Oct 19, 2016
ASD’s blog is your go-to source for everything you need to know about the upcoming convention and all that Philadelphia has to offer. Visit our blog to read our 2016 NFDA GUIDE Blog Series. Each part of our series will focus on a different aspect of the convention or the city.
ASD is located approximately 25 miles from Philadelphia in the town of Media, a quaint and suburban neighborhood known as “Everybody’s Hometown.” We have always felt very fortunate to have the best of both worlds by being situated so close to a major city filled with history and culture without having to separate from our small-town roots. The close proximity to the city has provided us with a great deal of knowledge about Philadelphia including where to find hidden gems and which tourist traps should be avoided. We are excited to share this insider knowledge with you to help you plan a fun and memorable week in Philly.
In Part One, we explained why the month of October is the best time for funeral directors to visit Philadelphia. In Part Two, we outlined the topics and speakers we are most looking forward to hearing at the 2016 NFDA Convention. Part Three focused on the best events, attractions and sights of NFDA 2016 to help you plan your perfect convention itinerary. And in the final part of our NFDA Convention Guide, we explain where to find the best eats and tastiest treats in Philadelphia so you can get your grub on during convention week.
Part Four: 16 Distinctly Philadelphian Restaurants and Food Spots To Sample During NFDA 2016
One of the best perks of attending the NFDA every year is that it gives you a chance to sample the best cuisine of different cities. We love discovering great places to chow down at NFDA Conventions throughout the country. From the delicious barbeque spots in Austin, to the savory southern home-style cooking of Nashville, to the unforgettable steak houses in Indianapolis, NFDA Convention cities always offers their own distinct and delectable fare. With this year’s convention right in our backyard, we wanted to share where you can find the best restaurants and eateries in Philadelphia to satisfy every craving and budget.
Read our list below to find out where to find the best cheesesteak in the city, what historic, colonial tavern serves up dishes like turkey pot pie and roast duckling, and how to decide what to eat in culinary mecca that is Reading Terminal Market.
1. Best Cheesesteak: Jim’s Steaks
Our list begins with Philadelphia’s most famous sandwich, The Cheesesteak. Here’s a little secret as to why other cities can’t compete with Philly’s cheesesteak: it’s all about the rolls. Philadelphia is home to the Amoroso’s hearth-baked bread rolls and is only place in the country where they are baked fresh. The Amoroso steak roll, with it’s light, crisp crunch on the outside and soft yet firm inside, is the only way to enjoy a true Philadelphia cheesesteak and is the reason why steak shops in the city have them delivered fresh every day. Amoroso rolls are very hard to find outside of the Philadelphia area, although a few clever restaurants in other states now have them shipped over.
Many tourist guides will tell you to head to Pat’s or Gino’s Steaks in South Philly for the best cheesesteaks. However, these steak shops have become more famous for their rivalry than their actual sandwiches. Locals know that the best place to get the ultimate Philadelphia cheesesteak is on South Street at Jim’s Steaks (400 South Street) where hungry masses often line up around the block to grab a perfectly seasoned and perfectly portioned steak sandwich. If you see a big crowd when you visit, don’t be discouraged. The cooks know how to make the line move fast. You can help speed things up and sound like a local by telling the cooks how many you want, the type of cheese and if you want it “wit” or “witout” fried onions. So, if you want one cheesesteak with fried onions and cheese whiz, just say “one wit whiz.”
2. Best Breakfast: The Dutch
From 8a until 3pm Tuesday through Thursday, you can enjoy an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast at The Dutch (1527 S. 4th Street), located in South Philly. We recommend you try the sweet or savory “Dutch Baby.” These cast-iron pancakes arrive on your plate all puffed up with deliciousness loaded inside. Other tasty menu items include the scallion waffle with cream chipped beef, steak & eggs benedicts, or the smoked salmon platter.
3. Best Steakhouse: Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
Imagine being presented with skewer after skewer of exquisitely seasoned meats that have been slow-cooked to perfection. At Chima Brazilian Steakhouse (1901 John F. Kennedy Blvd), you’ll take part in a unique shared meal experience, feasting on all you can eat of more than 15 rotisserie meats, including top sirloin, filet, lamb, pork, chicken, sausage and fish. A selection of soups, salad, other sides and desert are also included with your meal. Be sure to arrive with an empty stomach!
4. Best Lunchtime Spot: Reading Terminal Market
As you enter Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch Streets), the mouth-watering aromas from the dozens of different food merchants will instantly welcome you into this culinary heaven. As you walk through, ask yourself, what are you craving? Virtually every type of cuisine is available. From zesty ethnic dishes, to fresh seafood, to authentic Philadelphia hoagies, to homemade Pennsylvania Dutch delicacies—you’ll find it all at Reading Terminal Market. More than 80 merchant stands, mostly run by families, prepare their own signature specialties in America’s oldest Farmer’s Market. Below are a few of our favorites:
♦ DiNic’s Roast Pork – ASD Family-Member Owner, Kevin Czachor, is a big fan of this appetizing sandwich shop, which features hand-carved sandwiches and traditional Philly favorites. But don’t just take it from us: The famous “Roast Pork and Broccoli Rabe” sandwich was named the best sandwich in America by Travel Channel’s Adam Richman.
♦ Little Thai Market – A great place for delicious, gourmet Thai food and the best Salmon Curry dish you’ll ever try.
♦ Dutch Eating Place – The perfect breakfast or brunch spot for scrumptious bites like apple dumplings or blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup. Pennsylvania Amish are famous for their flaky pastries, so be sure to try one of these signature delicacies during your stop.
♦ Beiler’s Donuts: This haven of decadent sweet treats serves up 40 different varieties of donuts, including the beloved Maple Bacon.
5. Best People Watching Spot: Parc
One of the most popular spots in the city to dine alfresco, Parc (227 18th Street) is located adjacent to the beautiful, French-inspired Rittenhouse Square Park. The restaurant shares a similar style with the park, offering traditional French bistro fare, an impressive selection of fine wine, and a wonderful ambiance that makes you feel as though you’re having a meal at a charming eatery in Paris. Be sure to make your reservations in advance.
6. Best Mexican Restaurant: El Vez
If you’re hungry for something from south of the border, then salsa on over to El Vez (121 S 13th Street) where you’ll find flavorful, upscale Mexican dishes, six different guacamole blends and every kind of Margarita you can think of to quench your thirst (Blood orange and Grenada, to name just a few). In addition to the delectable food and cocktails, you’ll love the vibrant and colorful atmosphere of El Vez. There’s even a photo booth so you can capture the memory of your visit.
7. Best Dinner Atmosphere: City Tavern
Every restaurant has the potential to show patrons a good time, but there are very few restaurants that can actually transport you back in time. City Tavern (138 S 2nd Street) gives guests an opportunity to see what suppertime might have looked like for colonials living in Philadelphia during the 18th century. The staff dons colonial attire and serves up traditional recipes like turkey pot pie and braised rabbit. The tavern itself was first built in 1772 and although a fire destroyed much of the original building in 1834, a historically accurate replica was constructed in 1975 on the same property. There are very few restaurants that are also historical landmarks. City Tavern is truly one-of-a-kind and definitely worth visiting during your time in Philadelphia. Be sure to make your reservations in advance.
8. Best Seafood: Devon Seafood Grill
Satisfy your ocean cravings at Devon Seafood Grill (225 S 18th Street) near Rittenhouse Square Park where you’ll find a premium collection of fresh and delicious seafood. From lobster mac and cheese to coconut green curry mussels, you’ll find the perfect seafood dish for your palate at Devon’s. The restaurant is lauded in the city for serving up the freshest seafood in an upscale yet affordable setting.
9. Best Street Food: Philadelphia Soft Pretzels
If you’re looking for a quick bite, virtually every block surrounding the Pennsylvania Convention Center is filled with Philadelphia street food vendors serving up everything from hot dogs to falafel. But it was the Philadelphia Soft Pretzel that got it all started. Did you know Philadelphia consumes up to 12 times the national average in pretzels each year?
Here’s a brief history on how soft twisted pretzels became such a staple of Philly:
“While accounts vary, one source claims the first American pretzel was baked in 1861, about 75 miles west of Philadelphia in Lititz, Pennsylvania. As the story goes, sometime around 1850, bread baker Ambrose Roth obtained the recipe from a hobo as a thank-you for a hot meal and some hospitality. Roth then passed the recipe on to his apprentice, Julius Sturgis who subsequently established the country’s first commercial pretzel bakery. Because of the tight trading ties between Philadelphia and the areas in and around Pennsylvania Dutch Country, it was only natural that pretzels would trickle into the city’s cuisine. Once cart vendors picked up on the potential, pretzels became a run away favorite of Philadelphians who, by the way, prefer them soft, chewy, and often topped off with a simple yellow mustard.” (Excerpt from PhillyHistory.org)
A visit to Philly is just not complete without picking up a delightfully doughy, soft-twisted pretzel while you’re walking the streets. Or, you can see how these hearty treats are made and get a warm one fresh from the oven at Miller’s Twist in Reading Terminal Market.
10. Best View of the City: R2L
There’s no better place to see Philadelphia at sunset than R2L Restaurant (50 S. 16th Street, 37th floor). This sleek, contemporary style restaurant sits 500 feet above the city on the 37th floor of the Two Liberty Place (one of the cities most recognizable buildings). Large, unobstructed windows align every wall, allowing you to get a dazzling look at the city no matter where you are seated. The restaurant serves up sophisticated American entrees with dishes such as spice-crusted tuna loin and dry-aged guinea hen. If you have room for dessert, try their pumpkin spice French toast. Be sure to make your reservations in advance.
11. Best Burger Bar: Good Dog Bar
If you’re looking for a great burger and a great pub atmosphere, you’ll find both at Good Dog Bar (224 S 15th Street). This popular, canine-themed watering hole features the famous Good Dog Burger, a scrumptious ½ lb of ground sirloin filled with Roquefort cheese and smothered in caramelized onions on a brioche bun. For those who are just looking for a low-key afterhours spot to unwind, Good Dog offers great drink specials, pool tables, multiple television sets for watching games, and three full stories of space to spread out (unless there is a private party). If that’s not enough, you’ll love looking at some of the hilarious and adorable dog photos that adorn every wall of this beloved pub.
12. Best Asian Restaurant: Sampan
Sampan (124 S 13th Street) celebrates contemporary Asian fare with tasty, one-of-a-kind small plates that are expertly prepared. Try some Korean Fried Chicken with a side of duck fried rice or for a healthier option, the glazed Chilean sea bass with side of crispy brussel sprouts. Once you get over how good the food looks and tastes, you might notice the restaurant’s distinct and imaginative atmosphere. Three local Philadelphia artists worked together to create the stylish interior of Sampan, which includes a deliciously creative graffiti bar located in the back on a private, open-air patio.
13. Best dinner entertainment: Di Stefano’s Victor Café
Imagine savoring a sumptuous plate of pasta while being serenaded by talented opera singers. At Di Stefano’s Victor Café (1303 Dickinson Street), known as a “music lover’s rendezvous”, you can enjoy heaping plates of ravioli, risotto or linguini and clams while taking part in this time-honored Italian tradition. Known for it’s live operatic performances from singing waiters, Victor Café is both a restaurant and a theatre for those who appreciate a bit of culture with their cuisine.
14. Best Italian Restaurant: Panorama
From the moment you step into Panorama (14 N. Front Street), you’ll feel like you’ve entered a villa in Tuscany. With Northern Italian menu specialties, vintage chandeliers. gorgeous paintings depicting life in Italy, and one of the most impressive selections of wine in the city, Panorama delivers everything you want from an Italian restaurant, and more! The menu features classic Italian dishes like Beef Carpaccio and Fettuccini Carbonara as well as many other surprises like Lamb Shoulder Agrodolce and Swordfish.
15. Best Dessert Spot: Capogiro Gelato Artisans
Everyone from guidebook authors to Oprah has raved about the delectable assortment of gelato and sorbetto at Capogiro (Center City: 119 13th Street, Old City: 233 Chestnut Street). If you’ve never had real Italian gelato, imagine a dessert that is richer and creamer than ice cream but with half the fat and calories. With dozens of different varieties, from chocolate to Thai coconut milk, there is something for everyone at Capogiro’s.
16. Best Chef Tasting Restaurant: Volver
Have you ever looked at a dinner menu and thought, “I want everything on here! How do I choose?” At Volver (300 S. Broad Street), you don’t have to because you get a little bit of everything. Celebrity Chef, Jose Garces, has created an eight-course and 12-course tasting menu, allowing you to sample multiple dishes from the acclaimed culinary expert. More than a restaurant, Volver offers an unforgettable dining experience and features it’s own unique twist on American fare. With so many courses you’ll have an opportunity to chow down on many different types of protein and combinations of flavor. Be sure to make your reservations in advance.
Which restaurant or food item listed above are you most looking forward to trying? What are some other places you hope to visit during your time in Philadelphia? Please leave us a comment – we’d love to hear how you’re planning to satisfy your taste buds during the 2016 NFDA Convention.
PART ONE: 7 Reasons October is the Best Time For Funeral Directors to Visit Philadelphia
PART TWO: 9 NFDA Convention Sessions You Won’t Want to Miss
PART THREE: 10 Events, Attractions and Sights to Check Out At NFDA 2016
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com