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Philly for 24 hours- Rittenhouse are recs please

Will be staying in Philly for 1 night arriving around noon 7/26 and departing around noon 7/27 and looking for some suggestions for food/sites. Staying at the Radisson Warwick Plaza Hotel .We are an active couple in our mid 30's, general plan is to explore some historic sites around Independence Hall and enjoy some good food. For lunch hubby would love a good cheesesteak, for dinner looking for a fun gourmet restaurant with good craft cocktails (hubby is a huge bourbon fan) and then a cute cafe or diner for breakfast. As always any advice is appreciated.

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  1. The two best places for bourbon in Philadelphia are Village Whiskey, a Jose Garces restaurant within walking distance from your hotel, and Fette Sau, a BBQ place about 10 minutes away by car from your hotel. I probably wouldnt dine at Village Whiskey but it would be a place to grab a nightcap. The Ranstead Room will be in walking distance from you hotel as well and they make real creative cocktails. The two other great cocktail places in Philadelphia are Hop Sing Laundry in Chinatown, and Franklin Mortgage.

    Breakfast at Parc, right around the corner from your hotel looking onto Rittenhouse Square where you would have the option to dine al fresco or inside would be one choice.

    For lunch I would go to the Reading Terminal Market. You can get a cheesesteak there, or perhaps a DiNics roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe that is a far superior sandwich to the pedestrian cheesesteak. You also have options of eating at Amish restaurants like the Dutch Eating place, and a myriad of other places.

    Dinner you have a ton of choices, though your cocktail requirement would exclude some of our best restaurants which are BYOs. Talulah's Garden is down in the Washington Square area and has creative fresh food, and I like the cocktails they have there. If you want to go to a vegetarian restaurant, Vedge is an elegant vegan restaurant that has a very nice cocktail program as well. Zahav, is a modern israeli restaurant in the Old City area, and serves a wonderful lamb shoulder dish as part of a great prix fixe menu. Others I am sure can suggest many other options.

    One other option to consider is Stateside on East Passyunk. They have a great bourbon selection as well, though their chef recently left so I do not know if their food quality has suffered at all.

    1. I would suggest your husband skip the cheesesteak & go for a roast pork sandwich. After checking in, head over to Reading Terminal Market - lots of great choices - DiNics for pork, Beck's for Cajun, Brauhaus Schmidts for German, Hershel's for deli, Bassetts for ice cream..... There is a cheesesteak place if he really needs one, but much better choices are available.
      Near your hotel, there's Vernick Food & Drink, The Oyster House, A.Kitchen, Lacroix, Tinto. For drinks, there's Franklin Mortgage.

      1. If you do end up at Reading Terminal for lunch, which you should, the "Trainwreck" at Beck's Cajun Cuisine is awesome, it's a cheesesteak with andoulle sausage mixed in, and spicy remoulade on the roll. It's a not a traditional Philly cheesesteak, though it is made in the same style as a real Philly steak, on good bread, and way better than the regular cheesesteak place in the Terminal.

        For dinner, I would look into Zahav and Vernick, and make reservations as soon as you can.

        For breakfast I personally think Parc is more kitschy than cute... it's a huge, bustling restaurant but it does have great people watching overlooking the park if you get a sidewalk or window seat. Food is hit or miss.

        If you want a diner and don't need gussied up breakfast food I would go to Little Pete's. Very close to your hotel and one of the few "old Philly" places left in an increasingly sanitized neighborhood. It's a real 24-hour diner that serves a wide cross section of Philly's population. Food is fine for basic breakfast. Another idea is to walk down to Ants Pants on South Street. Very small neighborhood breakfast and lunch place with an Australian bent. Good food, may be a wait. Definitely cute. If they are too busy La Va down the street actually does a good shakshuka.

        1. Excellent choices offered here. I would add that one block from Rittenhouse Square is Tria a busy, fun wine/beer bar with interesting small plates. In the Arts building is the Rittenhouse Tavern, the food and service are good the venue is excellent with a great courtyard nice if the weather allows.

          1. Hi - this is a common issue on philly threads - people ask about (or even just mention) cheesesteaks, and are told to get some other kind of sandwich.

            if your husband wants a cheesesteak, he should get a cheesesteak. tons of places have them - really, i can think of only a handful of places that sell pizza by the slice that don't also sell cheesesteaks.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Bob Loblaw

              Bob, quite right! There is always some well meaning hound answering the question of where to find a great cheesesteak with "forget that and get a whatever". I would think the reader /hound would be best served by suggestions in answer to the question and then perhaps followed by a note that the "whatever" is a great sandwich also.

              When in New England asking for suggestions on where one can find the best lobster roll and being told to forget it and get a fish sandwich instead is not what I would consider helpful.

              1. re: Bacchus101

                It doesn't seem like either of you plan to actually answer the question about where to get a cheesesteak either? Just what we need on this slow board (compared to other big city Chowhound boards), more moderation... Let people give advice how they want. Giving alternatives people may not have though of is always generous advice.

                I second (or is it third?) the advice to get a roast pork with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone from DiNic's instead of a cheesesteak. Even if you like cheesesteaks, that's the real Philly sandwich, which unfortunately gets overshadowed in the national media pigeonholing of Philly (Philly is one of the best food cities in the US, and it has nothing to do with cheesesteaks).

                Not to mention, a visit to Reading Terminal Market is always great advice for visitors too.

                1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                  I would never give a suggestion on cheesesteaks as I have not had one in years. Others here are certainly more qualified. The suggestion is to answer the question which is being asked and then offer additional off subject suggestions. "Let people give advices how they want", sure thing as I did not realize that a suggestion would slow the board with more moderation nor did I understand that answering a question regarding cheesesteaks pigeonholes Philadelphia. I suppose answering the question asked would encumber some people.

                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                    Regardless of what we think about cheesesteaks compared to other Philly sandwiches, people who do not live in Philly do want to try them. As previously mentioned, someone who goes to New England wants to try a lobster roll just like someone who visits Chicago wants to have deep dish pizza and someone who visits San Francisco wants to have clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl while sitting on Fisherman's Wharf. It's just what people want to do. Heck, I've done it myself (except for the Fisherman's Wharf thing...now THAT'S just too touristy).

                    Now, to the original poster...Take your husband to Steve's on 16th St between Chestnut and Market Sts for his cheesesteak. It's probably the best one that is closest to your hotel.

                    But if someone wants the full cheesesteak "experience" I wholeheartedly encourage people to go to Pat's on 9th and Passyunk if they can get there conveniently. While there are better cheesesteaks around (and I do think that Steve's is one of them), they are the originator and, to me, that's enough to warrant a visit.

                    1. re: Philly Ray

                      Regardless of whether they want to try them or not, I submit that 99 percent of the cheesesteaks are pure garbage made of steakum like processed beef, soaked in grease, on horrible rolls. Its is a crime to suggest that one eat one of these sandwiches. Offering someone an alternative is what this board is about.. things that people would not have considered. Furthermore here, barryg offered a version that is different than the normal grease soaked roll, which is something that should be commended. While you may be proud of the cheesesteak, I wish it would be abolished. It should not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of food in Philadelphia. I am sick of NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB games always throwing in a picture of some greasy spoon with a pile of meat steaming on the griddle. My dream is that someday people say I am coming to Philly, I am dying to try one of your BYOBs, or what is the newest sandwich, not where should I get a heart attack on a roll.

                      1. re: cwdonald

                        Not trying to be rude, but I've noticed here and elsewhere online that many people tell me "I read it, but I don't post" because some strong personalities tend to dominate any online exchange and scare people off. This is a pretty mild board thanks to strong moderation (although sometimes too strong), but personally I try to avoid criticizing other posters advice as much as possible (just don't criticize my favorite restaurant, or I'll bite your head off!) and focus on my own advice (a rule which I am obviously violating here!). That's my only point.

                        Back to our regularly scheduled broadcast...

                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                          So where would you recommend the poster go for a cheesesteak? (Returning us to our regularly scheduled conversation.......)

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            This is one of the reasons I always suggest roast pork sandwiches instead: the only two cheesesteaks I've found that are worth eating are in the Northeast: Steve's and Joe's (formerly Chink's)(I've never had John's). Not a convenient stop for most tourists. But you can get a great roast pork sandwich at Paesano's, Tony Luke's, John's, or DiNics, and those are all much more convenient.

                        2. re: cwdonald

                          Most of Paesano's sandwiches are a "heart attack on a roll" if you eat the whole thing (adding the fried egg will get you halfway there). Should we stop sending people there?

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            Interesting interaction on the "cheesesteak issue". As noted by Ray, like other items in other cities, it is the "thing to get(at least once) when in Philly. Pointing them toward your opinion of the "best" may save them from having the worst. Contrary wise I could not agree more with CW's comment that many cheesesteaks are garbage, as I am not even a fan of the ones noted as good. The hackneyed game day shots of the Philly griddle makes me crazy too. My only suggestion is to answer the question then suggest away with alternatives. Quite a good interaction, thanks.