Just returned from an enjoyable long weekend visit to Philadelphia with some great eats.
Arrived Thursday morning and after checking into our hotel visited Dandelion for a light lunch; we liked the Dandelion salad and the Smoked Turkey and Gouda sandwich - also the cask beer flight (esp. the milk stout). For dinner, we walked to El Ray for Mexican food -- great energy and imaginative dishes (I liked the short rib enchiladas).
The next day we took the advice of some native Philadelphians and avoided Pat's and Gino's, opting for the recommended Campos for cheesesteaks, instead. They were good, but I suspect that cheesesteaks are too ubiquitous to allow any one to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. Dinner was at Osteria (the only restaurant we made reservations for before coming to Phil), and we were not disappointed. We started off with an excellent grilled vegetable antipasto and the salumi plate. For our entrees we chose the spaghetti with olive oil poached calamari, taggiasca olives and parsley, and the corzetti with clams, farmer tomatoes, chili and scallion. Both dishes were a delicious combination of flavors and textures (and not, as others here have hinted at, too small). Of course we saved room for dessert - chocolate flan and the polenta budino. Great service, although they were out of one wine we ordered.
Saturday we ate breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market (Dutch Eating Place) which was OK. Lunch was just a bowl of soup at the Museum of Art, also OK. For dinner we got last minute reservations at Meme, and were glad we did -- short menu, but everything done well. Began with steak tartar, bone marrow, oysters and the local greens salad, followed by entrees of garganelli with pancetta and (if I remember correctly asparagus, strip steaks with a very fresh succotash, and perfectly-done ivory salmon. Too stuffed for dessert. Interestingly, when I called Meme's to see if we could get in, I asked if it was BYO or had a wine list -- the response was "either." We brought a couple bottles of Silver Oak cabernet which the wait staff opened without a corkage fee -- great for us, and more money to spend on food. We really loved the ambience and the cusine at this little restaurant.
The next morning, brunch at a.kitchen before catching our flight. I had the gruyere buns with poached eggs and country ham - a perfect end to our Philadelphia eating experience. Hopefully, we'll be back.