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May 31, 2012 11:51 AM

Would like to do a Layover - Philadelphia. Suggestions?

My gf and I are looking to come to Philly for a day and would like to run around and eat at as many great places as we can in 10-12 hours. Similar to Bourdain in his show The Layover.

I use to live in Philly but it was 8 years ago, I am very out of touch with any really good spots that have popped up in the city.

Since my gf hates seafood, you can leave those off the list.


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  1. What day of the week are you coming? And since you lived in Philly, are there any particular types of things you would like to experience again? Are you into food trucks or just restaurants?

    2 Replies
    1. re: cwdonald

      We both love food trucks and at the time I lived in Philly I wasn't nearly as into food as I am now. We will be there on a Sunday, possibly come in on a Saturday night. We might try and get around on bikes, if that helps.

      1. re: xtianChow

        The day of the week really does matter. Some of the cool Amish vendors at the Reading Terminal are not open on Sundays. Altneratively though you have things like the Headhouse Square Farmers market which is only open on Sundays.... so it is a tradeoff. What part of Philadelphia will you best staying in?

    2. Where do you live now?

      Great dishes at restaurants that have bars where you can sit and just share one dish and not blow your appetite for the rest of the day:

      Maitake mushroom and celery root fritter at Vedge (not open on Sunday)
      Half-portion of pasta at Osteria (I love the chicken liver rigatoni but really just pick one, they make great pasta)
      Benton's bacon fat popcorn at Khyber Pass
      Pig tails or mussels escabeche at Jamonera
      Chicken and duck liver parfait at Dandelion
      Foie Gras soup at Sbraga (not open on Sunday)
      Wild boar tacos at South Philly Tap Room

      8 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        Awesome, thanks @Buckethead.
        I currently live in New York City, if you ever need advice for places in Manhatthan, lemme know?

        1. re: xtianChow

          OK, I was just wondering if there were any places I should not recommend because you have better stuff in NYC. Specifically, Federal Donuts, which is great for those of us who live here in donut-starved Philadelphia but will not impress someone who has access to the Donut Plant.

          You can probably skip Dandelion too.

          A few other things you can just pop in and eat without sitting down and eating a full meal:

          Gelato from Capogiro (they may have been around when you were last here)
          Sandwiches at Paesano's on 9th St. in the Italian Market (really I'd get lunch here, sampling one sandwich just isn't enough and they really make fantastic sandwiches)

          And a couple of the city's best desserts at places with bars:

          Polenta budino at Osteria
          Salted caramel budino at Barbuzzo

          1. re: Buckethead

            I agree with skipping Dandelion if you are going for the parfait. If you are in NY, go to Bar Boulud and you will get superior terrine.

            While most of our chinatown pales in comparison to the chinese selection in Queens, perhaps the thousand layer bread at Rangoon is worth considering.

            I have not had the pig tails at Jamonera, but I have had them at Alla Spina, and they are very good there. And its right down the street from Osteria. Easy to go to the bar eat at one and move on to the next.

            I am curious what people would recommend at RTM on a sunday perhas something as simple as a Terminis cannoli? ... or alternatively perhaps what a must at Headhouse Square Farmers market might be. Renaissance Sausage perhaps?

            1. re: cwdonald

              A cannoli from Terminis is definitely a good idea.

              At Headhouse: Renaissance Sausage doesn't have a truck anymore so they aren't there. Lucky Old Souls burger truck has taken their place but I havent tried it. Los Taquitos de Puebla is still there and their tacos al pastor are definitely worthwhile.

              I also second the suggestion of Paesano's, it doesnt really get any better for sandwiches and these are very "Philly" but much better than 99% of cheesesteaks. Split at least two, it's worth it. If heading down to the 9th St location, you could also get some fresh tortillas/tortilla chips from Tortillaria San Roman (great salsa), hit the Los Taquitos De Puebla storefront for the tacos al pastor, and grab some of the DiBruno's sopressata and burrata for later (they supply this to many NYC restaurants). I've heard mixed things about the Vietnamese food in NYC, also down that way you could grab a banh mi at Viet Huong, a bowl of pho from Nam Phuong, or a bowl of bun bo hue from Cafe Diem (not sure about sunday hours for that one).. these are all traditional Vietnamese places, not the fusion-y type places that seem to be more common in Manhattan.

              Also... since it will be Sunday, a lot of the taquerias down there will have barbacoa. I haven't sampled this myself but here is an article with many details:

              Saturday night you might consider the hummus and a couple small plates from the bar at Zahav, if that is convenient.

              And biking is a great way to accomplish this mission.

        2. re: Buckethead

          Another vote for Dandelion. I've only had cocktails there, but the Pimm's Deluxe is excellent, and the atmosphere is great.

          1. re: Buckethead

            If you want to try more of our gastropub scene (which I'd recommend, it's one thing we do very well here), one dish I forgot is the soft pretzel at Brauhaus Schmitz. They have a bunch of other $3 bar snacks that are all good, but I like the pretzel the best, and their beer selection is unlike any other place in the city (much more emphasis on lighter, old-world beer styles).

            Personally my two favorite gastropubs in the city are the Khyber Pass and South Philly Tap Room (SPTR). SPTR gets a slight edge in the food department but the beer list at Khyber is much more interesting. I'm not a fan of the Standard Tap. Also, if you're on bikes the Northern Liberties (where the Tap is) and Fishtown neighborhoods are kind of a hike.

            1. re: Buckethead

              I'm doing a day in Philly next month and this thread is great for helping my planning. I'm trying to absorb as much local food and culture as I can in the day and I figured Reading Terminal Market would make for a nice afternoon stop. Are any of these above restaurants (from Buckethead's list) close by?

              just to fill you in a lil bit more, lunch will be at Paesano's and dinner at maybe Talula's Garden or Osteria. My SO and I are coming from Los Angeles.

              1. re: andytseng

                Jamonera, Barbuzzo, and the 13th St. location of Capogiro are pretty close to the RTM. That area is now known as "Midtown Village", there are quite a few other good/very good restaurants there: Sampan, Zavino, Time, and Lolita. Vedge is only slightly further away (still only 4 blocks from RTM).

            2. We have a couple of good cocktail bars too if you are interested in craft cocktails:

              -Ranstead Room
              -Farmer's Cabinet
              -Franklin Mortgage

              All get pretty strong reviews.

              If you end up near 13th Street, I would suggest maybe stopping into Zavino for their Tasting Board (meats & cheeses). I think it's one of the best in the city. And, although it comes from NY so you may have access, my favorite of the meats is the Baby Jesus, so I'd request that. They also make excellent pizzas.

              If you head out to Northern Liberties, I am also a big fan of Standard Tap. The original Philly Gastropub and still my personal favorite, though I think South Philly Tap Room is probably held in higher regard at this point. And, though I don't see it much on this board, if you catch a sunny day, Frankfort Hall out that way is a pretty fun beer garden. I've only been there once, but I enjoyed myself and found the beers to be quite good.

              Also, I would pretty much +1 just about everything that's been recommended so far. All great ideas. I am just trying to add a couple of other things into the mix.

              Finally, if you end up being here on Saturday night, one activity that many of my friends like to do to cap off a long day when they are visiting is stopping into Bob & Barbara's on South Street (near 16th if I am remembering correctly) for the special (shot of Beam and a can of PBR) and to check out the Crowd Pleasers, a great jazz combo in the style of Jimmy Smith. Certainly not for everyone, but we enjoy it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tfalbo

                Thank you. This thread is great!