Hey everyone. I write for a website called "Philly2Philly.com" where I review some restaurants and the like. But I'm trying to find super out-of-the-way places with stuff that hasn't been covered to death.
Anyways, three places that I love:
1) Le Mendingue, SW Philly -- SW Philly is home to Philly's ridiculously large native African population. Most are originally from Liberia, but folks from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria are also well represented. There are a few African-food places down in SW that are worth investigating. The one I hit up is named "Le Mendinque." The folks who own this place are originally from Sierra Leone but the food is really representative of various West African cuisines. I had this fish dish w/ plantains and a stew made of cassava leaves w/ various meats.
My favorite part about the place -- the people were absolutely shocked that a nerdy white guy was in the restaurant. It's super authentic and really cool.
It's on 66th and Woodland. Be careful -- this neighborhood is one of the worst in the city. But there's plenty of parking right on Woodland which is a really busy and well-lit street.
2) Henry James Saloon, Roxborough --
Roxborough's a neighborhood in the NW corner of Philly. It borders Manayunk, which has a booming and well-known restaurant/bar scene on Main St. I live in this section of the city and I speak from vast experience -- Main Street has some cool places, but after 9 p.m. it becomes really hard to deal with because of the college crowd. So I try and find some dives up in Roxborough, which is a middle-class neighborhood with no hipster appeal whatsoever.
My favorite local dive bar is the Henry James Saloon. It's really tiny and tucked away at the corner of Jamestown and Henry Avenue, within sight of Delassandro's. It's your standard townie Philly bar -- dark, a little dingy and filled with guys talking about local high school basketball rivalries. The beer selection isn't much. They have a few HDTV's for sports fans, with a big preference towards the Phillies and baseball. In fact, anytime Chase Utley hits a home run, everyone at the bar gets a free round.
They have a shockingly big menu, however. And my favorite thing on it is the "HankJim" which is a sandwich with chicken fingers, peperoni, provolone cheese and spinach. It's a great foodie food for those of us who like our meals to come without rare aioli.
3) Las Andreas Grocery -- S. 9th Street (between Washington and Federal) in S. Philly
The stretch of S. 9th between Washington and Pat's/Geno's is really awesome. It's really dark/bleak and sketch looking at first glance. But it's become the home of Philly's blossoming Mexican community. Most of the Mexican immigrants here are originally from Puebla, which is Mexico's food capital. So these guys know what they're doing.
There are a bunch of really awesome taquieras down there. I don't know any names off the top of my head, but whenever I'm down there I just pick a random one and go in. I've had some awesome chorizo and tacos al pastor. The menus are almost completely in Spanish and the staff don't speak much English at all, so communicating can be a bit of a problem but it's well worth it.
My favorite spot, though, is Las Andreas Grocery. It's this tiny grocery store right across the street from Connie's Ric Rac (rock club that's gaining notoriety). There's nothing much inside except for Mexican soft drinks and cereals, with a few lucha libre masks as well.
But outside, they have a little stall where one can get elote -- a Puebla street food where freshly grilled corn is put on a stick like a corn dog, dipped in mayo, smothered in a Mexican cheese (don't know which kind they use) and topped with whatever seasoning they also have.
It's an awesome snack food. It also costs a mere $2. You can only get it after 5 p.m., though.
Any other places I should check out?