Better Than Best: Food

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 10 | Posted Feb. 23, 2010

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Ladder 15, 1528 Sansom St. 215.964.9755.

Best Irish Bar At Which To Stop Being A Vegetarian

Though anyone wishing to avoid a jail stint for assault and battery should avoid the Monday “open mic” night, most everything else about Fergie’s Pub is worth the stroll down Sansom—especially the reliable burgers and excellent shepherd’s pie. Bonuses: dark, but not suspiciously so; cheap but not tacky; dozens of brews, both imported and local; decent roster of live acts if you like that sort of thing; shepherd’s pie with a side of bacon.

Fergie’s Pub, 1214 Sansom St. 215.928.8118.

Most Deceptively Quick-Moving Long Line

Walking into Ocean Harbor on a weekend morning, you think, “Goddamnit, this line is so long. At this rate, I could have gone to Honey’s.” But when your party of eight is seated in 15 minutes, you know you’ve hit the right spot. Ocean Harbor serves authentic Dim Sum. Skip the evening fare and go for the dumplings circulating in magical carts, even if you have no clue what’s inside of them—the more they look like pillows, the better. Experiment with the taro cake. Eat until you feel too sick for that bubble tea around the corner, and best of all, leave content when your share of the bill is $7. Take that, Honey’s.

Ocean Harbor, 1023 Race St. 215.574.1398

Best Variation on the Cheesesteak

Living in West Philly, one can often feel cut-off. Everyone on the East fears crossing the Schuylkill, it seems, as if the trip from South Philly to Fishtown was any shorter. One major consolation—and a draw for those you wish to lure across the river—is the healthy crop selection of Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants. There’s even a simple but ingenious twist on a city delicacy: the Ethiopian cheesesteak at Gojjo . This is not cheap, gnarly meat swimming in Cheez Whiz; it’s quality beef tibs cooked with the strong, complex, haunting spices that define the region’s cuisine. It’s delectable enough to cause vegetarian friends to briefly forfeit their principles and chow down to atone for the joint’s notoriously sluggish service. It’s not unusual to wait an hour for your meal, but it’s very unusual to hear post-meal complaints.

Gojjo Bar & Restaurant, 4540 Baltimore Ave. 215.386.1444.

Best Kiss

Is there a better way to start out your day than with a fresh cup of coffee and a kiss? We don’t think so, except maybe with a cup of coffee and a kiss without morning breath. That’s where Gleaner’s Cafe comes in. They’ve been giving out free Hershey's Kisses with their coffee since they opened in 2003 and even though we’ve frequented the place for years we still get excited when we watch the barista reach under the counter, pull out a Kiss and place that foil-wrapped bite of chocolate goodness next to our cup.

Gleaner’s Cafe, 917 S. Ninth St. 215.923.3205.

Best Place That’s Not in the Italian Market to Get Authentic Mexican Food

When Center City residents get in the mood for some spicy south-of-the- border fare, options are few. El Vez? Well, that’s fine and fun ... but it’s not really Mexican food. As is usually the case in these matters, you’ve got to look for the half-hidden holes in the wall to get good stuff. And that describes Savoy , located on the northwest corner of 18th and Spruce. From the outside, it looks like just another Rittenhouse neighborhood flower shop. Walk inside the bare-bones store—past the single shelf of grocery items from Latin American markets and the cooler of Jarritos soda—to the back of the room. There you can order a taco or burrito with your choice of fillings. The chorizo-rice-and-beans burrito costs $7—bring exact change—and it is tasty and authentic. It will fill your stomach all day, in a good way.

Savoy Mexican Grill and Deli, 262 S. 18th St. 215. 735.3741

Butcher Shop That Stands as a Shining Example of American Diversity

Aside from a shared fondness for beards, it’s difficult to say what Philly’s Muslims and Lancaster County’s Amish might have in common. But cultural differences are beside the point for Amr Scott, the 26-year-old butcher at Quetta Halal Meat Market . Scott doesn’t buy from the big meat-processing companies that put cows through a dirty and cruel industrial feeding and slaughter process; instead, he buys livestock directly from Amish ranchers in rural Pennsylvania and slaughters them carefully according to Koranic instructions. “Our cows are raised the way they used to be, 40 years ago, before they had all the feedlots around,” Scott says. The result? Muslims from around the city fill Scott’s shop on Saturdays and Sunday, stocking up on tasty—and inexpensive—portions of beef, lamb and chicken. (No pork, obviously.) Eco-foodies toting copies of The Omnivore’s Dilemma will have better luck Tuesdays through Fridays.

Quetta Halal Meat Market, 500 S. 23rd St. 215.735.8185

Best Randomly Appearing Troubadour at a Mexican Restaurant

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Comments 1 - 10 of 10
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1. Ryan MYK said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:56AM

“I wasn't aware that the neighborhood was about to make a key acquisition to the struggling restaurant scene. Pretty disappointed things fell apart. But what's with bashing the neighborhood?! I grew up in Manayunk and yet I don't disagree with your perception that it has changed into a "brahville" their are still some very decent spots up our way and some certainly worthy of a little love!! The" best cockblock of Manayunk award" just kills the chance of people that never visited MYK to even consider it.”

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2. Jay C said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 05:01PM

“I take offense to the reference of Collingswood, NJ as a cultural wasteland. For most Center City folk who are afraid to cross the bridge, you should check us out. We even have parking.”

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3. Nick said... on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:33PM

“Parc does by far have the best looking staff! I go every weekend to see this hot bartender serve Sunday brunch”

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4. great divide said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:01AM

“no wheat beer can ever be the best. what a joke.”

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5. The SS said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:33AM

“@ Great divide... have you tried the Exit 11? I wouldn't throw out that opinion till you've had it... this ain't no blue moon”

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6. Laurie M said... on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:39AM

“Wow I can't say I'm surprised by the lack of professionalism by the writers, it seems to be routine. Grow up. You are offending your readers and probably ruining your chances for ever having a real journalism career. Shame on you and shame on your editors.”

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7. michs said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:38AM

“I also take offense to the Collingswood reference. I was born and raised in Philly and will always call it home but moved to Collingswood recently and love the small town feel and closeness to center city. It may not be Rittenhouse Square, but it's a great place to live.

P.S. - we even got ourselves a library here.”

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8. Jake P said... on Feb 26, 2010 at 02:49PM

“Due to the crippling* blizzard, the office is slow today. So, we attempted to grab lunch at Savoy. The store was "bare-bones" alright. The front door was locked and no one was home. Seemingly, for good.

Great rec.

* I don't think so Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz”

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9. Lissa said... on Mar 1, 2010 at 04:21PM

“thats why this is called the opinion section...get it, an opinion...i found this article to be informative and ill be visiting some of the places with my husband. thank u vry much. and i completely overlooked they nj comment despite the fact that ive heard my whole life thats where they dumped all the jersey. so new to philly 2 yrs. i love food. and was raised on some of the best. im a louisianian. :)”

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10. Lissa said... on Mar 1, 2010 at 04:21PM

“thats why this is called the opinion section...get it, an opinion...i found this article to be informative and ill be visiting some of the places with my husband. thank u vry much. and i completely overlooked they nj comment despite the fact that ive heard my whole life thats where they dumped all the jersey. so new to philly 2 yrs. i love food. and was raised on some of the best. im a louisianian. :)”


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