*Welcome to our new occasional feature, The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Philly. We’re on a mission to find the most delicious, indulgent restaurant dishes for every kind of dieter—whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, raw and more. We’re all about occasional splurges, and that’s what this series is all about. We’ll talk to foodies to find out their favorite eats, but feel free to add yours in the comments. Bon appétit!
Once you find your favorite restaurant dish, you never, ever forget it. And upon discovering the amazing creation you’ve stumbled upon, you’re usually tempted to tell anyone and everyone who will listen, because they simply canNOT miss the trip to mouth-heaven that your new favorite dish provides. But aside from posting a “Man, the Curry Tofu Wrap at HipCityVeg is bangin’!’” Facebook status, there’s not a whole lot you can do to get the word out on your favorite Philly restaurant dishes. And this is where our new series, The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Philly, comes in.
“Brunch is punishment,” Anthony Bourdain famously wrote. “Nothing makes an aspiring Escoffier feel more like an army commissary cook, or Mel from Mel’s Diner, than having to slop out eggs over easy with bacon and eggs Benedict for the Sunday brunch crowd.”
That’s never how Marshall Green made it feel at Café Estelle, which must have been responsible for 85 percent of the weekend traffic on North 4th Street for the five years he slung the best shirred eggs in town, among other favorites, at that widely adored spot. But there’s nothing like 1,500 early mornings to drive a man to drink—or at least to a place fitted out with a well-stocked bar.
Jerry’s Bar, where Green landed last May, has two of them. A long slab of marble salvaged from Independence Mall is the center of gravity downstairs, and a dark wooden barroom evokes an unbuttoned Ivy League clubroom on the mezzanine.
The writers behind Philadelphia magazine’s food section come together to answer questions about where to eat in Philadelphia. Here are the secrets to pleasing dining companions of all flavors, from Art Etchells, founder, foobooz.com, Jason Sheehan, food editor, Trey Popp, Restaurant critic, and Victor Fiorillo, food writer.
Where should we go if we have guests from New York?
Art Etchells > Zahav. This is the restaurant Michael Solomonov was born to run, and it hasn’t fallen off by a single notch over the years. Skip the tasting menus and just start ordering à la carte—hummus foul, fried cauliflower that’s better than any other cauliflower served anywhere, watermelon salad with smoked honey, grilled duck hearts, duck kebabs with pickled blueberries. New York might have just about everything under the sun, but it doesn’t have Michael Solomonov or his signature restaurant.
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“So what’s the best restaurant in Philadelphia?” As food writers, food editors and restaurant critics, that’s the question we get asked most often. Here, the writers behind Philadelphia magazine’s food section have come together to answer all the other questions people ask. Read their answers about where to take guests in the most specific situations, and find out what chefs think about the Philly food scene. But it all starts with…
What’s Your Favorite Philadelphia Restaurant Right Now?
This kind of stuff happens way too often: WABC-TV reports that New Jersey waitress — and former marine — Dayna Morales had just finished up one of her tables at the Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, N.J., when she found that in lieu of a tip, the patrons left her a nasty message. It said: “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life.”
There are two reasons that I’ve been ridiculously excited about Vegan Commissary, the soon-to-open vegan cafe in Passyunk Square, ever since I read about it on Passyunk Post: 1) A new vegan restaurant! Yay!, and 2) It’s in my neighborhood! Woo! I chatted with owner Steve Laurence to get some more details about what we can expect.
It’s not every day that you come across a condiment that makes you do a double take. Heck, it’s not every year. But think about how it felt the first time you smeared wasabi on a sushi roll, or dolloped pepper jelly on a country ham biscuit—and then head to the corner of 9th and Arch immediately to get a jolt of that same rare giddiness at Xi’an Sizzling Woks, which opened as softly as a whisper in May.
A glass bell jar capped a pint-sized cupcake platform. A ceramic owl was also a cookie jar. Bone china plates painted with chameleons or honeybees alternated with stoneware bearing zigzags or abstract circles. Delicately etched wine goblets sparkled above the dull gleam of mismatched silver-plated utensils.
Some of our favorite chefs are participating in Philly Cooks this week (Feb. 22 starting at 6:30 p.m.) at the 33rd Street Armory on Drexel’s campus in University City. For the foodies among us, it’s a great chance to taste test delicacies from some of the freshest culinary talents from restaurants throughout the region. Plus, a portion of proceeds goes to the Ronald McDonald House.
Some of the chefs participating on Wednesday include our favorites like Evan Turney from Mercato (yep, he’s brother to Marcie – and the ladies love that pinup ceiling at Varga Bar, right?); Michael Schulson from Sampan (a very popular Midtown Village/Gayborhood outpost); Reinaldo Alfanso from Alma de Cuba; Brad Spence from Amis; Robert Aikens from The Dandelion; Steven Forte from The Farmer’s Cabinet (a brilliant new addition to 12th and Walnut); Adriana King from Jones (one of our all-time favorite brunch spots); Andrew Brown from Opa; and John Strain from Valanni (it may not technically be a gay restaurant, but most nights it sure seems like it).
In addition to all the good eats, the event will also showcase wines from Clos Du Bois, Estancia, Franciscan Estate and the Robert Mondavi Private Collection.
Not into wine? Don’t worry. Stella Artois will be at the event to do a beer tasting, too. Even non-drinkers can have a little fun thanks to espresso courtesy of ABCD Coffee (these guys have been around since 1946 – and for good reason).