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Aug 12, 2014 06:42 PM

Calling all Bucks County Chowhounds

The thread on The Inn at Phillips Mill has sparked a broader discussion about restaurants in Bucks County and the surrounding areas. Since we're always looking for other restaurants around here to try, it would be great if all of us BC chowhounds could share restaurant recs in a dedicated thread.

No specific geographic limitations--ie, across the river is fair game. Places not to be missed and places to avoid are both helpful. And they don't all have to be nice, sit-down restaurants--sometimes the best food is found in little divey places. Those of you who already provided your favorites in the Phillips Mill thread, feel free to paste them in here or link to your previous posts!

To start off the thread, here are a few places we like:

Charcoal (Yardley)--Consistently good food. Liked them better when they were being more innovative with their cooking, but they seem to have given up on that in the last year or two.

Marhaba (Lambertville)--Our favorite gyros around here. The hummus and baba ghanoush are also quite good.

Hot on D Spot (Hamilton)--Trinidadian rotis. These are the only rotis we've ever had, but they're tasty and the folks there are super-nice.

Landolfi's Deli (Yardley)--I only ever crave sandwiches from 3 places: John's Roast Pork, Paesano's, and Landolfi's (well, and Katz's, but can't get to that on a regular basis!)

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  1. Thanks for posting this, msiangal!

    1 Reply
    1. Thanks for posting this too. Famdoc had a great post in the prior thread, which I am copying here for its insight:

      -Famdoc's recommendations-
      Our favorite Bucks County restaurants (geographic license: includes river towns in Jersey):
      Lambertville: Hamilton Grill Room, D'Floret, Marhaba
      Stockton: Via Ponte
      Rosemont: The Pass
      Perkasie: Maize on Main
      New Hope: Sprig and Vine, Hearth

      My comments:
      Lambertville: Totally on board with Hamilton and D'Floret. Hamilton Grill Room for the vibe and setting, and D'Floret for the surprisingly good cooking considering the somewhat haphazard nature of the cooking.

      I have not been to Marhaba, as I was scared off from weird story about the owner. Maybe I shouldn't touch that topic!?

      I'd add Rojo's for some high-end coffees and your pastry fix.

      New Hope: Hearth is probably the best mix of ambiance, healthy cuisine, and almost sophisticated cooking. Spring & Vine could be better, but like many vegetarian restaurants they go a little too heavy on the oils for me.

      I'd add Jamie Oliver's for your gourmet, to-go fix. Perfect spot for a business lunch.

      14 Replies
      1. re: dndicicco

        Now I'm curious about the Marhaba story...but perhaps I really don't want to know? We've always enjoyed the food and the service has been fine, though it can be a little slow.

        And speaking of pastries, we like C'est La Vie in New Hope. Nice selection of pastries, and their quiches are pretty good, too.

        Has anyone been to Ota-Ya (either Newtown or Lambertville)? Is it any good?

        1. re: msiangal

          I've been to Ota-Ya in both locations. They are Chinese-owned sushi restaurants, however, their fish is probably a touch fresher than Oishi's. Once I ordered Toro from Oishi just to see, and it was only partly thawed and rancid, so the bar is low!

          I think Ota-Ya's menus are more interesting in some ways, and they occasionally have real seaweed, but if you steer toward the more eclectic items such as Uni, you have to bare poor quality since they don't move them much.

          They have very good spicy tuna rolls for that crowd, and the space is more intimate yet more casual than Oishi. Their rolls tend to be very heavily sauced and mayo'd. Yes, it's a sad story.

          1. re: dndicicco

            Thanks, dndicicco! We'll go try Ota-Ya sometime.

        2. re: dndicicco

          We've been to Via Ponte twice. The first time was wonderful, food was great, service was good and we all had a great time.

          The second time, about 6 months ago, was almost the complete opposite. The service was fairly horrendous, it took forever and a day to get our food and the food was meh at best. I'm not sure we'd go back after that experience, especially considering the fact that it's not inexpensive.

          1. re: flourgirl

            Huge disappointment with D'floret. The owner needs to get some manners as his own staff is scared to death of him, but aside of that, the main reason is that the food is not what it is cracked up to be and traveling almost an hour doesn't warrant the myriad flaws.

          2. re: dndicicco

            The othe restaurant that deserves to be on this list is Brian's. He has switched to an all tasting menu approach, getting rid of the pizza/casual that he started with. It really is approaching what he had in Newtown at Rouget.

            1. re: cwdonald

              Good to know. I enjoyed Brian's the last time I ate there, but it was a more traditional format -- app, main, dessert -- all generous portions.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  did they remove the wood fired oven at Brian's and add more seating?

                  We haven't dined here since our first visit. Food was very good but disliked the room. May have to give it another shot.

                2. re: dndicicco

                  Think you mean Jamie Hollander.

                  The Marhaba story is several years old. When it first opened, it had a different name. I told the owner that I used to go to a restaurant by that name in Brooklyn and that the cuisine was similar.
                  He became quite agitated and claimed to hold a copyright on the name of the restaurant and that he had sued to owners of the Brooklyn restaurant for using that name. I found his response a bit odd, but filed it under "curious", continuing to eat there because the food he served was really quite excellent. A year or so went by and the local press and the blogosphere briefly erupted with a report that the owner had been arrested for a horrible crime against his female companion. I'll say nothing further here, except to note that, following a lengthy closure, the restaurant reopened under the current name, apparently different ownership and, basically, the same menu.

                  Haven't been to the Lambertville Ota-Ya in more than a decade, although have been to the Doylestown location a few times. It's really decent, in my opinion.

                  1. re: famdoc

                    Ota-Ya is not in Doylestown. We have Ooka, which also has locations in Willow Grove and Montgomeryville.

                    Ota-Ya is ordinary suburban sushi. It is not in the league with Fuji, Sagami, or even Blue Fin or even Umai in Lansdale. The setting is nice, though on weekends like most restaurants in New Hope/Lambertville it is loud and crowded.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      You are right. I have tomago on my face.
                      Ooka is acceptable. Can't comment on Ota-Ya.

                      1. re: famdoc


                        Great way to describe Ooka. Ooka is to Ota-Ya as Five Guys is to McDonalds.

                    2. re: famdoc

                      Thanks for sharing the Marhaba story, famdoc. Glad to know it didn't have to do with the current ownership!

                  2. I live in Lower Bucks so rarely venture up to Doylestown or north. Just no reason to get up there.

                    I second Charcoal in Yardley. How do you think they are being less innovative? I think they keep getting better and better.

                    Jahan Kabob (Afghan) in same shopping center as the Garden Farm Market near Calhoun Street Bridge. Love the samosas, mixed grills, and curries which bear some resemblance to North Indian cuisine.

                    I like the pizzas (flatbreads, whatever) at the Vault in Yardley, my favorite probably being the Brown Sugar Buffalo. They also have some tasty salads. I like their beer, particularly their stouts.

                    Indian Garden in Yardley is good, BYOB and very reasonably priced.

                    La Villa in Morrisville is the only place I'll order pizza from in the area.

                    Tacos Cancun in Lambertville is a real hole in the wall serving delicious authentic Mexican food. Atmosphere is not great but you can eat in, if the weather is good you can eat out back.

                    I wind up jumping over to Trenton and Hamilton a LOT for tasty cheap food -- There's Szechuan House, Taqueria el Mariachi (plus several other reasonably good Guatemalan joints), and now a new Vietnamese place called Pho Tan that's solid enough considering it's the only place for pho in the area. Mylai Masala in Hamilton (near the train station) has pretty good south Indian food and dosas.

                    I will also second Hot on D Spot in Hamilton (owner is from Trinidad) as the only place around that I know if that serves roti. Their other dishes are good too.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: sadiefox

                      Tacos Cancum and Pho Tan both sound interesting--thanks for the reviews.

                      Re: Charcoal, the first time we went for dinner (about 2.5 years ago), every dish we tried had something surprising--an uncommon combination of flavors or ingredients, a creative use of spices, etc. They were even playing around with textures, like using foams and other forms of molecular gastronomy.

                      Over the last year or so, we've been seeing less of the unconventional in their menu. The food is delicious, and there are still a few items that are creative in the ways mentioned above, but a higher proportion of the dishes are similar in concept/style to what we've seen in other restaurants of this tier in Philly. We still enjoy the food, but the surprises occur rarely now.

                      1. re: msiangal

                        I see what you are saying about Charcoal. To my tastes, they have gotten better since they started... overall more successful dishes and flavor combinations... the molecular stuff isn't really my favorite thing so I don't really miss it.

                        I should add that if you try Tacos Cancun, order a huarache. It's the only place I know of around here that makes them.

                        1. re: sadiefox

                          On the charcoal topic, I had the squid ink pasta there and was very impressed. I went about six months ago, but didn't see the menu change since. Oh, the doughnuts at the end were quite the indulgence. :)

                          1. re: dndicicco

                            Yes, the doughnuts there are delicious. My other favorite place for doughnuts around here is Styer Orchard Market. I love their apple cider doughnuts with cinnamon sugar!

                          2. re: sadiefox

                            Good to know about the huarache at Tacos Cancun, thanks. I haven't had one in ages.

                        2. re: sadiefox

                          Was at Szechuan House last evening and found it to be more authentic than most places in Phila Chinatown.
                          Hot and Sour soup was heavily black peppered with soy as primary seasoning, thus not usual but very good soup.
                          Dan Dan Noodles used a less successful softer noodle and meat was more mushy and less textured than Han Dynasty, was not enthralled.
                          Tripe and tendon was served cold and both major components were tender and very flavorful.
                          Eggplant in garlic sauce was the best rendition of this fave of mine encountered, the eggplant was cooked and crisped instead of usual method of being drowned in hot oil. Excellent.
                          Tea smoked duck was also excellent, almost like BBQ with duck perfectly smokey and moist.
                          Great tea was served as well.

                        3. Can anyone recommend a Vietnamese restaurant in the area? I'm craving some banh mi's, as they're all the rage.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: dndicicco

                            Pho and Beyond in Willow Grove, Pho Tai Nam in East Norriton and Vietnam Cafe in Telford are the ones that I know best in the suburbs. I believe each of them have bahn mi. Pho Tan in North Trenton has been getting a lot of publicity lately. Do no know if they have the sandwiches.

                            1. re: dndicicco

                              Pho Palace in far Northeast Philly (Somerton, right near County Line Road, so a stone's throw from Bucks County) is decent. They only have banh mi with BBQ pork or BBQ chicken as far as I remember, not the full lineup you'd have at some of the better Viet spots.

                              1. re: carnicero

                                Used to be a place in Newtown called Basil Leaf. Apparently closed. Liked their pho.

                              2. re: dndicicco

                                In my post above I noted that there's a new Vietnamese place in Trenton, Pho Tan. They have acceptable banh mi.

                                1. re: sadiefox

                                  There is a place that is new to me on Main Street in Norristown called Banh Mi Bar and Bistro. Has anyone been there?

                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                    I know this is an old thread, but I have to chime in that I absolutely LOVE Banh Mi Bar. Their traditional pork banh mi is delicious, and I crave it frequently.

                                    I should mention that I've never had banh mi anywhere else, so I have no frame of reference for my adoration.

                              3. Hamilton Grill Room (Lambertville)
                                Blue Sage (Southampton)
                                Ooka (Doylestown)
                                Honey (Doylestown)

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: littlecmad

                                  We were just at Hamilton's Grill Room on Friday. Portions were abundant and delicious. It was a bit of a slow night, I think they even seated a few walk-ins. No back-up at front, which seems to happen on busier nights. It's a bit pricey, by Bucks County standards ($17 for six oysters, fish and meat specials $32-38), but the setting is worth a few extra bucks, don't you think?

                                  1. re: famdoc

                                    Not for me, at least.

                                    The food is good, but for the money I can get or far better and more inspired elsewhere. The setting is very nice, a bit rustic and when the weather is right al fresco is great. But it's not like they spent a lot of money to make it that way. HGR charges what the market will bear. A lot of their patrons are from NY city and are comfortable with what they charge.

                                    1. re: george2

                                      I agree with your assessment of the price/quality factor at HGR. Nonetheless, as long-time customers (and NYC residents who spend a lot of time in Bucks County), there's a certain comfort with the food and the personalities there. I'm a fan of Mark Miller on the grill and know when he's grilling, I'm getting quality. I also know he buys his provisions carefully, not cutting corners. His fish supplier is top-notch and he buys many vegetables from Bucks County farmers.

                                  2. re: littlecmad

                                    Won't let me edit, but wanted to add Osteria Procaccini in Pennington, NJ also.

                                      1. re: sadiefox

                                        we too, love Osteria Procaccini. here's what we posted a couple years ago, remains true today.