Some facts about Philly’s food scene

Published on : Saturday, January 7, 2017

unnamed-1Philadelphia food is so much more than the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel, or even scrapple, or roast pork sandwiches. It’s also amazing vegan fare, quirky BYOB restaurants, world-class craft local beer, emerging distillery scene, or chef-driven concepts and passion projects. Philly’s food scene is about neighborhoods that grow with their restaurants. And competing chefs who work together. It’s about sourcing ingredients from the region’s farms and giving casual dining its due. It’s about embracing delicious diversity.


Here is a primer of 25 lesser-known components of Philly’s lush and luscious food scene.


Major Attributes:

1. Richly Rewarding Food Shed: A wealth of the region’s nearby farms, urban greenhouses and hyper-local rooftop gardens (a specialty of Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood) supply the freshest ingredients to restaurants and markets. Everything from obscure heirloom tomatoes and specialty corn hybrids to luscious dairy products, grass-fed meats and indigenous herbs are grown in close proximity to the kitchens where they are prepared.


2. BYOB: The bring-your-own-bottle phenomenon has enabled celebrated, eminently talented chefs to open small storefront restaurants without one of Philly’s expensive liquor licenses—and made it possible to enjoy a high roller-quality meal without breaking the budget. Indeed, some of the greatest culinary creativity on display can be found therein at Will, Helm, Noord and others.


3. Delicious Diversity: Philadelphia has long been a melting pot of vibrant cultures and flavors. Today, the ever-changing population and a cosmopolitan audience of diners guarantee the success of mom-and-pop eateries hailing from every part of the globe. Neighborhoods from deep in South Philly to the easily-accessible 9th Street Italian Market, West Philadelphia’s University City to Center City’s Chinatown offer Indonesian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Ethiopian, Indian, Korean, Szechuan, Middle Eastern and Italian.


4. Restaurants Doing Good: West Philadelphia’s EAT Café offers a pay-what-you-can dinner four evenings a week, helping to tackle the issue of food insecurity. The coming-soon Rooster Soup Co. will turn a brisk business of soups, salads and sandwiches into financial support for Broad Street Ministry, which helps feed homeless and hungry people. At the Girard Bruncherie, gratuity is included in the prices of menu (breakfast, brunch and lunch) items, guaranteeing that restaurant staff earns a living wage.


5. The Best Bar Food: Eating at the bar is a great way to dine at some of Philadelphia’s most sought-after restaurants—without making a reservation months in advance. Volvér, R2L, Townsend, The Olde Bar, Lacroix (Bar 210), Fork, Zahav and others offer last-minute diners a more casual way to experience high-end food and service, without the wait.


6. Destination Dining: Dining options inside the city limits may well be limitless, but the Philadelphia region hosts some wonderful options for a food-centric outing with picturesque charm. Some of the top reasons to venture out include Junto (Glen Mills), Mainland Inn (Harleysville), Sovana Bistro (Kennett Square) and Birchrunville Store Cafe (Birchrunville).


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