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Oct 17, 2011 05:22 AM

Advice on Thanksgiving trip to center city Philadelphia

We just decided to go to Phillie for Thanksgiving. We will stay in Center City. Thought we could eat Thanksgiving dinner at Max and David's, but they will be closed that day. May do it on Wed night instead. Need traditional Shabbos takeout that we can pick up in center city. Do not want to drive anywhere that Friday morning as we will be in the museums. Is there any place/caterer that will provide a normal, heimish-style Shabbos food for us? Alternatively, where can we pick up good Shabbos food on Thursday while also grabbing dinner? Dinner does not have to be Thanksgiving food. BTW, we think we will be davening with Mekor Habracha. What's the vibe and how's the Kiddush? :)

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  1. Mikveh Israel serves a very nice Friday evening meal, at least, it has for many years. I always make a donation.

    5 Replies
    1. re: AdinaA

      Can't get a handle from their site on the affiliation.

      1. re: cappucino

        Mikvah Israel is the Sfardi shul in Center City and it is RIGHT next to a hotel ( we stayed there once). I would call to double check on the meals...but it is a great location.

        1. re: cappucino

          Mikveh Israel has been orthodox and in center city Philadelphia since the place was a British colony. Like the Spanish and Portuguese in New York. Some of the members are not shomer shabbat, but the place is and the supervision is reliable.

          It used to house the Jewish Museum, and is adjacent to the new Jewish Museum. A safe walk from all the center city hotels, walk right past Independence Hall.

          In the morning, you might want to vary it up by davening in the orthodox shul that is about a mile south (it is an immigraiton era synagogue with wonderful folk art murals of Eretz Israel painted on the walls) , but a nice walk through the brick townhouses of center city. I forget what it is called. They serve a light kiddush, egg salad, herring, but not enough of it to depend on for lunch. Again, it's a while since I was stuck in center city for Sabbat, they attract a small crowd with some young people who live downtown.

          1. re: AdinaA

            You are referring to Bnai Abraham, which (along with the Vilna shul) is run by the downtown Chabad.

          2. re: cappucino

            Mikveh Israel is Orthodox, and the food is both reliable and delicious. But the last time I checked they weren't doing meals every week, so you should call the office to check. Also, most times I've been there there was a lunch after musaf; again, this may not be every week, so check.

        2. Try calling and (same owners) about Shabbos catering. I can't vouch for the food but they advertise Kosher meals for the holidays:
 534 S. 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147; 267-687-7076 Fax: 267-687-7076
 326 South Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19147; 267-639-3425

          And the menus are mostly traditional I think.

          Did you ask Max & David's about catering? Their catering division is separate from the restaurant but they may not do such a small order.

          Thursday night, the heschered Chinese restaurants should be open. The ones in Chinatown I think do not have a widely accepted hescher, but Su Xing house in Center City should be ok. You could also get takeout from one of them for Shabbos as a worst case scenario. There's a chance Mi Lah vegetarian will be open on Thursday too and again is a potential takeout option. Another non-traditional takeout option may be the heschered vegan pizzeria--Blackbird--it's actually really good and some of the sandwiches might hold up ok for a few hours. Right near MH, Mama's Falafel might be open on Thursday and should be open on Friday daytime, probably too casual for your dinner but you could get some great hummus and pita for Friday night/Saturday. The 24 hour convenience store also right near MH (Old Nelson) has some prepared vegetarian Kosher food but it's not very exciting. They also have Kosher cheese so you could get that and some crackers or bread. Trader Joe's not far away also has Kosher cheese and many Kosher items as you probably know.

          You can pick up some Kosher treats for dessert from Homemade Goodies By Roz or Sweet Freedom, both parve.

          7 Replies
          1. re: barryg

            I CAN vouch for the food st ther .orgs and I can say the food is ALL WONDERFUL> Been to Burgers several times - love the steaks and the beef burgers. Husband swears byt he lamb and turkey burgers. The chicken place is fasbulous too. Sadly my travels have not taken me to that part of the city recently, the food is really, really good! LOVE the side veggies at Chicken. MMMMMM! Order extras:)
            Roz makes fabulous treats - see if she has any kinishes theya re the best, as is her apple cake. You can get the cake in a small size which would be perfect to snack on for a few days for two people.
            Go to Reading Terminal Market to suppliment with fresh produce and some KOsher jellies and crackers and candy at *some * vendors. There is one (I forget the name) that sellls cheeses and other things (not kosher) that sells lots of jellies and crackers that ARE kosher and are pakcaged.

            Max and Davids prob will do a Thanksgiving take out deal again this year - call them. last year they did one package for 8 people, too much for us so we didn't order it:( You may want to call Cherry Grill, in Cherry Hill, NJ - they may deliver to CC and the food is great!

            1. re: Prettypoodle

              Poodle, have you tried the takeout catering food from *.org? I've eaten at a few times, I think it's pretty inconsistent and mediocre and sometimes just bad (way undercooked lamb burger one time, awful veggie burger). Have not yet tried but there are rumors they may be closing soon. Never made much sense to me that they run two storefronts; if it happen, hopefully they will just merge the two menus and serve both at which is nicer anyway. FWIW I don't keep kosher.

              I agree that Roz's is great. I also just remembered that Pamcakes, a cupcake bakery near MH, is heschered (not sure, but almost definitely dairy) but I haven't tried it. And there's always Krispy Kreme on Walnut St :)

              Also I have to add that Roling's Bakery, near M&D in Elkins Park, is awesome; if you're up there when they're open try to pick something up. Especially the bagels and the kamish bread.

              1. re: barryg

                Re: should also get the 7 layer cake

                1. re: vallevin

                  I appreciate all the input. I will try Max and David's for a catered Thanksgiving dinner to go, but I think it may be too steep for us (we'll be 5). I still would love to have a traditional chicken soup and roast chicken take-out for Shabbos, but that doesn't seem likely in center city. We'll call Mikveh israel. We knew about the historic significance, just not clear on the details on 2011. The website really does not make that clear unless I misread it. Either way, we are so looking forward to this trip. Is there a kosher experience nearby with traditional Shabbas takeout food?

                  1. re: cappucino

                    Max and Davids njust tonight posted a T day menue. They do a package for a group of 8 and a package for one for $35 (I think) Looked yummy to me.
                    As for take out from that is all I have ever eatten. I picked it up, then took a bus to Market East and then the R6 to the second to last stop and got driven the rest of the way. So it traveled ALOT. The food was wonderful:) I can not wait to get it again...maybe later this week.
                    Pamcakes are wonderful....fab iceing, buttercream I belive and dairy. My issues with Pamcakes is the bad forme locsation (I am never in tht part of the city) and thast they are dairy...makes them less flexable. But they are damn good treats:)

                2. re: barryg

                  I have taken out from .org's and the food is amazing! Try the chicken fingers the wings (all varieties) and the chicken meatballs. YUM! is closed and now combined with I love the food at both. Very hard to find a comparable quality burger or chicken place anywhere IMHO.

                  I have tried Cherry Grill's thanksgiving dinner and it worked for us! I find their food to be hit or miss though.

                  Perlins and Blackbird make delicious pizza, as does Espresso Cafe in northeast Philly.

                  In terms of bakeries, don't forget about Swiss Haus which is dairy and delicious!

                  Mekor Habracha is a new shul, at its current location for about 1 1/2 years and it has become really popular. It is best described as modern orthodox, a youngish (20's and 30's) crowd, and in the great Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. It is not historic or beautiful like Mikveh Israel or Bnai Abraham are, but it is a nice, good paced davening. The kiddush is very good, with vegetarian cholent and cake and chips, but not enough for most people's shabbos meal. They do meals sometimes so check with them to find out if they are doing a lunch or dinner that week.

                  1. re: chaiman

                    Turns out recently expanded their menu. They now have baby chicken schwarma, deli, kebab and many other options. Not sure where to get the menu online - I think it is only available on their store wall right now. If you know what you want you can call them - ask for Yoni or Eyal (the owners) - they are really nice guys and go out of their way to help.

            2. Try Cherry Grill in Cherry Hill, NJ just 10 minutes across the river from where you're staying. Speak to Lin (Owner) and I'm pretty sure he will set you up just fine. Has grill and Chinese menu. Under supervision of OK.

              18 Replies
              1. re: Arinoam

                There is also a kosher experience in the shop rite in cherry hill with nice rotisserie chickens and some other prepared foods. Thank you.

                1. re: Arinoam

                  It is more like 20 minutes to Cherry Grill from Center City unless you have a jet pack:)

                  1. re: Prettypoodle

                    That's what I thought. Do I have any kosher pizza possibilities for Saturday night other than Cherry Hill? We are staying right in the middle of center city and I don't think I get a microwave at this hotel.

                    1. re: cappucino

                      The pizza in Cherry Hill is REALLY good and worth the trip IMO.

                      1. re: cappucino

                        I found this:

                        They are open until 10 pm and are between Lombard and SOuth - an ok walk from Market Street in a safe area. I have niot tried this yet so no idea how good it is- sorry. MAy be open though which would be my choice:)

                        1. re: Prettypoodle

                          Link doesn't seem to be working, but assume you mean Blackbird Pizzeria at 507 S. 6th St. It's a heschered vegan pizzeria, it's actually really good. Great crust. The cheese is Daiya... you can tell it's not real, but it's still good. They also have a great potato and olive oil pizza without the fake cheese.

                          I haven't tried the sandwiches, but it's one way to try to a cheesesteak if you're kosher. They do deliver.


                          Not sure if has been opening Saturday nights, but it's only a block or two away. You can also get vegetarian Kosher Chinese at Su Xing House on Saturday, that is likely closer to your hotel than Blackbird and

                        2. re: cappucino

                          Blackbird is worth a try. Love the place. Try the nacho, funghi or margherita pizza, Cheese steak sandwich is really good too. They now have soup as well. Great thing about Blackbird is that it is 100 percent pareve, so you can eat it right after shabbos in the winter even if you had a fleishig lunch!

                        3. re: Prettypoodle

                          you must be from PA with that built in prejudice against Jersey. Going the opposite direction of the traffic you could make a ROUND TRIP in 20 minutes. i commuted to Centre city Philly for years from CH and it's a breeze - a lot more convenient than to th Northeast or Bala Cynwyd. The Kosher Pizza shop in Cherry Hill, formerly Perlins is under new management (and possibly new name) hope they improved the pizza

                          1. re: Arinoam

                            I actually was born in PA and spent my first 5-ish years in Philly, but then we moved to Cherry Hill so i could go to school there. Lived there for seeemingy forever and went to CC bikllions of times. It was always more than 20 minutes, save the ONE time I made it to the Soectrum (yes it was way back then when it was still there) in 15 minutes. Thankfully the State Troopers were busy elsewhere on 295 that day:) LOVE Cherry Hill and even their mayor (he rocks) just rarely go back anymore. Didn't know Perlins changed management - I always liked their pizza, but my husband hates the "get out of NJ tax" (the $5 bridge toll) so we only go there when we are in Jersey for other reasons. Oh for the record I am back in the place of my birth Montco and not the NE or Bala. I still say figure 20 minutes each way for the pizza to be safe. 10 minutes will get you maybe to the far edge of CHerry Hill kinda near Bishop Eustace IF you can get put of CC fast enough.

                            1. re: Prettypoodle

                              When I commuted - I drove a Porsche - makes a big difference. Now I commute to NYC by car and train so the $5 bridge toll to PA is almost a non-event. We still hit Mama's for take out frequently. Even with the "surcharge" well worth it. Perlin's change of ownership was a couple of weeks ago. Never cared for the pizza but the Greek Salad was family favorite.

                              1. re: Arinoam

                                We will probably going to Philly for the weekend in a couple of weeks. How's the food at Mama's Vegetarian? Also, are there any good Israeli grill type places (fleishig)- preferably near the new Jewish museum? Thanks!

                                1. re: EmpireState

                                  Empire, read the posts above. Everyone, thanks for the input. I really appreciate it. I will report.

                                  1. re: EmpireState

                                    Personally I LOVE Mama food - the only reason I don't go there alot is the location is not a great one for me - I am rarely in that area. :( I frequent the area near where Macabean used to be.

                                    1. re: EmpireState

                                      Hamifgash and do Israeli grill. both are relatively close to the museum.

                                      1. re: chaiman

                                        Hamifgash is MUCH closer to the museam than by several blocks. LOVE them both and would happily go to either. If walking is an issue, there is a bus that runs down 8th street and goes within a few yards of Hamifgash. I also saw Santa there last year having lunch:) Santa is one smart dude!

                                      2. re: EmpireState

                                        Mama's is great, some of the best falafel and hummus outside of Israel. It's very small and casual however, a counter operation and cash-only. Hamifgash and are the only fleishig operations downtown but there are a few other parve or dairy places.

                                        1. re: EmpireState

                                          Mama's is worth the inconvenience ie limited menu and only a handful of tables and no legal parking immediately in front, however there is plenty of metered parking in the area. We frequently make the trip from Cherry Hill to get take out and have someone wait in the car prepared to move it if the constable arrives. The pita itself is out of this world - an inch thick or more, and soft as a baby's . . . The falafel, bourekas, salads are all awesome and reasonably priced. You can go up and down Ben Yehudah and Dizengoff and not find better food.

                                          1. re: Arinoam

                                            Mama's Vegetarian is consistent, but dingy and the tables are not that clean. When the table aren't clean when they open for the day, then you have got to wonder about their standards.

                              2. I just saw's new menu, and they have even more of the "classic" shabbat food than before. Their food is delicious, so I would definitely recommend calling them.