Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs: Food and Drink
Who has the best Bloody Mary on the Main Line?
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Old-School Italian Hoagie Pagano’s It’s called a classic Italian for a reason. Almost too big to handle, this Delco staple comes on a crusty sesame-seed bun from Fontana Panetteria. It’s layered with high- quality, cured meats, sharp Provolone, roasted red peppers, leafy greens and a hearty smear of olive oil. 1216 Township Line Road, Drexel Hill, (610) 853-6410, www.paganosdeli.com.
Oyster Bar Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House Whether you want ’em “Noisy” (with Doc’s cocktail sauce and Blue Point Lager), on the half shell (with cocktail sauce and mignonette) or shooter style (in a shot glass with cocktail sauce and vodka), Doc’s has the remedy. 117 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 429-4046, www.docmagrogans.com.
Pho Kooma Modern Asian Simmered for hours, Kooma’s house-made broth is loaded with rice noodles, scallions and onions, and your choice of eye-of-round, meatballs, brisket or chicken. Experiment with a side plate of Asian basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapeños and lime wedges, plus hoisin, Sriracha and chili sauces. Veggie options are also available. 151 W. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 947-5410, www.koomaviet.com.
Pies Nomadic Pies So good you won’t want to share a slice, Nomadic’s pies are available at farmers’ markets, local festivals and its Chester County shop. Varieties range from classic fruit (blueberry, mixed berry, apple) to the more avant-garde Asian pear maple-ginger. 344 W. First. Ave., Parkesburg, (610) 857-7600, www.nomadicpies.com.
Pizza Vecchia Pizzeria Ingredients imported from Naples, Italy, wood-fired in an oven made of stone from Mount Vesuvius make for some amazing pizza. The Regina Margherita is a must, its generous helping of sauce topped with mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil leaves. 249 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-1355.
Pop-Up Dinners Wyebrook Farm Market & Café Wyebrook regularly hosts visiting chefs, who prepare adventurous one-night-only feasts crafted with farm-sourced ingredients. Check the website for menus and dates — and register promptly, as the dinners do sell out. 150 Wyebrook Road, Honey Brook, (610) 942-7481, www.wyebrookfarm.com.
Reason to Go Green Sweetgreen It’s easy being eco-conscious on the go with Sweetgreen’s Santorini salad (chopped romaine, citrus shrimp, feta, chickpeas, cucumber-basil yogurt dressing), frozen yogurt (topped with local honey and blueberries) and selection of cold-pressed juices. Even the packaging is plant-based and compostable. 68 Coulter Ave., Ardmore, (610) 642-9400, www.sweetgreen.com.
Restaurant Revamp Brittingham’s A floor-to-ceiling renovation has transformed this onetime neighborhood hangout into a stylish destination with three dining rooms, a rooftop bar and extensive outdoor seating. The kitchen has undergone an equally impressive transformation, with acclaimed former Georges’ chef Joe Frost now turning out upscale, inventive comfort food. 640 E. Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, (484) 344-5162, www.brittinghams.com.
Reuben Hymie’s Delicatessen You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-built reuben than the one at Hymie’s, where layers of corned beef are piled outrageously high and sandwiched, with the requisite melted swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing, between thick slices of rye bread. Boost the carb quotient by substituting latkes for the rye. 342 Montgomery Ave., Merion Station, (610) 668-3354, www.barsonsdeli.com.
Roman Holiday Fraschetta Also the co-owner of Center City’s Melograno, Gianluca Demontis creates stunningly simple Roman-style haute cuisine. Try the cured salumi platter, the tender octopus in garlicky sweet-pea stew, and the bucatini all’amatriciana in a zesty tomato sauce with house-cured Berkshire pork pancetta. 816 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-1007.
Service General Warren Inne From intimate, romantic dinners for two to large weddings, the friendly staff at the General Warren makes every experience as exceptional as the surroundings. Managers are cordial and attentive. The waiters and bar staff are helpful but unobtrusive. 9 Old Lancaster Road, Malvern, (610) 296-3637, www.generalwarren.com.
Sixtel Selection Exton Beverage Company Allagash. Wait ... Clown Shoes. Hold it ... Saucony Creek. Well, maybe Yards. The decisions aren’t easy with a lineup this expansive — and it changes every 30 minutes. These beer gurus deal in the popular 1/6 keg. Get on the mailing list, check the online menu, and call to reserve favorites. 310 Lincoln Highway, Exton, (610) 363-7020, www.extonbeverage.com.
Small-Batch Crusader Righteous Felon Jerky Cartel Seven renegade cooks are now leading their own cured-cuisine renaissance, combining boutique beef from Maryland’s Roseda Farm with serious do-it-yourself passion. This makeshift jerky brigade specializes in small batches crafted with all-natural seasonings. www.righteousfelon.com.
Smoking Champ Sugartown Smoked Specialties Since 1992, Sugartown’s proprietary blends of woods and spices have been bringing out the best in seafood, fowl and pork. Don’t skip the moist, flaky hot-smoked trout sourced from the pristine waters of Tasmania. 306-1Q Westtown Road, West Chester, (610) 429-4080, www.smokedfoods.com.
Special-Occasion Cakes Cakes & Candies by Maryellen Whether it’s for the wedding of the century or baby’s first birthday, this connoisseur of confections uses quality ingredients and passionate creativity to craft cakes that taste as great as they look. While you’re there, you might as well try the candies, cupcakes and cake pops, too. 1332 West Chester Pike, West Chester, (484) 266-0710, www.cakesandcandiesbymaryellen.com.
Spot to Take Your Pup Four Dogs Tavern Originally the stables for the Marshalton Inn, this casual eatery has a spacious outdoor patio perfect for human and canine patrons alike. The brasserie-style menu is heavy on shareable small plates like pommes frites, a Kennett Square mushroom flatbread and shrimp dumplings. The slow-cooked pork entrée is a favorite with regulars — of which there are plenty. 1300 W. Strasburg Road, West Chester, (610) 692-4367, www.marshaltoninn.com.
Staycation Brandywine Valley Wine Trail The BV Wine Trail is a rock-solid backyard getaway option for couples and oenophiles. Though all the wineries merit a visit, don’t miss Penns Woods, Black Walnut and Paradocx. Book a Sip & Stay Getaway package with a participating B&B. www.bvwinetrail.com.
Summer Ale McKenzie Brew House A round (or two) of Saison Vautour is the perfect quaff for a muggy July evening on McKenzie’s covered deck. The award-winning farmhouse-style ale has it all: grapefruit notes, bites of yeastiness, and a mouth quench that complements practically anything on the menu. 240 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 296-2222, www.mckenziebrewhouse.com.
Sushi Tasting Margaret Kuo’s From spicy tuna tartare to the brown-rice maki combination, more adventurous sushi enthusiasts have a champion in Margaret Kuo. We highly recommend the omakase dinner: 16 courses chosen by the sushi chef. 175 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-7200, www.margaretkuo.com.
Tacos El Limon Marinated to perfection, the meat is the star at El Limon, especially when simply dressed with cilantro and lime. Make it a trio with chicken, steak and chorizo. 103 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 567-0120.
Taste of Summer Without the Drive Quincy’s Original Lobster Rolls Go traditional with the Classic: Maine lobster meat with light mayo, lemon-butter drizzle and a dash of seasoning on a split-top bun. Or keep it close to home (sort of) with the Maine Liner, featuring Quincy’s secret- recipe lobster salad. It’s wicked either way. 414 W. Swedesford Road, Berwyn, (484) 328-3905, www.quincysoriginal.com.
Tea Pureblend Owner Kari Dandrea’s knack for mixing teas with natural ingredients explains the name — be it seasonal blends, old favorites or herbal remedies. 118 Brandywine Ave., Downingtown, (484) 639-1546, www.pureblendtea.com.
Tech-Savvy Dining Carmel Kitchen & Wine Bar Is it a glimpse of the future or a techie novelty? Once seated, you get an iPad menu for online ordering-—but feel free to ask a server for help. As for the modern Mediterreanean cuisine, it transcends gimmicks. 372 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (484) 580-6725, www.carmelcafe.com.
Thai Chabaa Thai Bistro Owner Moon Krapugthong carefully crafts minor culinary masterpieces with fresh, high-quality ingredients, right down to the garnishing. Expect unusual textures and delectable contemporary twists on classic Thai. 4371 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 483-1979, www.chabaathai.com.
Throwback Farm Store Why Not Farm All decked out in denim as they work the land and grass-feed their sturdy Texas Long Horns and Scottish Highlanders, Ray and Mary Nestorick look like living illustrations from the Farmers’ Almanac. Their store is stocked with prized beef, free-range chickens, eggs, goat’s-milk products, cheeses, local honey and organic peanut butter. Don’t forget to pay up at the honor box. 3108 Conestoga Road, Glenmoore, (610) 458-5408, www.whynotfarm.com.
Tomato Pie Corropolese Bakery & Deli Corropolese’s delicious rectangles charm with their hearty simplicity — sweet tomato sauce, a bready crust and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan. 2014 Old Arch Road, Suite 2, Norristown, (610) 275-6664, www.corropolesebakery.com.
Unique Artisan Product Long Cove Foods’ Vegan Scrapple Will Ternay takes a meat-free approach to a love-it-or-hate-it Pennsylvania tradition. Made with organic vegetables, traditional spices and a cornmeal base, his scrapple crisps just like the original. Available at select local stores and Artisan Exchange in West Chester. 208 Carter Drive, Suite 13B, West Chester, (267) 374-9922, www.longcovefoods.com.
Vegan/Vegetarian Oasis Juice Bar A former food scientist, Tiffany Watts has shifted her focus to fresh-pressed juices and seasonal smoothies. Current hits include an apple-lemon-kale mix and decadent cashew shakes. Protein powders and cocoa nibs provide a boost. 224 Sugartown Road, Wayne, (610) 254-9797, www.oasisjuicebar.net.
Waffles Waffatopia Waffatopia’s buttery, doughy delights are caramelized with Belgian pearl sugar. Flavors include cinnamon-vanilla, chocolate, maple-bacon, and seasonal options like orange-pomegranate. Available online and at select coffee shops and farmers’ markets. (484) 639-9327, www.waffatopia.com.
Whiskey Bar The Lucky Well Nothing goes better with good barbecue than whiskey. Food Network Star’s Chad Rosenthal stocks more than 50 top-shelf varieties at his much-hyped meat-centric joint. The Kentucky Tea, with Knob Creek and Earl Grey, is a dangerously delicious cocktail. 111 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, (215) 646-4242, www.theluckywell.com.
Wild-Game Dining Half Moon Restaurant & Saloon Venison, elk, boar and pheasant are among the lean meats this Kennett standby offers health-conscious carnivores. The diverse menu and daily specials include wild-game chili, a daily game burger and more. 108 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-7232, www.halfmoonrestaurant.com.
Wine Geek Spot Peppercorn This chic bistro’s ever-changing wine list spotlights hard-to-find bottles and enticing new releases. Educated staffers help patrons negotiate the 100-plus selection. First Friday dinners offer wine-and-food pairings. 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 964-2588, www.peppercornmainline.com.
Wings Appetites on Main At this friendly Exton taproom, the wings are prepared to perfection. Among the seven flavors, we recommend the spicy barbecue, washed down with a hoppy IPA. Get twice as many on Mondays, when the wings are half price. 286 Main St., Exton, (610) 594-2030, www.appetitesonmain.com.
Worth-the-Wait Newcomer Manatawny Still Works Fifteen months in the making, this new Pennsylvania distillery crafts a range of incredibly smooth small-batch spirits, including white and aged whiskeys, wheat-based vodka, gin, and rum. Its production is backed by brewer-turned-distiller Max Pfeffer, who takes a refreshing approach to an age-old craft. Be sure to hit the tasting room. 320 Circle of Progress Drive, Suite 104, Pottstown, (484) 624-8271. www.manatawnystillworks.com.