Best of Philly 2005: Restaurants & Food

Our cheat sheet on where to eat

Place to eat alone: Ardmore Farmer’s Market
Newer and brighter than Reading Terminal, with just as much bustle to enjoy. Get fresh-cooked fish at Ardmore Seafood, sushi from Genji, and a treat from the Ultimate Bake Shop (120 Coulter Avenue, Ardmore; 610-896-7560).

Place to bring your wine-snob brother-in-law: Meritage Older vintages, oversize bottles, half-bottles, and lesser-known regional wines are highlights of the amazing 400-label collection, priced from $22 to $1,144. Four-course, $69 tasting menus, served with matching wines, take best advantage of the cellar (500 South 20th Street; 215-985-1922).

Doughnuts: Highland Orchards Farm and Market You can pick apples at this Chester County farm, but we go for the apple cider doughnuts — sugar-dusted confections best straight from the fryer (1000 ­Marshallton-Thorndale Road, West Chester; 610-269-3494).

New Seafood Restaurant: Old Original Bookbinder’s
Forget your image of Bookie’s as an aging tourist trap: With a multimillion-dollar makeover and a completely new menu, Old Original now stands with the city’s best. Perfectly steamed lobsters, colossal baked crabcakes and vibrant tuna tartare are among the top attractions (125 Walnut Street; 215-925-7027).

Upscale burger at a dive bar: Good Dog This appealingly scruffy bar with canine decor draws a young crowd that flaunts its tats and piercings. Compliment their nipple rings, then order a burger, eight ounces of sirloin stuffed with melting Roquefort and topped with caramelized onions (224 South 15th Street; 215-985-9600).

Basic Burger at a Nice Bar: Philadelphia Fish & Company It’s a $6 standout from a kitchen more accustomed to $20 entrées. Skip over the shoestring fries and head straight for the thick sirloin burger, served on a brioche bun. It’s a meat lover’s dream — at a seafood restaurant (207 Chestnut Street; 215-625-8605).

Hot Dog: Jimmy’s Hot Dogs It requires a trip to Easton, but you won’t regret it. An “Easton dog” is served in a bun with a pickle spear running the length, adding both texture and flavor, and we’re pretty sure that this family-owned institution invented it. The perpetual line out the door suggests they know what they’re doing
(2555 Nazareth Road, Easton; 610-258-7545).

Food at the Airport: Caviar Assouline Airline food has become either pitiful or nonexistent, so before you board, stop at this spot in Terminal C and stock up. Grab a sandwich (try the tuna niçoise on black bread) or just some crackers and a hunk of primo cheese — your seatmate’s mouth will be watering (Philadelphia International Airport Terminal C; 215-863-2255).