Chuck Klein's Restaurant Picks
Editor’s Note: As a service to readers attending CTAM Summit (and, really, anyone else) below are excerpts from cable party maven Chuck Klein’s Top 11 Philly restaurant picks. Chuck rates eateries from 1 to 5 Ks, with 5Ks the top mark. His $ estimates are based on 1 dinner with cocktail & tip: $ = under $25; $$ = $26 to $35; $$$ = $36 to $45; $$$$ = $46 to $60; $$$$$ = more than $60. Philadelphia strictly regulates the sale and consumption of alcohol and, as a result, many restaurants are BYOB. Call ahead. Lolita-106 S. 13th St. (Center City) 215-546-7100 KKKKK $$: Lolita doesn’t take reservations, but you shouldn’t have qualms about waiting for a table. If you bring tequila, Lolita provides the mixin’s for classic margaritas or a seasonal selection, like mint-watermelon. Don’t miss the ceviche, guacamole with plantain chips and salsas, or the cheesecake made from fresh tangy goat’s cheese. The Smoked Joint: A Barbecue Experience-1420 Locust Street (Center City) 215 732 7500 KKK $$: Ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken are rubbed with a secret mix of spices, then wood-smoked for up to 18 hours. Homemade sides such as mac & cheese, celebration slaw, Virgil’s root beer baked beans and smoky collard greens complete the experience. Fork-306 Market St. (Old City) 215-625-9425 KKKK $$$: Fork has received national accolades for a vibrant seasonal menu of New American bistro wonders. Atmosphere (i.e., the bar scene) is a big draw. Recently opened Fork: Etc (next door) offers tastes of Fork to go, as well as sandwiches, soups, salads and freshly baked bread. Django-526 S. 4th St. (South Philly) 215-922-7151 KKKKK $$$: One of Philly’s most charming little BYOBs. You may fall in love with sweetbreads with crab, goat cheese gnocchi and veal with bacon apple chutney. But it’s the cheese plate finale that brings you to your knees. Jim’s Steaks-400 South St. (South Philly) 215-928-1911 KKK $: Jim’s Steaks, though less famous than the dueling Pat’s and Geno’s, is way better. House-cut top round, doused with provolone and fried onions on an Amoroso’s roll is the best Philly cheesesteak around. Buddakan-325 Chestnut St. (Old City) 215-574-9440 KKK $$$: Warning: Buddakan’s lobster fried rice can be addictive. Chow down on Pan-Asian winners like edamame ravioli, crispy calamari salad, supremely sticky tea-smoked spareribs, whole sizzling fish and angry lobster. Pasion!-211 S. 15th St. (Center City) 215-875-9895 KKKK $$$: James Beard Award winner Guillermo Pernod serves up brilliant Latino fare in this jewel box of a restaurant. Chef Pernod’s ceviches are transcendent, and the chuleta de puerco,(chorizo-stuffed pork chop) is a taste of piggy heaven. Desserts are gorgeous, service impeccable. Shank & Evelyn’s Luncheonette-932 South 10th St (South Philly) 215-629-1093 KKKK $: There’s no better place or lunch in the Italian Market. The chicken cutlet, roast beef and roast pork sandwiches are sublime. Every sandwich is served with a plate of long hot and grilled peppers, and the garlicky spinach, bitter broccoli rabe and aged provolone are so good they should not be passed up. Vietnam-221 N. 11th St. (Chinatown) 215-592-1163 KKKK $: This elegant two-story temple of fine Vietnamese fare is a perennial favorite amongst the Philly foodie set. Inexpensive, flavorful and authentic flavors can be found in the aromatic phos and delicate summer rolls. Striped Bass-1500 Walnut St. (Center City) 215-732-4444 KKKK $$$$: Many consider Striped Bass the best in town. The seasonal menu focuses on seafood and includes winners like grilled Hawaiian escobar with pecan maple grits, and crispy striped bass piprade with Spanish chorizo and red bliss potatoes in a Spanish saffron broth. Le Bec-Fin-1523 Walnut St. (Center City) 215-567-1000 KKKKK $$$$: Impeccable French service and wonderful French cuisine fashioned by the master himself, Georges Perrier. Enjoy main course delights like the pearl rice crusted grouper with sweet corn pancake or the Pennsylvania rack of lamb with eggplant caviar and zucchini-apple chutney. Desserts are required.