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Neighborhood place in rittenhouse square

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Cece123 May 15, 2013 10:28 AM

I just moved to Philadelphia in the Rittenhouse Square area. What are the good neighborhood restaurants? Interested in *delicious food* and a laid-back, casual atmosphere. So far we really like the Dandelion, but found Parc and Rouge too 'scene-y', and Vernick too fancy, for a regular weeknight dinner. Any suggestions in Rittenhouse or Center City would be greatly appreciated!

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    cwdonald RE: Cece123 May 15, 2013 10:35 AM

    For light snacks and drinks you would like Tria. For fast food vegetarian HipCityVedge

    Matyson is a nice byo close by. They do tasting menus during the week, and also have a nice Sunday meal special.

    NomNom Noodles is a nice ramen shop.

    Rittenhouse Tavern may seem similar to Vernick, but it is perhaps not as expensive.

    Branzino is a decent italian byo restaurant that is close by.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cwdonald
      bluehensfan RE: cwdonald May 15, 2013 12:20 PM

      I second Tria. It's upscale but not "a show" if you know what I mean. Rotisseur also has really good chicken and it's extremely, extremely casual.

      1. re: bluehensfan
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        PhillyA RE: bluehensfan May 15, 2013 08:22 PM

        Those 2 are 2 of my favorites, on opposite ends of the casual scale.

    2. Bacchus101 RE: Cece123 May 15, 2013 10:45 AM

      The Rittenhouse Tavern in the Art Alliance Building may be a good fit for you. Courtyard is quite lovely for al fresco dining and there is a good price range of food options. Love there burger,but please no watercress!

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        Bob Loblaw RE: Cece123 May 15, 2013 10:54 AM

        Not trying to be mean, but your neighborhood is pretty scene-y. i don't know how much difference there is near Rittenhouse Square between a neighborhood place and a scene-y place.
        I do find that if you go south of the Park, toward Pine and Lombard, places there are more low-key.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Bob Loblaw
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          Cece123 RE: Bob Loblaw May 15, 2013 11:40 AM

          If there are places south of the park that you would recommend I'd love to try them. (Not a mean comment at all, after a few weeks here I have come to agree with your assessment.)

          1. re: Cece123
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            Bob Loblaw RE: Cece123 May 16, 2013 09:43 AM

            You know, it's been so long since I lived downtown that I don't. At one point Fish was somewhere down there, and that was great, but it moved/closed/reopened/changed owners - impossible to keep straight. Other people like Meritage, but I've never eaten there.
            I just know that I wind up walking/biking down there once a month or so and seeing places that look nice - and neighborhoody- but I never manage to make it back there. And my Doobie's days are pretty far behind me at this point. Pub and Kitchen maybe?

            1. re: Cece123
              sockii RE: Cece123 May 16, 2013 03:30 PM

              Roberto Cafe on South at 21st. BYOB serving unpretentious and very authentic Italian...I lived about 2 blocks away for years and this was pretty much my go-to place for a nice yet casual night out.

              Pub & Kitchen? I liked the food but found the atmosphere crowd SO obnoxious. Never felt comfortable really just hanging out there. Honestly when I am in the neighborhood these days I tend to grab lunch or hang out at Ten Stone (not the best food but very relaxing neighborhood atmosphere, you will know all the regulars quickly) or Rex 1516 (more classy, higher end food, but still the kind of place you can just relax for a while.)

              1. re: Cece123
                sockii RE: Cece123 Jun 2, 2013 09:10 AM

                I'm also going to add a new rec: Kidari Sushi Yatai that just opened at 18th & South. Had two lunches there this past week and it was *great* sushi and cooked small plates, super-friendly service too. In fact it's probably a good thing I don't live nearby any longer or else I'd probably be going broke eating there all the time.

                Chef Sam Yoon from Raw is behind the sushi counter there, which is what really makes it standout from some of the other small sushi places around Rittenhouse.

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              Philly Ray RE: Cece123 May 15, 2013 03:07 PM

              Does anyone else think that a.kitchen would be ok?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Philly Ray
                bluehensfan RE: Philly Ray May 15, 2013 05:19 PM

                It's so small at a.kitchen and a little pretentious if you ask me. I feel more on the spot there than Parc for example because of the size (or lack thereof). I have not been since Sykora left so who knows how good the food is there at the a.k these days.

                1. re: bluehensfan
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                  cwdonald RE: bluehensfan May 15, 2013 05:55 PM

                  A.kitchen feels more like a hotel restaurant than a neighborhood bistro.

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                Cece123 RE: Cece123 May 16, 2013 11:14 AM

                Thank you all so much for the suggestions. Tried Trial yesterday and it was great! We will try the others soon.

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                  bumble RE: Cece123 May 16, 2013 12:28 PM

                  Try Melograno or Porcini. Both BYO Italians and on the 2000 block of Sansom.

                  1. coookie RE: Cece123 May 21, 2013 10:44 AM

                    hello, neighbor. allow me to advise. i'll leave it to you and google to find these places so i won't bother with addresses and websites. i'm going to assume a boundary of approx chestnut to lombard, and 23rd to broad.

                    *cracks fingers*

                    audrey claire - mediterranean byo. cash only. casual, easy, no-brainer place to get a bite. order judiciously - the menu is a mix of some excellent dishes and some ho-hum stuff, but you'll quickly discover what you like. my faves: shortrib flatbread, grilled artichokes, octopus salad, feta crusted lamb. pretty much exactly what you are looking for in a neighborhood spot.

                    pub and kitchen - pub food and craft brews. newly renovated with a new chef. used to have an amazing burger, which they frankly fucked up in the new menu. still, solid place for a meal. can sometimes be overrun with obnoxious wharton students that make you want to punch them in the face, but hey, that's philly.

                    dmitri's - rustic greek seafood. not your average, soggy-spanakopita greek joint. does a nice whole fish. i love the greek salad with greens, shrimp pil-pil and grilled squid.

                    dandelion - you're on it already

                    tria - as others have said, nice for wine and snacks. i like this place for an afternoon break from walking around, especially with out of town guests in tow. just try to hit on off-peak times as it gets packed.

                    matyson - favorite byo in the city and possibly my favorite restaurant here. young, energetic chef. weekly rotating super creative tasting menus. sunday dinner prix fixe for $35pp. what's not to love?

                    village whiskey - my reigning champ for high end burger in the city. get it with a fried egg.

                    melograno - for my money, the best italian in the rittenhouse area. exceptional pastas in the roman / tuscan tradition. byo. prefer it to branzino and certainly to the pricier il pittore across the street. having said that, branzino apparently just picked up mike stollenwerk (formerly of fish and little fish - two excellent seafood places) as head chef, so i'd keep that one on the radar too.

                    zama - sushi. pricey but easily the best. machi sushi or vic for cheaper.

                    rotisseur - rotisserie chicken and creative sandwiches (their take on a chicken banh mi is wonderful) and sides

                    tampopo - pan-asian, very casual. love their bibimbap and chicken katsu curry

                    wajoe - korean sit down bbq. the usual - bulgogi, bibimbap, etc. decent and nice comfort food in inclement weather.

                    pumpkin - really charming cash only, farm to table byo. similar to matyson.

                    casta diva - another italian byo, similar to melograno. perfectly serviceable and good for a change every once in a while.

                    russet - another solid farm to table byo. had a few shaky experiences here when it first opened but meals since then have been excellent. nice brunch too.

                    almaz cafe - very low key ethiopian in a hole-in-the-wall setting but don't judge it by its cover!

                    novita bistro - cozy moroccan byo with comforting, not flashy food. another frequently overlooked place.

                    good dog - dive bar with great beer and a killer burger.

                    rachael's nosheri - quaint, ny-style deli. only place to get a proper lox bagel on a saturday or sunday morning.

                    la va cafe - great cafe with a really cool scene. used to spend hours here working / studying, though less so recently. excellent grilled paninis on the cafe menu and apparently they've begun dinner service in the couple of years, though i can't speak to that.

                    cafe lutecia - french cafe, great soups and fresh sandwiches, breakfast and lunch only.

                    tangier - dive bar with oddly decent food. very quirky place, but i'm fond of it. nice buffalo wings. ask for a mystery beer.

                    sahara grill - shockingly authentic, very good lebanese food in what otherwise you'd think would be a run-of-the-mill "middle eastern" shit show.

                    bon appetit!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: coookie
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                      cwdonald RE: coookie May 21, 2013 11:12 AM

                      Wow... what a great response .... !!!!!

                      1. re: coookie
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                        Cece123 RE: coookie May 21, 2013 02:10 PM

                        This is a dream come true! I can't wait to try these. Thank you a million times!!!!

                        1. re: Cece123
                          bluehensfan RE: Cece123 May 21, 2013 02:21 PM

                          Somehow, nobody has mentioned Estia on Locust St. They have a decent $30 three course price fixe business lunch special that includes washer-fresh octopus, freshly grilled fish, and a dessert like bakalava. Good food, relaxed, comfy atmosphere and not pretentious (albeit expensive as it gets for dinner when the fish is sold by the pound).

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