Coming to Philly for the weekend and looking to try some tasty treats (obviously!). Coming from New York City, is there anything you would suggest we try? Any new hot spots, old notables, etc? I hear the Mexican is great, so we'd be down to try that....I've heard Distrito, La Veracruzana & Xochitl are worth giving a shot...
Staying at the Hotel Palamar so places in the near vicinity are appreciated too!
Thanks in advance!
Distrito and Xochitl are fancy, modern "mexican" whereas Veracruzano is a taqueria in the real Mexican style - but it's also not the best of the taquerias in a neighborhood that's full of them. Some say we have better taquerias than NY. I doubt we have better high-end, modern mexican but I don't know.
If you go the taqueria route you'll also get a trip through the Italian/9th Street market on the way. On weekends Restaurant Acupulco (NOT Fiesta Acapulco) has a good barbecoa special (spicy slow cooked goat). Los Taquitos de Peubla has great tacos al pastor and beef-head meat tacos - tongue, and the mixed head meat (tastes like pot roast) are my favorites. I'd recomend stopping at Termini Bros. a block away on 8th for very good old school Italian pastries.
You can also get Taquitos de Puebla's tacos al pastor and great quesedillas made with fresh masa at the Headhouse Square farmers market on Sunday after 11:00 or so.
Thanks for the feedback!
So, for Mexican - Distrito or Xochitl? I'm guessing that it will be easier to accommodate both of us at one of these places over a taqueria?
What's Cafe Estelle all about?
I'm guessing that my friend meant Reading Terminal Market when they said Market Street, haha.
We are going to need 2 dinners - so let's say 1 mexi - what should the other be?
Agree; Xochilt has had some turmoil recently. Ownership changed and the chef just left.
I agree with cgarner that the Mexican taquerias might be more interesting to you than the upscale haute Mexican places, but are more suited for lunch than a nice dinner.
I agree with Bucket, skip Sabrina's or Honey's unless you are staying in one of those neighborhoods. They're not worth traveling (and waiting in line) though they are good places to observe the locals in our natural habitat. If you eat a late brunch, that may be a good chance to wander around the South Philly taquerias and munch. There is great Vietnamese down there too.
The other dinner should be Zahav.
You can check out Cafe Estelle's menu here:
It's just really well-done brunch: they make their own bacon and sausage, and the stuffed french toast is not out of balance (every other place I've ever had a stuffed french toast has stuffed it with way too much rich filling of whatever type, at Estelle it's not overwhelmingly rich and there's not too much of it in relation to the bread).
If you want the city's absolute best brunch, you should go to Lacroix, but it's a lot more expensive and Cafe Estelle is much more similar in style to the places you mentioned (but better).
Just returned from our weekend in Philly, here's the report:
1st dinner: Kanella
OMG< amazing! We both adored this restaurant. The service was wonderful and friendly, the place was packed (we called up last minute and got a 9:30 ressie), and the food above and beyond. I would travel back to Philly just to eat here again! It was also byob which was great since I had brought a nice bottle along for the trip. Everything tasted so fresh & clean (most greek food is greasy, this was anything but). We started with the grape leaves & burekas which had us drooling for our main courses of a roasted and stuffed pepper with veggies & rice, and the apricot lamb. For dessert we had the mini pastries set. Would highly recommend all of the above dishes.
We took your advice and went to Estelle. It was kind of off the beaten path from where we were staying but it was really good. The coffee was great but you have to pour it yourself from the coffee bar. I thought this was kind of annoying as people were bumping into me with a hot cup of joe in my hands, but I guess it's so that you can choose from the different varieties. My hubs had the baked eggs with bacon tomatillo salsa which he loved, with a side of sausage. I had the roasted pepper, ricotta, and carmelized onion omelette which was good, but not great. The eggs were on the cold side and the filling was also cold - it was almost like they cooked the egg topper and laid it over the filling. Just not my kind of omelette - but the potatoes were delish. Service was friendly and warm.
We hit up the Reading Terminal for a late lunch but we got there at 4:30 - 30 minutes before closing. Most of the market had been shut down already so our options were extremely limited. We were starving at this point so I just grabbed a vegetarian sushi roll (which was gross) and hubs grabbed a turkey sandwich (which was edible). Not the best experience here, but I bet it's much better at peak hours and when you know where to go.
Dinner 2 - Zahav
We ordered the tastings and were pretty darn happy with our meals. The hummus tahini and bread were very tasty. The 8 salads were delish - our favorites were the beets and fennel. For my starters I had the watermelon feta salad which was fantastic, and the fried cauliflower - very good. Hubs had the kibbeh which he said was very similar to the way his grandmother made it - a HUGE compliment. He also had the beef which he loved. We ordered grape leaves to share and they were the only disappointing plate. The leaves were too tough to chew - I had to spit them out into my napkin - and the inside was very dry. The grape leaves at Kanella were WAY better. 2 bottles of wine in (pricey but delicious Israeli wines) and I can't remember the details of my dessert very well, but I remember enjoying it! The restaurant was pretty quiet for a Sunday and they definitely tried to rush us out after our dinner was over which was pretty annoying as we met a friend there that we never get to see and were trying to catch up. Overall it was a good experience but I would choose to return to Kanella over Zahav on a return trip.
Breakfast - Cafe L'aube
Found this little place using Yelp reviews - looking for something not to far from our hotel. We had delicious crepes, croissants, and coffee and sat outside. Simple and wonderful. Hubby's crepe - the leek, cheese and bacon - was his favorite thing that he ate the whole weekend!
Hope this helps out some other folks traveling to Philly, we really enjoyed ourselves this weekend and look forward to a return trip in the future (and trying out some Mexican!).
These are some other suggestions I have received - please weigh in and let me know your faves.
Brunch: BeauMonde, Sabrina's Cafe, Honey's Sit N Eat
Lunch: Reading Terminal Market, Market Street @ Market Place, Swallow
Dinner: Fork, Horizons
I'm vegetarian but my hubby eats meat, so we usually try to find a place to accommodate us both .
Thanks again in advance :)
Yes to Distrito for Mexican. Tacqueria Veracruzana is great for what it is but if you've ever been to a very good tacqueria you've had stuff just as good.
Are you coming this weekend (like tomorrow)?
Brunch: I'd choose Cafe Estelle over any of those places.
Lunch: RTM is a must. Swallow closed years ago. I don't know what you're referring to RE: "Market Street".
Dinner: Fork is very good but not in the top tier of Philly restaurants in my opinion. Horizons is closed, the couple that ran it is opening a new place soon but it's not open yet.
My list of great places in the city right now includes Zahav (my favorite), Han Dynasty, Kanella, Koo Zee Doo (not good for vegetarians), Bibou, Fond, Osteria, for starters.