Schmitter at McNally’s Tavern — Polish off this oddly airy sandwich — a doughy kaiser laden with steak, fried onions, tomatoes, American cheese, grilled salami and a mayo-based sauce — and experience culinary irony: You feel as if you’ve eaten nothing. And yet, you’ve eaten everything.
8634 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-9736.
Calamari and arugula at Paradiso — So familiar, so divine: a jumble of crispy, featherweight squid rings and bodies alongside lemon-and-cream-dressed arugula and a pair of lemon wedges. Squeeze. Spear. Devour.
1627 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-2066.
Gratin de pâtes “à la Peggy” at Bistrot La Minette — The twisty noodles floating freely in a loose, luscious white cheese sauce may just have put us off brick-like American mac-and-cheese forever.
623 South 6th Street, 215-925-8000.
Bacon Stack at Ants Pants Café — The Stack is a buttered and toasted slice of country white bread layered with four strips of crispy bacon layered with seasoned slices of Roma tomatoes layered with a handful of fresh arugula layered with two perfectly fried eggs.
2212 South Street, 215-875-8002.
Escargots at Bibou — Don’t fear the snails. At least, not when the little guys are cooked to a meltingly tender texture and surrounded by pristine seasonal accoutrements, as they are here.
1009 South 8th Street, 215-965-8290.
Steak nachos at Distrito — It’s the quality ingredients and attention to detail that really separate these from every other nacho you’ve ever had.
3945 Chestnut Street, 215-222-1657.
Green curry summer rolls at Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille — It’s a miracle. These light and healthy rice-paper-wrapped rolls are low on calories but absolutely bursting with fresh flavor.
772 Second Street Pike, Southampton, 215-942-8888.
Stuffed hash browns at Butcher & Singer — These over-the-top spuds deliver everything we want: They’re crispy, creamy, rich, and perfectly seasoned.
1500 Walnut Street, 215-732-4444.
Tiramisu at Caffe Valentino — A square of simple cakey, creamy comfort that (for once!) isn’t too sweet.
1245 South 3rd Street, 215-336-3033.
Crudo at Positano Coast — Italian-style sashimi, always based on pristine cuts of fish, delivers the sweet flavors of the sea punched up with ample herbs and citrus.
212 Walnut Street, 215-238-0499.
Squid ink pasta at Tre Scalini — Dark as night, as earthy as the ocean, black pappardelle is all mystery, while the accompanying pink, tomato-sauced shellfish are all goodness and light.
1915 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-551-3870.
Salt-baked shrimp at Lee How Fook — One bite of the wok-fried, tails-on, coral-colored jewels, and suddenly you’re seeing fried shrimp in a whole new, lighter light.
219 North 11th Street, 215-925-7266.
Antipasto misto at L’Angolo — When you walk through the door of this South Philly BYOB, the first thing you see is the kitchen counter brimming with antipasto fixings: white beans stewed with tomatoes, wedges of frittata, slabs of eggplant parm, potato cakes stuffed with olives, to name a few. This appetizer is more like a feast.
1415 West Porter Street, 215-389-4252.