Written by Jack Ries
Hello again! In our last issue, I discussed food, specifically, my love of sandwiches. We took a brief dive into the history of the shifter sandwich, and then I dutifully went around to many area eateries to sample their offerings of our local, historical, specialty.
Well, prepare for more mealtime musings from yours truly. This time however, we won’t be focusing on one dish in particular. Instead, I’d like to expand into as many types of cuisine as possible, so we will be going around the borough in seven days, hitting seven different restaurants, and ordering seven different dishes. These are dishes that are both delicious and affordable, and with good drink pairings. I tried to include mostly specials, but some of the foods listed below are just regular menu items at a good price. That having been said, we’ve got some eating to do. Buckle your seatbelts (and loosen your waistbands); here we go!
Sunday – Marco’s Restaurant & Pizzeria – Various Items, $8.90 (Sun.-Thurs. 4-8 pm)
Let’s start the week off at a place that gives you a few choices. At Marco’s you get your choice of lasagna, four piece fried chicken, spaghetti with tomato sauce, or roasted turkey. Each dinner comes with a salad, as well as bread and butter. My personal favorite is the lasagna (you’re eating at an Italian restaurant, after all). Pair that with a fine beer or wine from the recently-expanded bar in the restaurant, and that’s Sunday dinner, done.
Monday – Pig Iron Brewing Co. – Cheesesteak, $6.00 (weekly special)
Whenever I go to Philly, my biggest cheesesteak decision is “wit wiz or widdout”, but at Pig Iron, there’s a few more choices. The regular cheesesteak, which can be ordered with either beef or chicken, is on special here, and it’s a good size, with plenty of meat, and is served up in a fresh roll. Philadelphia’s Yards Brewing Co. is also featured on Mondays, with $3 pints of Brawler on tap. If that’s not your style, choose one of the in-house made beers, or a brew from one of the many other PA breweries that are carried here, and do your Philly night right.
Tuesday – Shank’s Tavern – Pho Night, assorted pricing (weekly special) This wouldn’t be a very good tour of local gastro-glory if we didn’t cross a few culinary borders, so on Tuesday night, we’re entering the world of Southeast Asian cuisine at Shank’s Tavern. Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup with tofu, meatballs, and bean sprouts, and Shank’s does it right. At $7.50 for a big bowl of this delicious treat, it’s also the right price. Spring rolls are $1.75 each, and come with a spicy peanut sauce that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Tuesday night is also Tito’s Vodka night, so you can enjoy a discount on your favorite top-shelf vodka cocktails.
Wednesday – Stanley’s Trailside Café – Surf & Turf, $12.99 (weekly special)
This surf & turf is an 8 oz. New York Strip, 6 fried shrimp, and fries. There’s nothing like a good steak to chase away the midweek blues, and all the steaks here are hand-cut and hand-seasoned before being cooked to order. I’ve never gotten a bad steak at Stanley’s, and I doubt I ever will. The breaded and fried shrimp are pretty tasty, too. Bottom line: you won’t find a better surf & turf bang for your buck anywhere else around here. Pair that with a pint of any good old-fashioned American beer that’s always on tap, and you’ve got your Wednesday night taken care of.
Thursday – McCleary’s Public House – Fish & Chips, $9.99 (weekly special, after 4:00 pm)
Our second international stop for the week takes us across the pond to Ireland, because McCleary’s was recently voted Top 5 in the US for fish & chips. Since real British Dover Sole is a little hard to come by in these parts, McCleary’s uses Basa Fish, which is milder than most other whitefish. An excellent choice if you ask me; perfect for every palate. And it’s not just a little fish stick, either. We’re talking about a whole fillet, beer battered, fried golden brown, and served with fries and a dill pickle. If you’re looking for the authentic experience, then you should accompany your meal with a pint of Boddington’s Pub Ale or Old Speckled Hen, both available on nitro.
Friday – Perry Street Cellar – Assorted Specials (happy hour)
It’s Friday! Time for happy hour, and Perry Street Cellar at the Railroad House Inn is one of my favorite places in the borough for that. There’s a full bar and a great selection of beers in bottles and on draft. You can also get some very good food, especially during happy hour, which is Wednesday through Friday from 4:00-6:00 p.m., and features $2 off all draft beers, cocktails, and wine, as well as a special happy hour small plates menu. My personal favorite is the truffle fries with parmesan and chives, for just $3. Basically, “The Cellar” is a great place to be on a Friday evening after a long week at work. You might even see me down there.
Saturday – Nick’s Bistro – Poutine, $9.50 (everyday price)
Tuesday took us to the far east at Shank’s. Well tonight, we’re heading north. Not just north to Market Street, but all the way to the great white north: Canada. Nick’s poutine is a shining example of a classic Canuck favorite. Shoestring fries, brown gravy, smoked ham, onion straws, and enough cheese curds to feed a small army of drunken Wisconsinites. It’s on the menu as an appetizer, but it’s still a good amount of food. If you don’t have a big appetite it’s a bit of a belly buster, but at under ten bucks it certainly isn’t a wallet buster. Plus, you can really get into the Canadian spirit by washing it down with an ice-cold Labatt.
So, there you have it. Seven days, 7 restaurants, 4 international cuisines, more than a few beers, a full belly, and a very happy amateur food writer. Of course, these aren’t the only daily deals and weekly specials that these establishments offer; this is just a tiny sample. Your tastes may differ from mine, so don’t take this to be a definitive list of what I think you should be eating. Every palate is different, so feel free to blaze your own trail through each menu. Until next time, sit back, relax, and eat local!