Cheese and potato tart at Marshalton Inn/Four Dogs Tavern — Remember how delicious your first potato skin was, way back at the beloved mall eatery of your youth? The melted orange cheddar, the cool sour cream, the Bac-o bits? Chef David Cox took that memory and made it over with apple-smoked bacon, crème fraîche, locally grown Yukon golds and gruyère, in a phyllo crust — an epicure’s version of the best of your teenage years.
1300 West Strasburg Road, West Chester, 610-692-4367.
Lamb shoulder at Zahav — You’ll have to order the tasting menu to secure this scrumptious specimen of perfectly cooked meat, but with hummus and assorted mezze on that lineup, you’ll be happy to. Thanks to slow cooking and a char over coals, this is everything you could ever want in a piece of meat — fall-apart tender, just slightly caramelized, and crispy on the ends yet moist and magical in the middle. How do you say “Yum” in Hebrew?
237 St. James Place, 215-625-8800.
Pierogies at Snackbar — Filled with creamy potatoes, crisped in butter, and served with crème fraîche and caviar, this updated comfort food is made with love.
253 South 20th Street, 215-545-5655.
Chana masala chicken at Bindi — It’s the oh-so-tender morsels of white-meat chicken that keep us coming back.
105 South 13th Street, 215-922-6061.
Sopa de tortilla at Tequila’s — As you lean down to slurp, that spicy/sweet/minty/herby epazote fills your nose and carries you away to a Mexico you may or may not ever have been to before.
1602 Locust Street, 215-546-0181.
Seasonal pizzas at Sovana — Think summer menus get all the glory? How about a perfectly charred pizza topped with nibbles of sweet butternut squash, bits of applewood smoked bacon, sharp arugula and creamy gorgonzola? Take that, summer. (Although July’s local corn, salami and jalapeño version isn’t bad, either.)
696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, 610-444-5600.
Tagliatelle alla bolognese at Ristorante San Marco — The homemade ribbons of eggless pasta, draped in a meaty sauce that’s properly light on tomato and carefully simmered with thyme, oregano and nutmeg, is as good as the version we had sitting under the stars in Rome.
504 North Bethlehem Pike, Ambler, 215-654-5000.
Hanger steak at Alba — When you wood-fire-grill a hanger steak so well, season it so simply, and slice it just right, it becomes a permanent fixture. Sides may change with the seasons, but this flawless steak, thankfully, never will.
7 West King Street, Malvern, 610-644-4009.
Gnocchi with duck breast ragù at Sapori — In the best rustic cooking, every bite is an affirmation. So it is with this Collingswood trattoria’s root-sweet ragù, studded with ready-to-melt morsels of duck breast and gnocchi so smooth and light, you’ll swear they were held in suspension just long enough to get to your mouth. Resist the waiter’s kindly offer of grated parmesan — you don’t want to mask a single molecule of this long-simmered miracle.
601 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, 856-858-2288.