Northern Liberties Restaurants: The 2009 Philly Mag 50

Bar Ferdinand
Northern Liberties | Spanish | Entrées: Less than $12
Ranking: 49 • Last Year’s Ranking: 45
This hip restaurant doesn’t try to play the look-at-me, I’m-so-cool game, and for that, it’s effortlessly attention-getting and organically cool. Yet the vibe would be nothing without the good drinks and affordable, traditional tapas that are simple, but never ­boring (although sometimes slightly greasy), like the empanadas filled with cream cheese, dates and bacon, and croquettes made of salt-cured cod. If only all trendy ­restaurants could be this understated. Order: The addictive patatas bravas. 1030 North 2nd Street, 215-923-1313. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other Details

Honey’s Sit ‘N’ Eat
Northern Liberties | Southern | Entrées: Less than $12
Ranking: 48 • Last Year’s Ranking: 41
Honey’s Sit ‘n’ EatLast Year’s Ranking: 41 )  This restaurant with feel-good food sits at the unlikely intersection of Jersey diner (breakfast all day), Southern cuisine (­chicken-fried steak), Jewish deli (pastrami) and Northern Liberties boho chic (tofu scramble). But thanks to quality ingredients and a straightforward, stick-to-basics approach, the culinary mash-up is a recipe for success. Pre-dinner foods are still the strong suit here, and the long weekend waits and nonchalant service don’t make it the perfect fit for every occasion—though your stomach will tell you otherwise. Order: The turkey Reuben and one of the house-made sides. 800 North 4th Street, 215-925-1150. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other Details

Modo Mio
Northern Liberties | Italian | Entrée: $13—$32
Ranking: 15 • Last Year’s Ranking: 29
If you’re hoping for a quiet evening, Modo Mio is not your spot. But that’s not a bad thing, because the chaos, cramped tables, clamor and hard-to-flag-down waiters are part of this small Italian BYO’s something-special charm. Regardless, all will go still when you bite into the dreamy, hard-crusted-but-doughy-soft house-baked bread—a good tease for the surprisingly lofty meal to come. Chef Peter McAndrew’s larger-than-life Italian food isn’t confined by the small kitchen it comes from: The cotechino sausage is made in-house and served with a ­balsamic-poached egg; a lasagna special is re-thought with sausage and sweetbreads; the gnocchi with a thick wild boar ragu is spiked with chocolate. If that’s not enough, we promise you’ll be addicted when you get the bill—the available-all-the-time four-course Tourista menu is a jaw-­dropping $32. Order: The Milanese-style veal on a well-matched bed of tangy radicchio. 161 West Girard Avenue, 215-203-8707. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

Northern Liberties | Indian | Entrées: Less than $12
Ranking: 50 • Last Year’s Ranking: 30
Tiffin Last Year’s Ranking: 30 )  Without Tiffin, this city might not be enjoying its current love affair with all things Indian. What started as a little delivery business back in 2007 is now a full-blown phenomenon with two locations, a legion of devoted fans, and a crop of Tiffin wannabes nipping at its heels. As the business has grown, so has our devotion to it, especially now that the Girard Avenue location offers a spacious, comfortable upstairs dining room for eating in. And after all those visits, we still can’t get enough ­garlic-studded naan, yogurt-y chaat, lamb kebabs, samosas and vindaloos. Order: Malai kofta. 710 West Girard Avenue, 215-922-1297. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other Details

Standard Tap
Northern Liberties | Pub Food | Entrées: $13-$20
Ranking: 26 • Last Year’s Ranking: 11
It’s true that the waitstaff can be rude. And that no one who works here cares that you’re waiting for a table. And that there’s no printed menu, and it’s pretty hard to see the chalkboard, especially given how poorly lit the place is. But Standard Tap is more than a gastropub. It’s the original gastropub, the restaurant that helped put Philly back on the national food radar in 2000. Almost 10 years later, the Tap has stuck to its simple mission of great local craft beer, good local food, and prices that are ever more appealing as our 401Ks swirl the drain. If you go at an hour when there’s no competition for tables, it’s a downright relaxing place to be. After a microbrew or three, you’ll realize that Standard Tap not only has a strong sense of place; it gives us a sense of current Philadelphia. Order: Steak frites. 901 North 2nd Street, 215-238-0630. See User Reviews, Hours, & Other DetailsSee Menu

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