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Philadelphia Bucket List

JunieB Dec 8, 2013 09:32 AM

My husband and I just moved back to the Philadelphia area. We lived here for several years through the 90's. I've kept up (somewhat) with the restaurant scene and I know that Philadelphia has become a destination for great restaurants, but I only know what I've read in magazines. Now it's time to experience it for real and I can't wait. So far the only new place we've tried is Kanela and it was great, if a little noisy.

I would like to compile a list of must-try places - and that means the dives and burger joints (we love a good burger!) as well as upscale places. I know it's an arduous task but if everyone pitches in with a place or two it shouldn't be that bad.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. a
    arepo RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 09:46 AM

    Top o' the line for me: Bistro La Minette.
    It's got a savvy and creative chef in that kitchen.
    Don't miss it!

    1 Reply
    1. re: arepo
      JunieB RE: arepo Dec 8, 2013 10:46 AM

      Thanks, you've sold me on that one. And I'm liking the weekend lunch menu. The Œufs Brouillé et l’Os à Moelle is calling to me, but once I get there I know I will have a hard time choosing!

      Philadelphia has gone all semi-hoity-toity. I love it that the menu items here are all in French; but unlike some places in NY they do have the descriptions in English.

    2. f
      FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 09:50 AM

      OK, I'll let the "downtowners" tell you about S. Philly, the Italian Mkt and Reading Terminal, but when you are ready for a ride in the country, perhaps to see the Lights at Longwood, there's a few out this way you might like:

      Hank's, Chadds Ford......the ultimate Breakfast place that also has great lunches and early dinners. A longtime favorite of Andy Wyeth who lived just up the road

      Jimmy John's hot dogs...Rte 202N just north of Rte 1...not to be confused with the chain of the same name. Antique toy trains, great dogs, and a lot of memberobilia.especially of Roy Rogers, an old friend the original owner.

      Hood's BBQ...Unionville PA ( across from the URA ballfield)..........Outside looks like nothing!.Inside a world of delights, especially on weekends for their BBQ.about 8 mins from Longwood

      Longwood Gardens rest.....surprisingly good! Fancy sit down side or simple cafeteria style with a lot of homemade stuff, beer&wine. Under the new timed entry for LG, it makes sense to get there and have a late lunch/early dinner while the sun sets (after seeing the Conservatory), and then go out to visit the lights

      19 Replies
      1. re: FriedClamFanatic
        JanR RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 8, 2013 10:54 AM

        Second Hanks. Had a great hot roast turkey at the counter here. I liked the restaurant at LG too.

        Also love Birchrunville Store Cafe in Chester Springs.

        1. re: JanR
          arepo RE: JanR Dec 9, 2013 08:48 AM

          I echo JanR's rec but have heard a rumor that Birchrunville Cafe will no longer be at that location. After all these years, did they lose their lease or what?

          1. re: arepo
            JanR RE: arepo Dec 9, 2013 10:19 AM

            Oh no! I hope that's not true.

        2. re: FriedClamFanatic
          JunieB RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 8, 2013 11:10 AM

          Thanks, FCF! Those are all killer menus. We will definitely be making treks to that part of PA. We even looked for houses out there but came up empty, so we landed in Wyncote. I know exactly where Hank's is but I've never eaten there.

          Always on the lookout for good hot dogs!! BTW - there's a Levis' up where we live. Do you know anything about them?

          Wasn't expecting good bbq but I like the looks of Hood's - and their sauce. I like the thick, sweet stuff, not the vinegary NC style. But it looks like they have a little bit of everything! Burritos?! Well, we'll see about that. I've never had a good East Coast burrito :)

          Thanks for recommending LG. I've been there during the holidays but my husband hasn't and I have been trying to think of a way to get there for the lights this year. Your idea sounds like a good plan. I'll have to look into that "new timed entry" thing.

          Several months ago I read about a drive-thru breakfast (and maybe lunch) place out in your area that serves food from their farm (or maybe other local farms). Can't remember the name of it but I seem to remember it's somewhere around the area of Hank's. Have you been and what are your thoughts? Is it worth a drive?

          Thanks for your contribution to my bucket list!

          1. re: JunieB
            FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 12:30 PM

            Don't know of a drive-thru, but also out in Unionville is Northbrook Orchards.that has GREAT Apple Cider donuts and a nice deli type menu. They are off rte 842

            1. re: FriedClamFanatic
              JunieB RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 8, 2013 12:49 PM

              Yum, apple cider donuts!!! We had great ones in Western Mass.!

              Wow, maybe I can return the favor and show you something - here's the link for the drive-thru place. I've been curious about it for a long time. Looks like they're more than a breakfast place. I like the concept.


              1. re: JunieB
                FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 07:44 PM

                OMG.that is less than a mile from me...and I didn't know about it1.........Thanks!

                1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                  JunieB RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 8, 2013 08:01 PM

                  Now you have to let us know how it is. I just love the idea of what they're doing and it's a really cute place.

                  1. re: JunieB
                    FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 12:56 PM

                    Junie.I have been remiss......in my enthusiasm for all this, I completely forgot to mention Sovanna Bistro at the jtn of 926 and 82. If you head to longwood and want something "nicer" but not over the top "upscale" this is it. Forget "THE TABLE" in Kennett..other than for some lunchtime takeout......way overrated

                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                      JunieB RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 10, 2013 01:19 PM

                      Thanks! I do like the looks of this place, and the menu is interesting enough. I made a reservation at the restaurant at LG for mid afternoon. Maybe we should see the lights and then go here instead. What do you think? I'm usually not too fond of institution/park dining but I know it can be quite good sometimes. Where would we get the best overall 'good' experience - good food, good service, good ambience?

                      1. re: JunieB
                        gaffk RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 01:44 PM

                        I've never been to Sovanna, so I can't compare. But I've always been very happy with the dining room at Longwood: nice atmosphere, good food, decent wine selection. The mushroom soup was a real stand out; I haven't been there this year, but usually go once or twice a year and know regardless of what I ordered, it was always good.

                        1. re: gaffk
                          JunieB RE: gaffk Dec 10, 2013 03:23 PM

                          Nice to hear.

                        2. re: JunieB
                          FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB Dec 11, 2013 06:43 AM

                          Well, Longwood is good, but Sovanno, by comparison is GREAT. The problem with Longwood, even in the dining room will be at that time of year, 2 of your criteria...service and ambience. Service is usually good, but you gotta remember that right now there are a TON of ppl going for the lights. The cafeteria side, since you have to be indoors at this time of year can be a bit of a pain finding table space unless your eat really early, well before dark. Quite Frankly, after jostling the crowds in places like the conservatory and some other spots, a nice relaxing dinner at Sovanno may be a much better bet.

                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                            JunieB RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 11, 2013 07:27 AM

                            Thanks. Our reservation is at 1906 so I assume seating won't be a problem. What's the atmosphere like there?

                            1. re: JunieB
                              gaffk RE: JunieB Dec 11, 2013 12:59 PM

                              I have been to Longwood and dined at the restaurant during the holidays. As you say, dining is by reservation, so it is not overcrowded and service is not effected. Also, the gardens have changed their system to timed tickets to alleviate the crowding problems so I think it will be fine.

                              I also prefer dining there because it allows you to tour the gardens/conservatory, dine & get warm, and then go back outside for the light show, etc.

                              I hope you have a lovely time. Welcome back to the neighborhood.

                              1. re: gaffk
                                JunieB RE: gaffk Dec 11, 2013 02:10 PM

                                Thanks! I feel the love!

                                We decided to stay with the 1906 reservation for the very reason you stated - we can walk around, eat, and then walk around some more. We'll go back in the spring and visit the gardens and then have dinner at Sovanno.

                        3. re: FriedClamFanatic
                          bluehensfan RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 10, 2013 01:44 PM

                          Do you think Sovana Bistro is going downhill. And since we are mentioning Kennett, Byrsa Bistro (a BYO) has fabulous branzino and paella.

                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                            PhillyBestBYOB RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 10, 2013 05:18 PM

                            I can't believe we are talking about Sovanna and Talula's Table in the same thread. To each his own, I guess.

                2. re: FriedClamFanatic
                  truman RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 9, 2013 09:14 AM

                  Just took my 3yo to Jimmy John's this weekend (we pass it all the time on the way home from Costco) - great hot dogs!!

                3. d
                  dndicicco RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 10:51 AM

                  Fun, unique evening in Society Hill -- Zahav

                  Fancy sushi -- Morimoto on Chestnut Street

                  Big, steak experience (awesome raw bar) -- Butcher & Singer

                  French bistro -- Bistrot La Minette

                  French BYOB -- Bibou

                  Brunch -- Parc

                  Unique, healthy -- Vedge

                  Splurge -- Vetri

                  Fun with group -- Amada (tapas)

                  Feeling hipster -- GoCityVeg

                  East Passyunk -- Noord (Dutch)

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: dndicicco
                    JunieB RE: dndicicco Dec 8, 2013 11:26 AM

                    Thanks, dndicicco (I guess you wanted to make sure no one could give you a nickname!) This is going to be fun!!!

                    We've been living in farm country up in Western Mass. for the past 12 years where the restaurant pickins were slim. Lots of bookstores though!

                    1. re: JunieB
                      dndicicco RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 11:43 AM

                      I always enjoyed the Boston restaurant scene. L'Espalier was my favorite.

                      1. re: dndicicco
                        JunieB RE: dndicicco Dec 8, 2013 12:37 PM

                        Yeah, Boston was great! Unfortunately, it was a couple of hours drive (because of the Quabbin Reservoir) which made it hard to slip over for dinner. Never made it to L'Espalier but always meant to. Also never made it to Craigie On Main. Some of our favorites were Hungry Mother, Bondir, Myers + Chang, Lala Rokh, Oleana. We also liked Mr. Bartley's burgers and my husband loved the fish sandwich at the All Star Sandwich Bar.

                        1. re: JunieB
                          AlCracka RE: JunieB Mar 25, 2014 06:47 AM

                          You have good taste in restaurants, Junie! L'Espalier is worth the trip, or at least was a few years ago. Did you ever try Ten Tables in JP? Still my favorite restaurant in Boston - now with a branch in Cambridge - for the quality-to-price ratio.

                          1. re: AlCracka
                            JunieB RE: AlCracka Mar 25, 2014 07:17 AM

                            We didn't explore the Jamaica Plains area in our trips to Boston but I wish I had known about Ten Tables. It looks great! I wonder why Arctic Char is so popular. It seems to be on everyone's menu of late.

                            Thinking of Cambridge made me think of Formaggio Kitchen. I need to find out where all the good cheese is sold in Philadelphia (besides Reading Terminal)!

                            1. re: JunieB
                              lowereastrittenhouse RE: JunieB Mar 25, 2014 10:46 AM

                              At least in my experience, Di Bruno's has the best cheese counter in the city.

                              1. re: lowereastrittenhouse
                                JunieB RE: lowereastrittenhouse Mar 25, 2014 10:59 AM

                                Thanks. I've never been there. I shouldn't admit this but I never went to the Italian Market when I lived here before. This place looks amazing!

                                1. re: JunieB
                                  Rilke RE: JunieB Mar 25, 2014 11:09 AM

                                  Don't miss Claudio either. The mozzarella -- plain, marinated, braided, burrata, all of it -- is to die for. I have completely converted my boyfriend . . . He doesn't buy cheese from the supermarket anymore -proud-

                                  1. re: Rilke
                                    JunieB RE: Rilke Mar 25, 2014 11:44 AM

                                    Yum! Thanks!

                    2. re: dndicicco
                      Philly Ray RE: dndicicco Dec 8, 2013 04:02 PM

                      If I had to choose only one place for brunch in Philadelphia, it would be Lacroix. I know it is one of the most expensive, but that would be on my bucket list.

                      1. re: Philly Ray
                        JunieB RE: Philly Ray Dec 8, 2013 04:13 PM

                        I think that would make a great special occasion weekend! Overnight at the Rittenhouse and brunch at Lacroix. The wheels are turning......

                    3. Chinon00 RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 11:03 AM

                      Pizzeria Beddia and Pizzaria Vetri are considered best in the city.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Chinon00
                        JunieB RE: Chinon00 Dec 8, 2013 11:32 AM

                        Slim pickins for good pizza in Western Mass. too! Food images for both places on Google look great. What about Osteria? I've been hearing about it for years. Is it old hat now?

                        1. re: JunieB
                          Hungryin theBurbs RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 11:41 AM

                          I love Osteria. It's definitely worth a visit.

                          Other great pizza places: Nomad, Pizza Brain, Zavino

                          Other places we really like: Vedge, Zahav, Vernick, Barbuzzo, Jamonera, Cheu Noodle Bar, Han Dynasty (we usually go to Manayunk b/c it's easiest from here, but the Old City location now has a bar), Bibou, Fond, Will.

                          1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
                            JunieB RE: Hungryin theBurbs Dec 8, 2013 12:19 PM

                            Hi, Hungry! Glad to hear Osteria isn't out of vogue. I love Pizza Brain's website! If it weren't snowing I would have to head to one of these places because I'm getting so hungry just reading the menus!

                      2. f
                        fourunder RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 11:30 AM

                        I'd spend an afternoon at the Reading Terminal Market myself....and Taconnelli's Pizzeria is on my list of places to try.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: fourunder
                          JunieB RE: fourunder Dec 8, 2013 12:11 PM

                          Thanks! I've only been to RTM once or twice since the renovations. We tried Carmen's for a cheese steak. Not sure it was my very favorite but I thought it was very good and it had its own unique taste.

                          I like that Taconnelli's is a "one-man, one-oven" operation. I'll have to look on a map to find Somerset St..

                        2. b
                          barryg RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 12:17 PM

                          I post this link on a lot of threads but it is a good summary of the city's best:

                          Also Laban's list:

                          Both good starting points.

                          32 Replies
                          1. re: barryg
                            JunieB RE: barryg Dec 8, 2013 12:45 PM

                            Thanks a lot, barryg. This will take some time but it will be fun reading through these lists. "Eater" looks like a really good site. Does Laban write anywhere besides on Philly.com? I take it he's a respected food writer.

                            1. re: JunieB
                              barryg RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 01:09 PM

                              he's the food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Not sure where else he writes but all of the Philly stuff I have seen in published there and Philly.com

                              1. re: barryg
                                JunieB RE: barryg Dec 8, 2013 02:02 PM

                                Thanks. It's good to know these things.

                            2. re: barryg
                              PhillyBestBYOB RE: barryg Dec 8, 2013 01:30 PM

                              Philly Magazine Top 50 list:


                              I'm up to 34!

                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                JunieB RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 8, 2013 02:02 PM

                                Thank you and congratulations! That must have been fun!

                                1. re: JunieB
                                  dndicicco RE: JunieB Dec 8, 2013 03:53 PM

                                  Not to hijack this thread, but I'm curious if PhillyBestBYOB ran into any disappointments running up to that 34? I only read about great restaurants on these boards; sometimes it's interesting and illustrative to hear the other side, too!

                                  1. re: dndicicco
                                    JunieB RE: dndicicco Dec 8, 2013 04:09 PM

                                    That's exactly why I like CH, dnd. I like to hear the opinions of actual consumers. I don't trust sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, etc.. but I do trust Hounds because they're passionate about food. That said, food is very subjective and it's often a matter of taste. I hope PhillyB will critique some of that list for us!

                                    1. re: JunieB
                                      arepo RE: JunieB Dec 9, 2013 08:51 AM

                                      For top Greek Seafood Estia is hard to beat.

                                      1. re: JunieB
                                        Buckethead RE: JunieB Dec 9, 2013 09:28 AM

                                        I wouldn't have gone by Phillymag's Top 50 list (of which I've been to 47) when it was new, and it's fairly out of date now: Stateside, for example, is now without the chef who was there when it was ranked #1, and Le Bec-Fin is closed. The Eater list is more timely and accurate (IMO). I don't agree with Laban all the time but usually I do.

                                        My own top tier of Philly places, the best in the city I think, not in order:

                                        Vedge (Best in the city right now I think)
                                        Osteria (better than Vetri and 1/3 the price)
                                        Zeppoli (it's in NJ but just over the bridge, as good as any Italian in Philly)

                                        Tier 2, places that are nearly as good as those above:

                                        Fitler Dining Room
                                        South Philly Tap Room (SPTR), best gastropub in the city

                                        Other places worth your time:

                                        Han Dynasty
                                        Will BYOB
                                        Brauhaus Schmitz
                                        Farm and Fisherman
                                        Little Fish
                                        Sansom St. Oyster House
                                        Khmer Kitchen
                                        Bar Ferdinand

                                        I'm probably forgetting a few places.

                                        Other delicious things not at a sit-down restaurant:

                                        Sandwiches at Paesano's
                                        Gelato at Capogiro (go to the location at 20th and Sansom, or failing that, 13th and Sansom. Skip their other locations).
                                        Macarons at Belle Cakery
                                        Croissants at Artisan Boulanger
                                        Cocktails at Hop Sing Laundromat

                                        1. re: Buckethead
                                          bluehensfan RE: Buckethead Dec 9, 2013 10:04 AM

                                          That's quite the Bucket(head) list!

                                          I'd add a few things on either end of the spectrum:
                                          Brunch at Lacroix (as mentioned before)
                                          The Mesibah at Zahav (must get the lamb!)
                                          Pretzels from Miller's Twist
                                          A roast pork sandwich (wet with rabe and provolone) from DiNic's
                                          Federal Donuts (but not the chicken)
                                          Pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place

                                          1. re: Buckethead
                                            lowereastrittenhouse RE: Buckethead Dec 9, 2013 10:13 AM

                                            I haven't been to quite as many restaurants as other folks on this forum have but I was way impressed by Laurel.

                                            1. re: Buckethead
                                              PhillyBestBYOB RE: Buckethead Dec 10, 2013 01:57 AM

                                              Come on buckethead, the lists are 80% identical, except a couple of closed or new places and silly things on the Eater list like Pizza Brain and Lille Baby's Ice Cream (not that the later isn't great, but it's ice cream not a restaurant, and I wouldn't be caught dead at the former given the immature behavior of the owner).

                                              As far as the disappointments from that Top 50 list, very, very few:

                                              ~Osteria--incredibly noisy, snobby "Marc Vetri owns us, so we must be good" attitude, and over-rated pizza. I'm truly puzzled as to why so many people like it so much. I much prefer Amis.

                                              ~Sovana--I really wanted to like this place, since it's in a foodie wasteland, but the food sounds better than it tastes and was actually served cold (good bar though)

                                              Off-topic rant:

                                              If I don't like a place on the first try, I rarely go back a second time (OK, sometimes I'm a glutton for punishment, or I'm hungry and there's nowhere close by to go). I've never understood the excuse of "having a bad night". Are you kidding me? No wonder so many restaurant go out of business. Consistency is the single most important thing in a service industry. And what are you, a professional restaurant critic that has to try everything on the menu twice before you can express an opinion? If a place has a "bad night", why risk your money and precious time a second time? There are plenty of other places to try.

                                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                barryg RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 10, 2013 02:20 AM

                                                Philly Mag surprised everyone by putting tiny dark horse Stateside number one on their list, but in their write up online they got the concept completely wrong, calling it a tribute to mid Atlantic cuisine. Then of course the chef quit a month later. Very little credibility in that magazine's food editorial staff.

                                                1. re: barryg
                                                  PhillyBestBYOB RE: barryg Dec 10, 2013 02:29 AM

                                                  I think they have a lot of credibility.

                                                2. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                  JunieB RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 10, 2013 01:04 PM

                                                  Oh, too bad about Osteria. I do hate snobbishness. I'm the same as you when it comes to going back after a first bad experience. Consistency is key with me too. Restaurant owners surely know that they have one chance to make a good impression.

                                                  That said, since we live in a pretty dismal area for good food, I've been to Roman Delight at least a half dozen times! I have to say - it is consistent :)

                                                  1. re: JunieB
                                                    PhillyBestBYOB RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 05:20 PM

                                                    You might as well try it and get it out of the way. Otherwise Osteria-lovers will be harassing you for the rest of your life.

                                                    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                      JunieB RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 10, 2013 05:31 PM


                                                    2. re: JunieB
                                                      Hungryin theBurbs RE: JunieB Dec 11, 2013 04:30 AM

                                                      I'll just add my 2 cents on Osteria. I've eaten there a number of times and never encountered a snobby attitude. I am not one of the beautiful people. I've eaten there for business meetings, romantic dinners, meals with children, and always had polite and pleasant service and terrific food. I'd go there more often but it is a real stretch on my budget.

                                                      I hear you on Roman Delight. I usually cook at home rather than eat there. :-)

                                                      1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
                                                        JunieB RE: Hungryin theBurbs Dec 11, 2013 06:12 AM

                                                        I've waited too long not to try Osteria. I even went to Osteria Morini in Bernardsville NJ thinking it was a sister restaurant! It was excellent by the way.

                                                        Roman Delight is for the occasion when I have absolutely no energy left to cook and unfortunately that has been too often lately - with all the unpacking.

                                                      2. re: JunieB
                                                        lauracohenromano RE: JunieB Dec 22, 2013 05:12 PM

                                                        Ah, JunieB, if you live close enough to keep ending up at Roman Delight, then get thee to Trevi in Glenside. Byob and MUCH better than Roman Delight. A little inconsistent but owner truly wants feedback so if anything does not please you the night you go, do let him know.

                                                        Also near you is Leila's, a small French byob in Jenkintown. Reservations usually needed. Outstanding; only place in our area I can think of that rivals center city restaurants, imho.

                                                        And I weighed in on Pho and Beyond in response to your comment about having loved the pho there.

                                                        1. re: lauracohenromano
                                                          JunieB RE: lauracohenromano Dec 22, 2013 06:22 PM

                                                          Really good suggestion! We used to eat at Rizzo's with friends when we lived in the area before. Will definitely get to Trevi soon.

                                                          We love Leila's!

                                                          We also like Argana Tree but only ate there once. I had lunch at Curds & Whey and it was pretty good. I really liked their prepared food. Pretty limited but but very good.

                                                          Pho & Beyond is already a favorite!

                                                          1. re: lauracohenromano
                                                            JunieB RE: lauracohenromano Feb 26, 2014 10:01 AM

                                                            Finally made it to Trevi - once for dining in and once for delivery at a friend's house. I think you have to order carefully, but I've liked everything I've had there. Friends who ordered fish and salmon dishes when we got delivery weren't very impressed but my bolognese was great. I haven't had their pizza yet but I hear it's good. Drove up to Ambler for a movie recently and stopped in Saffron afterwards. I always order samosas and they weren't the greatest but we had chicken tikka masala and chicken korma and both were very good.

                                                        2. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                          Buckethead RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 10, 2013 07:58 PM

                                                          I feel exactly the opposite RE: Vetri and Osteria. The former is overpriced (I mean WAAAY overpriced, unhinged from reality), totally on autopilot, and just not doing anything interesting these days. I've gotten very minor attitude at Osteria exactly once out of the 10 or so times I've been there, I can overlook it since it hasn't happened since and the food is excellent.

                                                          Agree RE: Sovana, I think the the main reason it's still in business is that it is in a food wasteland and there aren't many other options.

                                                          My problem with the top 50 list is mainly its order, Stateside even when Sabatino was there didn't deserve #1. I agree with Barryg regarding the food editor at Phillymag, he doesn't know what he's talking about. I do usually agree with their critic though. It's not a bad list of good restaurants in the city if you disregard the order. The only places on it I'd recommend avoiding are Vetri, Blackfish (unless you live in Conshy), Tashan, Sovana, Standard Tap (ugh), and Mica (Blackfish Lite).

                                                          1. re: Buckethead
                                                            PhillyBestBYOB RE: Buckethead Dec 10, 2013 09:46 PM

                                                            Junie, take my advice, do yourself a favor and ignore BH on this one. Blackfish and Mica are not to be missed. If anything, Mica is even better than Blackfish (that is where Chip Roman spends most of his time and there is zero overlap in the dishes).

                                                            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                              JunieB RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 11, 2013 06:04 AM

                                                              I've heard too many good things about Mica not to try it. I'm taking all of the recommendations from this thread to heart and will try the ones that look interesting to me. When people are passionate about food there's always some disagreements so the only way you can find out if you like a place is to try it yourself.

                                                              1. re: JunieB
                                                                Buckethead RE: JunieB Dec 11, 2013 06:44 AM

                                                                "the only way you can find out if you like a place is to try it yourself."

                                                                That's the truth! There's another thing, too: the experience of going to a restaurant varies night to night, week to week. It's possible that if PhillBestBYOB and I had eaten at the same meals at Mica, our opinions would be more similar. On Blackfish I'm not so sure, I've tried it 4 or 5 times over the years and the food there is technically fine (though I've found some things underseasoned), I just don't find it interesting. But places in the burbs have a different client base and they sometimes have to err on the side of boring in order to keep their regulars coming back.

                                                                1. re: Buckethead
                                                                  JunieB RE: Buckethead Dec 11, 2013 07:42 AM

                                                                  Lots of things can influence an eating experience. I said in my initial post that Kanella was great but I really thought it was so-so. I'm reserving my true opinion until I go there again. Not sure if it was my mood, the noise, or my expectations that made me wish it had been better, but so far I haven't seen any negative reviews of it, so I have to assume it was something about me or the situation that night. I thought the food was fine, it just wasn't great and I was expecting great. I don't mind boring food, as long as it's good boring food, as you can probably tell from my asking about meatloaf!!

                                                            2. re: Buckethead
                                                              PhillyBestBYOB RE: Buckethead Dec 10, 2013 10:25 PM

                                                              Buckethead, you are continually ignoring the clear stated purpose of the Philly Mag list, which was to list the "hottest" restaurants, not the "best". It's right there in the description.

                                                              It's hard to argue with the fact that when the list came out, Stateside and George Sabatino were getting a huge amount of press and awards, and Stateside was certainly one of the hottest restaurants in Philly (how quickly things change, now it's forgotten). Beyond that, it's not worth fixating on whether it was #1, #3, #10 or whatever. Why Americans constantly need to rank the unrankable is mystifying.

                                                              Taken as a whole, these list are fine for people to get ideas about what exciting places to try in Philly. If one of your favorites is left out, big deal, maybe you like different things.

                                                              The idea that there could even be a ranking of the "best" restaurants in Philly is silly, since it would be largely drive by personal preference. Food preferences are highly subjective. Why were Per Se and Eleven Madison Park ranked #6 and #10 in the world last year, and #11 and #5 this year? Nothing has changed at either of them.

                                                              Maybe we should start giving 100 point scores to restaurants, like they were wines (don't get me started on how unscientific scoring wines is!).

                                                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                                barryg RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 11, 2013 04:59 AM

                                                                The list is called the 50 Best Restaurants. In the description they claim to take the "weight" of the restaurant into consideration. Then they played contrarian by putting a tiny, months old restaurant (that still needed a lot of work in the service and beverage department, by the way) as #1. They didn't even know what the concept of the restaurant was, and of course the "weight" of the restaurant, or lack thereof, is that their star chef quit a month later. They were trying to prove they aren't a stodgy magazine for rich suburbanites and blew it.

                                                                Though I agree that in you disregard the order, the list is decent.

                                                          2. re: Buckethead
                                                            PhillyBestBYOB RE: Buckethead Dec 10, 2013 02:05 AM

                                                            Regarding Stateside, the food was really good even after George Sabatino left, under Elijah Milligan (although I have to admit very different and probably not as brilliant as it was before). But now he's been fired (that was a weird situation that I still don't understand), and I've only had drinks there recently (really good).

                                                            1. re: Buckethead
                                                              JunieB RE: Buckethead Dec 10, 2013 12:49 PM

                                                              When I lived here before I loved going to the Burmese restaurant near Chinatown and after dinner we would walk across the street and go for a wonderful coffee/tea experience at Ray's. Are they still good?

                                                              The other hole in the wall place I liked was Minar Palace. When I worked in the city I used to lunch there often. I liked the paper plates and plastic utensils!! the last time we tried to go they were closed or had moved. Will look them up but do they get talked about on CH?

                                                              Lastly, are there any great places just for dessert in Center City? Another thing I get nostalgia about is when we used to go to one of the Ritz theaters and then go for dessert. I seem to remember there were a couple of places down in the Independence Hall area but I can't remember the names.

                                                              1. re: JunieB
                                                                Buckethead RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 07:47 PM

                                                                The Burmese place you're remembering is Rangoon, it's still good. Minar Palace, not so much.

                                                  2. b
                                                    Bigley9 RE: JunieB Dec 9, 2013 10:16 AM

                                                    There is a lot of very good info on this thread, but I'll add Sketch Burger on Girard Ave for burgers. I've never had a bad one, and I have a hard time not ordering the vegan Burger, even though I am an omnivore. Also, I don't think I saw Le Virtu (East Passyunk, Abruzzi) or Ela mentioned. I do like the Chicken at Federal Donuts - esp the dry ones (vs sauced)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Bigley9
                                                      JunieB RE: Bigley9 Dec 10, 2013 12:50 PM

                                                      Thanks. I'm looking forward to Federal Donuts. It's reputation precedes it!

                                                    2. b
                                                      Bigley9 RE: JunieB Dec 9, 2013 10:21 AM

                                                      oh, and let me add Sazon on SpringGarden too!

                                                      1. j
                                                        JanR RE: JunieB Dec 9, 2013 10:57 AM

                                                        I would add Le Cheri on Rittenhouse Square. After two visits, it's become a favorite. Lovely setting in the Art Alliance, and superb food.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: JanR
                                                          JunieB RE: JanR Dec 10, 2013 01:06 PM

                                                          Interesting! Off the beaten path?

                                                        2. PhillyBestBYOB RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 02:13 AM

                                                          Let me add "The Fat Ham", Kevin Sbraga's brand new Southern small plates restaurant in University City.

                                                          Ate at the bar last night (Kenny Gilbert from Top Chef 7 was there too), and thought everything was FANTASTIC! Standouts were the KILLER fried oyster sliders (I ordered a second for dessert), and the SCREAMING HOT Hot Chicken (hotter and different from the Tennessee Hot Chicken at Sbraga).

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                            JunieB RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 10, 2013 01:07 PM

                                                            I'm Southern! I'm in!

                                                          2. PhillyBestBYOB RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 02:23 AM

                                                            Since we are on the topic of Philly best lists, here's another new one that just came out, apparently written by a local:


                                                            The usual suspects. The only one I would question on a Top 10 list is Amanda. Good, but not top 10.

                                                            1. JunieB RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 12:57 PM

                                                              There is so much great information here I hardly know where to begin! As soon as I can manage the time I am going to put everything in a spreadsheet, in alphabetical order, by location - and then start chowing!

                                                              This seems like a great board! Thanks to everyone for helping me out. I'll be posting results but it looks like most of these places have been pretty thoroughly vetted.

                                                              BTW - found ourselves in Chestnut Hill last night and had dinner at Iron Hill. One of the specials was turkey meatloaf and it was exceptional! Am I going to like this chain?!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: JunieB
                                                                FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 12:59 PM

                                                                We have an Iron Hill out in West Chester.......Great Beer.Good Burgers...the rest............hit or miss

                                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                                                                  JunieB RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 10, 2013 01:08 PM

                                                                  Well, I like burgers and beer :) Too bad about the rest.

                                                              2. f
                                                                flowergirl RE: JunieB Dec 10, 2013 05:49 PM

                                                                Just visited the east coast for Thanksgiving from L A and had one dinner in Philly. Unfortunately our hosts took us to Little Fish. It was quite disappointing. One fish dish was fishy and the other had no taste. One of the appetizers tasted as if salt had been dumped into it. Cute little place and waitress was very nice but food was mediocre at best.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: flowergirl
                                                                  JanR RE: flowergirl Dec 11, 2013 05:35 AM

                                                                  I am surprised to hear this about Little Fish. I have dined there many times, both when Mike Stollenwerk was chef and also under Chad Jenkin's stewardship. The fish and it's preparation have always been top notch. Can you elaborate on what dishes you had?

                                                                  1. re: JanR
                                                                    flowergirl RE: JanR Dec 13, 2013 09:55 AM

                                                                    We had the Hamachi as an appetizer. It was a bit strong (fishy) and overly salted.
                                                                    I had the monkfish and my husband had the scallops.
                                                                    The sauce on the monkfish was very average and the fish had no taste without it. The scallops were fine but nothing special. The dinner was not terrible but I would never go back or recommend it.

                                                                    1. re: flowergirl
                                                                      JanR RE: flowergirl Dec 14, 2013 07:42 AM

                                                                      Thanks flowergirl. I will admit it's been almost a year since we've been. Going back soon, and will report back.

                                                                2. s
                                                                  sylviag RE: JunieB Dec 12, 2013 03:14 PM

                                                                  I'm finally getting around to add my two cents (and more!) to this wonderful thread.

                                                                  Our favorite Italian: Le Virtu. And a top favorite in general.
                                                                  I follow the young chef on Twitter now, and every day he posts pictures of his latest creations. Dessert creations, too.
                                                                  Don't miss this one.

                                                                  French: Le Cheri, Bistrot La Minette - both excellent.

                                                                  Pizza: Tacconelli's. Get the original, which is a white pizza with garlic, tomatoes and spinach.
                                                                  Been to Pizzeria Vetri (okay) and others, but we make the trek to Fishtown.
                                                                  The designer pizzas at Osteria are terrific, also.

                                                                  Japanese: Fuji, in Haddonfield, NJ. We cross the bridge a couple times a month for this one.
                                                                  Never been to Morimoto, but prices seem too high for us.

                                                                  Oysters: The Oyster House, on Sansom Street near 15th. (Not the one near Penn.) Great lobster roll, too, and wonderful fries.

                                                                  Brunch: Lacroix is fabulous. Celebrate!

                                                                  Tapas: Bar Ferdinand. Creative and fun.

                                                                  Chinese: We like Yang Ming, in Bryn Mawr.

                                                                  Serpico: no category, creative and delicious.

                                                                  We like many other places: Osteria, Amis, Vernick, Meritage - I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

                                                                  And not too far from you, for a reliable and very enjoyable meal, is Moonstruck, in the northeast - Oxford Avenue south of Rhawn. Very pretty, and you can talk!

                                                                  Thanks for the thread!

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: sylviag
                                                                    JunieB RE: sylviag Dec 12, 2013 06:31 PM

                                                                    That's awesome, sylviag! And thanks for throwing in the rec for Moonstruck. During the past few years, when I've been down for a visit, my friend who lives in the northeast always takes me to really boring places! I'll have to teach her a thing or two :)

                                                                    I'm working on putting my bucket list into a spreadsheet. Can't wait to count all the restaurants I have to try!

                                                                    Tonight my husband and I tried Pho & Beyond in Willow Grove. I've had pho on both coasts and in a few cities, and I thought it was some of the best I've had, or else it's because I haven't had any really good pho in quite a long time. I hope it holds up because it's very near my house.

                                                                    We also like Mandarin Garden in WIllow Grove - owned by the people at Yang Ming. When we lived here before we lived in Narberth and made it to Yang Ming quite often. Have manged to get back there during a couple of visits.

                                                                    Thanks again for your contribution!

                                                                    1. re: JunieB
                                                                      FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB Dec 12, 2013 07:38 PM

                                                                      Grins.....and we can't wait for your feedback on how you enjoyed all these!........you must have close to a years worth now........assuming you eat out 1-2X a week

                                                                      1. re: JunieB
                                                                        lauracohenromano RE: JunieB Dec 22, 2013 04:55 PM

                                                                        Just seeing this thread. So glad you enjoyed the pho at Pho and Beyond in Willow Grove. We moved to Glenside about 3 years ago and Pho and Beyond is my favorite local area restaurant.

                                                                    2. s
                                                                      sylviag RE: JunieB Dec 13, 2013 07:41 PM

                                                                      Add one more - Matyson. Just had a terrific dinner there. Four of us loved it. The duck breast was as good as it gets!

                                                                      1. b
                                                                        Bob Loblaw RE: JunieB Dec 14, 2013 01:41 PM

                                                                        The best meal I've ever had was the Omakase at Morimoto. Spendy, but I don't think that disqualifies it from a bucket list.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Bob Loblaw
                                                                          sylviag RE: Bob Loblaw Dec 14, 2013 02:18 PM

                                                                          Now that's a great recommendation! I'll add it to my Bucket List.

                                                                          1. re: Bob Loblaw
                                                                            PhillyBestBYOB RE: Bob Loblaw Dec 16, 2013 06:36 AM

                                                                            Is there any way to know when Morimoto will actually be there? Does omakase cost more if he does it himself I wonder?

                                                                            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                                              cwdonald RE: PhillyBestBYOB Dec 16, 2013 08:18 AM

                                                                              He is almost never there. And even if he is there he rarely cooks unless it is a special event.

                                                                              Your best bet in catching Morimoto other than watching iron chef on tv is to go to his NY restaurant (where he is living now.. ).

                                                                              The omakase is a great meal there, the first three or four times you have it. I have found that there are fewer and fewer wow dishes the more times you have it. Lately, I will only go there with folks who have never experienced it before, because their experience is what makes the meal special.

                                                                              1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                Bob Loblaw RE: cwdonald Dec 16, 2013 07:18 PM

                                                                                I'd agree with that. The first time I had it, like I said, was the best meal I've ever had. All of my subsequent meals have been top-knotch but they weren't what that first experience was.
                                                                                I guess it's lucky I can't afford to eat there that often!
                                                                                oh, and I've never seen Morimoto there. (Or Garces, at any of his places, for that matter).

                                                                            2. re: Bob Loblaw
                                                                              linguafood RE: Bob Loblaw Dec 16, 2013 08:33 AM

                                                                              Agreed. It's my man's favorite special occasion resto in Philly. Great atmosphere, too.

                                                                              1. re: linguafood
                                                                                Chinon00 RE: linguafood Dec 16, 2013 03:44 PM

                                                                                What do you know about Philly fräulein?;]

                                                                                1. re: Chinon00
                                                                                  linguafood RE: Chinon00 Dec 16, 2013 04:00 PM

                                                                                  Probably not enough, Mister. But I'll be finding out a bit more this week '-)

                                                                            3. s
                                                                              sylviag RE: JunieB Dec 22, 2013 07:39 AM

                                                                              I knew I'd forget something!
                                                                              We had dinner at Fond last night and it was outstanding.
                                                                              I'd rank it among my top few favorites in this city.
                                                                              Food, service - really wonderful.
                                                                              Can't wait to go back!

                                                                              1. JunieB RE: JunieB Dec 22, 2013 05:21 PM

                                                                                Finally got out of the neighborhood! Haven't been to Philly yet but last night we went with friends to Restaurant Alba in Malvern. http://www.restaurantalba.com/

                                                                                It was quite good! My husband enjoyed the Berkshire pork, one of our dining companions raved about the trout, and I had one of the perhaps most boring items on the menu but it was excellent - Pappardelle w/wild boar. The roasted beet salad was wonderful - warmed, and 2 people had the pear and apple salad with excellent results. Wine list was decent.

                                                                                Today we went to Longwood Gardens for the Christmas display and had an early dinner at 1906. My husband and I both enjoyed the food very much. The acoustics were excellent and while the ambiance was okay it reminded us of museum restaurants (wonder why?!).

                                                                                Looking forward to starting on my Philly bucket list after the new year!

                                                                                Here are a couple of pics from Restaurant Alba.

                                                                                1. a
                                                                                  agozoic RE: JunieB Dec 23, 2013 10:59 AM

                                                                                  Saad's Halal Restaurant
                                                                                  Pho 75 or Pho Ha
                                                                                  El Zarape

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: agozoic
                                                                                    dndicicco RE: agozoic Dec 23, 2013 12:54 PM

                                                                                    Saad's Halal Restaurant's website is making me SO hungry.

                                                                                    1. re: agozoic
                                                                                      JunieB RE: agozoic Dec 23, 2013 02:00 PM

                                                                                      Thanks! I love all those types of food.

                                                                                    2. f
                                                                                      fillyfilet RE: JunieB Jan 13, 2014 11:56 AM

                                                                                      We tried a restaurant on our bucket list this past weekend. Since I have wanted to try Osteria for several years we decided to make it the first. The comp bread basket is pretty amazing! Just a side note - I'm pretty sure that one of the breads is Jim Leahy's recipe for no-knead bread. It's kind of dense and feels damp, with a very brown crust. I happen to love that recipe.

                                                                                      My husband and I asked them to make their salad special for 2 instead of as individual salads. It was a plate with lightly dressed arugula piled in the center with 10 vegetables placed around the sides - red beets, golden beets, roasted parsnips, pickled cauliflower, roasted Brussels sprouts, oven roasted tomatoes, fire roasted red bell pepper, matchsticks of celery root - and some others! The salad was delicious.

                                                                                      I had the black bass (the online menu says striped bass, but the restaurant menu says black bass) w/cauliflower. It was tasty. My husband had the monkfish and he was very happy with it. For dessert we had the budino and the chocolate flan, which was, as far as I could tell, lava cake! Certainly not like any flan I've had, but my husband liked it. It was chocolate after all.

                                                                                      The service was excellent. The maitre d' came to our table and we talked about the PA state liquor laws and liquor licenses. I learned that one of the reasons some restaurants are byob is so you can bring wine (or alcohol) that you can't get from the state. It never occurred to me that the state had a fixed selection! Makes sense I guess.

                                                                                      The wine list was limited and they didn't have a white that suited my taste so I just stuck with prosecco for the entire meal.

                                                                                      Our wait person was very good. He and I talked about the intelligence of octopi when he recommended the grilled octopus, and then we brushed aside a conversation about force feeding ducks when he mentioned the foie gras.

                                                                                      So....my overall impression of the place was that the service was great - not overly attentive but on the ball and everything came just when we wanted it. The food was good but not fabulous. The next time I go there I will have the pizza and see how I feel about it, but for my money I've already eaten at other places in the area where I would rather drop $150 if I am going to spend that much.

                                                                                      27 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                        Buckethead RE: fillyfilet Jan 13, 2014 12:20 PM

                                                                                        Next time I'd suggest skipping the entrees and getting an app or two, a pizza, and a couple pastas. It will be cheaper and your impression of the place will improve. The entrees are not their strong suit, pizza and especially the pastas are.

                                                                                        1. re: Buckethead
                                                                                          fillyfilet RE: Buckethead Jan 13, 2014 12:31 PM

                                                                                          I don't like having to think that much about what I order in a restaurant, but that's good to know. I feel like if you can't do it right, don't do it!

                                                                                          1. re: Buckethead
                                                                                            cwdonald RE: Buckethead Jan 13, 2014 12:34 PM

                                                                                            I would echo what Buckethead says. I am always a fan of the vegetable ante pasta. It is even more spectacular in the spring and summer when there is a plethora of fresh ingredients available.

                                                                                            I am also curious about your comments about the wine list. Were you looking specifically at wines by the glass or at the bottle list as well? I have not heard people complain about the selection before, but I certainly have heard people feel the wine list does not offer much value. I personally have complained that their wine by the glass selection is not that good (so much so that they have actually opened bottles not intended to be on the wine by the glass list for me... and only charged me by the glass.) I think if you follow Buckethead's suggestion about pizza and pasta you can cut 25-50 dollars off the total cost of your meal. And I think you will have as good if not a better meal than the one you enjoyed.

                                                                                            Thanks for reporting back. Always great to hear how out of towners perceive Philadelphia's restaurants.

                                                                                            1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                              fillyfilet RE: cwdonald Jan 13, 2014 04:26 PM

                                                                                              I was asking about wines by the glass because my husband doesn't drink. I like heavy oak Chardonnays so they let me taste a couple of wines that they thought would be close to that, but they weren't close at all.

                                                                                              Next time - pizza and pasta it is!

                                                                                              1. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                cwdonald RE: fillyfilet Jan 13, 2014 07:13 PM

                                                                                                My only comment is that the restaurant does specialize specifically in Italian wines, and heavily oaked wines are more of a characteristic of American chardonnay. Does not surprise me you didn't find a wine to your liking.

                                                                                                With regards to thinking about what to order, I like going in armed knowing what is best and worst in a restaurant with information from a group like chowhound. While the legitimate argument can be made if they serve it, it should be good, we all know that some dishes are better than others. It doesnt sound like your entrees were bad per se, but they were not incredible either. And Osteria is not a place to find value, that is for sure.

                                                                                                1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                  fillyfilet RE: cwdonald Jan 14, 2014 06:39 AM

                                                                                                  True about the wines. Normally I would have ordered a red because I know more about them and I like Italian reds, but because I was having fish I got it into my head that I needed a white which I know little to nothing about. The selection of by-the-glass was still pretty small.

                                                                                                  I like to hear what other people like in restaurants and if a lot of people are steering clear of certain dishes then I generally will too, but food is also very subjective. I ordered the budino because so many people raved about it on CH. I liked what was on top but I didn't really care for the grainy consistency of the polenta as a dessert. Different strokes...

                                                                                                  1. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                    dndicicco RE: fillyfilet Jan 15, 2014 04:54 PM

                                                                                                    Great thread. That description of their specialty salad sounds VERY appealing to me. Is that a standard on their menu, or a special special? ;)

                                                                                                    1. re: dndicicco
                                                                                                      cwdonald RE: dndicicco Jan 15, 2014 08:01 PM

                                                                                                      What was described is their vegetable anti pasta. It is always a special but they always have it. And I always order it.

                                                                                                      1. re: dndicicco
                                                                                                        fillyfilet RE: dndicicco Jan 16, 2014 06:04 AM

                                                                                                        Since it was my first time there I wasn't aware it was always available. It was delicious and more than enough for two people when ordered for two.

                                                                                                        1. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                          cwdonald RE: fillyfilet Jan 16, 2014 06:40 AM

                                                                                                          It is a very generous portion. Last time I hosted a dinner there we ordered it for four and the mound of vegetables they brought to our table was stunning, both in size and beauty. I think it is one of the best and simple things to experience at Osteria. It reflects what an osteria really is... simple preparations of fresh ingredients. The pasta's reflect the simplicity as well.

                                                                                            2. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                              barryg RE: fillyfilet Jan 13, 2014 03:35 PM

                                                                                              Thanks for the throrough report.

                                                                                              The statement about byobs does not make any sense. You can still bring your own bottle to a license restaurant. It's up to them if they want to allow that, charge corkage, etc.

                                                                                              Restaurants go byob because the cost of acquiring a license is high, state law allows byob with no additional licensing, and rents can be reasonable enough for owners to eke out a living with liquor margins.

                                                                                              1. re: barryg
                                                                                                fillyfilet RE: barryg Jan 13, 2014 04:33 PM

                                                                                                I guess keeping rents low is a good thing. I don't know enough about state controlled liquor to have an opinion, but I'm used to going to restaurants without having to think about it, and from my perspective that's what I prefer. I don't want to worry about going out to buy a bottle of wine before dinner or raiding my personal stash. The other night we walked into Argana Tree and I wondered why the guy took the wine glasses off our table! When the server came I asked for a glass of prosecco and she asked me what it was. I finally caught on when I saw people walking in the door, bottles in hand.

                                                                                                1. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                  linguafood RE: fillyfilet Jan 13, 2014 05:40 PM

                                                                                                  It not only keeps the rents low, it also keeps the overall bill down when dining at BYOB establishments.

                                                                                                  I personally *love* Philly for its incredibly diverse BYOB scene, where one can eat well & bring a wine (or 2, in my case) that will generally match any given food ingested.

                                                                                                  Wish NYC had more BYOBs...

                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                    barryg RE: linguafood Jan 13, 2014 05:52 PM

                                                                                                    In New York State, a restaurant has to be licensed to allow BYOB. So of course restaurants sell booze once they go through that process.

                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                      fillyfilet RE: linguafood Jan 14, 2014 06:16 AM

                                                                                                      Good point.

                                                                                                    2. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                      Bigley9 RE: fillyfilet Jan 14, 2014 12:30 PM

                                                                                                      But the ability to raid your personal stash, to accompany a meal such as one from Bibou, is an amazingly wonderful thing that can save you a couple hundred dollars without compromising the food or the wine.

                                                                                                      1. re: Bigley9
                                                                                                        cwdonald RE: Bigley9 Jan 14, 2014 12:40 PM

                                                                                                        And rob owners of a very profitable revenue stream....

                                                                                                        1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                          fillyfilet RE: cwdonald Jan 14, 2014 01:07 PM

                                                                                                          I don't think you're being facetious - and that's my point too. I'm far from being an expert on the matter but I guess if restaurants choose to allow byob, even when they sell their own wines, then it's their call, but I'll pay the "extra" to help a good restaurant succeed and pay their workers well.

                                                                                                          1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                            Bigley9 RE: cwdonald Jan 14, 2014 05:19 PM

                                                                                                            I'd go to most of our byobs if they had liquor licenses, quite happily, actually. I was just commenting that having to BYO has it's upside for the patron. I have never byo'd to a restaurant with a license. I was merely responding to filly filets comments about byos

                                                                                                        2. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                          barryg RE: fillyfilet Jan 19, 2014 10:52 AM

                                                                                                          I did not mean that being BYOB-only lowers rents (though it may, perhaps, lower liability insurance). I mean that rents in many Philly neighborhoods are much lower than other big cities, allowing restaurants to survive without the liquor revenue stream.

                                                                                                      2. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                        PhillyBestBYOB RE: fillyfilet Jan 14, 2014 12:28 PM

                                                                                                        Slightly off topic, but I've hear people complaining that Osteria's wine list markups are excessive. Here are some red wines from their list I found online (comparisons based on national average retail price):

                                                                                                        2006 Tommaso Bussola Ca' del Laito Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso--$22-->$87 (4X)

                                                                                                        2007 Bisceglia Gudarra Aglianico del Vulture--$25-->$83 (3.3X)

                                                                                                        2008 Marchesi Antinori Tignanello--$93-->$206 (2.2X)

                                                                                                        2007 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo--$66-->$168 (2.6X)

                                                                                                        2006 Agricola Punica Barrua Isola dei Nuraghi--$51-->$137 (2.7X)

                                                                                                        Average markup is ~3X, which is typical, neither good nor bad. So if you were able to BYOB at Osteria, and brought a $50 bottle of wine, you would save $100 give or take.

                                                                                                        Restaurant owners clearly hate the state liquor laws, and consumers pay a bit more to have a bit worse selection versus other states (and can't legally have wine shipped here from their favorite CA vineyard), but the sliver lining for diners is clear.

                                                                                                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                                                                          fillyfilet RE: PhillyBestBYOB Jan 14, 2014 12:57 PM

                                                                                                          Yes, if you're looking to save money that's a fair point. On the other hand, I've always heard that restaurants make their profits on liquor/wine sales so if it means we have better restaurants, I don't mind paying more. I also don't mind paying more to make it possible for restaurants to pay their workers a good living wage.

                                                                                                          1. re: fillyfilet
                                                                                                            Bigley9 RE: fillyfilet Jan 14, 2014 05:21 PM

                                                                                                            I purposely frequent restaurants where I know staff are better compensated even though they cost more.

                                                                                                            1. re: Bigley9
                                                                                                              barryg RE: Bigley9 Jan 19, 2014 10:47 AM

                                                                                                              Better compensated because higher menu prices drive higher tips? Or higher base wages for back of the house staff? What restaurants are these?

                                                                                                          2. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                                                                            barryg RE: PhillyBestBYOB Jan 19, 2014 10:49 AM

                                                                                                            When looking at wine markups in PA you have to remember that restaurants pay the same prices as the rest of us -- there is no such thing as wholesale discounts.

                                                                                                            1. re: barryg
                                                                                                              cwdonald RE: barryg Feb 15, 2014 10:40 AM

                                                                                                              Barry you are so right. There are even cases where the restaurant can end up paying higher costs than a consumer.

                                                                                                              The recent review of of Osteria Moorestown showed the difference in wine prices Quoting LaBan... With free-market wholesale discounts in New Jersey unavailable in state-run Pennsylvania, you can drink well from the high end (Littorai pinot for $95, versus $143 in Philly) to the low ($29, instead of $43, for Fattoria Laila Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi).

                                                                                                              1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                PhillyBestBYOB RE: cwdonald Feb 15, 2014 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                If this is all true, then the wine markups in PA restaurants should be higher than the national average (or at least NJ) relative to the average retail price that I was quoting above. At least that doesn't appear to be the case at Osteria-Philly in my experience (although apparently they are pricing things even better in Osteria-Moorestown).

                                                                                                                I don't know, but I would expect restaurant owners to determine markups not by what they pay (wholesale or not), but by their competition (unless they are trying to undercut the market).

                                                                                                                BTW, I think the people who care about these sorts of things are talking about markups, it is relative to retail and doesn't take into account whatever the wholesale is (which is not easy to determine in many cases).

                                                                                                                If you are not clear about what point I'm trying to make, you are not alone. I can't remember what we were talking about!

                                                                                                                Much more interesting subject: I need to figure out what wines I'm brining to Blackfish tonight!

                                                                                                        2. b
                                                                                                          Barryum RE: JunieB Feb 15, 2014 09:04 AM

                                                                                                          Memphis Taproom has very good casual food and good beer selection.
                                                                                                          Kyber Pass is in the same vein.
                                                                                                          Standard Tap is always good.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Barryum
                                                                                                            JunieB RE: Barryum Feb 15, 2014 05:16 PM

                                                                                                            Interesting menus. I was expecting Afghan or Pakistani food at Kyber Pass! Fooled me with Southern influenced pub grub. All 3 of these look like fun places to hang out and have a beer. They're now on my list. I can't wait for the weather to let up so we can start getting out more!

                                                                                                          2. sal_acid RE: JunieB Feb 15, 2014 07:26 PM

                                                                                                            Good stuff southwest of Philly too.

                                                                                                            Hood's BBQ in Unionville

                                                                                                            Fair Hill Inn in Northern MD (about an hour south of the Philly airport)

                                                                                                            House of William and Merry in Northern DE

                                                                                                            The Whip (in Doe Run) Brit Pub food in horse country

                                                                                                            1. f
                                                                                                              Feeble RE: JunieB Feb 16, 2014 08:55 AM

                                                                                                              We came to Philly for weekend and had lovely valentines day dinner at Meritage. Small plates were especially good (local mushrooms with coconut polenta and fontina, we were dubious but it was awesome). Very nice atmosphere and service, a real treat. What a fun city.

                                                                                                              1. a
                                                                                                                AlCracka RE: JunieB Mar 25, 2014 07:00 AM

                                                                                                                This thread is great! Thanks all for the recs. We're going with Kanella in a squeaker over Amada to save a few bucks. Will report back.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: AlCracka
                                                                                                                  AlCracka RE: AlCracka Jun 10, 2014 03:12 PM

                                                                                                                  And I just realized that I forgot to report back. Here's the report: we did both, because I have no common sense, and they were both amazing.

                                                                                                                  Amada does a very traditional tapas menu: you're gonna get your croquetas, your boquerones, etcetera. But they do an excellent job with it.

                                                                                                                  Kanella was, weirdly enough, filming some kind of reality TV show while we were there, with the obvious result that our service was totally half-assed, but one can't really hold that against them. Our waiter looked so nervous! Anyway, we had some delicious seafood-based dishes. Food: again, excellent. Being on a reality show: ugh.

                                                                                                                2. g
                                                                                                                  griller88 RE: JunieB Jun 10, 2014 03:02 PM

                                                                                                                  Any Rittenhouse area recommendations for my parents who are older (one salt restricted diet, need patient good servers)? they are going into the city last minute tomorrow for my moms 77th bday.


                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: griller88
                                                                                                                    cwdonald RE: griller88 Jun 10, 2014 04:55 PM

                                                                                                                    What kind of restricted diet?

                                                                                                                    My initial recommendation probably would be Matyson or Parc, but it mostly depends on what the diet needs are, and whether they want a small or a large restaurant.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                      griller88 RE: cwdonald Jun 10, 2014 05:39 PM

                                                                                                                      They are totally flexible about restaurant size. No salt is the big restriction. And low vitamin K veggies (bc of coumadin) With a patient server. thank SO much for you help!

                                                                                                                      1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                        griller88 RE: cwdonald Jun 10, 2014 05:55 PM

                                                                                                                        Ps byob not a good idea either, and probably not a limited menu

                                                                                                                        1. re: griller88
                                                                                                                          cwdonald RE: griller88 Jun 10, 2014 07:00 PM

                                                                                                                          If they are going for lunch, I would probably suggest LaCroix. Great food, excellent service, right off of Rittenhouse square. I am wondering if others have suggestions. Would Le Cheri work?

                                                                                                                          1. re: cwdonald
                                                                                                                            Delucacheesemonger RE: cwdonald Jun 11, 2014 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                            And Prime Rib for dinner. The prime rib is noticeably light on salt.

                                                                                                                    2. gina RE: JunieB Jun 11, 2014 08:04 AM

                                                                                                                      You've got a lot to choose from here already, but I'm going to go ahead and throw in a few of my faves that may not have been mentioned:

                                                                                                                      Petruce et al
                                                                                                                      Jerry's Bar
                                                                                                                      Vintage Wine Bar (great burger, too)
                                                                                                                      Fette Sau (great BBQ and fun space)
                                                                                                                      Ela (especially brunch)

                                                                                                                      1. JunieB RE: JunieB Jul 14, 2014 05:13 PM

                                                                                                                        I don't know how many people in this thread recommended the Birchrunville Store Cafe, but thank you! Four of us had dinner there Saturday night and the food was sublime. I loved the atmosphere of the old general store and going into the post office for the bathrooms. It's a lovely drive. We allowed extra time and meandered around the back roads. Beautiful country.

                                                                                                                        It's a byob and cash only, but here's the funny thing. My husband and I always take cash because it makes it easier to split the tab but our friend handed the server a credit card at the end of the meal and she was so apologetic - she told him not to worry about a thing - that he could just send them a check! He ended up having the cash, but the offer of sending a check was a nice gesture and obviously something they do quite often with no hesitation.

                                                                                                                        Our reservation was for 8:30 which I recommend because the candlelight is nice. None of the food we had is on their online menu so I'm a little short on some of the details but I'll do my best.

                                                                                                                        I had the beet salad to start. The beets were sliced, very al dente and pickled. Served with mixed greens, feta and a delicious vinaigrette. My entree was a crab cake and branzino w/shaved veggies, a little potato rosette and potatoes kind of smashed with something green in them. The branzino was wrapped in a thin crepe and fried crisp. It was served on a bed of tomato confit or some such thing and it was delicious! For dessert I ordered the butterscotch cake with dulce de leche gelato and it was heavenly. Strawberries, blueberries, starfruit and a cherry rounded out the plate. My husband didn't want a dessert and said he would just have a "bite" of mine but he ended up gobbling up most of it, including the cherry! I told him next time he gets his own dessert.

                                                                                                                        Other dishes enjoyed by the group were asparagus gazpacho w/crab & roe garnish - baked figs stuffed with goat cheese and bacon w/mixed greens - veal tenderloin w/chanterelles, string beans, risotto & potato rosettes with a red wine reduction - sole stuffed with lobster and scallops served with a beurre blanc sauce and shaved vegetables and those smashed potatoes - and Grand Marnier creme brulee! There were no complaints from anyone.

                                                                                                                        If I had any complaints it would be about the dishes, of all things. Each item is served on a different modern white dish. My beet salad was served on what appeared to be a bowl as it had a narrow, fairly deep indention in the center. It made it hard to cut the hard beets. My entree was served on a very curvy plate and the edges of the plate kind of curled under. It was impossible to rest a fork or knife on the edge of the plate. The dessert was served on a flat dish, thank goodness. Not much to complain about.

                                                                                                                        Great spot - charming, intimate, and well prepared food. If you go, call early. It took a couple of months to get a reservation.

                                                                                                                        I'm going to share a photo of the beet salad, the figs and my entree.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: JunieB
                                                                                                                          FriedClamFanatic RE: JunieB 2 days ago

                                                                                                                          wow...............nice report back! Glad you enjoyed it!

                                                                                                                          1. re: JunieB
                                                                                                                            CindyJ RE: JunieB 2 days ago

                                                                                                                            Birchrunville is consistently wonderful and never disappoints. It may well be the best that Chester County has to offer for fine dining.

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