From cheesesteaks to French..., ACP Observer Mar 97

American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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From cheesesteaks to French cuisine

Some of the top picks in Philadelphia dining

From the March 1997 ACP Observer, copyright © 1997 by the American College of Physicians.

Whether nestled between row homes in South Philly or next to fashionable boutiques downtown, Philadelphia features a wide range of dining. From cheesesteaks to formal French cuisine, the city's restaurant scene caters to a wide range of palates. Restaurants marked by an asterisk are recommendations from ACP's executive office.

For Philadelphia's most famous and renowned restaurants, you'll probably want to stay close to center city.

Tops in Zagat's survey again this year, LeBec Fin's French cuisine (1523 Walnut; 567-1000, $$$$) and the Fountain Restaurant's* Continental dining (1 Logan Square; 963-1500, $$$$) continue to attract serious gourmands. And for an upscale taste of historic Philadelphia—good, hearty food in a colonial setting—try City Tavern* (132 S. 2nd; 413-1443, $$$$), which features recipes from Martha Washington's kitchen, such as Smoked Pheasant and Country Squash, Cornmeal Fried Oysters and West Indies Pepperpot Soup.

A recent newcomer to the fine dining scene is Tony Clark's (121 S. Broad; 772-9238, $$$$), one of the city's hottest new restaurants. And Striped Bass (1500 Walnut; 732-4444, $$$$) remains one of the city's hottest places for seafood. This summer's renovation of the ever-popular Susanna Foo's (1512 Walnut; 545-2666, $$$$) makes it an even more irresistible choice for new-wave Chinese food.

The Caribou Cafe (1126 Walnut; 625-9535, $$$) serves beautifully prepared dishes in a stylish French bistro setting and is ideal for dinner before or after the theater. Also near the theater district, DiLullo Centro* (1407 Locust; 546-2000, $$$$) serves up excellent Italian fare. On Front Street, you can find more quality Italian food and a wide selection of Italian wines at Ristorante Panorama* (14 N. Front; 922-7800, $$$).

Nearby, trendy South Street draws diners, shoppers, and later, nightclub revelers. Besides colorful shops, South Street is home to a number of favorite Philadelphia restaurants. Cafe Nola (603 S. 3rd; 627-2590, $$$) offers the flavor of New Orleans, including mint juleps and crawfish. Bridget Foy's South Street Grill (Second and South; 922-1813, $$$) serves American-style fish, steak and pasta dishes on a busy South Street corner great for people watching. And a few blocks away, the bistro and bar, Monserrat (623 South; 627-4224, $$), serves a range of eclectic dishes. There, sports fans can take in a game on a 100-inch television.

Just next door to the convention center, Philadelphia's Chinatown offers dozens of restaurants. The Imperial Inn (146 N. 10th; 627-5588, $$) serves dim-sum daily, in addition to traditional dishes and fresh seafood. Vegetarians will appreciate Singapore Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant (1029 Race; 922-3288, $$) which serves up a vegetarian version of dim-sum. Chinatown also offers a range of Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Burmese restaurants. Siam Cuisine Thai Restaurant (925 Arch; 922-7135, $$) features lemon grass soup, chicken satay and phad Thai. And just outside the Chinatown area, find great sushi, chicken teriyaki, tempura and noodles at Kawabata Japanese Restaurant* (110 Chestnut; 928-9564, $$$).

A short cab ride away is South Philly, a neighborhood famous for its lively restaurant scene. It's long been popular for its Southern Italian fare served in cozy settings. Litto's Bakery and Caffé (910 Chrisian St.; 627-7037, $$$), located since 1932 in the Italian Market, may be best known for its cannoli, but it has also gained a following for its espresso bar and fresh Italian cuisine. At Victor Cafe* (1303 Dickinson; 468-3040, $$$$), waiters who double as opera singers entertain diners with classical song.

A venture to the neighborhoods surrounding the Art Museum rewards you with more good food. Voted one of the most romantic dinner spots in town, the Rose Tattoo Cafe (1847 Callowhill; 569-8939, $$$) features stylish American food in a cozy, artsy setting. Try Cuvee Notre Dame (17th and Green; 765-2777, $$$) for mussels and fries and other Belgium specialties. London Grill (2301 Fairmount; 978-4545, $$$), an antique English-style pub, serves the city's best happy hour—half-off drinks and a $5 cafe menu that includes gourmet burgers and big Caesar salads.

A little further down the road in University City, the home of the University of Pennsylvania, the White Dog Cafe* (3420 Sansom; 386-9224, $$$$) prepares distinctive American food in a charming setting. A piano bar called Tails is located inside the restaurant and offers a calendar of events that includes music, storytelling and speakers.

About 30 minutes by car from center city lies the neighborhood known as Manayunk, home to some of Philadelphia's newest and most popular restaurants and cafes, as well as chic boutiques. Jake's (483-0444, $$$$), Sonoma (483-9400, $$$) and Kansas City Prime (482-3700, $$$$), all on Main Street, draw crowds for their trendy decor as well as their top-notch American dining. LeBus (487-2663, $$), also on Main Street, offers lower-cost fare that features delicious bread. The trip to Manayunk also provides one of the prettiest views of the city, as seen from the Schuylkill Expressway: thousands of tiny white lights outlining Boat House Row, the long-time home to the Tudor-style sculling clubs that make up the "Schuylkill Navy."

For breakfast or lunch close to the convention center, try the Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch), an old train station transformed into a bustling farmer's market. The 80 stalls are packed with food choices including Pennsylvania Dutch meals, barbecue ribs, spanikopita, Italian deli sandwiches, fresh-baked breads and muffins and cookies, produce from local farmers, and, of course, cheesesteaks. On March 22, the terminal will host the Maple Syrup Festival.

Can't miss cheesesteaks

Besides hosting some of the city's best Italian restaurants, South Philly is birthplace of that Philadelphia icon (and cholesterol demon), the cheesesteak. While most sandwich shops in the city serve up their own version of the cheesesteak, Philadelphians have long argued whether Pat's King of Steaks at 12th and Passyunk or Geno's Steaks just down the street at 9th and Passyunk serves the real thing. Another favorite stop for the ubiquitous sandwich is Jim's, located at 4th and South. You be the judge.

The dollar signs provide an idea of the approximate cost of dinner entrees:

  • $$: $10-$15
  • $$$: $15-$25
  • $$$$: Over $25

Philadelphia on the Web

For more information about the area's activities, cultural events, and restaurants, see:

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