It’s a testament to how far Philly has come that there are actually two notables in this category. And the fact that both of their uses of marrow are so different is yet another indication of how creative and technically proficient our city’s chefs are. At Bibou, it’s about the bone itself: Sliced lengthwise and looking for all the world like the tastiest, most unctuous canoe you’ve ever seen. Pub & Kitchen, on the other hand, incorporates it into their burger with a generous stroke of marrow-butter, lending each bite a familiar yet difficult-to-pin-down decadence that, frankly, puts most other burgers to shame. At both Bibou and P&K, the results are scary delicious-—so good they almost hurt.
Best Place to Get Your Pink Fix
With its bright pink and green walls decorated with cupcake pictures and figurines, Pamcakes: a Philly Cupcakery looks like a young girl’s paradise. The cupcakes they sell, however, are exciting enough to please an adult pallet. They have the traditional flavors you’ve come to know and love, of course. The Triple Chocolate Threat dotted with huge chocolate chips will thrill chocoholics. The Southern Red Velvet is a best seller. Then there are the gourmet flavors, like Key Lime Pie and PB&J. Fall flavors like Pumpkin Chip are popular right now. Try one today and bring out the kid in you.
Pamcakes: A Philly Cupcakery, 404 S. 20th St. 215.546.2860. pamcakes.net
Best Beer-Soaked Food
You can’t walk a block in Philly without stumbling into a serious craft beer. We’re kind of obsessed. It’s clear the city’s chefs know their way around a pint as well, expertly deglazing, marinating and battering their entrees with beer. Sure we like beer for the squiff, but it can also be used to elevate a brat or add some depth to soup. One of the most surprising beer additions is the tomato lager soup at the South Philly Tap Room, where Chef Scott Schroeder’s brew of choice is none other than good ol’ Yuengling Lager.
South Philly Tap Room, 1509 Mifflin St. southphiladelphiataproom.com
Best Place to Get a Hangover Destroying Gyro at 2 a.m. in West Philly
The most important decisions are made between 1 and 2 a.m., in that one hour right as the pub closes. Chug another one? Or eat something dangerously greasy that’ll destroy tomorrow’s hangover? The latter has been a difficult option for a very long time in West Philly—because nothing’s open—but not anymore. Open until 2 a.m., New York Gyro Place pushes Pakistani, Indian and American foods. The lamb and chicken gyros are extra-boss, super-juicy, and for $6, you also score fries and a soda popinski. Not even Mike Tyson could beat a hangover outta you like this combo.
New York Gyro Place, 4407 Chestnut St. newyorkgyroplace.com
Best All-Black Food
Black is the new black when it comes to some of the deepest, darkest, most soul-stirring eats out there. Not only does the ebony hue mean you’re about to eat something delicious, but studies have been telling us for years that the dark stuff is chock full of antioxidants. The pumpernickel bread at the home-grown Metropolitan bakery chain is a dense, dusky loaf with so many complex flavors, it can rival your favorite wine. The traditional European black rye is infused with caramelized onions, coffee, cocoa powder and molasses, and will turn your next turkey sandwich into a downright refined affair.
Metropolitan Bakery, various locations. metropolitanbakery.com
Best All-White Food
Atkins and The 4-Hour Body be damned, we will always love the white stuff. Because, sometimes, white is just right. Hence the delectable fried cauliflower at Zahav, where the oft-overlooked member of the cabbage family is taken to sweetened heights, thanks to a slow carmelization, labeneh yogurt, herbs and garlic. The candylike delight will set you back seven bucks and have you singing the praises of pasty foods everywhere.
Zahav, 237 St. James Place. zahavrestaurant.com
Most Difficult Sandwich to Eat with Dignity
It’s not the most polished thing in the world to admit, but we love food that ends up running down our arms, staining our shoes and leaving a well-earned ring around our lips. It’s just satisfying on some level. Which is why whenever we get the craving for a no-frills, hot meat sandwich (no, not that kind of hot meat sandwich), we go to Nick’s for the Old Original. It’s just a buttery bun and slow-cooked, perfectly seasoned roast beef on a plate, smothered in a peppery, onion-y gravy. Forget self-respect and dig in.
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 Holiday Guide 2014