The Best Cafes (and Restaurants) to Bring Your Laptop and Eat an Actual Meal

The Cusco Sandwich at Plenty Cafe

The Cusco Sandwich at Plenty Cafe

Maybe you’re a freelancer with a few hours between meetings downtown and you want to keep up the productivity. Or there’s construction in your office building and you can’t get anything done with power tools grinding away upstairs. Or you work from home but you’ve reached the point at which you’ll freak out if you don’t leave the house today.

You need a spot to get work done — school, freelance, creative, or just catching up on email. You also need to eat, and as tasty as the croissants and cookies at most coffee shops are, they’re not exactly brain food.

We’ve rounded up some of Philly’s favorite spots to camp out for a few hours (or more), eat a real breakfast or lunch, crush your task list. For our purposes, we’ve stuck with Center City and adjacent neighborhoods; we also made free wi-fi for customers and an actual food menu (however brief) a requirement.

And for when the workday spans meals, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite trendy spots where you might spend a working lunch (and maybe happy hour afterwards) while chowing down on a more substantial, chef-driven menu.

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Hungry Pigeon Is the Only Place in Philly to Sip This Local Rosé Cider

Hungry Pigeon

Hungry Pigeon

Philly’s favorite orchardist, Ben Wenk of Adams County’s Three Springs Fruit Farm, started a new branch of his family’s seven-generations-strong business last fall: Ploughman Cider, made with Wenk’s carefully calibrated blends of heirloom apples.

The standout of Ploughman’s current lineup is Pinot N’Arlet, a wild-fermented blend of Macoun and Arlet apples aged on the skins of a neighbor’s crop of Pinot Noir grapes. And right now, Hungry Pigeon is the first — and currently only — restaurant where you can score a sip.

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Here Are 9 Popular Junk Foods Philly Does Better

Puyero/Facebook

Puyero/Facebook

There was a time — long before food blogs existed, long before the rise of cheflebrities — when the world assumed kitchen workers ate like royalty at home — because of course they did. Because chefs are around great ingredients every waking hour of the day, there’s no chance that they go home to peanut butter and jelly.

But when the world got obsessed with food, secrets were spilled. And now we know: the guy who built that 18-course menu with caviar and gold leaf? He probably wen’t home to a lovely spread of instant ramen and Arby’s. And there’s no shame in that. The kitchen is exhausting and junk food is easy. It makes sense.

But that’s where the love affair between chef and junk food begins, and it doesn’t stop there. Here, now, nine junk foods reimagined by some of our city’s best chefs.

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James Beard Finally Acknowledges Philly’s Little Guys (and Gals) for its 2017 Semifinalists List

Essen Bakery (Oustanding Baker semifinalist) - Facebook

Essen Bakery (Outstanding Baker semifinalist) – Facebook

This story has been updated.

The almighty James Beard Awards Committee rarely ever left its comfort-zone when it came down to Philadelphia restaurants. Year after year, it was always Philly’s ultra-notable restaurants and chef names that made the cut — Zahav, Vedge, Vernick, Fork; Vetri, Starr, Solomonov — with the occasional nod to any Philly talent considered under-the-radar on the national scale, e.g. Joe CicalaKonstantinos PitsillidesAndre Chin and Amanda Eap (Artisan Boulanger Patissier). That’s not to say those big-name nominations weren’t deserved — they absolutely were — it’s just that there’s so much more to this city than Zahav and Marc Vetri. The rest of the country just isn’t aware.

But for whatever reason, this year, Philly-area chefs and restaurants, both big and small, caught the committee’s attention. Check out who’s repping Philly in 2017:

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Eat This Now: Baked-to-Order Madeleines at Hungry Pigeon

Photo by Scott Charles Schroeder III

Photo by Scott Charles Schroeder III

Look for the nipple. That’s the secret to a great madeleine — the nipple, or téton as the French would say. It’s the bump on the backside of the shell-shaped dessert native to the town of Commercy in the Lorraine region; the bigger the nipple, the fluffier the cake.

Hungry Pigeon’s madeleines? Well, you’ll see.

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Looking Back: The Best (And Worst) Restaurants Of 2016, Part 2

toms dim sum soup dumplings pancakes claudia gavin 940

With 2016 coming to a close, we’re taking this week to look back at the year in restaurants. And while things didn’t start off great (for starters, two of the first six restaurants I reviewed were closed before the year was done), with the spring came a turning point and the opening of some of the best restaurants of the year.

So let’s keep going, shall we? We pick things back up in March with the review of the new steakhouse that came in to take the place of Fountain at the Four Seasons…

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Hungry Pigeon Offering a Lasagna Family Dinner

hungry pigeon sign 940Scott Schroeder and the Hungry Pigeon team are kicking off a series of family dinners. The idea is to do meticulous versions of comfort food for parties of 4 to 14. And the initial dinner is built around lasagna and is being offered now through Saturday, December 10th.

The dinner is $40 per person and in addition to the main course of lasagna, which is made with housemade pasta and Country Time Farm pork, it isaccompanied by Hungry Pigeon’s own prosciutto, baked oysters, roasted brussel sprouts and much more. Schroeder tells us that each dinner will come with an optional drink pairing. In this case, three “cool wines” for $30. In addition to finding 3 friends, you also have to give the restaurant 24-hours notice to prepare the Family dinner.

Schroeder is planning lots of warming dinners through the winter and wants to continue the specials through the summer, when things like a lobster boil will be on the calendar.

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Have You Eaten Here Yet?

In the basement of Double Knot | Photo via Double Knot

In the basement of Double Knot | Photo via Double Knot

Summer is a tough time in the restaurant industry. Things get quiet and weird when the mercury climbs. People eat later. They leave town. They abandon their regular haunts for beer gardens, beach bars and rooftop decks. Autumn is solid. Winter is dependable–there’s the run-up to the holidays, and then the post-New-Year slump. Even spring has its own kind of rhythm, with reservations and walk-ins increasing in direct relation to the calendar ticking forward through March and April and May.

But summer? Summer is fickle. Summer is flighty. Summer is something that most restaurants just survive.

The good news? The season is almost over. We’re rolling inexorably toward September now, toward Labor Day and back-to-school. But before we slide into fall and all of fall’s new openings, this seems like a good time to look back over the past six (or seven) month’s worth of reviews and see where we stand. To measure what we’ve gained, what we’ve lost and where you should still get to (or get back to) before all the new kids on the block get up and running for the season.

And the most obvious place to start is…

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Leftovers: Scott Schroeder Responds to Hungry Pigeon Review

schroeder hungry pigeon 400In today’s review of the Hungry Pigeon, Jason Sheehan praises chef/owner Scott Schroeder’s breakfast and lunch. He does however have some issues with dinner, namely the amount of un-stemmed greens placed on top of the goat stroganoff, a definite pet peeve of Sheehan’s.

Until, on top of all this, the kitchen adds a literal pile of rough-cut dill and green herbs so thickly applied, it’s like they were dumped on with both hands. It is a distractingly large amount of greenery, and, worse, the rustic, casual, un-fussy way it’s chopped leaves the entire dish threaded with stems that are both unpleasant in texture and astringent in flavor and do nothing but get caught in my teeth. From bite to bite I hate the dish, then love it as I catch some resonance between sweetness, sourness and the creamy, warm richness of the sauce and want more.

Scott Schroeder of course responds »

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