Family visiting Philadelphia
My husband, teenagers and I are visiting Philadelphia from Wednesday through Saturday. We're staying near U of P and/but are totally into public transportation to visit great food places for lunch and dinner. Philly cheese steak is a given, but what else. I remember seeing something about a Dog Tavern on 3D. Worthwhile? HELP! Thanks... Barnes Museum and Fabric Museum and Mourning Museum are on my wish list....
Sounds fun! If you're at U of P check out their archaeology museum; it's quite special.
Here are some food highlights, which also will show you around town:
1) Zahav (middle eastern) -- my favorite food in the city, absolutely delicious, fun atmosphere, good for families and you're in the Olde City (cobblestone) area. Have dinner there and walk around some of the old houses
2) Parc (french bistro) -- best for a breakfast/lunch, great people-watching scene in Rittenhouse Square (fancy area)
3) Vernick's (american) -- my favorite new american dinner, in a cool area outside of rittenhouse square. very trendy now
4) Serpico (new american) -- edgy restaurant, good place to dine and see South Street. Bistrot la minette is another good option if you're not French-bistro'd out
5) Noord (northern european) -- fun new restaurant in the passyunk area of south philadelphia. tons of good options in the area if you're feeling something else (e.g., Fond)
6) DiBruno Brothers (high-end delicatessen) -- good scene for lunch, a bit bustling
7) Morimoto (sushi) -- best sushi in the city, one block away from independence hall
8) Abyssinia (ethiopian) -- good family sharing food a couple blocks away from upenn. keep in mind this will be far from fine dining ;)
Great suggestions so far, here are a few to consider. Best check menus online for budget busters and suitable fare.
A few good spots of high recognition, frequent national awards or popularity.
Tria- small interesting menu, european feel, good beer, wine
Nonna's - Old school Italian American- new & fun
Vedge- no meat or dairy- national rec.
Fountian Room 4 Seasons - some rank best in Phila
Zahav - Best new chef award -National Rec-Local favorite
Amada- Small plate Tapas- busy local favorite-casual
The Prime Rib - high end steak house - some rank best here
Dandilion- English, great decor with renditions of british fare
Barbazzo- eclectic -busy- noisy-fun
Wiskey Village - great burgers-casual - good fun
Parc- nice venue French bistro
Oyster House- you guessed it
All mentioned might require reservation. I am sure you will get many more options from local hounds.
Interesting comments here regarding the White Dog Cafe. A favorite some year ago fell into blah. Our most recent visit was last autumn and while we like the Main Line outpost much better the original White Dog had gotten back to close to its initial form. Not been since so my personal experience is a bit dated. As noted by arepo it is very popular in the U of P area as is Distrito and Pod.
I am a big fan of Manakeesh at 44th and Walnut for Lebanese flatbreads and baklavah. They are open for lunch and dinner.
A favorite place in Chinatown is Xi'an Sizzling Woks. The atmosphere is basic, but the food is from the Shaanxi province and is different from what you typically find on a Chinese restaurant menu.
In Chinatown, I also like Vietnam Palace and Rangoon (Burmese).
Seconding Vietnam Palace and Rangoon if you want some really tasty yet less fancy eats - Chinatown is also a very quick trip by cab from the Barnes. Probably good bets for the teenagers as well if they want to try something a little adventurous but maybe not too "out there" (or they aren't into fancy/small plates style dining as some of the suggestions previously made.)
Distrito or Han Dynasty might be good choices if you want to stay close to Penn. If you're willing to venture into West Philly for a fun time, when I was in grad school there my friends and I loved to go to Dahlak, it's a definite experience and fun to share a bunch of different dishes to be scooped up with the injera bread.
If you do go to the Mutter, you're near Rittenhouse Square and some of the other places mentioned previously like Parc and Village Whiskey. But I also really like El Rey on Chestnut at lunch time: their $10 2-courses + fresh chips deal is great and the atmosphere is fun Mexican-wrestlers-meet-oldschool-diner. Also near there are some very good Italian BYOBs, including Salento and Melograno.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is very nice so is the Franklin Institute and nearby Rodin Museum. the Constitution Center and Independence Park areas are must see.
Also, the teenagers (and maybe you as well)might enjoy the World Cafe nearby Penn-good entertainment spot.
Alla Spina is a nice restaurant.. casual. My favorite things there are the house made mortadella hot dogs, the pigs tails with fennel aggradolce, and the poutine with guinea hen leg bolognese mozzarella curd. Its really bar food/ small plates as opposed to appetizer and main dishes. If that doesnt bother you, then go for it. And if you are a beer drinker, they feature some great beers from italy that you do not often find other places.
If you go to Alla Spina I would say this is one case where public transit from Penn is not going to be the best way to go for a visitor. It's in an "up and coming" type area and it's still kind of desolate. You could take the Market Frankford Line or a trolley (actually a slightly easier connection) and then switch to the Broad St Line to get there but I would take a cab back.
That said I think Alla Spina would be a fun place to go with your family.