We asked Philly's food writers, bloggers and lovers— save these pages and you’ll never shrug again.
No more excuses for doing the culinary Macarena—cycling through the same motions, never going anywhere—while Philly's loaded with food writers, bloggers, Yelpers, photographers and eating groups for whom culinary curiosity and sharing their finds is a way of life.
We asked as many of them as we could for their favorite dishes in four categories on opposing ends of the safety/adventure and real/fake spectrums— Comfort food vs. Unfamiliar food, and Authentic vs. Culture mash-up—and they came through in spades with hundreds and hundreds of suggestions.
Tack these 60-odd suggestions to your fridge, keep them in your desk drawer or fold ’em up in your wallet—whatever you do, you’re not allowed to answer “What do you wanna eat?” with a helpless shrug for at least a year.
Apple dumplings, Dutch Eating Place
$2.75. Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch sts.
$15. 700 S. Fifth St.
“What isn’t comforting about duck fat fries, gravy, cheese curds and foie gras? It is the rich leading the rich—pure decadence.” -Anthony Sica, Meal Ticket
Fried chicken + mac and cheese, Butter’s Soul Food
$7-$9. 2821 W. Girard Ave.
Veggie hoagie, Chickie’s Italian Deli
$6.25-$7.25. 1014 Federal St.
“This magical amalgamation of red-sauced baked eggplant, coarse-ground provolone, roasted peppers and broccoli rabe with garlic in a seeded Sarcone’s roll epitomizes South Philly comfort food for me. Owner Henry maintains the same old-school methods originated by his mom, Chickie—thus, this hoagie is the same calorie torpedo I ate as a kid. This is the essential element of comfort—not just the taste, but the feeling while eating that the world isn’t a bad place after all if such a legendary sammich can be reproduced faithfully over decades.” -Felicia D’Ambrosio, Philly community manager for Yelp.com
Duck-fat cheddar fries, Village Whiskey
$5-$7. 118 S. 20th St.
Roast pork sandwich, DiNic’s
$8.50. Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Filbert sts.
“After a 15-minute walk from my office and another 15 waiting on line, the first bite of a DiNic’s roast pork sandwich is the food version of Calgon. It just takes you away.” -Marcos Espinoza, fidelgastro.com
Lima bean soup, New Wave Cafe
$6. 2620 E. Allegheny Ave.
Pho, Pretty much everywhere
We got a ton of pho votes, but they were split about equally between a bunch of different joints (though Pho 75 and Pho Cali had a slight edge). Everyone seems to agree that if you were to trip and fall around 13th and Washington, you’d have a reasonable chance of landing face-first in a huge, cheap, delicious bowl of noodles.
Laugenbrezel, Brauhaus Schmitz
$3. 718 South St.
“I loved soft pretzels growing up, because the ‘pretzel bag’ would go around from homeroom to homeroom at recess. Once I got into high school, the soft pretzel was my lunch (and two Otis Spunkmeyer cookies). Now I find myself craving this version, with house-made mustard." -Suzanne Woods, beerlass.com
Stuffed grape leaves, Vietnam
$10.95. 221 N. 11th St.
Garces Trading Company's wine boutique is the first and only one of its kind in the state established by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, and a concept that’s stirred up a ton of resentment among Philadelphia restaurateurs this year.
Even more people are interested in old-school butchers, not just for their exotic specialty meats, but for the local and organic. Many of D’Angelo’s customers are younger people, entranced by shows on the Food Network, who want to explore gourmet cooking.
“We debated if we could financially maintain an all-vegan place or if we should compromise our beliefs and go into work everyday to look at fucking milk in the fridge."
Daniel McLaughlin wants you to diet. But first, he wants to change your understanding of “diet” from something Cathy shrieks about in the funny pages to something easy—from temporary OCD agony to a natural way of life. But which way?
Bittman doesn’t suggest eliminating meat, or white flour, or sugar, or any of the so-called “bad” foods from your diet, just eating much less of them. He calls his diet a “Two out of Three Plan” or “Part-Time Vegan” or “Vegan Before Six”; i.e. consuming mostly vegan fare during the day, and then for dinner essentially eating anything you want.
There are several bars in Philly that take classic cocktails very seriously, so we went to chat with a few experts for some tips on making an old-school Old Fashioned (and other classics)—and how not to screw it up.
A 12-ounce can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a jigger of Jim Beam is known at Bob & Barbara's simply as “the special.” It’ll cost you $3. But where did it come from?