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Ambler / Lower Gwynedd

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I'm a long-time NYC-er, now living in the Bay Area and coming back home to visit the family. Any recs on good, solid restaurants I should try while I'm out here? Certainly willing to drive into Philly, but more inclined to stay local. Open to all cuisines, all price ranges (although don't really want to go too high end because will have young kids), but what are the things that you all think are must-trys?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I think you have a number of solid choices in the area.

    My top recommendation would be Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington. Fun decor, great service, and the best Mexican food in the area, its definitely higher end than your standard taco and burrito joint (and pricier) but well worth it. You had mentioned you will have young kids with you and this place is very kid friendly with a very creative kids menu (mac n cheese tacos, fluffernutter quesidillas). And since you have young kids, I am sure you will be in need of a drink, they serve great margaritas and some inventive cocktails.

    There are two higher end restaurants in Ambler - Bridgets and Dettera. Both are nice, with great atmosphere and a full bar at each. Dettera also offers some nice chef tasting menus. While I would not say that eaither are "unfriendly" to kids, neither are the first choice for me to bring my three year old either. But they are nice options if you are looking for something higher end.

    In Ambler, I would recommend hitting a BYO restaurant like Saffron (indian) or Massa (Italian/Portguese) or Trax (american), grabbing a bottle of wine from the Wine and Spirits Shop on Butler Avenue. These restaurants serve solid food (Massa has a full menu, and also offers wood fired pizzas if you arelooking for something more casual), nice yet casual atmospheres, and are good for kids (though Trax is a little tight on space).

    Forest and Main is a new brewpub with great beer and pub food, and a very cool atmosphere. The staff is wonderful with kids, but I will warn you that the place is small and can feel very crowded if you have a number of small kids with you. But, if you go early you should be fine.

    Also, if you are in Ambler, do not miss Toto's for the absolute best gelato around (plus cappucino, biscotti, etc.). They are on Main Street (a side street off of Butler Ave, which is the primary road in town) and easy to miss, but worth looking for. If not, Cafe Maida (right on Butler Ave) is a solid second choice for gelato.

    If the kids want ice cream, Sweet Brier Cafe (on Lindenwold Ave) has the best ice cream around, with some fun sundae choices, and very reasonable prices.

    1 Reply
    1. re: AmblerGirl

      Sounds like fun! Thanks for the quick response. Unfortunately, my parents don't really care much about food and we're going to be too busy to cook (in a un babyproofed house with 2 young kids), so looking to avoid wawa's hoagies and wendy's spicy chicken sandwiches for dinner everynight, which is what happened last time i was home...

    2. I would certainly second Cantina Feliz, Saffron, Massa, Forest and Main and Toto. Bridgets, in my opinion, is kind of mediocre, expensive American food.

      I would also add Mina’s Cucina Rustica on Bethlehem Pike in between Gwynedd and Ambler. It is a really good, not expensive, Italian restaurant and one of my favorites in this area.

      Also, in North Wales on Sumneytown Pike, there is a bakery that serves lunch. It is called Alices and they have great bread, croissants and pastries. Their lunches are some of the best in the area too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Unkle Al

        I would second Unkle Al's advice to avoid Bridget's. They've slid downhill to mediocre in my opinion too.

        1. re: Unkle Al

          I second Mina's Cucina. I also like Arpeggio, in the shopping center at Sumneytown and Bethlehem Pike. It too is really good and not expensive. Both are very family friendly.

          I'm not sure about Alice's at lunch with kids--although that depends on the age and, shall we say, activity level of the kids. I only say that because the last two times I was there, it was crowded and, oddly enough, I have never seen kids there (but that may be because those cupcakes are too darn tempting even to adult eyes ;). And if you do go to Alice's, make sure you get one of their baguettes to take home. Whenever I'm within detour-distance, I have to stop for one of those: perfect crunchy exterior and airy interior.

          1. re: gaffk

            I will third Mina Cucina. Very good food, friendly, byob and nice atmosphere.

        2. The "good solid restaurants" comment is a solid fit for the William Penn Inn in Lower Gwynedd and close by Ambler. Pick the tavern, rather than the other rooms, and the kids and you will be quite comfortable. Agree on Feliz a standout here, vs. Bay Area, I would guess still a solid good. Saffron is very good Indian in a very small room. Forest and Main has a small menu, some good entrees and excellent ales, kid friendly but can be very loud, crowded and friendly but often slow service. Plus 3 on Unkle Al nix on Bridgets.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bacchus101

            agree on Unkle Al's reviews. We have a 3 year old & our go-to places for casual meals are Vic sushi (very limited seating, so best for takeout), Cantina Feliz, & Saffron. Love all three. If you escape for an evening for an adult dinner, highly recommend jetting on over to Conshy (20 min away) to Blackfish. We also love Thai Orchid in nearby Bluebell for casual thai, others on this board would send to closer Thai Aroma (near Broad Axe tavern & Phils).

            1. re: Bacchus101

              Haha. The William Penn Inn. I grew up on that place... As a gluttonous (and quite rotund child), I used to love the thursday night buffet. And what a deal for me it was - I recall it being sub $10 for a small entree of fried chicken and then full access to the buffet. Brings back some real memories...