13 Diners You’ll Find in Philly

Illustration by Jessi Falcone

The Winos | Illustration by Jessi Falcone

We here at Foobooz certainly enjoy Philadelphia’s food scene but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally roll our eyes at some of the other dining room’s tables. Here is our list of the thirteen kinds of diners you’ll find in Philadelphia. Who do you recognize, what behavior are you guilty of?   

Compiled by Isabelle Gallicchio, Ela Torres and Alex Tewfik




1) Starr Enthusiasts

To them, Starr always delivers a value—even if it’s a costly one. They love compliments, they like to show off, and they drive red convertibles.

Where You’ll Find Them:

  • In Philadelphia: Il Pittore
  • In New York: Buddakan
  • In Florida: Steak 954.

Catchphrase: “Give me Stephen Starr or give me starrvation.”

2) Vegan/Vegetarians

They’re regulars at Vedge and probably have a shrine to Gwyneth Paltrow in their kitchen. They swear kale chips are better than Cheetos (pro tip: they’re not).

Where You’ll Find Them: Clogging the lines at HipCityVeg or Trader Joe’s.

Catchphrase: “I just feel lighter, you know?”

3) The Comparers

Overheard at a.bar slurping down oysters and discussing why El Celler de Can Roca lost its first place title to Noma. Do you think anyone in Philly forages like Redzepi?

Where You’ll Find Them: Volvér

Catchphrase: “I disagree. To me, Noma’s lunch was better than el Bulli’s dinner.”

4) The DIYers

The over-eager restaurant goers who explain that they could, like, totally make this appetizer. And maybe even add a few spices? Yeah!

Where You’ll Find Them: Trying to get into the kitchen to chat with the chef.

Catchphrase: “I saw Nick Elmi do this on Top Chef.”

5) The Winos

You can find them stocking up at the local Wine & Spirits before dinner. They carry their own wine key and always finish the bottle.

Where You’ll Find Them: East Passyunk Ave.

Catchphrase: “Can we have a different glass for our red?”

6) The Cheesesteak Snobs

They’re right, you’re wrong, it’s a fact of life. There’s no way your palate is even comparable to theirs, and even if it is, “it just isn’t.” It’s their world, you’re just living in it.

Where You’ll Find Them: John’s Roast Pork, D'Alessandro’s, Steve's.

Catchphrase: “I’ll take a good roast pork and broccoli rabe over a cheesesteak any day.”

The Instagrammers | Jessi Falcone

The Instagrammers | Jessi Falcone

7) Suburbanites Who Instagram the Entire Meal

A readjustment of plates, a quick flash, and a peek to see if anyone saw—these are the tell tale signs that a Suburbanite-Who-Instagrams-The-Entire-Meal is in your presence. Be warned: they usually travel in packs.

Where You’ll Find Them: El Vez, Continental, and Amada (when the ‘rents are in town)

Catchphrase: “Do you think this looks better in Valencia or #nofilter?”

8) The Center City Sips Crowd

If you ever need a reminder as to what day it is, just take a peek into any bar. If it’s overly crowded with 20-somethings (plus a few outliers: underage kids and too-old-to-be-there adults), it’s Wednesday and the Center City Sips Crowd is out for some cheap drinks and a fuzzy Thursday morning.

Where You’ll Find Them: Anywhere with $5 cocktails, $4 wine, and $3 beer.

Catchphrase:

GUYS: “Bruh, I only drink craft.

*to bartender* “Magic Hat, please.”

GIRLS: “Hey girrrrl!”

9) The Reminiscers

These are the diners who long for Bookbinders soup and the golden days when Georges Perrier was still cooking (and relevant).

Where You’ll Find Them: Staring into the windows of Avance, day dreaming of the greatness that once was Le Bec Fin.

Catchphrase: “$18 for broccoli?!”

10) The Locavores

They know the pet-names of at least five pigs at their local farm. They take part in a CSA, a cow share, a lamb share, a chicken share, a beet share, and volunteer their time to (at least) one of the city gardens on the reg.

Where You’ll Find Them: Farm 51, Greensgrow, Urban Gardens, Green Aisle Grocery

Catchphrase: “Only $18 for broccoli!”

11) The At-Home Mixologists

They only stock top-shelf liquors, they've got more bottles of bitters than they do knowledge of bitters, and after promising you “Hop Sing Laundromat’s Montana Payback”, ten minutes later, all you’ll want is a Miller High Life.

Where You’ll Find Them: Dinner parties.

Catchphrase: “Honey, could you grab me some eggs?”

12) The Brownstoners

These people have tiny noses and even tinier glasses. They never leave the safety of their beloved neighborhood because, to them, no neighborhood worth going to starts with the word “Fish”.

Where You’ll Find Them: Eating breakfast at Parc.

Catchphrase: “Do you take AMEX?”

 13) Craig LaBan Disciples

What Craig says goes.

Where You’ll find them: Checking their Inquirer app every Saturday night, while sitting in last weekend's LaBan-reviewed restaurant. Then, via-OpenTable, making their next Saturday reservation (depending on the bell-count).

Catchphrase: “He gave them two bells, but it read like a one.”

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  • Boots Electric

    A more appropriate title for this piece, which took the combined genius of three writers to bring to fruition, could be: “Let’s Take a S*** on Just About Every Person Who Has Ever Bought a Meal in Philadelphia, Except Us, Of Course.” (Then again, this trio probably “totes” identifies with one or the other of these contrived stereotypes, because hey, they’re stereotypes because that’s just how people are.)

    Stop trying to be funny.

    • Philly Baking Queen

      Wow, *someone* woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Relax, dude. No one is taking this as seriously as you are.

  • program

    you forgot people who like to use the word “program”….(smoked fish program, rum program, bottled water program, locally sourced program)…

    • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/ Art from Foobooz

      I think that’s more the employees than the diners, no?

  • SS

    I love humor. I think people in Philly should scrutinize one another a little more.

    Love, brownstoner

  • Erin Kowalsky

    As a vegan, that is sooooo far from the truth. At least, for me it is. And yeah, kale is absolutely disgusting and HipCity is absolutely delicious.

  • Jan D

    Enjoyed this light-hearted piece! Got a good chuckle.Don’t see ourselves exactly here; we are from the western suburbs but never Instagram our meals! :-)

  • Joel

    The phrase “too-old-to-be-there-adults” is offensive to us adults who have patronized Philly’s restaurant Renaissance since before you were old enough to write.

    • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/ Art from Foobooz

      Joel, you’re a younger spirited person than me if you can go to some Center City Sips locations and not feel at least a bit too old.

      • Joel

        Art: We tried Volver’s version of Sips. A good deal, not as laud and a lot of “adults”.

  • Alimentarian

    You forgot one:
    14) The Blogophiles
    Where You’ll Find Them: Eli Kulp and Michael Solomonov restaurants.
    Catchphrase: “Don’t you miss the old Foobooz?”

  • rk

    friendly advice: humor that makes fun of other people is almost always much better received when one also makes fun of one’s self. So where do the foobooz staff fit into this?

    • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/ Art from Foobooz

      #1, #4, reformed #6, urban #7, recently #11.

      • Coleen

        Sweet mother of mercy, I need one of those in front of me right now.

        • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/ Art from Foobooz

          5 to 7 p.m. at Fitler Dining Room!

          • Matt D

            It is a phenomenal little sandwich, but I’ve gotta say, that is the stuffiest, stiffest, crustiest, dining room I’ve been to in a long time. I like to leer at chefs in open kitchens, not the other way around.

          • Robert Marzinsky

            Hey Matt, I gotta say, I thought you were finished with your opinion on your experience after you posted your yelp review. I am sorry you felt so uncomfortable being the only guests in the dining room at 5 o’clock on a Sunday evening in July, but, I would love to invite you back in, on me. We can put up a skein so you can’t see us leering at you (which, I have to add, we all felt was reciprocated at least as much, I can remember thinking, “Why is this guy staring at us???”). Oh, you forgot to mention the “hefty price tag” of aforementioned “phenomenal little sandwich”. Thanks, and be cool, don’t change!

          • Matt D

            You’re right, my apologies for the snark comment. However, I stand behind the Yelp review. We discussed the experience with some friends who have dined at FDR, and they agreed with the cold and stuffy vibe. I thought the review was fair.

          • Robert Marzinsky

            You are absolutely entitled to voice your opinion, and stand by it. It is America after all. I think that is supposed to be the point of Yelp(?), although I have to speculate as I myself have never posted anything on the website… Either way, we don’t always get everything right (humans…) In all seriousness, maybe you will try us again sometime soon, we would love to have you.

          • Sam Clearfield

            I actually remember robert leeringat me from within the dumpster on the side street as i left the fitler dining room

    • iambillgates

      Where was the humor?

  • PhillyGal84

    You left one out – the Non-Diners that actually cook their own meals and save a TON of money by doing so. They also avoid those annoying city crowds and noise, too! Tell me where in Philly you can find a delicious bacon-infused yak burger that comes with a side of swiss chard and pine nuts. With a grand finale of grilled pineapple for dessert! It’s extremely hard to justify dining out, unless it’s really really excellent or something I can’t make myself. Take sushi for example – too much hassle source good fish or to make, so I just go to Sagami. :-D

    • Eric the Red

      yak burger?… do tell

  • The Concierge

    Don’t forget the “7:30-ers” – As in “I want a 7:30pm reservation. Six-fifteen? No, that’s still lunchtime. Only eight is available? That’s waay too late to eat supper…”

  • rk

    the only one that’s specific to philly is…? There are followers of reviewers in every town, same with every town’s version of Starr. no need to act like these “types” are specific to Philly. I think that’s what actually rubbed me wrong on second read–philly diners aren’t in any way special in having these categories.

  • iambillgates

    And you’ll find all of them reading the best of philly advertisements….uh….I mean awards.

  • https://twitter.com/BostonBestEats BostonBestEats

    Winos that have to ask for another glass are just posers. Real Winos bring their own.

  • Eric the Red

    More illustrations from Jessi Falcone please! Great stuff.