Archives: December 2013


Posted on: December 30, 2013

Philadelphia has always been a world class city. For many years it has thrived in the areas of arts and culture, historical significance and architecture. However, until recently, Philly has never been known as a culinary hotbed.  Sure, there were a few heavy hitters, but nothing like it’s current offerings. These days, it seems Philadelphia gives cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco a run for their money in edible excitement. We are a city of neighborhoods filled with BYOB’s, Iron Chefs and Ethnic Delicacies.

Manayunk and Roxborough, two neighborhoods Northwest of Center City, offer an urban experience with small town charm. These hilly enclaves offer a surprising amount of wonderful food options for such a small amount of geography! The bustling Main Street is the hub of entertainment and nightlife in the region and offers a bounty of edible delicacies. Off to Manayunk and Roxborough!


Hikaru: (Japanese) Hikaru is Philadelphia’s first sushi bar and is still widely regarded as having the best and most authentic Japanese cuisine in Philadelphia, since 1983!

Yanako: (Japanese) A multi-sensory Japanese restaurant and sushi bar featuring classic dishes, superior-quality ingredients and a soothing, vibrant interior.

Laxmi’s Indian Grill: (Indian) The only authentic Indian restaurant in Manayunk! A warm, relaxed atmosphere provides the backdrop to savory dishes that can only be produced with time, expertise and a multitude of spices.

Kildare’s: (Irish) Traditional Irish pub with great beer and excellent food.

Zesty’s: (Greek) Traditional Greek dishes with a quiet dining experience.

Han Dynasty: (Chinese) Han Dynasty offers some of the best Chinese food in the city of Philadelphia.

Chabaa Thai Bistro: (Thai) Chabaa Thai is a modern yet authentic BYOB, serving elegant yet authentic Thai cuisine that is equally exciting in taste, presentation and experience.

Cactus Cantina: (Mexican) Cactus Cantina is a fun, casual tex-mex bar & grill with good times and good friends. Our specialty is southwestern and Mexican influenced cuisine.

Ali Baba Palace: (Persian): A variety of Kabob served over rice.

Tacqueria Feliz: (Mexican): Tons of Mexican entrees and a great cocktail menu.

Il Tartufo: (Italian) Tuscan specialties and wine list.

Agiato Restaurant: (Italian) Great selection of Panini’s and Pasta dishes.

Bella Tratoria: (Italian) Besides offering tasty southern Italian cuisine, Bella Trattoria also has an extensive wine menu.

Maria’s Ristorante: (Italian) The staff at Maria’s prepare the family recipes as well as specials every night using only the freshest and finest ingredients. Maria herself makes all of the desserts available minus ice cream and sorbets at both locations. In addition to classic homemade Italian dishes Maria’s has a casual all day menu with burgers, wings, and specialty sandwiches. The Roxborough location also boasts a large bar area featuring 10 craft beers on draft and seasonal favorites such as homemade flavored vodkas and limoncello in addition to the beautifully appointed dining rooms.

Pierogie Kitchen: (Eastern European) Pierogies, Soups and Kielbasa.


Tomato Bistro: The Tomato Bistro’s menu has award winning pizza, the addition of small plates, a unique beer & wine list, and much more.

D’Alassandro’s Steaks: A contender for best cheesesteak in the city of Philadelphia. Try it and compare!

The Couch Tomato Cafe: Soups, sandwiches and pizzas.

Chubby’s: There will always be a great debate on where to find the best steak sandwich in Philadelphia. Chubby’s of Henry Avenue prepares steak sandwiches, burgers, hoagies, and sandwiches the way you like it. With cheese or without, homemade chili, party platters and more.

Santucci Brothers V: Home of the original square pizza.



Jake and Coopers: (Wine Bar) Their mission is to provide a level of service that is unmatched by most, a menu quality that does not compromise on any level, and offer a diverse list of wines and beers.

Lucky’s Last Chance: (American) Artistic Burgers,  Craft Beer  and Serious Hot Dogs.

Bourbon Blue: (American / Cajun) The charm and beauty of Bourbon Blue’s revamped mill building takes your breath away before you even taste the food, which has a hint and style of New Orleans.

Sapphire: (Eclectic and Al Fresco Dining) Saphhire Manayunk offers one of the largest outdoor dining experiences. Enjoy a great meal and a cocktail while people watching out front or enjoy truly private dining on the back deck.

Manayunk Brewing Company: (Eclectic American) Manayunk Brewery offers a broad selection of beverages including their own handcrafted beers and ales, as well as a diverse menu with everything from American cuisine to hand-rolled sushi.

Derek’s: (American) Derek’s is your anytime, come as you are neighborhood restaurant and bar.

Winnie’s LeBus: (Comfort Food) A visit to Winnie’s offers comfort food and great drinks in a welcoming setting.

Ugly Moose: (Bar Bites) Appetizers, Sandwiches, Salads and Entrees.

Sole to Soul: (Seafood/ Southern) Soul Food, Seafood and Karaoke.

Bob’s Diner:  (Diner) When arriving at Bob’s Diner, you may think the 1940’s silver dining car is what makes it unique or that for over 70 yrs, it has sat adjacent to a cemetery. However, when you experience the award winning, home cooked food and family friendly atmosphere, you will find what really makes them stand out from the rest.

Tommy Gunns: (BBQ) Well regarded BBQ joint. Dine in, take out and catering available.

There are also dozens of coffee shops, sandwich shops and other food options too numerous to list, and many new restaurants pop up almost daily. Bon Appétit!


Posted on: December 19, 2013

Philadelphia has always been a world class city. For many years it has thrived in the areas of arts and culture, historical significance and architecture. However, until recently, Philly has never been known as a culinary hotbed.  Sure, there were a few heavy hitters, but nothing like it’s current offerings. These days, it seems Philadelphia gives cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco a run for their money in edible excitement. We are a city of neighborhoods filled with BYOB’s, Iron Chefs and Ethnic Delicacies.

West of Center City lies University City, the hub of higher learning in our fair city. People from all over the world come to Philadelphia’s prestigious colleges, and with many of them come appetites for more than learning. Thankfully there are a plethora of delicacies available for any taste.  From the hip upscale gastropub to the hole in the wall falafel shop, University City has it all! So much, in fact, that there is no way to list every restaurant in the area. So, we’ve centered in on a bunch that will keep you busy for quite some time. Enjoy!


Abyssinia Restaurant and Bar: (African) The authentic Ethiopian cuisine served at unbelievably affordable prices (most entrees under $10)!

Pod: (Japanese) Philadelphia’s futuristic sushi establishment!

Aksum: (Mediterranean) A bright Mediterranean menu that focuses on simple and fresh ingredients, with accents from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Vientiane Cafe’: (Thai / Lao) A small family run business serving authentic Lao and Thai cuisine and vegetarian friendly menu.

Aloosh Hookah Bar: (Middle Eastern) Middle Eastern Cuisine, Hookahs and cocktails.

Koreana: (Korean) Quick, tasty, and affordable Korean food.

Arabian Breeze BBQ and Grill: (Indian) Indian food and Hookah bar near Drexel University.

Kabobeesh: (Indian, Middle Eastern) The oldest Pakistani restaurant in Philadelphia. Serving the students, families, and workers of University City for over 10 years.

Beijing Restaurant: (Chinese) For over 25 years, Beijing Restaurant has been making every dish from scratch. In additional to the traditional menu, they make Chengdu Sichuan cuisine with authentic imported spices.  For health conscious and gluten sensitive customers, they have a Gluten-free menu.

Greek Lady: (Greek) Solid Greek cuisine. Serving University City Since 1982.

Pattaya Grill: (Thai) Authentic Thai cuisine with a hint of French influence.

Dahlak: (African) Renowned Eri- Ethiopian Restaurant & Bar feeding the community by hand for over 25 years.

Cafe Renata: (Mediterranean) Cafe, restaurant, BYOB. Gourmet Mediterranean cuisine, fresh squeezed juice, gourmet coffees and teas, homemade baked goods and cheeses.

Lemon Grass Thai: (Thai) A wide variety of authentic Thai specialties.

Pho Cafe Saigon: (Vietnamese) Vietnamese soup, appetizers and entrees.

Wah- Gi- Wah: (Pakistani) Wah-Gi-Wah means ‘spectacular’ and that is the taste experience aimed for. They specialize in bringing authentic Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi Cuisine to West Philadelphia.

Tandoor India: (Indian) Traditional Indian, Eat in, take out and buffet.

Han Dynasty: (Chinese) One of CNN’s Top Chinese Restaurants in the nation! Come taste what all the buzz is about. Dan Dan Noodles are amazing and spicy, so watch out!

Kami: (Korean) No list of University City cuisine would be complete without the mention of at least one food truck. Kami serves up traditional Korean food on Drexel’s campus. Try the Korean Taco!

Gigi and Big R: (Caribbean) Caribbean and Soul Food in West Philadelphia. Gets high marks for the Jerk Chicken.

Mad Mex: (Mexican) They spin an American food mashup of Mexican, Southeast Asian, and Spanish. Made fresh daily with great drinks.


City Tap House: With a focus on Craft Beers in the bar & creative American pub fare in the restaurant, City Tap House is one of the best bars for Craft beer in Philadelphia.

Drinker’s West: Pub grub, DJs and beer.

Smokey Joe’s Tavern: Smokey Joe’s is “the Pennstitution.” It is the Premier Penn Bar, serving Penn’s residents for more than 60 years


Allegro Pizza: Brick oven pizza. Serving University City since 1982.
Claims to have the largest beer selection in University City.

Enjay’s Pizza: Lots of specialty pies and sandwiches.

Axis Pizza: Pizza and famous for their 80 ingredient salad bar.

California Pizza: Pizza, pasta, and meats are prepared fresh daily.

Pizza Rustica: Nice selection of pizzas. The margherita is a clear favorite with reviewers.


Hip City Veg: (Vegan) Awesome vegan quick serve hot spot!

Abner’s: (Cheesesteaks) According to many reviewers, gives the time square of grease (pats and geno’s) a run for their money.

Baby Blues: (BBQ) Tons of BBQ, sandwiches, seafood and sides. Combination selections are plentiful.

Distrito: (Mexican Upscale) Distrito is a vibrant celebration of the culture and cuisine of Mexico City, with a menu focused on the diverse street foods served in what is known by locals as the “Distrito Federal (D.F.)”

Green Line Cafe:  (Cafe’) The first Green Line Cafe opened in 2003 at a the corner of a major intersection in West Philadelphia’s vibrant University City neighborhood.  Co-owners and brothers-in-law Daniel Thut and Douglas Witmer transformed a neglected historic storefront property into a bustling community hub. Since then they have transformed two more West Philadelphia storefront properties into neighborhood coffeehouses. In 2011 they opened a coffee kiosk inside the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at The University of Pennsylvania, and in 2012 established a coffeehouse in Center City. As a local, family-owned business they strive to be a positive presence in the community where they live and work. The Green Line name comes from the trolley systems that fan out through the West Philadelphia neighborhood.

Harvest: (Organic / Farm to Table) A high quality, farm fresh menu created with the healthiest ingredients local farmers and purveyors have to offer. For discerning families who have become increasingly educated in food and very health conscious. An upscale-casual, welcoming atmosphere to relax with friends and feed the family.

Landmark Americana: (American) American finger foods and a late night happy hour.

White Dog Cafe:  (American Contemporary) Award-winning American contemporary restaurant, specializing in environmental sustainability and community interaction. A legendary University City establishment.

There are also dozens of coffee shops, sandwich shops and other food options too numerous to list, and many new restaurants pop up almost daily. Bon Appétit!


Posted on: December 9, 2013

Philadelphia has always been a world class city. For many years it has thrived in the areas of arts and culture, historical significance and architecture. However, until recently, Philly has never been known as a culinary hotbed.  Sure, there were a few heavy hitters, but nothing like it’s current offerings. These days, it seems Philadelphia gives cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco a run for their money in edible excitement. We are a city of neighborhoods filled with BYOB’s, Iron Chefs and Ethnic Delicacies.

The South Philly enclave known as East Passyunk runs from Snyder Ave. to the south to Tasker Street to the North, The area was classically an old Italian family neighborhood through most of the 20th century, but now those families are joined by young urban professionals, artists, musicians and people from multiple ethnicities who bring along with them a host of exciting new restaurants and nightlife. Below we will highlight some of the great eats the neighborhood has to offer!


Cantina Los Caballitos(Mexican) The kitchen produces a fine repertoire of Mexican fare. Great Cocktail and Beer Selection. Vegetarian and Vegan options are plentiful.

Laurel: (French) Nicholas Elmi’s French-inspired BYOB. Chef Elmi, who taps extensive French training to serve up his refined-yet-approachable style of fare, has been the executive chef of such top kitchens as the now-shuttered Le Bec-Fin and the charming Rittenhouse Tavern in Philadelphia. Reality television-loving diners might also recognize Elmi from his appearance as one of 19 “cheftestants” on the 11th season Top Chef, hosted in the great city of New Orleans. Since the show’s September debut, Elmi has more than held his own against his accomplished opponents, all the while staying true to his French-American culinary roots.

Karina’s: (Spanish) The cozy Karina’s Ristorante has joined the seemingly exploding ranks of South Philadelphia BYOBs. Chef-owner is Pedro Beltano, a veteran of Il Portico, Portofino, Frederick’s, and, most recently, Bistro La Viola. Beltano, a native of Ecuador, lived with an Italian family when he arrived here, so his menu mixes homey Italian specialties (pastas are homemade) with paella and other Spanish dishes that his ancestors brought with them to South America. (

Chiarella’s: (Italian) Most agree Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurant Impossible visit “improved things” at this BYO in East Passyunk, though loyalists insist the “well-cooked” Italian grub “was never the problem”; the setting is “family-friendly”, and in nice weather you can “snag an outdoor seat.” (Zagat)

Da Vinci Ristorante: (Italian) For an “old-style experience”, aficionados head to this BYO near the Singing Fountain on the East Passyunk strip that’s “as Italian as it gets”, with a staff that seems to be “right off the boat” and “freshly made” piatti that are a “terrific value”; a few find the pictures of Leonardo throughout the dining area “kinda cheesy”, but for others they’re a “nice conversation piece.” (Zagat)

El Zarape: (Mexican) Authentic Mexican Fare.

Izumi: (Japanese) “Beautiful presentations of mouthwatering sushi” are a “feast for the eyes and palate” at this “edgy” Japanese BYO from the owner of the nearby Paradiso on East Passyunk; adherents also sing the praises of cooked entrees and “comfortable” indoor and outdoor seating, dubbing it a “date-friendly choice.” (Zagat)

Le Virtu: (Italian) Every dish they prepare is rooted in or inspired by Abruzzese culinary tradition, ingredients or philosophy. They serve the cuisine of the shepherds, farmers and fishermen of Italy’s wildest and most unspoiled region. It’s bold, honest and unpretentious.

Mamma Maria Ristorante: (Italian) “Like Sunday dinner at your Italian grandma’s house”, you’d better “come hungry” to this “legit”, “old-world” Italian on East Passyunk where the $55, seven-course prix fixe will “leave you stuffed” (relax, à la carte is an option); “what more could you ask for – oh, a tray of free drinks at the end? you got it!” (Zagat)

Marra’s: (Italian) The Marra family has been in business for over 80 years. It all began when Salvatore and Chiarina Marra came to America from Naples, Italy, in 1920. Salvatore came with nothing in his pocket but a single coin and a dream to provide a better life to his family. Over 3 generations later, that dream is still alive and that small business he had started is now one the oldest and most famous restaurants in the country. Marra’s is still owned and operated by Salvatore’s grandchildren who not only continue to cook up the original family recipes, but personally greet you with a warm welcome as you walk through the door. When you come to Marra’s, you not only eat some of the finest Italian food and award winning Pizza in the city, but you will be part of the Marra’s legacy. Marra’s has been visited by hundreds of celebrities through out the years, including Frank Sinatra, John Travolta, and Conan O’Brien, who come just to eat the food and visit the “Original Brick Oven” that was designed and built by Salvatore himself with bricks from Mt. Vesuvius. That’s a taste people travel miles to experience, and one you will never forget!

Mr. Martino’s: (Italian) “Delicious homemade everything” explains the menu at this “old-world” husband-and-wife-run BYO housed in a former South Philly hardware store, where it’s “like going to your Italian neighbor’s for dinner” in the “tin-ceilinged” room brimming with “charm” and “contagious” “good cheer”; if it’s “underappreciated”, that’s probably because it’s open only Fridays–Sundays for dinner, and it’s cash-only. (Zagat)

Noord: (Scandinavian) After a decade and two restaurants in Chicago, native Philadelphian Joncarl Lachman makes his homecoming count with an intimate Dutch-influenced bistro off East Passyunk’s Singing Fountain that captures the best of our BYO scene. Lachman’s “eetcafe” eschews trendy “new Nordic” cuisine for a more rustic take on Northern European cooking, from house-baked barley bread to rabbit smothered in zuurkool, and the soulful flavors trump any lack of flash in a simple corner room that exudes clean elegance and personal service.- Craig LaBan

Ristorante Tre Scalini: (Italian) This longtime South Philly favorite has moved a few blocks south to a nicer space on reviving East Passyunk, but chef-owner Franca DiRenzo’s deft and unpretentious cooking hasn’t changed a bit. Eating the homespun flavors at this pleasant Italian BYO is about the closest we get to being fed by an authentic nonna Molisana.

Adobe Café: (Mexican) The array of homemade Southwestern cuisine incorporates the freshest produce, meats, and seafood and is cooked in soy and olive oils. This coupled with extensive vegetarian / vegan fare makes The Adobe Cafe an ideal dining locale for a wide variety of tastes.


Stateside: The menu focuses on locally-sourced products and showcases ingredients and techniques common to the United States. Made up of mostly small plates but with a few large plates for sharing as well as a rotation of dessert offerings. The bar showcase’s a unique mix of strictly domestic craft beers, wines and spirits. With an emphasis on Bourbon and Rye and small-batch American distilleries producing amazing gins, vodkas and rums. 10 craft beer taps and rotating artisanal cans, ranging in styles of strictly American to some domestic takes on classic European styles. Wines are offered both by the glass and bottle, and features regions and varietals from throughout the country, with an emphasis on classic, iconic producers. Cocktails are an emphasis at the bar as well, with several house made specialty cocktails offered and also the old-time classics that Americans have been sipping for years.

Noir: Noir Restaurant & Bar, located at 1909 East Passyunk Avenue, is an alluring 50-seat dining destination along Philadelphia’s new restaurant row. Purveying artisan wines, craft-beers, creative cocktails, and extraordinary fresh Montreal influenced Italian cuisine produced by Chef Marco DeCotiis. Noir purveys seasonally inspired appetizers, entrees, and desserts for dinner only Tuesdays through Sundays. Noir’s friendly and knowledgeable staff are intent on making every guest experience both satisfying and delicious.

Devil’s Den: Devil’s Den opened April 1st of 2008 focused on bringing the best of Craft and Import Beer and high quality pub fare to their South Philly Neighborhood.  With 17 Rotating Drafts, 200 bottles and home made comfort food, they strive every day to be the kind of neighborhood place that everyone can enjoy visiting.

South Philly Bar and Grill: Sports bar and grill.

Garage: The bar focuses on beer by the can and offers a liberal BYO cheesesteak policy. There is also skeeball, pinball and billiards inside. Coming soon will be a rotating menu provided by food truck operators.

Lucky 13: The staff serves New American cuisine alongside local draught beers at this tiny, punk rock-themed bar, featuring a jam-packed jukebox, a DJ night and weekend brunch. Nachos, stuffed meatloaf, creative sandwiches and even vegan and vegetarian fare pack the menu.

Stogie Joe’s: Casual Restaurant and Bar with award winning pizza, stromboli and meatball sandwiches. Stogie’s has draft beer and a big bottle collection of your favorite craft beers.

Watkins Drinkery: Watkins Drinkery is a cozy neighborhood bar located at 10th and Watkins Sts. in scenic South Philly. Open from 5pm-2am 7 days a week, they serve a diverse menu at reasonable prices (Kitchen is open till 1am every night) with a beer selection to match. Check out their cask conditioned ales on the beer engine! Upstairs, you will find a game room with pool, darts, and some classic arcade games.


Francoluigi’s: South Philly’s Best Pizza and Sandwiches Since 1982.

Birra: Birra’s mission is to provide delicious, hand-made cuisine complimented by some of the best craft beers in the world to Philadelphia’s discerning diners.


Fond(Contemporary American) A contemporary American restaurant. Focusing on passionately prepared, refined and flavorful fare with warm and welcoming service.

Will: (French Inspired BYOB) Will is a modern French inspired BYOB, located on East Passyunk Avenue in the heart of South Philadelphia. Chef and Owner Christopher Kearse, and his team, prepare a menu focused on its season, respecting French traditions along with classic and modern techniques to build a dining experience that evokes excitement and emotion.

Belle Cakery: (Pastries) Specialty and custom cakes, either from their menu or designed specially for you. Everything is made on-site, from raw, natural ingredients, by hand. They understand the importance of quality ingredients and proper technique, and refuse to compromise quality by cutting corners.

There are also dozens of coffee shops, sandwich shops and other food options too numerous to list, and many new restaurants pop up almost daily. Bon Appétit!

What is LOOP?

Posted on: December 4, 2013

Were you one of many Philadelphians that received a recorded message from Mayor Nutter over the past week notifying you about a new program called LOOP? If so, you may be in for some good news regarding your property taxes!

Many people’s property tax assessments went through the roof under the city’s new property tax valuation system known as AVI. For some residents, specifically:

1) Those who have been in their homes for over 10 years.

2) Those whose property taxes will more than triple due to AVI.

the city is offering relief in the form of LOOP (Longtime Owner Occupants Program). To be eligible for this program you must fill out a form and be under a certain household income (illustrated on the second page of the form).

If you qualify, your tax bills will be calculated on a tripled assessment, abating anything beyond that for 10 years. For more information, and to fill out a form, please visit LOOP.

The Deadline for applying is January 15th.

Tips on Winterizing Your Home

Posted on: December 2, 2013

It’s officially cold outside and you know what that means? It’s time to start thinking about winterizing your home!  Below are some tips on winterization optimization:

1) CLEAN YOUR GUTTERS – Remove debris and leaves before they become compost popsicles, thus clogging up your downspouts and causing further complications!

2) SEAL YOUR LEAKS – Search for them with a lit incense stick, a quick, easy and fragrant way to find those leaks. After you find them, plug them with caulk or sealer. Fill the areas around doors and windows with weather stripping. You’ll save big bucks on your utility bills.

3) DOORS AND WINDOWS – Door and window technology keeps making colossal leaps in recent years.  If it has been a while, replace any archaic windows with something weather tight. For a budget-friendly fix, use plastic window insulation or make a draft snake. Dodge the draft in a crafty way!

4) INSULATION – If you are in the midst of a home improvement project or are repairing a wall or ceiling, take the opportunity to add more insulation. Over-insulating is always better than under-insulating. Here is a thorough article about where you should insulate. Pack it in and your utility bills will surely take a nosedive.  While you’re at it, go ahead and wrap those pipes. A burst water pipe can be a weekend washout!

5) FILTERS, FANS AND BATTERIES – Take a walk around your house. First, go to the basement and replace your furnace filter; it’ll ensure your furnace is running at peak efficiency, and turn down your water heater to 120 degrees. Your costs may drop as much as 10 percent! Next, set all of your ceiling fans to reverse and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and thermostats.

6) CHIMNEYS AND DUCTS- If you have a fireplace, make sure you remain the envy of your friends and maintain it!  Always inspect your chimney before you use it and keep the damper closed when it’s not in use. If you have ducts, they are the lungs of your house, make sure they too are dust and debris free by vacuuming them every couple years. YOUR lungs will thank you. Seal your ducts and conserve up to $140 annually!  If you have radiators, you can prepare them for the winter as well.

7) EXTRA TIPS- If you have a mid-century “classic” thermostat, it’s time to get with the program – programmable thermostat that is!  A programmable thermostat will adjust the temperature of your house during daylight hours while you are at work and warm the house up for your arrival.

Further, you can lower the overall temperature of your house by simply dressing accordingly. Thus saving big bucks over the chilly months.

Last, but not least: Trim nearby trees to prevent ice buildup and falling branches. Your roof (and your car) will thank you!