Drinkers is filled to the brim on Wednesday nights, packed with people watching their Phils, ordering local beer, and chowing down on their $1.50 beef franks. Specialty dogs come in at $2.75, but the filling, steamy goodness is worth more than the extra $1.25. The Chili Dog is a classic, and the BBQ dog—with heart-stopping helpings of bacon, cheddar, and tangy bbq sauce—will make your mouth drool a river. Don’t bother leaving room for dessert.
Drinkers Center City, 1903 Chestnut St. 215568.0914. drinkerspub215.com
Best Public Head
It’s hot, perfectly sticky on the outside, and filled with wildly moist, supremely tender meat. And while it may not be for all the ladies out there, every red-blooded guy, I’d imagine, pretty much loves it. Who, after all, doesn’t revel in a great head once in a while? And man, does Osteria deliver: First Chef Jeff Michaud and his team braise the fully intact dome, roast it with a beer-kissed agrodolce, then bring it out to the dining room in a piggy procession worthy of Salome. Whole roasted baby pig head. With its accompanying bread and quince paste, it’s likely to be some of the best head you’ll ever have.
Osteria, 640 N. Broad St. 215.763.0920. osteriaphilly.com
Best Cheap Noodle Shop
This place is Spartan—polished wooden tables in a narrow room—with a minimal menu featuring pig’s ears and beef tendon for appetizers that are inexplicably more expensive than the main fare: Handmade, hearty noodles in fragrant beef broth, piqued with a light-handed sprinkling of pickled cabbage and scallion. The vegetarian option, with egg, will get you what may be the last delicious meal in Philly for under $5, while the fatty, golden-flavored duck, brisket, or seafood is only a little more expensive. They got dry noodles too, but come this winter, it’ll be all about the broth.
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House, 927 Race St. 215.923.1550.
Best Cure for Anemia
Forget Fogo de Chao. And for the love of all that’s holy in this world, forget Chima. Hell, while we’re at it, clean your mind of Capital Grille and Morton’s and the rest. You’ll want plenty of room in there for Picanha Grill, the less-than-beautiful, utterly addictive Brazilian steak house in the great Northeast. One deep-enough inhale will banish all thoughts of other ways to consume dead land animals: This is the real deal. Skirt steak with its lovely crust, top sirloin with its fat as sweet as Gov. Chris Christie, linguica as snappy and precise as a Don Rickles punchline. Bring a bottle and an appetite, and a loose-fitting pair of pants. You’ll fill them out by meal’s end.
Picanha Brazilian Grill, 6501 Castor Ave. 215.743.4647.
Best Southern Food in This Yankee Shithole
Humans need water, air, music, love, fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes, collard greens, mac ’n’ cheese, coleslaw and various other Southern foods to live. That’s a fact. Here’s another one: On the second day, God fried a slab of chicken, slammed it down on a biscuit, poured some gravy over it, and called it heaven. West Philly’s Roost abides by these simple truths. Also, strangely, the fried chicken they sling tastes healthy and crisp, surprisingly sweet, but still rich and greasy as hell. They also deliver. Oh yeah, and they have vegan options, so Satanists are welcome, too.
Roost, 4529 Springfield Ave. 215.921.6691. phillyroost.com
Best Cure for Low Blood Pressure
Some people, when they’re single, make it a point to snoop around their date’s medicine chest: Any rogue herpes ointments or clap creams and they’re out of there faster than you can scratch an itch. Others of us root through refrigerators. If we spot low-salt soy sauce, fuck it, we out. There are, after all, two distinct schools of thought when it comes to Chinese food, and the one that condemns it as too salty is flat-out wrong. Case in point: The dry shrimp and salted fish fried rice at Tai Lake, a fingertip-pruning, blood-pressure raising plateful of pure savory love.
Tai Lake Restaurant, 134 N. 10th St. 215.922.0698. tailakeseafoodrest.com
Best Diner in West Philly
“Where have all the cowboys gone?” asked singer Paula Cole in her one hit song. Hollywood. Next question: Where are all the fucking diners? You know, the joints with eggs, bacon, grits, toast and endless coffee for $5? Don’t let your civics teacher trick you into thinking it’s the Constitution or Law or whatever, because diners are the foundation of all harmonious communities. Upon entry, everyone is equal. You’re either “darling” or “honey.” Well, West Philly has a newish one called Cedar Park Cafe, and it’s amazing. Lovely staff, no frills décor, no long lines (yet), and spectacular, very affordable classic diner grub.
Cedar Park Café, 4914 Baltimore Ave. 215.727.1144.
We’ve been stuffing ourselves to the gills around here with soul food from every corner of this fair city. And in the Food & Drink Issue you can see where, exactly, we’ve been doing it. Dig in.
Ever think to yourself: Hey, I wonder where I can have a threesome and then promptly forget about it? Well, one of our writers thinks he's found that place. Want Mexican food that doesn't burn on the way out? Of course you do. More of these questions and answers have found their way into this year's Better Than Best issue. And what's better than best, you ask? We have no idea. We just knew we couldn't use Best Of, because another publication in this town has it on lockdown. But that doesn't mean we didn't put an enormous amount of effort into bringing you the most random hidden gems Philly has to offer. Because we did. And we think we've got a pretty good list going on here.
PW's Music Issue 2014