Taste: Where We’re Eating: September 2008

The Plaza and The Market at Comcast Center Just outside the Comcast Center’s main entrance sits Table 31’s The Plaza. At the fountain-lined patio, happily ensconced under large orange umbrellas, Center City’s workforce dines on lunchtime fare — skip the maki in favor of the Maine lobster salad or one of the thin-crust pizzas — and light cocktails. Service can be slow — occupy yourself with the Center’s mesmerizing video wall — so if you’re short on time, head inside and downstairs to the Market and grab a gourmet meal (from the likes of Di Bruno Bros. and LaScala’s) to go.

Izakaya The press release for Izakaya, the Borgata’s newest spot, plays up chef Michael Schulson’s celeb-chef credentials, the better to place him alongside Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck; Schulson is the star of the Style Network’s Pantry Raid. But we knew him when — as the kitchen talent at Pod who later opened Buddakan New York. You’ll find similar flavors in this casino-ized version of a Japanese pub, where sushi, tempura and robatiyaki (meat and vegetable skewers from the grill) are served — as it seems everything in the region is these days — tapas-style. The sleek space is overly glamorous for this casual approach to dinner, but the staff pulls it off smoothly, filling the not-quite-big-enough tables with tempuraed halibut and potatoes (“fish and chips”), seared kobe skewers and familiar edamame dumplings.

Azul Cantina A 20-minute Tuesday-night wait at months-old Mexican Azul Cantina indicates one thing: This swelling Washington Square neighborhood needs more easy, affordable restaurants. Fruity drinkers will go wide-eyed over the well-priced cocktail menu — from the pick-your-fruit mojitos to pitchers of ’ritas — to be enjoyed while you sit on either the restaurant or the sidewalk side of this open-walled, bright and boisterous Spruce Street spot. The menu features $10-and-under small plates, which are creative enough to be interesting (goat cheese and black bean enchiladas, beef torta sliders) but feel a little lightweight, in both flavor and volume.

Sonic Years after the fast-food chain began advertising in the Philadelphia region, our first Sonic has opened, in Limerick. (Expect more in the coming year.) The Sonic gimmick is drive-in-style service, a concept that seems less than novel now, when eating in your car is an everyday American activity. It doesn’t get more convenient than this, though: your own drive-up menu and intercom, compete with credit-card swipe. While there are no waitresses on roller skates to deliver the solid quick-serve burger, super-carbonated customized soft drinks and sadly bland onion rings to your car window, there is a condiment girl, hawking packets of honey mustard like they’re packs of Marlboros.

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