Eating Through the Northeast
The pleasures of these five cities are in what you can eat and drink, as well as what you can see.
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Philadelphia: No One Boos the Food
So we knew about the history, the Brotherly Love and the cheesesteaks, but I have to admit that we were pleasantly surprised at the very extensive dining scene we encountered on our first visit to America’s birthplace. In a city shaped largely by its mixture of ethnicities and culture, there is a restaurant at every turn and something for just about everyone. On our visit, we set out to discover as many of these eateries as possible and found that we couldn’t quite keep up (which gives us an excuse to plan second and third visits!).
For the first meal of the day, we had heard great things about local favorite Sam’s Morning Glory Diner. Just a head’s up: Get there early, and be prepared to wait in a line that starts on the patio and trickles out front onto the sidewalk before even getting a table. But, trust us, it’s worth the wait. Best known for creative pancake specials, hot biscuits, delicious frittatas and homemade ketchup, Sam’s is called a “finer diner” for good reason.
For an even fancier breakfast, the Sunday champagne brunch at Moshulu, located on one of the world’s tallest ships, can’t be missed. For $35, you get unlimited champagne and an amazing meal that includes a first-course buffet featuring bagels, fresh fruit, yogurt and house-made granola; your choice of entrée for the second course (coconut-crusted brioche French toast, smoked salmon Benedict and house-made Belgian waffles among them); and for the third course, access to the grand dessert buffet and chocolate fountain.
One of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurants we visited was The Continental Mid-Town, where, amid the ’60s retro decor, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch while seated in hanging pod chairs. It may be difficult to choose from the diverse menu, which includes the BBQ chicken quesadilla, lobster mac ’n cheese and spinach ravioli, but it’s all delicious. Save room for something from the yummy tapas-style dessert menu—childhood favorites like strawberry shortcake, peanut butter cookies served with grape ice cream and the popular cotton candy dessert have been modified to appeal to adult appetites.
Clearly, a visit to Philly would not be complete without an authentic cheesesteak for lunch. You can find one just about anywhere, but nothing compares to the “steaks” served up at Pat’s King of Steaks, which holds the honor of creating the very first one back in 1930. Hot dog vendor Pat Olivieri created the concoction on a whim, and soon was getting so many requests for the sandwich from people all over the city that he decided to open up a restaurant to sell his creation. Still family-owned and -operated, Pat’s is sizzling 24 hours a day, as is Geno’s, the rival shop across the street. The two have waged a friendly competition for 40 years to win the title of best cheesesteak in town; naturally, you’ll have to try both to decide for yourself.
Our most special experience was dinner at Fogo de Chão, an upscale churrascaria. There is only one rule at this Brazilian steakhouse: Come hungry—very hungry. A fixed price gets you unlimited servings of 15 cuts of fire-roasted meats, a salad buffet and Brazilian side dishes. To control your pace, you’re given a two-sided disk—the green side signals the chefs to bring out skewers of meats to carve tableside; the red side indicates you’ve had enough. The spectacular food, attentive waiters and elegant atmosphere make this experience unforgettable.
Finally, you’ve got to dine at one of the 12 stylish restaurants owned by Philly’s hottest restaurateur, Stephen Starr. We chose Alma de Cuba, a Nuevo Latino restaurant with low-lit dining rooms, a sleek bar and images of Havana lining the walls. The sumptuous menu features Cuban classics like lobster and crab coconut ceviche and duck Raspado; pair these exotic dishes with a mojito, and you might just forget you’re in the Northeast.