El Vez: Inventive Mexican Cuisine

El Vez serves inventive Mexican fare to appreciative Philadelphia diners. It features a vibrant, trendy setting, lively music and an eclectic menu of tasty food and drink. Begin your meal with one of their signature cocktails like a Blood Orange Frozen Margarita or the Zapata with vodka, strawberry puree, basil, cranberry juice & a sugared rim.

Six styles of Guacamole are offered on the appetizer menu, along with a nice salsa selection, Macho Nachos, Shrimp Quesadillas, and Tortilla Soup. Crispy Mahi-Mahi Tacos with chipotle pepper remoulade, Black Bean Enchiladas with smoked yellow tomato sauce, and Char-Grilled Beef Tacos are among the entrée options. Sides include Sweet Plantains Con Queso, Polenta Fries, and Grilled Corn on the Cob with lime chipotle.

El Vez is open daily on 13th Street in Center City Philadelphia.

El Vez
121 S. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 928-9800

Public Domain/Public Domain

Alma de Cuba: Cuban Fare in Philadelphia

Alma de Cuba serves up tasty Cuban fare in a modern, upscale setting near Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square. Go there to relax with one of their signature libations, like a Mojito with rum, mint & sugar, or a Caipirinha with rum, sugar and lime juice. Wine and beer are also served.

Alma de Cuba's appetizers include Lamb Neck Casabe with yucca flatbread, Rainbow Ceviche with tuna, salmon & bass, Octopus Escalivada with grilled Spanish octopus, olives & capers, and Royal Palm Dates wrapped in bacon & bleu cheese. Vaca Frita – fried cow – is a favorite among the entrees. Lechon Asado – crispy roasted pork, Peruvian Barbeque Chicken, and Rum Cured Duck Breast are also on the menu. Be sure to try the Chocolate Cigar – almond cake wrapped in chocolate mousse – for dessert.

Alma de Cuba
1623 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 988-1799

Village Whiskey: Artisan Cocktails

Evoking the ambiance of a prohibition-era speakeasy, Philadelphia's Village Whiskey is a go-to gathering spot to ease the cares of the day. Settle in with a glass of one of their more than 80 whiskeys from the world over, or a carefully crafted artisan cocktail made by one of their skilled bartenders. A tasty selection of craft beers is also on hand.

Village Whiskey also serves a popular menu of food. Bar snacks include Herb Roasted Oysters, House Made Cheese Puffs, Jumbo Lump Crab Cocktail, Deviled Eggs and Tater Tots. Settle in at the bar or grab a table, if you can find one in this cozy, popular spot, and order yourself one of their burgers. Options include the Whiskey King with maple & bourbon-glazed cipollini, bleu cheese, applewood smoked bacon & foie gras, and the Veggie Burger with a lentil & black bean patty, guacamole & pickled red cabbage.

Village Whiskey
118 S. 20th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 665-1088

Public Domain/Public Domain

Pod: Space Age Fusion Dining in University City

A space age interior with colored lighting and futuristic seating ‘pods’ is what greets you when you enter Pod, making it a fun spot to meet up with friends. The menu features a flavorful array of sushi and other Asian delights. Cocktails include a Zen and Tonic with green tea liqueur, gin, tonic water & cucumber, and a Wasabi Bloody Mary with vodka, wasabi & veggie juice.

Pod's sushi is fresh and artfully presented and includes the Dragon with with eel, avocado and unagi sauce, and the Rainbow with tuna, salmon, yellowtail & shrimp sashimi. The entrée menu features Whole Roasted Branzino with wasabi chimichurri, Wasabi Crusted Filet Mignon with black truffle soy sauce, and Kung Pao Chicken & Shrimp.

Pod is open daily in Philadelphia's University City neighborhood.

3636 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 387-1803

Public Domain/Public Domain

Mood Cafe: Enjoy Chaat in Cedar Park

Mood Cafe specializes in yummy Indian fare, including Lassi – cold fruit and yogurt drinks, fresh juices, ice cream, milkshakes and shaved ice. It’s a friendly little spot, with nice prices and some tasty things to eat and drink. This Cedar Park restaurant also serves Chaat, which is a type of spicy, flavorful Indian street food.

Lassi drinks are creamy and delicious and feature flavors like Strawberry, Grape, Rose, Mango, Sandelwood, Almond, and Raspberry. Yummy ice cream flavors include Chocolate, Mango, Chikku, Pistachio and Tutti Frutti.

If you'd like a bite of something more substantial, order up one of their Chaat dishes. Options include Bhel Puri – with puffed rice, onions, potatoes, raw mango & chutney, Kashmiri Chaat – spicy split green lentils, noodles, potato sticks, cashew nuts & melon seeds, and Shahi Chaat – spicy cashew nuts, green lentil flour, melon seeds, spinach, almonds, pistachio, & bean seeds.

Mood Cafe
4618 Baltimore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143
(215) 222-1037

Public Domain/Public Domain

White Dog Café: Local and Organic Cuisine

Founded in 1983, White Dog Cafe continues the tradition by committing itself to using ingredients garnered from Philadelphia-area organic, sustainable producers. The result is fresh food that repeat diners seem to adore.

White Dog's dinner menu features small plates like Nature’s Well Beef Carpaccio with Dijon aioli, Chick Pea Fritters with pickled red onions, and Fried Chesapeake Oysters with egg yolk aioli. Handmade pasta dishes include Rigatoni with spicy lamb bolognaise, and Linguini with Kennett Square mushroom pesto. Pocono Rainbow Trout, Lancaster Petite Duck Breast, Maine Dayboat Scallops and Steak Frites are also on the menu.

Try to save a spot for a yummy dessert like Crème Brulee, Caramel Apple Tart or Cinnamon Streusel Cake. Beer, wine and cocktails are also on offer here.

White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Public Domain/Public Domain

Giorgio on Pine

Giorgio on Pine is a rustic trattoria featuring a savory menu of authentic Italian fare. Settle in with a glass of wine – it’s BYOB, but they’re happy to uncork and serve it to you. Fire up your appetite with an antipasti like Mussels & Clams with cognac & herbs, Grilled Caesar Salad, Carpaccio Salad with thinly shaved beef, and Sauteed Calamari with baby shrimp. Move on to a pasta course with something sumptuous like Linguini & Clams, Spaghetti with Baby Shrimp, or Ravioli with fresh basil cream sauce. Other entrees include Veal with Lemon, Loin of Pork, Chicken with Spinach, Grilled Salmon, Grilled Ribeye Steak, and Stuffed Chicken Breast. Pizza is also on the menu. Lunch specials feature three courses for $20.

Giorgio on Pine
1328 Pine St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 545-6265

Bistrot La Minette: French Fantasia

Chef Peter Woolsey loves the cuisine of France, taking frequent trips to the country to immerse himself in its rich culinary tradition. So it’s not surprising that he would want to share it with his fellow Philadelphians at Bistrot La Minette. This incredibly charming French restaurant has won raves from diners in recent years for its spectacular food and service. Get a reservation in advance, because the space isn’t large and it usually fills up fast. Once you’re seated, the menu is stunning from beginning to end, but here are some suggestions. The appetizer course boasts an incredible terrine of foie gras with figs, as well as great escargots in herbed butter. Entrees are diverse, but the Dijon mustard braised rabbit with house-made tagliatelle is spectacular, as is the Gascony-style braised lamb shank. If you’re having a hard time deciding, head in on Sunday for the prix fixe meal!

Bistrot La Minette
623 S Sixth St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 925-8000

Bibou: Fresh French Fare

This charming little bistro has won a sizable fan following among Philadelphians for its incredible food and spectacular service. Bibou isn’t large and tables are at a premium, so make sure to make a reservation. You won’t get seated without one. Once you’ve arrived, pretty much everything on the menu is worth your attention. The offerings change seasonally, but some of the best include the exceptional bergamot-infused foie gras crème brulee, which is a house specialty, as well as the astounding pork rillettes with pickled sunchokes. If the bone marrow is on offer, you absolutely need to order it. For entrees, the duck confit is a French specialty executed to perfection, and while the braised pig’s foot may sound gross, it’s filled with foie gras and French lentils and it's delectable. Bibou is BYOB and cash only, and people bring some truly spectacular wines to pair with this food.

1009 S. 8th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 965-8290

Garces Trading Company: New American Cuisine from Jose Garces

Chef Jose Garces designed this eat-in/take-out place to be a casual gathering spot for locals who want fine food in an unfussy atmosphere. Weekend brunch offers you chance to dine on a main dish, side, brunch cocktail and coffee for $28. The menu includes Pastrami Hash, Steak & Eggs, Scotch Eggs and a variety of sandwiches and salads. Stop by for lunch for yummy fare like a Lyonnaise Salad with duck confit, a GTC Burger with tomato conserve, Pistachio Pesto Pizza with baby arugula, and Steak Frites with hanger steak and duck fat fries. Charcuterie and cheese plates are also available. Pasta dishes, plus entrees like Pan Roasted Scallops, Pan Roasted Duck Breast and Roasted Organic Half Chicken are on the dinner menu. Open every day.

Garces Trading Company
1111 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 574-1099

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