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Toronto Hound in Philly

Hi all
Im visiting from Toronto in July, and have done a fair bit of research. I have my lunches finalized but need some help with dinners. Price is no object, we like all food (though, I would prefer to stay away from Asian or Indian), we just want the best, most interesting meals for the 3 dinners we are there. Here are the options I narrowed it down to but if there are others I'm missing let me know:

Stateside
Marigold Kitchen
Fork
Will
Amis
Barbuzzo

And in terms of understanding bigger picture, here's what I have planned for lunch:

Thursday: Johns Roast Pork
Friday: reading Market for breakfast/snacks, find a food truck in afternoon
Saturday: Pasanos Philly Style
Sunday: Brunch at Supper

Thank you in advance!

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  1. Stateside is no big deal anymore since the original chef left. I would definitely consider Fork (preorder the duck feast).

    If money is no object, I would do Sunday brunch at Lacroix in The Rittenhouse Hotel.

    1. Avoid Stateside as Philly Ray says. Really the only place I'd keep from your list is Fork, Will is very good too but not one the best meals in the city. The three best, most interesting meals I'd suggest right now are dinner at Zahav, Vedge, and Fork. There are quite a few other options that are on the same level but those are the three I'd choose. Other options include Vernick, Serpico, and Kanella. Actually, I'd go to Kanella for lunch on Friday, they're one of the few great restaurants in the city that is open for lunch (only Fri-Sun though) and our food truck scene, while good, is not something I'd say is a must-do for an out of towner.

      1. Vedge, Fork, Serpico.

        Personally, I think Zahav is good, but over-rated.

        1. As this board knows cannot understand the raves for Vedge, nice space nice owners, but food so dated from the 60's IMVHO.
          Last time at Fork for duck feast a few weeks ago, it was changed dramatically. Breast meat was tepid, and instead of the fab leg/thigh confit now a tablespoon of smooshed leg meat was served with vegetable or two mixed in. The duck meatballs were great as always.

          My choices would be as always

          Farm & Fisherman
          Zeppoli ( 5 minutes across the Ben Franklin Bridge )
          Laurel

          1. Thank you Philly Ray, BucketHead, PhillyBest and Deluca - I've reviewed your suggestions and here's where i'm at (others, please do chime in as well!)

            Laurel is a for sure, the rest I'm debating:

            Serpico - reviews look very good. Italian is usually not always that interesting but this does look promising so I'm leaning towards it as one of my three.
            Zahav- I have read a lot about it, but the menu looks semi simple and right now, Toronto is seeing a boom in Middle Eastern restaurants so I'm on the fence. Is it special?
            Fork- Have others had mediocre experiences? what is great about the place?
            Vedge- I'm not a vegetarian and I'm definitely not a vegan so I am hestitant but somewhat curious... do my carnivore brothers and sisters love it?

            As for lunch.. On friday, if I go to the market, is it worth me eating a lot there or just I just go and have a few little nibbles and then do a full lunch somewhere? Thoughts?

            Also, is friday a good day to go to the market? I wasn't sure if some vendors are only open on weekends.. so I figure I would ask.

            Is supper a good brunch option? I liked the menu a lot, looks playful and that's how I like my lunch vs. very stuffy and refined.

            Hows the wait time at Johns and Pasanos? Does one sit down? Is there a preference on which location of pasanos I go to?

            Thanks all!

            9 Replies
            1. re: hungryabbey

              Serpico isn't Italian, are you thinking of Zeppoli? Both are excellent, I left Zeppoli off my list because it's in New Jersey.

              I'd skip Laurel if I were you, it's very good but not if you're only going to be here for 3 dinners.

              Friday is fine at the RTM, some of the vendors are closed on Sundays.

              John's Roast Pork has a few picnic tables outside, Paesano's has more seating. I'd go to the Paesano's in the Italian Market, there's more interesting stuff to see after you're done.

              1. re: Buckethead

                Sorry I dont know why I wrote bout it being Italian, I'm missing places up.

                Oh boy, this is confusing. Here's where I'm at NOW:

                Zahav
                Vetri (just read about this, seems to be the "best of the best", no?)
                Serpico
                Laurel
                Fork
                Vedge

                If I could get everyones input on which three would be their picks (and maybe a one liner on why), that would be super helpful.

                Re: the Market- do you recommend that I spend my appetite at the market that day, or should I just have a nibble for breakfast and then do a lunch somewhere that day (Friday)?

                Also, anywhere semi-close by (walking distance) the Four Seasons where for an easy light breakfast and good coffee?

                Thanks in advance.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Wow, that's challenging, but those are a great top five. Here are the first things that jump to mind for me, maybe that'd be helpful as you narrow down things:

                  Zahav -- this is my go-to, very easy, less expensive price point, fun if you pre-order the lamb, oh so delicious, very fun environment. Olde City so you'll soak up some of that cobblestone vibe but you can walk to south street in one block if you want to see the weirdness there

                  Serprico -- right on South Street. Creative meny, open kitchen concept. A little fresher than Zahav now, but IMO, not as intrinsically tasty. I liked but didn't necessarily LOVE the dishes

                  Laurel -- haven't been here yet, but apparently if you're rating only by food this is Philly's closest 29 Zagat rating restaurant, heheh

                  Fork -- super swank, cool environment. Personally, I loved it. If you like bread and meat, this is great, but this takes it up to a super sophisticated level

                  Vedge -- most interesting, since of course it's vegan. This is some of the best vegan food I've ever had, and I travel a lot. Tell them to go lite on the oils, and you get to soak up the flavors of the food a little more. I love this place while I'm there, but not to fall into some sort of brutish trap, but I do get hungry an hour later!

                  My favorite coffee is Elixir, which is very famous for Philadelphia. Another option is heading over to Parc in Rittenhouse and sitting outside for a coffee and a basket of pastries. The latter might be more fun but you will not be able to resist eating something delicious ;)

                  1. re: dndicicco

                    VERY helpful. Any thoughts on ventri?

                    as for reservations, opentable says theyre booked but if i decide on laurel, I have some connections that will likely be able to get me a table.

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      Vetri is to be avoided. At one time it was probably the best restaurant in the city but those days are long gone. The rest of your list is fine, personally I'd leave Laurel off but it's still a very good restaurant, just not in the city's top tier in my opinion. But you'll have a good meal there if you go.

                  2. re: hungryabbey

                    Better make your reservation for July for Laurel ASAP. We've heard they are sold out through June, and that was a couple of weeks ago.

                    It's very good, although personally not in my top 10 in Philly.

                    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                      PhillyBestBYOB, we need your top ten!

                2. re: hungryabbey

                  I'm one of the zahav fans... I was just there the other night. The dishes maybe sound simple but they are all interesting and the flavors and textures are great. The desserts are fantastic too. I know you said price isn't an object but the level of service you get at zahav is well above restaurants at this price point. That's one of the draws for me but the food plus service makes it one of the best restaurants in the city regardless of price.