Saturday, August 20, 2011

Philly Phoodie's Mailbag: Center City Eateries

5 Best City Center Eateries You Never Heard Of

Because City Center is well known for housing some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, it can be a bit difficult to secure reservations to an acceptable dining experience (and walk-ins can expect long waits at most hotspots). So if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path but still in proximity to downtown activities, here are a few eateries you may want to visit (or revisit, if it’s been a while).

1. Morimoto. This modern Japanese restaurant is the brainchild of the former Iron Chef of the same name. After putting Malibu hotspot Nobu on the map with his incredible sushi creations, Masaharu Morimoto decided to strike out on his own; this Washington Square West establishment is the result. You’ll enjoy a unique atmosphere that offers ever-changing lighting colors and soft, curvingarchitectural features and furnishings to go with your delectable sushi, sashimi, and other Japanese cuisine (both traditional and modern). In short, it’s a total dining

2. Rick’s Steaks. It’s not impossible to avoid the Philly cheesesteak while in Philadelphia, but it is ill-advised. However, you’ll almost certainly want to steer clear of samples that are not authentic. Luckily, Rick’s offers incredible cheesesteak sandwiches in the heart of City Center, thanks to the “Prince of Steaks”, Rick Olivieri (a 3rd generation steak-maker). The trick behind Rick’s cheesesteak sandwich likes in the cooking; he grills whole pieces rather than chopping them up. Add that to a soft roll, some grilled onions, and of course, a hearty dollop of cheese whiz (hey, it’s traditional), and you’ve got one of the best sandwiches in town.

3. Zinc. Although you may not necessarily associate the city of Philadelphia with fine, French cuisine, you’d be a fool not to gravitate towards this authentic bistro that will have you feeling like you’ve stepped across the pond. The cozy décor is straight up old-world, with a mixture of brick and dark wood playing backdrop to chalkboard menus, Parisian renderings, and a wine list that is exclusively de la France. A sophisticated (yet laid back) dining experience awaits you at Olivier Desaintmartin’s Washington Square West digs, along with scallops that could be the best you’ve ever had and a Normandy duck that is to die for.

4. El Vez. Although Rebel City is far from America’s southern neighbors, that doesn’t mean they are short on Mexican cuisine. This attempt at south-of-the-border sustenance is helmed by Stephen Starr, the man credited as Philly’s most successful restaurateur, and it shows. The Mexican-American fusion menu has wide appeal, as do the slate of tasty margaritas and guacamole that’s made to order. And the atmosphere is unexpected (in a good way) with hip, loungy décor that will make you feel cooler than you are.

5. Le Bec Fin. Okay, in all honesty, this restaurant could hardly be described as unheard of. In fact, it is well known as one of the best eateries in the city. But it’s a dining experience you simply cannot skip when visiting the City of Brotherly Love. If you’re not blown away by 20-foot ceilings that sport crystal chandeliers, then perhaps the traditional French cuisine will grab your attention. With a staff sommelier to recommend drinks, incredible appetizers and entrees to fill you up, and a dessert menu that is spectacular (try the salted caramel ice cream), you can’t help but leave satisfied (if somewhat lighter in the wallet).

Sarah writes for Trucker to Trucker where food trucks are king! You can also find used box trucks and other used trucks for sale across the country.

1 comment:

Jonathon Zilber said...

this post is clearly writtem for tourists. I am only commenting because I saw the headline, and I expected something more. how is morimotom, el vez, or le bec fin off the beaten path? more like beaten to death!