffee, dishwater, went to two other booths afterwards and had good coffee.

                    hash browns, not tepid, greasy and cold.

                    Water, the only thing that got two sips/bites.

                    We both felt was worst breakfast of our lives, and we have eaten a lot of breakfasts.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Calling it like it is, or was, is highly value by many Hounds. I have found myself at odds with a number of board favorites based on one or two meals and find myself often amazed at the delta between my experiences and those frequently touted. Thanks for being willing to buck the board favorites.

                    2. If l can hate a place, l am thrilled l can love a place. This AM went to honey's sit n' eat. Parking was a non-issue, waiting with a bunch of people outside was fun and friendly. Person serving as host said 20 minute wait, and 20 minutes it was.
                      Nice big room with plenty of space between tables, heavy clunky chairs that were very comfortable. When we sat, the table had been bused, water with ice was on the table and as we sat down the waiter offered us our beverage choice. Large fairly-priced breakfast menu.
                      We ordered challah french toast with real maple syrup, and a lox platter with an extra scoop of whitefish.
                      All was as it should be, gave us plenty of time to eat, no rushing us.
                      For me a perfect experience.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        I've only been to Honey's Sit n' Eat twice but loved it both times.

                        1. re: JanR

                          I have to second nutmeg re Cafe Lift, my favorite brunch place. I prefer Cafe Lift to Cafe Estelle, for some reason. I've been disappointed by Honey's, and, well, if you want really good food, you don't go the Dutch Eating Place, although Reading Terminal Market is just about one of my favorite places, and I'm always happy to hit the market for a pastry and coffee breakfast. There are also, though, interesting breakfast options at Kanella, a Cypriot restaurant at 11th and Spruce. kanellarestaurant.com