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Oct 14, 2013 02:04 PM

quick trip to Philly- thoughts on itinerary?

Hi all,
My husband and I will be in town from NY for a wedding soon. We will be arriving early evening (barring traffic jams) on a Friday and we have until about 3 PM the next day to eat and drink as much as possible near Center City before heading to Northeast Philly for the wedding. So we're looking at one dinner, multiple drink stops Friday night, a stop for dessert (Capogiro is mandatory), a breakfast, and a lunch near Center City. I've gotten some great ideas from perusing this board already.

We love beer, cheese, low key & laid back, farm to table, eclectic menus. Since this is a little mini-vacation for us, I'm looking for a festive dinner place, nothing sedate, and some fun bars for Friday night.

Zahav (my first choice, but only reservations available are at 5 and 10:30. 5 is too early and I'm not necessarily averse to that 10:30 reservation, but do they do bar dining?)
Any other ideas? No Italian and nothing too formal, max $125-$150 total with a drink each.

Ranstead Room
Franklin Bar
Monk's Cafe
Nodding Head Brewery
Good Dog (I think we've been here before)
Triumph Brewing


Is there a good place for grazing? We probably won't need a huge lunch.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Your dinner choice look great to me. Yes Zahav does have small top two's next to the bar. Not sure if they serve dinner at the bar. Those small tops go early. We always enjoy Amada, love the small plate choices. The Franklin Mortgage and Ranstead Room are great for cocktails. Others here will offer better information great beer places. If you want to push the envelope a bit Hop Sing Laundromat is in Chinatown where you could dine at one of the many Chinese spots and hit the Hop Sing speakeasy if you can find it. Brunch or dinner at Dandelion a fun British Pub. Any Tria for light far and good wine & beer. Barbazzo for a lively lunch, very busy take a look and reserve. You may also enjoy the Parc on Rittenhouse Square for French Bistro and people watching.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bacchus101

      Thank you so much. I made the 10:30 res for Zahav. Honestly, judging from all the great places you guys are recommending, we may have to add a 4th meal to the day anyway, so the 10:30 dinner may work well to energize us to keep drinking :). The cocktail places look really fun, like Death and Co in NY, but there is so much good beer in Philly that we probably will not make it to cocktails.

    2. Dinner at Vedge would be my choice, it's one of the city's best restaurants, you have nothing like it in NYC, and it's within a few blocks of a bunch of good beer bars. Also great in case you can't get a res at Vedge are:

      Bibou (though if Zahav is booked I can almost guarantee Bibou is too)
      Fork (this may push your price point)
      Sbraga (though the chef is opening another spot right now, his attention may be divided)

      Amada is very good but not great enough to recommend if you are just visiting.

      Ranstead Room and Franklin Mortgage are cocktail-only places, you won't find beer at either. Hop Sing Laundromat would be my pick for cocktails, I like the Franklin too but it's a bit more expensive and not quite as good. If you'd rather drink some beers, you have many more choices. My favorite two in the city are the Khyber and South Philly Tap Room (SPTR), but you won't be very close to either of them. If you do go to Vedge, there's a pretty good beer bar near there, Time at 13th and Sansom. Monk's is always way too crowded for me on the weekends, ditto Good Dog. If you are going down to where Triumph is I'd go to Khyber instead, it's around the corner.

      If you go to Noord for dinner, SPTR is a short walk from there.

      Brunch at Kanella, I'd recommend it for dinner too but Kanella is just as good for brunch/lunch as it is for dinner and none of the places above are open for brunch on Saturday (except Amada).

      3 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        Thank you. I read on Eater that Bibou is closing? Zahav appeals a bit more to me either way. Sbraga looks really good too. That 4 course menu seems like a pretty good deal. What do you recommend there?

        Crowded or not, my husband is set on Monk's Cafe, so we will brave the crowds at least for a drink. I bookmarked Khyber Pass too.

        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

          Bibou isn't closing, they are opening a new restaurant in a different neighborhood though, and Bibou's current husband and wife team (chef and front of house, respectively) will be mainly running the new place. Bibou will remain open under its current sous chef. That isn't happening till next month at the earliest though.

          Sbraga is very good but I wouldn't skip Zahav in favor of it. If you do go, get the foie gras soup, other than that just order whatever looks best to you.

          FYI, Zahav, Amada, Fork, and the Khyber are all just a couple blocks from each other.

          1. re: Buckethead

            Charlotte was quoted in today's WSJ about how the government shutdown is affecting her small business loan for Le Cheri:


      2. That looks pretty good to me. For dinner, since you like cheese so much, you might want to check out the Talula's Garden menu.. (I love Zahav, and they do serve dinner at the bar, but Talula's Garden hits a number of the things you does Fork, I think.)

        For beer, I'd consider Strangelove's.. they have a wide-ranging, eclectic, ever-changing draft list. (And they are super nice people, while monks.....)

        Brunch, Dandelion is great. Cheu Noodle Bar is great. Kanella is great. You can't go wrong.

        To graze........ Reading Terminal, Talula's Daily.

        5 Replies
        1. re: alex1018

          Oh my gosh, Talula's Garden cheese menu looks amazing. Would we be able to go there just for cheese? Do they have bar seating there?

          Strangelove's looks really fun, and cool beer list. They are monks?

          Thanks for the grazing recommendations too!

          1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

            Talula's does have a bar and you can go there and just get cheese. That's what I'd suggest doing, the regular menu is decent (I haven't had it since a chef change a while back) but I wouldn't skip one of the other places mentioned to eat dinner there.

            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

              Haha... they aren't monks :)

              Yes, totally go and sit at the bar for cheese and pretty good cocktails.

              1. re: alex1018

                I think we'll do cheese first, hit a few of the bars after, and end the night at zahav. Very excited. I made a brunch reservation for dandelion.

                1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                  If you are doing Sunday brunch, consider Lacroix in the Rittenhouse Hotel. It's our best "splurge" brunch.


          2. Speaking just to the beer part, a Friday night at Monk's will be extraordinarily crowded. The front bar is the most fun spot, but even that will be a challenge to snag a seat. However, it is still one of the best Belgian beer bars in the city, and might be worth it to try. Also, I haven't been, but Alla Spina is supposed to be a great beer-centric Italian pub. This would fit the bill for a lot of what you list above I think. You can skip Triumph - decent, but nothing super special. If you can get to Devil's Den in South Philly for their happy hour on Friday, you'll find a beautifully curated list of draft beers for half price. I also just had a terrific cheese plate at Wedge & Fig in old city. It's a BYO,

            4 Replies
            1. re: BelgianBeerMistress

              An alternative to Monks is Belgian Cafe in fairmount, owned by the same folks as Monks. I have never been wowed by the food there, but the beer is about as good as Monks. Usually much less crowded. I prefer it to the other large Belgian place, Eulogy which is in Old City.

              The one other beer bar that deserves a mention is Khyber Pass. Great selection, especially on tap along with some Cajun themed food.

              For bottles, you would enjoy visiting one of the Foodery Locations, 10th and Pine, 2nd and Poplar or the Corner Foodery at 17th and Sansom.

              1. re: cwdonald

                cw, thank you for this Foodery rec. I was thinking I should ask where we can get bottles to take home since obviously we are not going to be able to get to everything we want to try.

              2. re: BelgianBeerMistress

                Alla Spina has my favorite Russian River sour, Supplication, on their website menu. I hope they actually have it. Maybe I'll call first.

                Wedge and Fig looks adorable! Is there a good wine shop near by for BYOB?

                1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                  Wine is sold only in the state-run stores: There's a location on 2nd street south of Market.

              3. This was a great thread. Hope I am not too late with my reply. Please post after. Would love to read your impressions. I have almost nothing to add. I think the best have been hit upon, except for maybe Garces Trading Company, which might make for an interesting grazing lunch, although, it is a shame they seem to have recently removed their small plate charcuterie offerings from the menu.