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Feb 3, 2013 05:59 AM

my sister wants to rediscover Philly!

Hi Hounds - My sister, born and raised in Philly, has lived near Baltimore MD for the last 25 years. While she has been to center city occasionally over the years on visits home, she has not really experienced Philly's renaissance in terms of restaurants and neighborhood revitalization. If you had to choose, say, 6 eateries that showcase Philly's restaurant scene, where would you take her? Not looking for exclusive, she is in a position to do that anytime. I'm looking for delicious, fun and unique.

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  1. An inquiry seeking good food and friendly service in a interesting and fun venue in Philadelphia will bring a variety of suggestions from local hounds. Just as a starter here is a link to a professional's lists. Perhaps you would explore them as a starting point.

    1 Reply
    1. When you say "Philly scene" I imagine that also takes in suburbs as well.

      My list would include an eclectic choice of:
      Bistrot la Minette
      Birchrunville Cafe
      Reading Terminal Market

      4 Replies
      1. re: arepo

        actually, I was thinking center city and just beyond. We would spend Saturday night at my niece's apartment near Jeweler's row. Rather than full meals at a few places, I was thinking we could do a drink and apps at several places.

        1. re: Janskitchen

          Drinks, the magic word. Tria near Washington Sq., Ranstead Room and Franklin Mortgage for cocktails, new but interesting venue the Red Owl in a #1 rated new hotel and with a view of Independence Hall. Zahav serves good cocktails and small plates in a nice venue, an international award winning restaurant. Hop Sing Laundry for drinks, apps and a unique experience.

          1. re: Janskitchen

            Can you tell us more about your plans? From your first post it sounded like you were just asking for recommendations to pass along to your sister, now it sounds like you are planning a trip to visit her. If you can give some details about that we can give some better recommendations. For example, if you're coming next week you probably won't be able to get in to some of the hotter places.

            Anyway, my top 6 most interesting meals in the city right now if you want to kind of sum up our restaurant scene these days: Bibou, Vedge, Zahav, Osteria, Will BYOB and South Philly Tap Room. Those aren't necessarily my top 6 favorite places in the city.

            1. re: Janskitchen

              From your original post I would have recommend dropping into some of the neighborhoods a little farther out that are unrecognizable from 25 years ago and have good or great restaurants, like East Passyunk, Northern Liberties, and Fishtown.

              But within Center City there is of course plenty to see and eat. If you are going to bounce around that sort of takes away the BYOBs, which is too bad but not that big of a deal. With that in mind here is an itinerary:

              start at Southwark at 4th & Bainbridge, best classic cocktails and housemade Charcuterie in town
              Walk or cab to Zahav, get the hummus and a couple small plates
              Cab to Amis, Marc Vetri owned Roman restaurant for pasta
              Walk to Barbuzzo, drinks and small plates. Puts you in the heart of the revitalized 13th st corridor. 25 years ago this was the red light district. On the same couple blocks you could sub in Jamonera for tapas or Zavino for pizza instead.
              Walk or cab to Tria on 18th st (there is a closer location at 12th & spruce, but for this tour of "rediscovery" you should walk through the vibrant Rittenhouse area--walnut st shopping has come a long way in 25 years too)
              From here, if you aren't hungry, modern cocktails at Franklin or Ranstead Room (I prefer the latter but its a little farther and has a smaller menu of originals). If you are hungry, maybe Dandelion, or you could hit Shake Shack.

          2. Donuts: Federal Donuts
            Brunch: Lacroix
            Lunch: Reading Terminal Market
            Hole-in-the-wall ethnic: Pakistani chicken chargha at Wah-Gi-Wah
            Speakeasy: Hop Sing Laundromat
            BYOB dinner: Bibou or Farm & Fisherman
            Dinner & a movie: Bistro La Minette

            1. I know about the Philly Chinatown scenary if she is interested. I have also had good experience with Mixto. I am not sure if that couts as Philly's scene though. As another poster has mentioned, the Reading Market is always a fun place to walk through.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Chem, don't want to answer for the OPer. However IMHO Philly Chinatown is definitely part of the Philly scene part of the fabric of the city as any other ethnic area.

                1. re: Bacchus101

                  Thanks Bacchus,

                  In which case, I will make a very short list (not meant to be complete).

                  For Cantonese dim sum (11:00Am - 2:00 PM), try Joy Tsin Lau or Ocean Harbor
                  For Shanghai style dim sum and "hole in the wall" feeling, try Dim Sum Garden
                  For Szechuan cuisine, try Four Rivers or E Mei.
                  For after dark 5 PM to 3 AM, try Lake Tai for seafood.

                  Pick whichever you like to try. If you have no preference, then I will lean toward Cantonese Dim Sum at Joy Tsin Lau or Ocean Harbor.


                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses. Lots of fun suggestions!

              2. If she hasn't spent much time in the city in 25 years, and you want drinks and apps, I'd take a late afternoon into evening stroll on the 13th Street corridor: Zavino or Barbuzzo, Jamonera, Sampan, The Corner, El Vez. Not only are the restaurants good, it's one of the areas of the city that has transformed radically.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lsmutko

                  I'll say! that stretch used to be seriously seedy.