Bun cha gio chay (spring roll vermicelli) at Vietnam Restaurant — A bowl of Asian comfort food that’s an irresistible romp, from noodle-slurping to crunching on crispy spring-roll pieces and fresh carrots.
221 North 11th Street, 215-592-1163, and 816 South 47th Street, 215-729-0260.
Char-grilled aged beef at Buddakan — Big, bold bovine flavor comes through in this dish. The nest of sweet-and-spicy-dressed shoestring fries is just a nice bonus.
325 Chestnut Street, 215-574-9440.
Surf and turf at Blackfish — Lobster and filet seem so boring after a bite of the plump day-boat scallops, rich short ribs and earthy parsnip puree in Chip Roman’s take on this classic.
119 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, 610-397-0888.
Diver sea scallops at Rose Tattoo Cafe — We’re downright amazed at how divine these big, buttery-smooth scallops are — and how they’re always that good, visit after visit after visit.
1847 Callowhill Street, 215-569-8939.
Mozzarella in pastella at La Famiglia Ristorante — Turns out our must-order from this fancy-pants Italian place is a delicate version of humble fried mozzarella.
8 South Front Street, 215-922-2803.
Short-rib and cheddar french fries at Village Whiskey — The name of the dish says it all.
118 South 20th Street, 215-665-1088.
Chicken parmigiana at Scannicchio’s — At this South Philly staple, the golden-brown and tender chicken parm is so huge, necks crane when it appears; it announces itself with authority. Your friends will have chicken parm envy.
2500 South Broad Street, 215-468-3900.
Prime steak burger at Du Jour — The meat is Angus prime, but what makes this $12 burger is the combo of Vermont cheddar and caramelized onions — on a critically soft roll.
379 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, 610-896-4556.
Hot wings at Curran’s Irish Inn — We’ll put the always-crispy, always-flavor-packed Buffalo-style wings at this Northeast Philly neighborhood joint up against those of anyone in town. Anyone.
6900 State Road, 215-331-8628, and 1909 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, 215-245-1800.
Pulled pork sandwich at Bebe’s Barbecue — Our favorite way to spend six bucks in the Italian Market is on this smoky pile of hand-pulled, Carolina-sauced pork.
1017 South 9th Street, 267-519-8791.
Octopus at Johnny Brenda’s — It’s only after hours and hours of boiling and a nice long bath in a tangy vinaigrette that the meaty cephalopods at this Fishtown foodie sleeper get flame-grilled to tender perfection.
1201 North Frankford Avenue, 215-739-9684.
Egg salad sandwich at Snow White — In these days of pre-fab, Sysco-delivered buckets of food, it’s refreshing to order an egg salad sandwich where the cook peels two hardboiled eggs right in front of you and whips up a made-to-order batch.
1901 Chestnut Street, 215-569-0909.
Steamed shrimp at Tai Lake — Place an order for steamed shrimp here, and you’ll see your waiter head to a tank with a net to collect your dinner. Now that’s what we call fresh.
134 North 10th Street, 215-922-0698.