When I was told the theme for this week was food, I was ecstatic because it meant this was an excuse to write about my favorite thing ever. Growing up in a family of ‘foodies,’ every social interaction I had was centered around food: reunions, birthdays and even meetings. Soon, it became more than just a pastime, rather a hobby and passion. Even after living in the area for three years now, I have a constant bucket list of restaurants that keeps getting longer. From a French-North African bistro to a fun dim sum bar, Philadelphia is far more gastronomically diverse than most people think, featuring some unique fusion restaurants and outstanding cuisines with a twist. For this piece, I decided to go with five recommendations of the most fascinating concepts or unique menus I have come across so far.
Specializing in some incredible Spanish tapas, Amada is by far one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. Located right on Chestnut Street and just two blocks away from The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, Amada’s iconic open-kitchen is complemented by a seated bar overlooking the tapa preparation, along with a lounge area. During their happy hour, they serve $5 tapas ranging from a cheese platter with truffle honey to traditional Spanish croquetas and patatas bravas. Despite functioning as a tapa house, they have a few grill and seafood options with portions large enough for a full meal, and are more than happy to help select a great wine to go with your meal.
“Fogo De Chao”
This Brazilian steakhouse features various fire roasted meats that are carved tableside by the chefs. The full lunch experience is $36.95 for unlimited food, including trips to the salad bar. If you are a red meat person, Fogo De Chao is a haven that serves some incredible filet mignon cooked to perfection. The salad bar includes sides such as different cheeses, veggies, parfaits and even fruit. Fogo De Chao is situated right next to Dilworth Park in my favorite and also the most lively area in Philly with different restaurants and bars around such as Sampan, El Vez, Time, and more. Alternatively, Fogo De Chao has another branch in King of Prussia. Definitely work up an appetite before heading to Fogo De Chao and make the most of the all you can eat dining experience.
“Bing Bing Dim sum”
Located in the booming East Passyunk restaurant district, Bing Bing Dim Sum is a fun, Pan-Asian restaurant with a great happy hour that also features bar food for $5 per dish including bao buns, dumplings, and even salad. The dishes are best to share family style, and the menu indicates both vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Aside from their range of dumplings, they offer a few noodle and rice dishes. Both their food and drink menus are short but fun and creative.
Situated on South 9th Street, Restaurant Neuf puts a unique and interesting twist on their dishes by serving Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian flavors with a French twist. This North African restaurant serves a range of dishes, from delicately cooked seafood to a flavorful spicy braised goat leg, including a variety of delicious tagines and unique dishes such as a date-stuffed quail. Their Tunisian meatballs seem to be the most popular, and they have a brunch-only menu that is completely different from the regular dining menu. Restaurant Neuf is ideal if you are looking for a completely new and unique dining experience and an incredibly flavorful cuisine.
Belonging to the same owner as Restaurant Neuf, Noord is a BYOB Scandinavian-Dutch restaurant located in South Philly right in front of the singing fountain. The neighborhood tends to be relatively busy with different restaurants and boutiques in the area. The restaurant is incredibly cozy with dim lighting, and the dishes arrive incredibly fast. The menu features mainly red meat and seafood dishes yet is still incredibly vegetarian friendly. Noord is usually only open for dinner with the exception of a Sunday brunch. The flavors are more delicate than at its sister branch, but all of the dishes are exceptionally prepared.
It’s easy to go with the ‘safe’ option of an American gastro pub or your favorite Pan-Asian restaurant, but there are some incredibly creative and unique concepts all over the city that are definite musts. These five restaurants not only serve incredible food, but are also coupled with the best ambiances and locations. Venture out to the city this weekend for an outstanding culinary experience, and explore the different lounges and bars in the area too!