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Jan 24, 2014 09:25 AM

Sf visits Phl ... thoughts for a friday?

Hello !

I'm planning a weekend trip to philly soon. When GF and I do a long weekend, I pack a list of casual and semi-casual spots in different parts of town, wine bars, out of the way places, tourist eats (several best cheesesteak lists.... etc), but we also have one reserved dinner.

Being from SF, we're a little jaded, but generally like food that is modern, surprising, with new and unusual tastes. Restaurants that are straight-ahead of a given style (even the best of that style) is not what we're looking for this time.

Price is no object, we like wine (BYOB fine). we like apps & small plates, we really will eat anything, and assume we can transport ourselves anywhere.

Here's my short list at the moment:


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  1. Are you asking for a rec for your one reserved dinner?

    How did you narrow it down to those four? None of them would be my pick for a one-night-in-Philly dinner, but of them, Sbraga would be my pick, then Fond. I wouldn't suggest Amada, it's good but not good enough for an out of towner for your one dinner in Philadelphia. I haven't been to Marigold since the current chef took over, opinions on it vary quite a bit.

    1. Consider Serpico. I also really like Ela, but others will disagree.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bigley9

        Here here Bidley you are right on. I would add in Vernick, Will (modern american) , Le Virtu (abruzzo centered italian) and Nord (scandanavian) as places to consider.

        Amada is pretty basic tapas. Unless you are going there for the roasted pig, I would probably pass on it. You can find comparable tapas places in San Francisco.

        It is well worth getting down to the East Passyunk neighborhood where there are lots of newer restaurants. They tend to be smaller, BYO, and some of the most interesting food in the city. And if you have a car, consider buying your beverages in a state other than PA as our liquor stores selection are dreadful.

        1. re: cwdonald

          And you, cw added the restaurants I considered, but then stopped myself from adding for purposes of brevity!

      2. You may also want to consider Fork

        1. Just to try to give a bit more context for several of the restaurants mentions.

          Fork is a French inspired modern food restaurant. They have a new chef Eli Kulp, who has reinvigorated the place and elevated it to one of the better restaurants in the city.

          Serpico is run by former Momofuku kochef Peter Serpico. You will get David Chang type food here.. inventive and definitely interesting.

          Ela is a modern small plate restaurant in Queens Village run by Jason Chichonski. People are split on it.. some love it some hate it. There is definitely some interesting technique used in the cooking .. (eg noodles made out of scallops.).

          1. Best restaurant in Philly propper right might be The Farm and Fisherman IMHO (BYOB). Farm-to-table done right, despite the silly name. Chef used to be CdC at the famous Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

            I'm tempted to say Serpico is #2 (not BYOB). Ex-chef from Michelin 2-star Momofuko Ko, so you know it's creative. Very small but interesting wine list.

            Vedge (vegan) might be #3. I know scary, but it really has mind-blowing veggies. They were talking about opening a location in Cali last year (SF?) but they put it on hold. BYOB or wine list are essentially the same cost ($25 corkage or $25 markup). Interesting wine list.

            Obviously we're not mentioning some favorites like Bibou, since it sounds like unusual/creative is your thing. Noord (Nordic, well-known Chicago chef who recently moved back home) might also fit. Vernick, Fork, High Street, The Fat Ham, Will might also fit. I like Fond, but for some reason I've never liked it as much as everyone else.

            Marigold is a very intersting choice, but I'm going for the first time in a couple of weeks and so can't comment on it further. All the restaruant this thread are very good. The only one I'd drop is probably Amada (good, not great, a bit boring).

            Interesting that no one has mentioned what is probably the most recommended restaurant on this board: Zahav (modern Israeli, James Beard award-winning chef). Although personally, after the Kitchen Counter dinner last weekend, I'm over my facination with it. I wrote an only 4-star Yelp review and everyone is going "WTF?" to me!

            Shoot me an email and I'll tell you about an undergound restaurant that would be right up your alley.