Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Be Back Soon.........

 Well because of some real life stuff going on, i decided to take a break from blogging. I want to thank the many people that have visited my blog, and enjoyed the places i spoke about here at Philly's Best Food... I will be back and blogging (hopefully) befor Summer. Hope you remember to bookmark me, and come back from time to time, to see when i am up and running again....

See you!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Percy Street Barbecue

Percy Street Barbecue
900 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

I've dined at Percy Street on two separate occasions and have been so excited to sit down and write a review ever since. While I consider myself a pretty tough, but very fair critic, I have to say that Percy Street ranks among one of my top dining experiences in Philadelphia.

Ambiance: 5 out of 5
Situated on Philadelphia's historic South Street, Percy Street has a relaxed, neighborhood vibe. Patrons are typically mid-20-30 somethings who are dressed fashionably and casually, and the din of convivial conversation is pleasant and constant as Percy Street usually has a full house. The dining room is an intersection of hip, modern, and upscale barbecue meets down home comfort in an unpretentious setting. The roll of paper towels at each table epitomizes the experience: casual, messy at times, but overall delicious to the point where you will want to dig in with your hands and napkins alone would be insufficient.

Barbecue Chicken: 5 out of 5
Wow and wow. This tremendously-conceived chicken is perfectly cooked; it was warm, moist, seasoned and teeming with flavor. The skin on the outside was crispy and flavorful and the meat on the inside fell off the bone in all of the right places. One of the things that I appreciated about chef Erin's O'Shea's execution is that the chicken was not dripping in sauce. What you get is a piece of cooked and seasoned meat wrapped in parchment paper. O'Shea clearly appreciates meat cooked correctly. Sauce, while extremely important, is secondary. When you order your meat of choice, your server will bring three types of sauce that you can try and use to your taste. This allows you to sauce your dish as much, or as little, as you would like. Genius! The sauces are: Sweet Thang (sweeter barbecue sauce), Old Faithful (standard barbecue sauce), and Hot Mess (hot sauce).

Ribs: No rating
While I did not try these, my friend said, "I would like to die eating these [ribs]," which attests to his delectation.

Cole Slaw: 4 out of 5
PS's cole slaw is a winner;  it was crisp, creamy, slightly sweet, and refreshing. I gave it a 4 out of 5 because it was classic done right without any element of outstanding.

Macaroni and Cheese: 4 out of 5
The macaroni and cheese arrived piping hot in a small terrine. A toasted shell of breadcrumbs sat atop the creamy macaroni magma. The white cheese tasted like a slightly sharp, salty, yet very creamy cheddar. It was delicious by itself and also with a little barbecue sauce.

Sweet Potato Casserole: 5 out of 5
For those looking for the ultimate comfort food, your search ends here. The sweet potato casserole is Percy Street's magnum opus. Whipped creamy sweet potatoes are baked inside a terrine with toasted marshmallows on top. The dish is creamy, sweet, rich like dessert, and sends a shot of seratonin through your brain when it hits your taste buds.

Alcoholic Beverages: No rating
There are many offerings for beer and whiskey.

Overall: 5 out of 5
I cannot wait to go back. Head over for some of the best Texas-style barbecue in a refined setting. Percy Street is a great place for a casual dinner or for a date. It is also suitable for large groups and parties (they appear to have a room off of the main dining room specifically for private events).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

El Vez

 El Vez
121 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

The atmosphere: dim lit, younger crowd, air filled with bustling conversation - not like that was a bad thing. I immediately noticed the illuminated motorcycle that was rotating near the bar area... so bright and shiny...

Service was great. Our server was definitely upbeat, knowledgeable, and helpful. We were always checked up on, so that's a plus.

Food was delish - whoever recommended the blood orange margarita and the guacamole appetizer - thank you!! They were awesome!

There are different types of guacamole to choose from, but I bet they're all tasty. Mister and I shared the Cesar Chavez guac, which also comes with a small side of salsa. Let me tell you, that appetizer was definitely meant to be shared! The portion was very generous... so generous, we could barely finish it.

We also had the red snapper ceviche. There were some bold flavors going on there, definitely unique. I personally wasn't too crazy about this appetizer, though.

For entrees, Mister ordered the carne asada with an extra side of asparagus. The steak had a spicy kick to it, which was interesting. The side of rice and cheese was different... it was like... mac and cheese... but instead of mac, there's rice!

I had the Enchalada Mixtas. When I ordered this, my eyes were bigger than my tummy.. so I struggled with it. The enchaladas were good... comes with one bean, one shrimp, and one chicken. I'm not a fan of beans (I know, shame on me), so I substituted the bean enchalada for another shrimp enchalada and was only able to finish 2 out of the 3. After awhile, though, the second shrimp enchalada was too overpowering - the sauce it came with was too sour/salty for me to finish it.

All in all, service was great and the food was tasty. I wouldn't mind stopping by to try out the rest of the menu!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Barclay Prime

Barclay Prime
237 S. 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

This lovely treat in the heart of Rittenhouse Square really may be my new favorite steak house in Philly. Stephen Starr's luxury meat and seafood "boutique" really blew me away.

Everything is so chic and sexy. From the small, intimate bar to the couch seating with marble tables, just gorgeous. My family has a yearly steak meal on Christmas eve and this was the best I can remember. You must try the Barclay Bellini if you are a fan of Bellini's; best I ever had. It has some vanilla in it and it's so refreshing. 

Glen was a fabulous server. He was extremely friendly, informative and warming. He gave us great suggestions and told us fun stories, he was a treat. 

The popovers everyone is talking about literally melt in your mouth. Warm and crispy outside and velvety inside. The fresh sea salt butter was just the diamonds on top. 

We started with the Scallops, Ceviche and fresh Crab... all of them were mouth watering. The scallops were pan seared perfectly, the ceviche was crispy and flavorful and the crab was perfection. Just great. 

The Filet was perfect and the sides, creamed spinach, baby carrots with honey glaze and truffle oil mashed potatoes did not disappoint. I could have bathed in the truffle oil mashed potatoes. They accidentally brought out the regular whipped potatoes and those were velvety perfection as well.

For dessert we went with the Creme brûlée cake and coconut ice cream, it was the perfect end. The ice cream was clearly house made and I want to know if they can ship it to my house.... DELICIOUS!

I can NOT wait to return!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012


                                                                      138 Market St
                                                             Philadelphia, PA 19106

Had dinner here with some friends recently.  We were put in the back room/bar -- which I didn't even know existed.  The decor was comfortably modern, though the predominance of stark white at the bar might overwhelm some.

Although we were the only group in the back room, the staff did not forget us (maybe because they had to pass through to get to/from some other sections of the restaurant) and service was good.

For food we got a smorgasbord of dishes, which allowed us to taste many different items.  My favorite item was the chicken and broad noodles dish, which was just spicy enough and was lightened with a mix of lettuce (a lettuce better than standard-issue iceberg would certainly make it an even better dish).  I was looking forward to the scallops, but like most of the rest of the dishes tried, they were good enough to have and enjoy, but not good enough to recommend as a must-try.  Beer selection was adequate, but servings were smallish. 

Overall, a totally fine spot for a bite and/or drink if you happen to be on the corner of 2nd and Market, but only worth the effort of getting there if you want some private space for a sizable group.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Texas Weiners

Texas Weiners
1426 Snyder Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145

I ate three wieners...2 Works w/ Cheese (hot dog, special sauce, chopped onion and whiz) and one Works w/o the cheese.  I only ordered the one w/o the cheese as my first go b/c I was lacking the courage, but then I stepped it up a little.  I was eyeing my dad's Texas Tommy (dog w/ bacon and cheese) but decided not to completely clog my arteries.  Of course I still tasted the dogs for the remainder of the afternoon!  Not surprised.

The dogs are sliced lengthwise and grilled, then placed in a soft, wide bun.  The grill in out in the open which I like b/c I want to see the action.

Fountain and bottled soda.  Fountain soda comes in a paper cup (I hate styrofoam) with shaved ice.  You never see that anymore!

Ample seating and classic diner waitress service, despite the small space.  This is a real South Philly joint you must check out.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Fogo de Chao

Fogo de Chao
1337 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Lets start with when you walk into the door. Immediately you are greeted by very friendly hosts. I have always made reservations when I come here to eat (usually a week or 2 in advance because it fills up quick). If you are not seated immediately, there is a nice bar right at the entrance that will make any drink you can come up with.

Upon being seated, a very informative server will come to your table and give a nice little talk on how the restaurant works. There are so many different wines to select from that cover just about every wall in the restaurant. If you don't know what to choose and need some help, the server is very knowledgeable and helpful. If you want a soft-drink, beware, they are $3 a soda, and NOT free refills. This is the only negative I give the place.

Once your drink orders are taken, you will be invited up to the salad bar in which another server will hand you an enormous plate for salad. If you read most of the reviews below, they tell you to beware of the salad. This is true, but to some extent. There are so many fresh vegetables, cold cut meats and fish, and fresh cheeses. This is not an ordinary salad bar. You must at least try some of the delicious options they present you. Some people will say other "high-end" restaurants" have a better salad bar. All I can say is that this is the by far the best one I have seen and been to. By the way, you can come and just have the salad bar for half the cost of the full-course dinner.

When you get back to the table, there will be 4 deliciously-looking/tasting sides brought out to you. Cheese bread- its so light and fluffy and tasty. Try not to go overboard with eating them (although you easily could). Crispy polenta-I didn't try this until my last visit and I am upset it took so long for me to. Mashed potatoes- Pretty standard but yummy. Caramelized bananas- These are addicting and so sweet. They are a must try. I thought the idea of them sounded gross at first, but was so happy when I tried it.

Once you are ready to move on the meat portion, the real feast will begin. Once you do so, make sure you are ready because you will get bombarded by gaucho chefs, but in a good way. You may feel overwhelmed the first time you are there, but you will get used it and love it. Once that card goes green, you will fall into a meat heaven and never want to return. I am going to break down each meat and give my personal opinion of it so take it with a grain of salt. Most meats are rare-medium temp when served. :)

House Sirloin (PIcanha)- One of the best meats here, although I could probably
say this about all of the meats. So tender and juicy.

Top Sirloin- This meat is just a step behind the house sirloin, but not by much.

Bottom Sirloin- It is more of a charred steak and very salty and juicy. It is one of the only meats I don't care for that much (although I would eat it and enjoy it at any other restaurant)

Garlic Steak- It is the same cut as the house special with a garlic marinade. I do love garlic but for some reason found this too be a little too much for me. I know other people who absolutely loved it.

Fillet Mignon- This is hands down the best cut of meat. It is so tender and flavorful and perfect.

Fillet Wrapped in Bacon- Wow is this delicious. Just as tender and the regular but with added flavor. I am not a huge bacon eater, but absolutely adore this selection. If you really don't like bacon, still get it and remove the bacon. it still absorbs so much flavor in the meat but you get rid of the overwhelming taste of bacon and salt.

Rib Eye- I can't decide if I like this or the House sirloin better. The flavor is so rich and perfect. Its a beautiful looking piece of meat.

Leg of Lamb- I am not a big lamb fan.  But other family members who do like Lamb say this is the best.

Lamb Chops- Same as above.

Chicken Legs- The flavor is very different on these but so amazing. People say to not eat chicken at a place like this, but it is too delicious to pass up.

Chicken Wrapped in Bacon- So flavorful. Better than the chicken legs.
Sausage- I never tried this! I am not a fan of sausage which is why I never did.

Parmesan Pork- Only tried this for the first time my last visit there. It was surprisingly delicious. The Parmesan is not overwhelming and adds a nice texture to the meat

Pork/Beef Ribs- Both ribs are very good but nothing out of this world.

That being said, i suggest you still try all the cuts at first, and if you have room ( I always do), you can start being selective by saying yes to only the ones that stuck out to you.

Dessert is a must no matter how full you are. The Papaya Cream is breathtaking. I would never think to try it, but am so glad I did. The molten chocolate cake is so delicious. This ice cream is very creamy and thick.

Overall, this is hands down my favorite restaurant. You will feel like royalty in the way the staff treats and serves you. Its a must-try dinner.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

City Pizza

City Pizza
100 Snyder Ave,  
Philadelphia 19148

I had heard tell from a few of the locals in the South Philly neighborhood I teach in that City Pizza was the best slice you can find in the city. I kind of shrugged it off as local opinion.Then I heard that a friend who lives way up in Fishtown will journey down to get a pie when he is able.  I knew I had to try it.

I had promised my class that we would have a pizza party if they achieved a certain number of books read for the month of April. When I asked them where I should get the pizza from , they answered in a resounding "City!, Nobody gets pizza from nowhere else around here!" (they do talk like that some days) .

So I placed our order the day before, then had to add one more pie later that evening. The pizzas arrived exactly on time the next day, were piping hot, and they even cut me a break in the price.

We all dug in and it smelled and looked super delicious. The first bite was amazing, the sauce, cheese , and crust were all amazing. Just big enough to be folded (the correct way pizza is made) , not too greasy (Lorenzo's is a little drippy in my opinion some days) , and just a great slice all around. Ever since I've been mentioning it to my friends if they happen to be down in Mummer's territory.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Victor's Cafe

Victor's Cafe
1303 Dickinson St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

This place is FANTASTIC.

I have to be completely honest about my original draw to this restaurant. My mother loves Rocky Balboa, so I took to a Google search to find out where "Adrian's Restaurant" was located in the city. I scoped out the website and saw that it seemed like an inviting, South Philly Italian restaurant. We had been to Ralph's and a few others in the city but nothing really blew us away.

We called at about 6PM on a Saturday night, and the two of us were able to get a 7:30 reservation-- not without a quick moment of speculation. So if you're planning on a visit, especially with anymore than two people, call ahead.

The place appears very quaint from the typical South Philly street on Dickinson. Once inside, the place was thriving: the wait staff criss-crossed the restaurant, preparing tables and serving the other patrons, a mild-mannered round young man bellowing out some famous aria I couldn't identify, the owners (or management?) were answering a phone that seemingly rang every other minute. Following the performance we were promptly seated and given menus and the specials by are server Jason.

If there were one complaint, it would be that the wait staff is apparently responsible for every function of the restaurant outside of the kitchen. You will see these guys clean and prep tables, serve food, sing, get nagged by customers for photos, and I counted no less than four happy birthday promenades, complete with four-part harmony.

The food was fantastic. If you're ordering a salad, two can split one--  though I had no problem housing my baby arugula salad by myself. The salad was the best I have ever eaten. Perfectly aged balsamic vinegar, a nice Italian cheese that I cant remember, sliced pears, walnuts- truly a perfect match. The penne dish was tasty, adorned with tender chicken, tomatoes, parsley and mozzarella. I could see where some may be critical of this dish, however I felt it was perfectly balanced and filling. My mother had the scallops and shrimp pasta dish. The scallops were perfectly tender, not at all chewy nor over-cooked.

The ambiance of this place is truly what makes it. You can really feel the "living history" the moment you set foot inside. The owners told us of the history of the property, which takes its name from its opening in 1918 as a RCA Victor record store. The place would make a great date to really impress. Upstairs is a cozy bar you can slip away to after your meal.

All in all, a great place. I will be back.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

South Street Diner

South Street Diner
140 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Here's the deal. South Street Diner is a diner. On South Street. If you're going there expecting Tavern on the Green, you're just stupid.

It really is the only place of it's kind in Philly proper. Sure, there are other late night diners around town, but this is the only one that is relatively central to those of us living in Queen Village/Center City/South Philly etc...

It's 24 hours, with a reasonably expansive menu. It's priced moderately. They have RELIABLE free internet access (I'm writing you from their connection now while streaming on Netflix.) The staff isn't a bunch of shiny happy clowns, but they are never outright rude either. Again, this is all kind of standard diner stuff.

The place is clean, it's fairly inviting decor wise, and to their credit they recently renovated the bathrooms in a big way. They're actually NICE. And there are a ton of eateries in Philly that are super fancy but have filthy, dilapidated restrooms.

The bottom line is that South Street Diner is a DINER. Diner food, diner people, diner atmosphere....but on the higher end in terms of food, price, experience et. al.

Recent meal:
1 coffee
1 unsweeted iced tea
"Hungry Man" breakfast: 3 chocolate chip pancakes, home fries, toast, bacon and scrambled eggs

total cost (WITH TIP): $20.00 - my only gripe here is that I added a pancake to the meal (normally comes with two) and the added pancake cost $3.00 - that's kind of insane.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Le Bec-Fin

Le Bec-Fin
1523 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

I came here for their lunch menu during restaurant week.  I found the ambiance to be pleasant - the chandeliers were a bit much but the servers did take my and my friend's coats at the door and they do try to maximize the "Frenchness" of their venue.  We ordered the following dishes:

Cauliflower veloute (creamy soup)
Snails in garlic and butter sauce (with hazelnuts)

Main Course:
Le Bec-Fin burger with pommes frites

Key lime tart
Creme brulee

I probably shouldn't have gone with the Le Bec-fin burger since you can get a burger practically anywhere, but I figured it might be more gourmet at a French restaurant, plus I was really hungry so I wanted something with more volume.  The beef paddy wasn't as obscenely large as it would have been at an American grill and it came with nice lettuce leaves and caramelized onions.  The bun was buttery and smooth.

I did not enjoy the snails.  They tasted like mushrooms and would have been bland had they not been soaked in butter and garlic.  And honestly, can anything taste poor when flavored with butter (pure fat)?

My friend's cauliflower soup had a creamy, smooth texture and tasted very good.  Her salmon was basically sushi-grade salmon (filet) seasoned with salt.  It was prepared well but it wasn't anything out of this world.

The desserts were also pretty standard considering that we were at a French establishment.  The creme brulee was pretty generously sized.  I didn't like the crust on the key lime tart - more crust than actual tart.

I think $20/head for a 3-course lunch at a premium French restaurant is a good deal, so I guess we got what we paid for.  If you want something more impressive, I guess try this place during the regular, non-promotional time (not restaurant week, since they won't put their best items on the menu during this time).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ristorante La Veranda

Ristorante La Veranda
31 N Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106

We were placed in a private room by ourselves - a group of about 35  - and the service was excellent.  We had a round of appetizers that included proscuitto with melon, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (the real stuff), various grilled vegetables (their house antipasti) and a great seafood antipasti with calamari and shrimp.

Then they served us a pasta course with a trio of pastas on a single plate: gnocchi with a wonderfully pungent Gorgonzola sauce, bow tie pasta with a rich lobster vodka cream-tomato sauce and penne with a spicy arribiata sauce.  The Gorgonzola and arrabiata sauces were my favorites, with the lobster/vodka/cream/tomato sauce leaving a little something to be desired.

Being a large group, our entree choices were limited to filet mignon, grilled swordfish, chicken cacciatore, a salmon dish, and a grilled veal chop.  Since most of the others I can easily make at home, I went with the grilled veal chop and it was a wise choice - it was nearly an inch and a half thick, included the t-bone and was perfectly cooked with a charred outside that complemented the tender inside and was enhanced by what I believe was a light marinade of Italian herbs.  The marinade/herbs enhanced the flavor of the meat, giving it highlights, but didn't overpower it.

The dessert was standard issue cannoli, tortes and eclair puffs, though the eclairs were drizzled with a lovely dark chocolate glaze.

Again, I can only speak from my experience with a group, but based on that experience, I would give this place a shot for dinner with friends or family for some hearty Italian and grilled fare.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Old Original BookBinders

Old Original Bookbinder's
125 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

One of the oldest seafood restaurants in America, this Philadelphia tradition has been serving and photographing Presidents, celebrities, dignitaries, you and me, since 1865.

They are known for using the freshest, finest ingredients in their legendary seafood and continental cuisine. Bookbinder's is a romantic place to share with your love, to have a business or sophisticated lunch, more formal in the dining room or enjoy an impromptu cup of Clam Chowder and a sandwich in their bar and lounge.

They feature a happy hour menu of food and drinks and a tavern menu. All you can eat pick & peel shrimp for $20.00 or enjoy a plate from their raw bar.

Their appetizers are wonderful and range from raw oysters to oysters Rockefeller and spring rolls in between.

My hubby is not a lover of fish and I love all kinds of fresh fish, but there is plenty for him to choose from in the way of a fine cut of beef or poultry.

Whenever I have dined at Bookbinder's, I have always started with their famous New England clam chowder, followed by a fresh broiled or sauteed' fish. The last time that I went I had the seared tuna and it was cooked to perfection.

They offer at least a half dozen different fish, as well as all your shellfish favorites Their crab cakes are pure lump crab meat and served with a chipolte remoulade.

The prices on the menu reflect their pride of being a well known and loved Philadelphia icon. Their bar menu is very affordable for anyone, so there is no excuse not to visit Bookbinders.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Porky's Pork

Porky's Point
3824 N 5th St
Philadelphia, PA 19140

Best Puerto Rican take out window in the city. Tostones, mofongo, pastellios, rice and beans, relleno de papa, platano con carne...the list goes on and on, if your craving some Puerto Rican food then this is your place...and it's pretty inexpensive too, love this place!

Matter a fact i'm about to go right now...

FYI, this place is in an awkward spot, so when you get there, feel free to pull right up front on the sidewalk/driveway that doesn't look like a driveway, it's what everyone does around there. I usually don't eat there, i just grab and go if you will, I like eating on boat house row or in front of the art museum.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Primo's Hoagies

Primo's Hoagies
1528 Ritner Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

We got antsy sitting home during the snow/rain storm so we decided to brave the conditions and run some errands around Center City.  We stopped by the post-office and made a decision to pick up lunch at Primo Hoagies...

The bread is delicious (soft but still substantial).  The meat quantity is generous.  I got the AUDIABLO (turkey and roast beef combo with the spicy spread) which was a great sandwich.  My fiance got the CLASSIC ITALIAN which she enjoyed as well.  If you like spicy sandwiches, definitely give the Diablo Board a try.

Sandwiches are made promptly and with care.  Definitely a family driven business.

A very simple sandwich shop that unfortunately doesn't have a place to sit and eat.  You have no choice but to get the sandwiches to go.

Sandwiches for two people run $7-10 per person.

I wish that Primo's offered some seating.  In a snow-storm, we had to hold on to the sandwiches as we finished our errands before we got home to finally eat.  The sandwiches are delicious but don't really offer anything unique that you cant find at another sandwich shop (for an example of a more unique take on a sandwich-- See Jake's Sandwich Board).  I enjoy Primo Hoagies but don't feel the need to actively seek out a sandwich on a regular basis.

Bonus: They deliver and cater... A nice extra touch

Tony Luke's

Tony Luke's
39 E Oregon Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Once is enough in your lifetime.

and even that maybe too much.

Am I eating the same cheesesteak that everyone else is?

Plain & simple - this isn't philly good.  It's "philly bad".

It was god awful.  The best cheesesteaks are the ones that are chopped up, but the more touristy spots, such as this one, tend to just cook the steakmeat as is.  Fine whatever.

The meat was so bland that the cheesesteak was lifeless (and this is coming from someone who prefers salt-less food). The meat was tough and chewy - this is top sirloin meat? I don't think so. 

The fries came in a cute paperbox container - which is fun but the fries were disgusting.  Most of the fries were brown than a crispy yellow.  It has a tough coat and just wasn't yummy.  It was like eating little sticks of brown grease.  The oil either needed to be changed out or they overfried - probably both.

You are better off going to just about anywhere else to get a better cheesesteak. Seriously, anywhere else.

Don't believe the hype just because it was on Food Network.

There is a station to get your napkins & condiments: ketchup, mustard, pickles. Also, a few bench tables for you to sit and eat there or wait for your order.

Parking - street.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chiarella's Ristorante

Chiarella's Ristorante
1600 S 11th St
Philadelphia, PA 19148

 We ordered some calamari which was tasty but nothing special, some toasts with spreads that were skimpy and not impressive and aracini.  Because the server who took our order then gave our order to the owner, the arancini was mistaken for something else and we had to send back the dish and repeat again that we asked for arancini.  Maybe if they had actually written the order down, this couldn't have happened.  It finally arrived and the aoili it came with was better than the arancini itself.
For entrees we had a angel hair with pesto which was okay but boring and nothing special; a pasta dish with lemon cream and shrimp that was way too lemony (overpowering and bitter), a few pork specials (which was pork rolled up with cheese and spinach I think) and a pasta dish with sausage.
The pork special was $24!!! And it was tiny!  Everyone agreed that the food was mediocre but the prices were RIDICULOUS!  Especially since it is right next door to DaVinci's which is far more reasonably priced and consistent in quality.

I give the owner props for trying to fix the place up and it seems like it has a tiny glimmer of potential.  But honestly, if he wants to make this work, he needs to hire good servers & let his servers to their job and not it for them, hire a manager who actually knows what they're doing, and keep his kid off the floor.  Right now, the whole operation is unprofessional and sloppy.

There are just way too many amazing places on the Avenue and even more amazing Italian places in South Philly for this place to be a contender.
PLEASE don't waste your money here.

Tommy DiNic's

Tommy DiNic's
Reading Terminal Market
1136 Arch St

Philadelphia, PA 19147

Philly should not only be known for cheese steaks...screw that....the city of brotherly love should also be known for Pulled Pork with broccoli rabe (dipped in marinating pork juices) sandwiches.

Yea, the fat guy that looks like an older Fred Savage from Man vs Food did showcase this spot...so big up to him....this place is redic.

The "to go orders" line was like 25 people deep...and mind you its a packed market already so if you want to taste the food and you have other plans that day, sit at the counter.

It was like $8.25 for the sandwich + $0.50 for the broccoli rabe; it was like $9.00 for the roast beef (deeelish) and +$0.50 for the provolone

I actually saw the dude Adam Richman (Fat Fred Savage) was chillin with in the episode.  His eyes look as crazy in person as it did on tv.

Whatevs...I'd hit this spot again.

Penrose Diner

Penrose Diner
2016 Penrose Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145

This is like a Denny's, in that they offer a huge variety of foods, but in no other way - it is one hundred times better than a Denny's. When you walk in you see a wall of cheesecake and you pretty much know it is going to be a fun experience. We were fortunately seated near the HDTV at the back of the restaurant as we watched the Jets fail their faces off against the Steelers - that part sucked, but even that sucking moment was still fun since we were hanging out at the diner. We were in a big group and we also were sitting right next to another big group, the Duke University fencing team. This place draws big groups in because it has a legit reputation among everyone, locals and those from far away who had a great meal here once a long long time ago.

The waiter right off the bat was friendly, gracious, and funny - top notch staff here for sure. The water was not exactly refilled at a regular pace but I guess it was pretty busy. It was really hard to choose a dinner since everything sounded so good. I finally settled on the open faced Monte Cristo, longing for 'ye olden days when that deliciousness of the Monte Cristo used to be available at Bennigan's before their shenanigans shuttered their doors across the country. Penrose does not make 'yo daddy's Monte Cristo and that is not an entirely bad thing.

This is french toast as the base, two pieces and very moist and eggy. Not fried like Bennigan's. Just french toast that is AWESOME. Then meat piled on top of the french toast. Then some cheese on top of that. And a big helping of fries. The fries were solid, the good diner kind, not the shoe string or crinkle cut or that other junk places try to pass off.

I will be back - I am a fan of Penrose.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Oregon Diner

Oregon Diner
302 W Oregon Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Last nights experience was mainly positive. Their menu is HUGE, so it was so hard for me to decide. I went with the Broiled Seafood combination.  It included 2 large shrimp, 4 scallops, a lobster tail, crabmeat stuffed mushroom and flouder with what I am guessing was some sort of crabmeat mixture. I got string beans and garlic mashed as my sides. I am very picky when it comes to mashed potatoes and OMG these were fantastic! They were made with red bliss potatoes and the garlic flavor was spot on. Not too much and not too little. So good! The only negative about my meal was the lobster tail. I don't know how long it was cooked for, but it was a little tough to eat. No big deal, I still had plenty left over for lunch today!

My friends and I got an order of fried calamari as an appetizer and were shocked to see how much they give you! It was a giant bowl filled with perfectly fried calamari. I commented to my friends that I didn't care if it was frozen or what, but it was GOOD!  I don't know what they put in their marinara, but it is delicious. Oh yeah, I also got a side of bacon. I initially wanted a burger with a ton of bacon on it.... but decided against it, but I was still craving bacon. I bet that was the strangest side order that the waitress has ever taken!

My one friend, who was stoked that we were coming here got pancakes and loved every bite of them.  She stated at one point that a pancake baby was going to come out of her stomach a la Alien. It was good, I have to say.

My other friend got broiled scallops with the same sides that I got. They give you SO MANY!! She took leftovers home! She was pleased with her meal.
Our waitress was fantastic. She was very friendly! I don't remember her name, but I do remember she had a phrase tattooed on her left forearm. She laughed at the crap we were saying and was very very cool.

Overall, I had a positive experience & am glad that I changed my dinner plans to the Oregon Diner!

Pat's Steaks

Pat's Steaks
1237 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Pats is a pretty good cheesesteak, but it's very touristy and is in no way the best cheesesteak in town. If you go early you'll probably be able to get a cheesesteak without waiting in too long of a line. If you go around 1-3am there is usually a line wrapped around the building. There is no indoor seating so you will have to eat outside so be prepared for that if it's cold out.

One of the nice things about Pat's is that the time that you order your cheese steak, pay for it, and get it is about 15 seconds so don't be discouraged if you see a long line. The people working there have zero patience so definitely know what you're ordering before you get to the window. It's best to stick with just a cheesesteak with wiz and or onions. After you get your cheese steak you can go to another line for drinks and fries, their cheese fries are covered in cheese wiz too and they are incredible.

The cheesesteak itself is pretty good. They are about 10 inches and have thicker cut meat with cheese wiz slathered all over it. It looks like a lot of food but it goes down quick. Waiter service comes in the form of homeless people, who without asking will take your trash and give you some napkins to clean the mess of cheese off your face. I usually give them a dollar for the trouble and they'll leave you alone after that.

Pat's is really a good place to get a cheese steak any time. It's also probably the most consistant cheese steak place that there will ever be, they have it down to a T. Everyone should try one at least once.

Geno's Steaks

Geno's Steaks
1219 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

The combination of the grease, big pieces of steak and the soft roll just cant be beat. Nothing, and I mean nothing beats a Geno's after drinking all night. I always opt for the American cheese too, no whiz. The American gives it that extra flavor that whiz just cant deliver.

You need to laugh off the people that say Pats and Geno's are for "tourists". Pats and Geno's are the gold standard in the city. Everyone wants to make it sound like THEY have the go to spot just so they feel better about themselves. Comparing Pats/Geno's to places like Tony Luke's and Jim's is like comparing Coke and Pepsi. Yeah, both taste good but we all know Coke is the pioneer and undisputed champ that started it all - as are Geno's and Pats.

If you think Geno's is in the "ghetto", then you've never ACTUALLY been to a REAL ghetto. Hit me up sometime, we'll go for a ride.

I'll miss Joey Vento. Its so rare to see and meet people that speak their mind these days given everyone in the world is SO sensitive about EVERY thing. I laughed (and usually agreed) at every time he caused a "stir" in the media. I'm blunt myself so I respect it. Geno's will always be my number one.

Bottom line; You may have hated Joey, but you know you love his cheesesteaks.

Jim's Steaks

Jim's Steaks
400 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

 It's a cheesesteak place pretty much like any other. Perfect steaks for the price. Can't beat them. Some of the best in philly and also within walking distance for pretty much anyone in center city.

Service is mildly abrasive but fast and efficient. Sometimes this creates a bit of a compromise on the quality of the steaks but if you come here a few times you'll come out ahead more often than not, and usually that equals a pretty good cheesesteak. The workers aren't exactly the friendliest or the most attentive to your needs but in the end, taste of the food here makes it worth it anyway.

The place itself is cool and has some neat pictures on the wall. If you're lucky to grab one of the few seats inside you can hang out and check those out.

Don't come here if you're looking for a fancy restaurant style cheesesteak. If you don't eat cart food, these types of places probably aren't for you.

They are open pretty late and get a lot of customers so at least there's a good turnover of ingredients and keeps everything fresh.

Just remember- cash only, sucka.

Nick's Roast Beef

 Nick's Roast Beef
2149 S 20th St
Philadelphia, PA 19145

Nick's is located in deep South Philly. It's old school. And that is what makes it so amazing. Although the prices have slightly increased since my last visit, the remarkably dingy, dark dining has not. Neither has the most incredible roast beef I may have ever tasted. Ever. Although they offer a few other items, the beef is where it's at. Hand carved to order, the au jus tastes as though it has been slowly reducing from the original slab of beef when they opened sixty years ago. That good.

I order the roast beef combo, on the outs, meaning they slice the crispy bits off of the outside and mix it with your sandwich meat. A slice of provolone makes it a combo and oh, SO good (can you tell I like this place?).

The interiors of the bun are lightly dipped in the meat gravy, and you won't believe how good it is. Rich, salty, indulgent, simple and oh so satisfying. The only condiments are banana peppers, horseradish and yellow mustard, all served table side. I made a vow to eat here more often, and I am already planning my next trip. Oh wait, I forgot to mention the gravy fries (I don't know how, they are AMAZING!).

Smothered (and I mean smothered) in shredded beef and au jus, these things are just the ticket to ensure you reach your maximum allowance of red meat in one meal. The fries themselves are just your standard, battered frozen french fries. But when coated with that delicious gravy, they transform into a comforting meal of meat and potatoes in its most delectable form. You are going to have to use a fork, which is convenient, because one of the biggest problems is fending off the people you are having dinner with before they eat all of the fries.

Melrose Diner

Melrose Diner
1501 Snyder Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145

I have a long history with this place.  Mom used to bring me here when I was a kid.  So I have memories here from back in the 80's.  I always ordered the same thing too.  Chicken cutlet, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, and corn... I think it was called the MP1.  It was a classic there for many years. On occasion, my mom would actually get me a buttercream cake from here for my birthday.  Mom liked to get cakes from the Melrose Diner for special occasions.  Just a thing in my family.  Heck, I think I still have one of the old napkins saved in a case that used to have the jingle printed on them.  I got a long history here.

Yesterday,  I felt the need to sit at the counter here and have a slice of my buttercream cake.  And really, the important thing in my mind is that this cake has never changed.  It's still got a lot of real butter in the icing.  The wife had the chocolate layer cake, and called it some of the best she ever had.  I tasted that too, and of course that never changed either.  I had that cake as a kid to, and it's got a chocolately goodness that's not too sweet.  It's, for lack of a better term, perfect!

So I also grabbed some diner food here.  Since the management changed here, the food isn't the same.  I don't think I can still get my old special anymore, and that makes me sad.  But a basic plate of eggs and hash browns with toast for $3.99 still hit the spot.  The wife's order of chicken fingers was highly overpriced at $6.99 for three of them.  Really, management ought to be a little ashamed there.  However, they actually tasted pretty decent for what they were.

I'm just thankful they haven't changed the bakery.  That will keep this place on my radar forever.  In talking with Lucille, the waitress who's been there 21 years, she assured me the same guys are running the bakery as they always have.  So they got that going for them.  And as a result, if you ever get a chance to grab a bag of any of their cookies, they are simply the most fantastic cookies in South Philadelphia.  If you don't know about them, find out for yourself.

Everything else that has happened to this place to take away what made me love it here keeps it my heart.  But the bakery saves this place.  If that ever changes, the Melrose and I will be no more.