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Aug 20, 2014 04:12 PM

Quick Philly pre-trip advice

At the last minute I've decided to attend a convention in Philadelphia. Staying at the Marriott near the center. Knowing I have a bit of a Chowhoundish background a few others who are going have asked me to do some research on nearby spots to eat and drink. Everything needs to be casual. My husband is grudgingly wearing shirts with collars.

I combed through this board and here's what I've come up with, your advice is appreciated:

Breakfast/Lunch: Convention is covering a few of these meals. Otherwise they need to be quick and easy.

So I'm thinking Reading Terminal for breakfast and lunches:

— Dutch Eating, pancakes, apple dumplings
— Beiler's, doughnuts
— DiNic's, sandwiches A few years ago I had a brisket sandwich at DiNic's that was excellent. Hubby had the roast pork one.
— SungKee, Peking duck rolls
— Bassett's, ice cream

Need dinner two nights:
— Garces Trading Co. (I love Jose Garces, my husband might enjoy that all you can eat Steak Frites thing.)
— Zavino, thin crust pizza, pasta
— Ting Wong, Chinese BBQ
— The Dandelion Pub
Need more help. I'm allergic to seafood, not fond of Mexican. Love French, American. Other thoughts?

—Capogino Gelato

Citizen Bank Park (one ball game)
— Federal Donuts, section 140, fried chicken and donuts
— Chickie's and Pete's, section 102, crab fries (for those who like that kind of thing)
— McNally's, The Schmitter, section 140

Need some advice:

Bars/restaurants in the area that make craft cocktails (I appreciate a fine Mojito or Planter's Punch, others in my gang will just want beer) and also serve better than average food? (Is this where Dandelion Pub would fit?)

Also, bars for a good "let's go out for a drink."

Thanks for any and all suggestions!

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  1. I'd swap Amada for Garces Trading. Still Garces. Handles groups well, tapas are fun.

    I'm recently fond of Zinc a small French bistro-type place.

    1. Amada for Garces, that's my favorite of his (not counting Volver), too.

      The other night, I'd step up to Le Cheri if you like French. They have a good drinks menu, too. The others are good, not stellar. You can easily get by with a polo shirt at Le Cheri. This is Philly.

      Another hot item would be Vernick's, which is stellar. Check out the reviews to salivate.

      1. I'd do Nomad Or Nomad Roman for thin (or thinner) crust pizza in lieu of Zavino (might be easier to get in too).
        For dinner, Not too far is Cheu - worth the walk.

        For bars, Bru is on Chestnut, they do beer, but I'm not sure what their cocktail program is like. Strangelove's on 11th may also fit the gastropub bill. The Graffiti Bar at Sampan would also work. I do like the Dandelion though.

        I also agree to Amada instead of GTC if you want Garces. If you want something less expensive, just go somewhere else.

        1. Bar for "let's go out for a drink" = Hop Sing Laundromat, in Chinatown, very close to the Marriott. There is a dress code, but for guys it's really just no shorts, sandals, or sneakers. A shirt with a collar certainly helps. I wouldn't describe it as casual but they do make the best cocktails in the city there. our two other "craft" cocktail bars, Franklin Mortgage and the Ranstead Room, are at least as fussy as Hop Sing and not as good. If your group is bigger than 4 people you may have trouble sitting down. No food, wine, or beer is served there, just cocktails.

          If it's short notice and you need to have a drink in a hurry, the two block radius around 13th and Sansom is rich with good bars and restaurants: Time for beers, Sampan for Asian, Jamonera for tapas, Petruce for American.

          Dandelion is a decent pick for a good bar with good food, but I've never had a cocktail there. A better choice would be, half a block south of Dandelion at the corner of 18th and Walnut. The food and cocktails are both very good and so is the beer list. is a little small, so if you try there and can't sit down, Dandelion is a good backup.

          For dinner, I would strike all those places (especially Ting Wong) and go to either Fork, Serpico or Vernick if possible one night. All are New American I'd say, all very good but not different enough from each other to go to more than one if you're only here for two nights. Vernick is a little more seafood-centric than the other two so check the menus first. All three are upscale but as dndicicco was getting at, almost every restaurant in Philly is pretty casual these days, if your husband's shirt has a collar and doesn't have any giant logos on it, he'll be OK. Fork might be the least casual of the three. Petruce might belong in this group too but I've only been there once.

          I wouldn't say any of Jose's places are the best in the city (though I haven't been to his newest one, Volver) but they're mostly very good. Amada is his first restaurant as you probably know and it's one of the best of his. If you're dead set on going to a Garces restaurant I'd go there. I wasn't a huge fan of Le Cheri on my one and only visit.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Buckethead

            Great choices, I would have one alert. Hop Sing is a hole in the wall, speakeasy feel. I enjoy the "rules" and process involved in entry. However personally I would select any one of the other "craft" cocktail lounges mentioned, Ranstead Room or Franklin Mortgage as I find them more upscale and interesting and they offer bar snacks and food with your cocktail.

            1. re: Bacchus101

              So noted, those are on the list. I do think bar snacks and some food make for a better drinking experience. Hop Sing will be for a quickie.

          2. Wow, wonderful tips!

            —Garces Trading Company is out, Amada is in. Zavino is out, Nomad/Nomad Roman is in. Ting Wong is out, Sampan Asian is in. The Dandelion Pub is staying on the list.
            —Le Cheri and Zinc are added to the possible dinner list.
            Adding all the bars mentioned as possibles.
            As for Hop Sing Laundromat, the name alone fascinates me, they have a weird disclaimer on their website that they are sorry they can't live up to the media hype foisted upon them. Definitely going there! ;-)

            Thank you all so much!!!

            6 Replies
            1. re: TrishUntrapped

              I wouldn't say Sampan is my favorite Asian in the city or anything, it's just close to your hotel and pretty good. If you wanted something in Chinatown (meaning, less expensive, more casual), Rangoon is far and away my favorite place in Chinatown. It's Burmese, something you don't see everywhere.

              This metal gate is the entrance to Hop Sing (there's no sign and Google Maps shows its placemark in the wrong place): I believe the official dress code is: no flip flops, sandals, or sneakers, no shorts, and no hats. Ladies can get away with sandals. Also, it's cash only. Drinks range from $12 - $15.

              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                Le Cheri is wonderul. However, if you want to combine excellent French food with truly outstanding cocktails, I would recommend Townsend. They have arguably the best bartender in town.


                1. re: JanR

                  Thanks for that tip about Townsend. Listed!

                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                    I would reconsider putting Zavino in for Nomad (well at least Nomad Roman). We eat at Zavino all of the time and the one time we switched it up and tried Nomad we were not at all blown away. Besides, Zavino has some good small plates and a yummy chocolate mousse Budino-type knock off dessert that is really good.

                    Def do Amada over GTC.

                    1. re: bluehensfan

                      I like both Zavino and Nomad. Zavino is a little more convenient for the OP, Nomad is a fun atmosphere, and the apps are very good. I find the pizza there to be trying a little too hard (i.e., too many toppings), but it is still good. I've not been to Nomad Roman.

                      1. re: bluehensfan

                        Leaving tomorrow morning. Keeping Zavino on the list. Convenience may win out. Thanks everyone for the tips!