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Minneapolis Chowhound needs Recs

My husband and I will be visiting Philadelphia for the first time over Labor Day. We will have one night directly in the city, the Sunday before Labor Day. I would like some recommendations for what "not to miss." We will have one dinner and a couple of lunches. My husband and I are big foodies and will eat anything, as long as it's good. However, I will have my father, his girlfriend and possibly a child around 9 years old with us. I would like to stay in the cheap-moderate range (think under $20 an entree).
Also, any areas of the city that stand out above others for eating/staying would be appreciated.

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  1. Even though the Amish vendors won't be there, a trip to Reading Terminal Market is a Philly "must". Downtown Philly is pretty compact, so almost any downtown hotel will work. For dinner, consider Modo Mio (will need a cab) for their $35 Sunday supper (full course meal) or Kanella for their Mezze, entire meal for less than $35. Zahav would fit your price range (entire meal for $39 or can do a la cart).

    2 Replies
    1. re: rsgdmd

      There's little chance of even a very small adult leaving Zahav satisfied for less than $40 plus drinks. It's not at all "cheap-moderate"

      The Alexander Inn is a nice independent hotel in the middle of town - across the street from a good wine/beer/cheese bar and walking distance to Kanella(sunday prix fixe is a good as in lunch - not too kid friendly), Farm & Fisherman, Reading Terminal Market, Barbuzzo, Jamonera...(and it's pretty inexpensive as city hotels go)

      There are several bars with really good food that fit your budget (I think Philly's bar food is better than most cities').

      Great sandwhiches - Paesano's, Sarcones, DiNics and more

      It's easy to get around town on foot and cabs are cheap so chances are good that any place you see while perusing this board will be easy to reach. I'd do some searching for gastropubs, tacos and sandwiches if you really want to stick to the budget (maybe the latter two will facilitate a pricier dinner?)

      1. re: rsgdmd

        I am pretty sure Reading Terminal market is closed on Labor Day but do try to get there on Sunday even though part of it will be closed.

        There are a lot of good places to stay and eat in the Rittenhouse section of town. And yes, Zahav is really good. Get the Mesibah if you like lamb.

      2. If you're on a budget, you might want to consider a BYOB, there are a lot of good ones. Entrees will be more like $25 but you're saving a bundle by bringing your own wine or beer.

        1. Your post caught my attention - I'm a recent transplant from Minneapolis.

          I would second Zahav and say to just order the salad selection and then a few small plates to share. That will keep you around your price point. We got the lamb dinner recently and by far the best part was the appetizers.

          I'd also recommend Dandelion and Osteria for brunch/lunch - their lunch dishes are just as good as dinner and more reasonably priced.

          1. Reading Market is a good stop since there are many food joints in there. On top of that, the local Chinatown is within 2-3 blocks. There are many interesting things in that area. I am not recommending anything specific, but rather a region within walking distance.

            https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Ar...

            1. In the city your under $20 an entree is a challenge. Perhaps in a small plates oriented restaurant and using some restraint one might be able to do the "under $20 an entree"perhaps Amada or Tria. IF the Reading Terminal Market is open that is an interesting venue, lively, with various food options. Zahav is an excellent choice for food that I would guess is very different than Minneapolis but as noted it would be difficult to say under $20 per person. As noted there are some very good bar food places and sandwich shops which will meet your budget. Some one more familiar with the bar food scene might list some for your consideration. Don't let the term Bar food turn you off as noted Philly has some very good places that fit under that heading.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bacchus101

                Ah, got it. That makes sense. What is a "reasonable" restaurant? In Minneapolis, the $20 an entree range is a casual restaurant that still has the flexibility to turn out quality food.
                It's not necessarily budget that is stopping me...my husband and I frequent fine dining establishments...so much as my company may not be as appreciative :)

              2. Where will you be staying (if you haven't already decided, that is)? Will you be driving or reliant upon public transportation and cabs? What are your party's food/mobility restrictions, if any? As Bacchus101 already mentioned, $20/entrée is challenging as most of this board’s favorites have entrees that come in closer to $25-35.

                What is Minneapolis known for? Philly has some really great things, but I'm sure no one wants to recommend anything you may already have access to. I realize that there's a significant Scandinavian and Hmong presence there, which Philly doesn't have. There's a new Norwegian place, Noord, that received a nice review from the local food critic. As you’ve seen, this board’s favorite recommendation is Zahav and specifically, the Mesibah. It’s $48/person, and if I recall correctly, everyone at your table would be required to order this (there may also be some kind of minimum order – can anyone confirm?) Frankly, I think this would be way too much food, especially for a 9-year-old. katebauer’s suggestion of ordering the small plates and some skewers is much more sensible, but as caganer warned, you may still leave hungry.

                Neighborhoods that are usually recommended to out-of-towners are not usually neighborhoods that have restaurants that are cheap(er). What kind of neighborhood are you looking for? Scanning your previous posts indicate that you tend to stay away from seafood and enjoy eating locally and Italian, Ethiopian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian food. Philly is known for sandwiches, gastropubs with decent bar food, BYOBs, old-school Italian-American, and regional Italian. There’s a relatively significant SE Asian population (although not many Hmong) and some South Asian and African diaspora.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mookleknuck

                  Wow, thanks for the analysis! You've definitely scoped a lot of our "go-tos." However, asides from a focus on local, there isn't any one cuisine that defines us...we thrive on good. I'll eat anything from kitfo to molecular gastronomy and back again. We have avoided seafood in the past due to a (luckily untrue) shellfish allergy, but now are quite open to exploring it...if it's fresh. Living in the middle of the country, fresh local seafood isn't an option, and therefore isn't part of our regular diet.
                  In Minneapolis, we have great Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Somali and farm to table. What that means is, I'm not going to go out of my way to try the Vietnamese place because I can get it back home. However, I'm not going to snub it if it happens to be the best restaurant in town...does that makes sense?
                  A few people have mentioned that the pub food is quite good. I happen to be a big beer lover, so that's appealing to me :)
                  I haven't picked a location yet, probably in the downtown area since we want to see some museums, but we will have a car if needed.
                  Also: what should I know about the BYOB? Corking fees, etc? This is relatively uncommon in MSP, and even places that allow it usually have their own offerings.

                  1. re: forgottendreamr

                    I consider the Vietnamese in Philly perfectly competent, and sometimes quite good, but certainly not what's best here.

                    Here, when people call a restaurant a BYO, it means that they don't have a proper liquor license. Some have corkage fees but they're usually reasonable. There are some places that have liquor licenses that let you bring your own, but that's less common and corkage fees tend to be higher, not surprisingly.

                2. We like the Rittenhouse area and just returned from a three night stay. Our group (including our 7yo) liked Dandelion for lunch and drinks, good people watching from the outside tables.

                  During past trips, we had good lunch/small plate nibbles at Tria.