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Jan 21, 2012 08:21 PM

Restaurant Week tomorrow - Chifa, Zahav, Amada or El Vez?

We are looking for both awesome quality food & good value for restaurant week (would hate to waste a rest week reservation on something that would normally only be $40-45pp anyway).

We've been to Amada and El Vez before, never been to Chifa or Zahav - obviously both get amazing reviews. Which would you choose and why?


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  1. Can you really get reservations to all of those places on such short notice? If you've never been to Zahav I'd probably go there; I've had good rw meals there in the past but youre only saving $3 off of a normal night as they do the rw menu year round. I've had mixed experiences at Garces restaurants for rw so hesitant to recommend those and I don't think youre getting much of a deal there, either. I wouldn't go to El Vez any night.

    6 Replies
    1. re: barryg

      Not to hijack this thread, but I was curious as to why you wouldn't go to El Vez. I have never been, but have heard good things and honestly haven't been disappointed by Starr yet. Not knocking you, I'm just curious.

      1. re: tzanghi

        I don't like the food. I'm not a Starr hater, I have had good at some of his other restaurants and bad meals at others. Particularly for Mexican there are so many better options.

        1. re: barryg

          There's a much better option about 20 feet away from El Vez, Lolita across the street. The Lolita crew's new place, Jamonera, is half a block away and is excellent. Last time I ate at El Vez it was for brunch and it wasn't bad exactly, it just wasn't worth anywhere near the prices they're charging.

          Starr's newer Mexican place, El Rey, is a lot better than El Vez as well.

          1. re: Buckethead

            Not in Center City, but for modern Americanized Mexican with a more "fun" vibe like El Vez, Cantina on E Passyunk has better food and much lower prices.

            Los Bugambilias on South Street also has great Mexican food, more in the Tequila's-style of cuisine (refined traditional foods), but entrees are $15-25 and mostly big enough to share.

          2. re: barryg

            Understandable. I'm not always overwhelmed by his food, to be honest, but the atmospheres are what really gets me. Sometimes I want a really good atmosphere in a restaurant, and that's one of the main reasons I'll choose one of his places.

            As to the OP, my limited RW experience amounts to a trip to The Prime Rib. It was good for me because I got to try out their prime rib for a slightly lower price. Altogether, I'm glad to say I went, but I don't remember being all that thrilled with the food. I would say go to a place that you want to try, but are not sure you'll like; that way you can sample it and see if you like it. But if know you're going to love a place, I'd suggest waiting and going all out sometime that way you can really enjoy it.

          3. re: tzanghi

            El Vez is fine, and I wouldn't NOT go there if someone was picking and that was where they wanted to go. On the other hand, it's JUST fine, so it's nothing I would seek out.

        2. This is what I don't like about restaurant week. You can normally eat at all those restaurants for approximately the RW price. I'd be willing to guess that is true about 80% or more of the participating restaurants. Sure, you can pay more at many places, but if you order carefully, it is possible, and the RW choices are so scaled down that I think you get a worse meal then if you just order carefully off the regular menu. I think RW is ultimately a giant rip off.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

            The best thing about RW is to go to restaurants not participating... much quieter. I usually go to Osteria during RW as they are outside of the CC boundaries for RW.

            1. re: cwdonald

              Well now, good suggestion CW. We have only done the RW deal once and made allowances as it was RW. Take advantage of RW by going to another great restaurant which is not participating is a perfectly simple, but overlooked by me, approach.

            2. re: Hungryin theBurbs

              i completely agree that most restaurants 'dumb down' their RW menu, but what i particularly like about zahav is the fact that they DO offer their regular menu. you are getting the tasting for a few dollars less than a normal night, but they also present you with a coupon for each diner with the check, good for $10 the next time you return to zahav, as well as $10 off your next visit at each of the other solomonov properties. when he still owned xochitl, this amounted to a total $30 food credit, almost paying for your RW dinner in its entirety.

            3. Thanks for all of the advice. We did end up going to Chifa, and honestly, I was less than impressed. The pork buns were outstanding, as expected, but the remainder of the meal was nothing to write home about. We were also very disappointed that their famous "cheese bread" was not being served due to it being RW.. Yet another reason to go on another night and not during RW. I am very close to giving up on RW all together!

              1 Reply
              1. re: ooodsie

                I am sorry you had such a bad experience at Chifa. My recommendation if you want to experience that type of food short of going to Lima is to seek it out in the greater Miami area. I almost wish Garces would reconceptualize the restaurant.