Now for the important political issues

The Democratic national convention starts tomorrow, in Philadelphia. The important question is…where to eat? And I will just tell you that all those recommendations about where to get genuine Philly food should be simply ignored, and the Pat’s vs. Geno’s competition is irrelevant. Fuhgeddaboutit. It’s really easy.

Find a food truck. They’re everywhere. Not only is the food good (for a greasy value of “good”, but you do want a taste of Philly, right?), but you’re supporting hard-working entrepreneurial Americans of the lower and middle class. And you can get it while you’re exploring the historic parks or the art museum or the science museums or the fountains downtown.

You probably don’t want to eat a cheesesteak before visiting the Mütter Museum, though. Just a word of advice.


  1. says

    One problem with the food truck suggestion is that the weather is going to be insufferable. You might want to eat indoors for the AC. Also, too, Philthadelphia doesn’t just have cheese steak stands — it has many excellent neighborhood restaurants and also world class establishments if you want to spend some dough. They also have entrepreneurial owners and hard working employees, who could use your business.

  2. kevinv says

    One thing f the best meals I ever had was in Philadelphia. Get a party of 4-6 go to Amada for the 1/2 a suckling pig dinner. You need to schedule it a week or two in advance so call first.

    I’ve had the meal twice now and it just doesn’t get better.

  3. stwriley says

    I’ll second cervantes on this: Philly is a serious foodie city. There are some fantastic restaurants spread out through the neighborhoods of every kind, from the brilliant farm-to-table cuisine at Talula’s Garden to incomparable dumplings at Dim Sum Garden to the best Italian in the city at Modo Mio, you can eat for weeks in Philly without ever repeating yourself and always having a wonderful meal. Not that the food trucks aren’t fantastic too (check out those that tend to cluster around Penn), but there’s so much more.

    Then, of course, there is the great cheesesteak debate. PZ is right to dismiss the old “Pat’s vs. Geno’s” question as irrelevant, and so are the recommendations in the article. The highest rated cheesesteaks in town are, year after year, made by two rival, hole-in-the-wall steak joints on opposite sides of Henry Ave. in the Roxborough neighborhood: Chubby’s and Dalessandro’s. I’ve always been a Chubby’s fan, but they’re both worth the trip out from Center City. I was very pleased this morning when CBS Sunday Morning had Moe Rocca touring the city with former Mayor Ed Rendell and Ed took him to Dalessandro’s to get a cheesesteak. Trust those of us who’ve lived in Philly for many years: Ed knows where the good eats are.

  4. wzrd1 says

    As a born Philadelphian, there is one hell of a lot of things to see in the city and excellent food is easily found on nearly every corner.
    Some areas of the city, I cannot recommend more. Other areas, I can only recommend staying clear of, due to poverty and violence. Ask a local if you’re in the city, you’ll get a plenitude of excellent suggestions, both on where to avoid and where to go for your favorite activity.

    And remember, my employer is holding a contest. First prize is a week in Philadelphia.
    Second prize is two weeks in Philadelphia.
    Thank you, W.C. Fields. ;)

    Oh, if you want a laugh, go check out “Society Hill” to see million dollar homes that make shoe boxes look large.
    Boathouse row is also an interesting area, where you’ll see the college boat teams practicing.
    I also recommend the Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences museums, as well as the Art Museum (I never did get around to visiting that one, much to the loss of domestic accord in my household).
    Independence Mall has a plenitude of knowledge, both well known and extremely obscure about our nation’s formation. I did that one in depth in 1976, during the bicentennial mania and heartily recommend it.
    The city also hosts the largest park in the nation, as every city park, some many miles in size, are part of the Fairmount Park system. William Penn designed the city so that each neighborhood had its own park, plus a larger park that spans the city.
    To be totally honest, a month couldn’t quite give one enough time to cover all attractions, the city has nearly as much as all Smithsonian facilities combined.

    Oh, for those wanting to enjoy some Middle Eastern food, I recommend Saad’s in University City. The shawarma is to die for.
    Of course, the number of excellent eateries is beyond counting in the city of brotherly love.

    I’d honestly miss the place if I loved cities. As I far prefer the countryside, with its superior air quality and lower volume, aw hell, I still miss the place.
    Just beware of the Italian section, lest you be invited into a home and depart twice the person that you arrived – in body mass. Where others may offer a drink, they’re quite like Lebanese and open the fridge and whatever is in the pot on the stove. :)

  5. mattandrews says

    If you’re still itching to get a cheesesteak, there can be only one: Jim’s at 4th and South.

  6. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    When I was in Philadelphia for some company sponsored training a few years ago, the hotel/tourist magazine had ratings of cheesesteak places. They used clogged arteries instead of stars for the ratings, which I thought was most appropriate.

  7. mattandrews says

    There’s a museum on Chestnut between 3rd and 4th that a lot of lifelong locals don’t know about: the underground Ben Franklin museum:

    It was originally built for the bicentennial underneath where Franklin’s house once stood. The courtyard itself is framed by a giant steel sculpture of the outline of what Franklin’s house looked like.

    For decades, it was kind of a kitschy place to visit as it was basically ignored by the NPS. Visiting was like walking into a time machine and being deposited in March 1977.

    It was recently updated and is open to the public again. The museum was originally free, but now there is a charge to get in. I unfortunately have not been in since it’s re-opening, but I would always recommend the place despite it’s outdated-ness. Mainly because of the earnest and heartfelt love it has for it’s founder. Hopefully that still comes through.

    What I would avoid, at least for this crowd, is the National Liberty Museum, which is right next door:

    It tries to showcase how freedom has been fought for in America and the world, but there was a lot of “Our freedom comes from the Bible/religion” exhibits that were, at least to me, kind of eye-rolling.

    Skip that and go to the National Constitution Center instead: It’s a really well-thought out museum that celebrates the Constitution while not shying away about how Americans haven’t been the best about honoring it.

  8. doctorb says

    He’s right about Habbersett’s scrapple.

    Accept no pork part loaf substitutes.

  9. says

    #8–The thing my kids loved best about the underground Ben Franklin museum is that they’ve exposed his cesspit, & walled it off with plexiglas. You can see Ben Franklin’s poo!

  10. ffakr says

    I was in Philly a few years back and, because me and the wife make it a point to eat sea food when on the coasts.. we went to Fish. It was excellent. One of the better dinners I’ve ever had. Food was great. Service was great.
    I tried raw oysters there for the first time. I didn’t like them but I was impressed by how knowledgeable the server was and how helpful to a newb.
    Highly recommended.

  11. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    I’ve always been a street food junkie. Though I don’t overindulge, I do partake wherever I might be in the world.

    The best hotdogs I’ve ever had were from a street vendor by Mass General Hospital in Boston, I’m from MA. They made their own hotdogs and toppings. An amazing local zing to their sauerkraut, warm and delicious. Their chili cheese dogs, though that sounds simple, I’ve never been able to reproduce. Sadly he passed away.

    Due to my job I travel the world, my coworkers in various countries know my penchant for street food and always line up a choice or two for me to check out. I prefer street vendors to any eating establishment anywhere.

    Let me plug this guys youtube channel. I have no connection to him whatsoever. I just like to occasionally watch one of these. The best part, in my opinion, is that he lets the food do the talking. He proffers street food from many places around the world. Though they’re all great, I especially like his “London Street Food” series. There is just something hearty and wholesome about staple Brit cuisine.

  12. dianne says

    I recommend finding an Ethiopian restaurant. Try west Philly for best results.

  13. catbutler says

    Skip the cheesesteak and get a roast pork sandwich instead. A true local delicacy.
    But the really important thing — the coffee. In addition to being a foodie destination Philly has some truly world class coffee these days.
    Check out Reanimator in Fishtown. Rival Brothers has exceptional nitro coffee on draft. And I don’t want to forget Grindcore House (for the vegans).
    Also, Ultimo, only a mile or so from the convention.
    After Ultimo you can stroll over to Passyunk Ave and eat at one of the many fabulous restaurants there (everything from jellied eel to dim sum to nordic food to poutine can be had.

  14. catbutler says

    And if you simply must have a cheesesteak hit John’ Roast Port on Snyder. Sharp Provolone instead of industrial cheese whiz.

  15. LicoriceAllsort says

    Seconded (or thirded) for hole-in-the-wall steak places. Many of them serve stromboli, which are also delicious. Really, though, it’s hard to go wrong in Philly if you avoid the touristy places.