Bouillabaisseat Blackfish — With individually cooked local fish delicately placed in a saffron broth and served with crusty bread slathered in an olive-oil-based spread, this is the bouillie against which all others should be judged.
119 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, 610-397-0888.
Java pork tenderloin at 333 Belrose — Yes, bitter coffee grounds crust this perfectly cooked pork in an intriguing manner. But it’s really the way the coffee flavor mixes with the sweet yams and spicy salsa that makes this so memorable.
333 Belrose Lane, Radnor, 610-293-1000.
Polpo pizza at Osteria — Because when you’re in the presence of a pizza genius, you go for the menu’s oddest option, a thin crust spangled with charred octopus, dusted in fiery chili flakes, and graced with cool, rich mozzarella.
640 North Broad Street, 215-763-0920.
Kona dry-aged sirloin at the Capital Grille — It’s not easy to pass up one of -Capital’s velvety filets, but trust us on this one. A flavor-packed bone-in sirloin gets a distinctive, nutty taste from a Kona coffee rub; sweet caramelized -shallots complete the dish.
1338 Chestnut Street, 215-545-9588, and 2000 Route 38, Cherry Hill, 856-665-5252.
Polenta bread at Mama Palma’s — There’s an ingredient in this warm dish that you can’t quite pinpoint. So you take another bite. There’s something besides the polenta that makes it sweet and corn-y and savory and salty all at the same time. Another bite. The hint of rosemary is delightful. Another bite. It’s fluffy yet firm, rich but not too greasy. What is that? Another bite. The whole kernels of corn, the peppers … maybe you can try to replicate it at home? Oh, all gone.
2229 Spruce Street, 215-735-7357.
Tartufo pizza at Pizzeria Stella — Go ahead and savor the peppery bite, the truffle oil, and the buttery egg yolk (broken and spread at tableside). Just make sure to save enough crust for any sauce remaining on the pan.
420 South 2nd Street, 215-320-8000.
Pan-seared tilapia at Bourbon Blue — It’s not often that a fish dish is one of the most popular menu items at a casual resto-bar, but it’s understandable: The cinnamon-y char on the fish and a complementary sweet-potato hash make for a Thanksgiving dinner-like bite.
2 Rector Street, Manayunk, 215-508-3360.
Roasted potatoes at Southwark — These golden-brown wedges with their classic garlicky sauce illuminate why simplicity rules good cooking.
701 South 4th Street, 215-238-1888.
Pad Thaiat at Chabaa Thai — We pray that a Chabaa Thai will open in every Philly neighborhood, so we won’t have to go more than a day without its tangy and delicate pad Thai.
4371 Main Street, Manayunk, 215-483-1979.
Shrimp pil pil at Dmitri’s Pine Street — A spicy, crunchy, garlicky bonanza.
2227 Pine Street, 215-985-3680.
Stuffed veal chop at Catelli — Our award for sheer audacity goes to Catelli’s $44 “house signature” dish — 12 ounces of moist, crackling veal deviously concealing a sizeable creamy core of lobster tail, fontina and spinach.
Plaza 1000, Main Street, Voorhees, 856-751-6069.