Tongue tacos, Italian milkshakes, candy-coated flapjacks and 47 other delicious foods and drinks you should be tasting right now.
In 1976, University of Pennsylvania psych professor Paul Rozin raised a question that would eventually become the basis for Michael Pollan’s thorough (and thoroughly enjoyable) tome The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Rozin (and Pollan, subsequently) wondered what happens when geographical, seasonal and technological factors cease to regulate our diets. In other words, when we can eat anything, anytime, anywhere —what should we eat?
On a small scale, Philadelphia is an incubator for another kind of omnivore’s dilemma. There are so many delicious things to consume here, the choices can be paralyzing. It’s a happy problem to have, but one that requires instruction.
So PW has compiled a list of the 50 best things to eat and drink in Philly rightthisverymoment. We’ve included—in no particular order—some entrenched favorites (Osteria pizza, Cape May Salts) but mostly illuminated the new and newly discovered: everything from offbeat beers (Alehoof Grut) to cheeses with stories to tell (Mancuso ricotta). They might just become your next favorites. They’re already ours.
It’s hard not to get sick of the praise heaped upon Jose Garces. In the words of PW contributor Jacob Lambert, it’s as if “pure, radiant sunshine pours from his glorious asshole.” That said, there’s only a few things in this world that make our toes curl, our eyes roll back and leaves a smile on our face and a viscous sheen on our lips. One of those is Tinto’s duck confit montadito with black cherries. Huge bursts of cherry goodness cut through the tender slow-cooked-in-its-own-fat duck meat while the Serrano ham adds a gamey, salty node. The La Peral cheese spread brings a pungent olive flavor and creamy finish to the whole earth-moving experience. Tinto, 114 S. 20th St. 215.665.9150. tintorestaurant.com
Surrounded by a gastropub pantheon that includes Standard Tap and North Third, Liberties is a workingman’s pub complete with real, live Teamsters. It lacks the hand-pumped ESAs and house-made ketchups of its neighbors, but serves a damn good sirloin burger accompanied (on request) by the best waffle fries this side of Chik-fil-A. (That’s not even a little sarcastic; we love the cow- appreciating chain.) The spuds are also an app in their own right, piled high and smothered with warm, gooey cheese sauce that pours down like lava and leaves pint glasses streaked with orange fingerprints. And that’s okay. At Liberties, no one’s reproached for sullying glassware. Liberties, 705 N. Second St. 215.238.0660. libertiesrestaurant.com
Whole Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Zahav’s chef/owner Michael Solomonov once confessed his favorite way to eat the whole roasted lamb shoulder was standing drunk in his kitchen at 3 a.m. wearing nothing but boxers. We’d happily eat the charcoal-roasted, slow- and low-braised, pomegranate-lacquered, falling-off-the-bone ode to lamb any time of day in any kind of way. No word if partial nudity actually enhances the experience. Zahav, 237 Saint James Place. 215.625.8800. zahavrestaurant.com
Here’s what we love about food in Philadelphia: everything. No, seriously. From the street vendor’s commonest cheesesteak to the most subtly spiced French-Asian hybrid delicacy, it’s all good. But some of it? Some of it is awesome. So here are 50 suggestions for dishes, ranging from sophisticated to speedy, that you’ve just got to try—whether you’re in town for the day or here for keeps.
People, you may have noticed, are fat. Real fat. And getting bigger every day. But lost in the endless conversations about the no-longer-new obesity epidemic that threatens to sink our country into a pit of health-care debt we can never pay is a very real and glaringly obvious fact: We’re all a hell of a lot skinnier than we could be.
The first PW reader to document they've had all 50 items on our list wins $100 in gift certificates to fabulous Philly restaurants. It's that easy, and that delicious.
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Dinner with Luke Palladino