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African Fare Awakens Philadelphia's Palate
Authentic Dishes Around The City Allow Diners To Savor African Flavors
The growing popularity of culinary and travel shows have inspired Americans to explore the countries of their ancestral heritage and the cultural traditions of their neighbors. Philadelphia and The Countryside™ adds to this global sense of community with a number of pan-African restaurants, enabling epicureans to use their plate as a passport to dine across the Diaspora. Here’s a look:
- A local institution, Abyssinia is a hit with vegetarians and the meat-eaters in their lives. Authentic Eritrean/Ethiopian preparations of lentils, beans, chicken, beef and lamb dishes wonderfully mix and match with the bar’s assortment of beers. 229 S. 45th Street, (215) 387-2424, abyssiniarestaurantpa.com
- Families and groups of friends will particularly enjoy feasting from a communal dish of Eritrean and Ethiopian entrees at Dahlak. The breaking of injera, a large spongy pancake used to eat the stew-like dishes, and the shared use of one plate signifies loyalty and friendship. Diners are encouraged to follow tradition and eat with their fingers. 4708 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 726-6464, dahlakrestaurant.com
- Open all day, Ethio Café and Carry Out specializes in quick-service fare. The menu ranges from Middle Eastern fuul and hummus to Ethiopian standards such as shiro wot (chickpeas in spicy sauce) and dulet, a hearty, spicy stew of tripe, liver and beef. 225 S. 45th Street, (215) 222-2104, ethiocafeandrestaurant.com
- Just a short stroll from The Bridge movie theater near the University of Pennsylvania campus, Senegalese restaurant Fatou and Fama offers a fresh twist on the classic dinner-and-a-movie night. Vegetarians can indulge in a peanut butter and vegetable stew or curry, while patrons looking to challenge their palates can order chebujen, the Senegalese national dish. Visitors can also enjoy a glass of Mama Fama punch, with ginger and bissap, a tea brewed from hibiscus flowers. 4002 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-0700, fatouandfama.com
- A few blocks from scenic Clark Park, Gojjo (pronounced “go jo”) serves homey Ethiopian fare such as chicken tibs with rice, lamb stew and black lentils with onion and spices. A vibrant bar scene and the cheap eats attract many Penn and Drexel students. 4540 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 386-1444, gojjos.com
- An inviting atmosphere awaits patrons at Kaffa Crossing, an Ethiopian café and restaurant with luminous hardwood floors, local art on the walls and board games. Socially conscious diners appreciate Kaffa’s use of fair trade products. For breakfast, a popular choice is ful, a crushed fava bean dish served with bread. 4423 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-0504, kaffacrossing.com
- Tucked inside a shopping center along the Chestnut Street corridor, Kilimandjaro is an intimate West African eatery serving sauce feuille, a lamb entrée cooked with spinach or cassava leaves and mixed with palm oil. Plantains are also on the menu, as is tiakry, a Senegalese dessert similar to rice pudding, but made with African couscous and sour cream. 4317 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-1970
- French and African flavors mingle temptingly in the kitchen of the Baltimore Avenue eatery
Le Bercail. A meal of Senegalese fried fish and rice or chicken brochettes might be accompanied by cassava leaf or fried okra, and completed with crepes. 4519 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 292-5805, lebercail.biz
- With locations on 20th Street and in Norristown, Almaz Café inspires a loyal clientele with its excellent Ethiopian coffees and traditional dishes served over injera. Zilzil tibs (beef stew), tikil gomen (potato and cabbage stew) and the vegetarian combo plate are popular lunch items. 140 S. 20th Street, (215) 557-0108, almazcafe.com
- Located near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Era bar and restaurant serves Ethiopian/Eritrean fare like atkelt wot (green beans and cabbage simmered in spices), yesigo wot (beef chunks in red pepper sauce) and kitfo (Ethiopian steak tartare). Two vegetables accompany each entrée, making for a filling experience. 2743 Poplar Street, (215) 769-7008, theerabar.com
- Noted for its amazing seven-course feast, Marrakesh is an inconspicuous hideaway off of South Street—believed to be the first Moroccan restaurant on the East Coast. Staff assists diners in a hand-washing ritual prior to the meal, which includes assorted meats, flatbread and couscous accented with hints of coriander, cinnamon, raisins, olives, dates and other Mediterranean flavors. The lavish treatment continues until the tea ceremony finale. Two dinner seatings are available on the weekends. 517 S. Leithgow Street (between 4th and 5th Streets), (215) 925-5929, marrakesheastcoast.com
- Nigerian expats swear by the authentic eats at Wazobia, an off-the-beaten path restaurant and grocery in the Spring Garden section. Black-eyed pea fritters, puff puff (doughnuts), dried yam porridge and goat-pepper soup are among the house offerings. 616 N. 11th Street, (215) 769-3800
- While it’s best known for Middle Eastern fare, Al Zaytouna’s kitchen also happens to be one of the best local sources for Tunisian cuisine. In addition to merguez sandwiches slathered with spicy harissa, there’s a fragrant couscous served with red sauce and vegetables. 906 Christian Street, (215) 574-5040, al-zaytouna.com
- Moroccan cuisine makes an unexpected appearance on the menu of fast-casual Mediterranean eats at Passyunk Avenue’s Green Olives Café. The North African bounty includes eggplant salad, lamb couscous and rabbit tagine. 1941 E. Passyunk Avenue, (267) 639-3527, greenolivescafe.com
- A Jenkintown BYOB, Argana Tree’s colorful dining room beckons with Mediterranean and Moroccan dishes served all day. Weekend brunch delivers baghrir (Moroccan pancakes with honey); lunchtime brings chicken pastilla; and dinner might consist of lamb tagine with prunes and sesame and el fassi couscous. 620 Greenwood Avenue, Jenkintown, (215) 887-7400
- The belly dancers, hookah pipes and gift bazaar at Dresher’s Little Marakesh entertain but don’t distract from the excellent food. An a la carte menu covers kabobs, fresh salads and regional tagines, and the $29.95 Sultan Feast is a lavish, six-course affair anchored by festive b’stilla and baklava. 1825 S. Limekiln Pike, Dresher, (215) 643-3003, littlemarakesh.com
VISIT PHILADELPHIA™, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.
Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. Visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
- Donna Schorr, (215) 599-0782
Black-Owned Shops, Restaurants, Day Spas & More Boom In Philadelphia
Shops, restaurants, galleries and bars owned and operated by African-Americans are abundant in Philadelphia. Among Philly’s destination-worthy black-owned businesses: high-end lingerie boutique Coeur, nerdy-cool hangout Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, healthful juice and açai bowls bar Stripp’d Juice, top-shelf nightclub Reserve, and and West Philadelphia’s inimitable arts space, the Tiberino Museum.
Here’s a traveler-tailored list of some of the city’s standout black-owned businesses.
- Amazulu Collections – Charita Powell, owner. Seven days a week and for more than 25 years, this popular Reading Terminal Market stand has represented artists from all over the world and lived the motto, “where cultures meet.”
A Guide To Group Dining In Philadelphia
Dinner just tastes better when everyone’s together, and this is especially true in Philadelphia, where the concept of Brotherly Love extends across the table. For breaking bread with family, friends or both, a restaurant that’s both physically and conceptually designed to handle a big, hungry bunch is an invaluable find. Here’s a diverse selection of Philadelphia’s top group dining options, including casual spots to pop in with a party of 10 (and more upscale destinations where foodies book big tables in advance), bistros with prix-fixe menus and/or BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) policies that take the worry out of splitting the bill, to...
25 Things To Know About Philly's Food Scene
Philadelphia food is so much more than the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel, or even scrapple, or roast pork sandwiches. It’s also amazing vegan fare, quirky BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) restaurants, world-class craft local beer, emerging distillery scene, or chef-driven concepts and passion projects. Philly’s food scene is about neighborhoods that grow with their restaurants. And competing chefs who work together. It’s about sourcing ingredients from the region’s farms and giving casual dining its due. It’s about embracing delicious diversity.
Here is a primer of 25 lesser-known components of Philly’s lush and luscious food scene:
- Richly Rewarding Food Shed:
The BYOB Restaurant: A Philly Phenomenon
Despite decades of popularity and expansion, one quintessential Philadelphia dining phenomenon continues to fly deliciously under the radar. It’s the BYOB, the bring-your-own-bottle restaurant—BYO, for short. Typically independently owned and operated, Philly’s BYOBs number into the three hundreds. Diners find them on dozens of corners in Center City, along avenues of renewed urban neighborhoods and tucked down rural roads. It’s a curious trend with an interesting backstory—and an even more interesting present.
Here’s a short explanation of how the BYOB scene came to be—and advice on navigating the landscape.
What Is A BYOB?:
A BYOB restaurant allows patrons to
What's In the Chestnut Hill, Germantown & Mount Airy Neighborhoods?
Diverse and historic, Chestnut Hill, Germantown and Mount Airy are urban neighborhoods in northwest Philadelphia. Each enclave has a distinctive style, feel and highlights that represent the communities’ past and present. All are worth day trips, and fortunately, getting there is a cinch via SEPTA, Philadelphia’s public transportation system. Check bus and regional rail schedules at septa.org before heading off to explore these vibrant neighborhoods.
Chestnut Hill (via the Chestnut Hill East/West train lines or the #23 Bus):
With a higher elevation than the rest of the city, Chestnut Hill, a National Register Historic District, was once a vacation
Poke Makes A Splash In The Home Of The Soft Pretzel
The Hawaiian poké craze has hit Philly in a major way, and no wonder: Raw fish over rice with vegetables, sauce and assorted fun toppings makes for a healthy and satisfying meal. While Japanese sashimi and Italian crudo continue to be widely popular, restaurant goers are also enthusiastically embracing fresh seafood in many new (to the region) ways, whether it’s a traditional dish of Philippino kinilaw or a completely unorthodox Mexican-Japanese mashup tuna taco.
Here are just some of the delicious ways to experience uncooked fish in Philly:
- Bubble tea meets sushi at the aptly named Bubblefish. The
When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out
It’s a curious thing that a city so renowned for its cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches could also foster one of the nation’s most robust vegan food scenes. Upscale diners can find delight in the shared plates at Vedge or the coursed and the home-style elegance of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, while those seeking a quick bite can swing by Blackbird Pizza for fare that is more traditionally Philadelphian. Factor in some coffee shops, bars and even a diner, and vegan eaters will see—and taste—that the city’s offerings have something for every palate, day or night.
Here’s a look at some
Fall For Philly Restaurants
It’s official: Two of Philly’s recent openings—Wm. Mulherin’s Sons and South Philly Barbacoa—made Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants list, marking 2016 as a banner year for the local restaurant scene. There’s more yet to come this fall, with a thrilling lineup of globally inspired newcomers, including Philly’s first poke shop (Poke Bowl), a boldly imaginative taqueria (Mission), Filipino fine dining (Perla) and Latin American street food (La Mula Terca). Here are just a few highlights for the season’s must-try list:
Center City East:
- Taking up residence in a cozy
Philly Pizza Pleases Every Palate
Philadelphia’s gained some serious pizza cred in recent years. Not only is this city home to a pizza museum and restaurant (Pizza Brain), an artisan pizza truck (Pitruco) and, according to Bon Appétit, America’s very best pizza (Pizzeria Beddia), but it’s also a proving ground for the idea that this traditional food can be reinvented in infinite ways. Whether it’s a straightforward but studious Neapolitan round, a floppy tri-corner slice with cheese to spare or a newfangled pie laden with unexpected but carefully sourced ingredients, there is absolutely a pizza for every eater’s predilection. Here’s...