Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs 2017 Critics' Choice: Food & Drink
Lucky's Last Chance in Manayunk
The Texas-inspired brisket, slow-smoked pulled pork and fall-off-the-bone ribs make this spot worth the extra napkins. And the side-dish champ: Maggie’s Mac-N-Cheese. We also love that the restaurant gives back to organizations that support America’s heroes.
120 Village Drive, King of Prussia, (484) 637-2595, www.mission-bbq.com
The everyday menu tempts with antipasti, from loaded wood-roasted shrimp to Asiago cheese and charcuterie to Tuscan fries covered with eggplant, red pepper and onions. Daily appetizer specials might include arancini with roasted red peppers and fava-bean puree, whole wood-fired artichoke with smoked sea salt and lemon-caper aioli, or cherrywood-smoked duck breast.
1192 N. Middletown Road, Media, (610) 358-5104, www.laportarestaurant.com
Authentic Indian Cuisine
Diners seeking the adventurous flavors of traditional Indian dishes will get their fix at this colorful and modern BYOB. Start off with an expertly spiced chaat or dosa before moving on to the biryani, curries and tandoori specialties. Artful plating and a chef’s tasting menu elevate the experience.
889 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (610) 269-9600, www.banglesindiancuisine.com
Authentic Thai Cuisine
Congenial chef Moon Krapugthong nails her culinary passion in this Zen-like den. Eye-popping plates include crispy veggie spring rolls, a po-tek seafood pot for two, and a sweet and spicy gaeng dang with red curry. Punctuate your meal with house-made coconut ice cream.
4343 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 483-1931, www.chabaathai.com
Crispy, meaty and toothsome, Tired Hands Brewing Company’s bacon starter gets us every time. The meat is double-smoked and thickly cut before being glazed in Grade B maple syrup and served warm with a side of syrup for dipping.
16 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore, (610) 896-7621, www.tiredhands.com
Bar for Craft Cider and Beer
Already well known for its impressive craft-beer list, this neighborhood institution also stocks an impressive mix of hard ciders, both on tap and
in bottles and cans. Ciders change frequently, so be sure to check one of the many blackboards for what’s available.
121 E. King St., Malvern, (610) 578-9208, www.facebook.com/theflyingpigsaloon
Bar for Singles
Rub elbows—and raise a brewski—with others who share your excellent taste in craft beer at this popular suds hub. Whether you’re flying solo or out with your wingman, Victory offers ample seating when the conversation turns intimate.
420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, (610) 873-0881, www.victorybeer.com
Beer for a Cause
This easy-drinking, citrus-kissed IPA serves up some philanthropy, too. A portion of the proceeds from every Last Chance IPA directly benefits a number of small animal rescue organizations throughout Weyerbacher Brewing Company’s distribution area, offering shelter dogs, cats and other pets a second chance.
905 Line St., Easton, (610) 559-5561, www.weyerbacher.com
The Creamery in Kennett Square
Exactly what a pop-up beer garden should be, the Creamery is the place to hang in southern Chesco this summer. Enjoy kid-friendly game areas, adult-friendly taps, and a beer-hall atmosphere that blends repurposed architecture, rotating food trucks and great live music.
401 Birch St., Kennett Square, (484) 732-7040, www.kennettcreamery.com
This cozy breakfast-and-lunch spot offers fresh ingredients in a relaxing, setting. French-pressed coffee, lemon-blueberry pancakes, Southern chicken and waffles, loose-leaf teas, coffee chillouts, shakes, smoothies, and an espresso bar are among the highlights.
925 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 222-6176, www.theturningpoint.biz
Talk shop and enjoy seasonally inspired eats at a quiet, private table among the handsome dark wood and elegant farmhouse décor. Southern-flavored standouts include shrimp and grits, and fried green tomatoes with burrata and piquillo peppers.
423 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-7700, www.thegablesatchaddsford.com
With its small-town feel and deceptively large inventory, Westtown Meat Market specializes in freshly cut rib-eye steaks, signature-blend burgers, flavorful smoked kielbasa and other butcher-prepped items. Select deli meats and salads are housemade.
1030 Old Wilmington Pike, West Chester, (610) 696-5588, www.westtownmeatmarket.com
With more than 40 years of experience, the Master’s Baker has become Chester County’s premier creator of specialty cakes. Choose from a list of scrumptious classic flavors and seasonal favorites. The real magic is in the artistry, from ornate wedding option to cakes shaped like cars and musical instruments.
319 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 436-9888, www.themastersbaker.com
John Serock has a knack for pulling off one-of-a-kind events with precision and maximum attentiveness. Dramatic table presentations and artful hors d’oeuvres—frittata bites, scallops and bacon, and veal Milanese—make a striking statement, while the exceptional flavors speak for themselves.
835 Lincoln Ave., Suite A-2, West Chester, (610) 640-2836, www.serockcatering.com
Prosciutto, pepperoni, salami and coppa are just the beginning at the sprawling Main Line outpost of this South Philly culinary mecca. Items like Ibérico ham and dry-cured chorizo can be hard to get elsewhere, and the knowledgeable staff is always happy to point you in the right direction amid the slew of choices.
120 Coulter Ave., Ardmore, (484) 416-3311, www.dibruno.com
Cheese takes center stage at this beloved Italian grocer. Enticing samples allow shoppers to graze on select offerings to discover new favorites. European classics like Roquefort and Manchego El Trigal share case space with such domestic beauties as Cabot Clothbound and Humboldt Fog, and an ever-changing local creamery selection.
2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore, (610) 649-4046, www.carlinosmarket.com
The chicken parm at Sal’s is the quintessential example of this beloved Italian standby. Freshly breaded cutlets are ladled with homemade tomato sauce and covered in melted mozzarella, with a sprinkle of Parmesan. Served with spaghetti and red sauce, the chicken is crisp, juicy and flavorful.
152 Eagleview Blvd., Exton, (610) 363-4900, www.salsofexton.com
Kurant has mastered its ultra-dry, unfiltered ciders. From the honey-kissed Bees to the Belgian-inspired Lunar, the cidery impresses with each new offering. Keep an eye out for creative seasonal releases, and all ciders are gluten free. Explore the flavors at Free Will Brewing Co.’s Perkasie taproom. Kurant’s own taproom is coming to Fishtown in August.
410 E. Walnut St., Perkasie, (267) 354-0813, www.kurantcider.com
Coffeehouse for Getting Work Done
This comfortable space is a low-key favorite of those working remotely. The dedicated independent roastery/café features handcrafted coffees, teas and lattes, plus sandwiches, croissants and muffins. Grab a seasonal direct-trade specialty coffee, and settle in with a view of the whimsical
36 Berkley Road, Devon, (484) 857-9406, www.pourrichardscoffee.com
La Colombe’s Pure Black is a bracing blend of beans steeped in stainless-steel wine tanks for unparalleled flavor, then brewed overnight, pressed and double-filtered. Though it packs the power of two cups, Pure Black is clean and smooth.
915 W. Lancaster Ave., Suite 160, Bryn Mawr, (215) 398-3090, www.lacolombe.com
As Iron Hill continues to expand, it has found more creative ways to strengthen its local ties. The popular brewery regularly hosts events for an array community organizations. It also brews exclusive beers—like Last Alarm IPA—in conjunction with local fire companies, donating $1 per pint sold
to a charity of choice.
Multiple locations, www.ironhillbrewery.com
You’ll be like a kid in a candy store at this new(ish) Pennsylvania Dutch food emporium stationed in
a former Acme. Home-made creations include chocolate-covered pretzels, caramel apples and fudge. Or opt for old-timey favorites like Cow Tales and root-beer barrels.
1165 Wilmington Pike, West Chester, (610) 492-5700, www.westchesteramishmarket.com
Created by the Station Taproom team, the Bottle Room features 16 rotating taps for in-house consumption and growler and crowler fills, plus rows of cans and bottles. And the staff knows its suds.
209 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (484) 593-2972, www.bottleroomdtown.com
This stalwart’s Asian-inspired menu is always changing with the seasons—and so, too, are the cocktails. Shaken and stirred concoctions its the toasted-coconut sage mojito, the cardamom-and-clementine martini, and the blackberry Thai-basil smash push the mixology envelope. Fresh fruit and fragrant herbs enhance flavors.
1091 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 725-9000, www.tastenectar.com
Cotoletta in Belmont Hills
Creative Cutlet Dishes
Chef/owner Beth Amadio specializes in thin, pounded-to-perfection chicken and veal. Breaded and pan-fried Milanese and Parmesan cutlets, along with the sautéed Marsala and Piccata varieties, top the list at this intimate, candlelit spot. The house-made desserts are also worth a try.
201 Jefferson St., Belmont Hills, (610) 660-5224, www.cotoletta.net
Delectable Thai dishes share the menu with solid Japanese fare and a classic, creative collection of rolls. Forgo tradition and try the Crunch Tofu Roll (with avocado and roasted peanuts) or the Shangri La Roll (spicy tuna, mango, avocado and smoked salmon garnished with lemon and a special sauce).
475 E. Uwchlan Ave., Chester Springs, (484) 341-8362, www.murasakipa.com
The airy, buttery croissants baked fresh at this Wayne pâtisserie are a perfectly executed taste of France.
162 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 971-0300, www.auxpetits.com
Signature flavors include sweet potato with cream-cheese frosting and caramel rose buttercream; chocolate-chip pound cake with chocolate buttercream and chips; and marble pound cake with vanilla buttercream and chocolate curls. Proof that major indulgences can come in small packages.
15 Bridge Ave., Berwyn, (610) 644-1868, www.sweetjazmines.com
Curry and Cakes
Delicious spiced curries are the specialty here, as are housemade bakery treats like cream rolls and a heavenly pound cake. Try the creamy and mild malai kofta or the fiery chicken Chettinad. Ask if the goat curry is available.
260 N. Pottstown Pike, Exton, (610) 363-9500, www.indianhut.com
Dessert fans with food sensitivities rightly covet this popular bakery’s unique selection. Sweet Freedom’s three locations whip up yummy artisan treats that are gluten free and vegan. We love the Samoa cupcakes and the double-chocolate-chip-cookie sandwiches.
1039 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-7323, www.sweetfreedombakery.com
Dining Under the Stars
Every Wednesday night from May to September, diners replace cars along Media’s State Street. The “Stroll, Shop, Dine!” alfresco celebration has the wholehearted support of more than 25 participating restaurants, including borough favorites like Azie, Dos Gringos Mexican Kitchen, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Margaret Kuo’s and Spasso Italian Grill.
Among its award-winning spirits, Palmer’s signature Liberty Gin—a blend of herbaceous ingredients—juniper, coriander, cardamom—is the perfect base for a classic martini, a bitey gin and tonic, or a lime-tinged gimlet. And the distillery’s Manayunk Moonshine is fast becoming a corn whiskey of choice.
376 Shurs Lane, Building A, Manayunk, (215) 588-5108, www.palmerdistilling.com
Chances are, you’ll be tempted by several of the 10 varieties of steamed or pan-fried dumplings on the menu here. The pork and Chinese cabbage, shrimp, pork and chives, and chicken are all amazing. But the soup dumplings are the real showstoppers. We suggest the Shanghai Pork Soup Dumplings, filled with a well-seasoned pork meatball and flavorful broth.
13 E. State St., Media, (610) 566-6688, www.tomsdimsum.com
Fine Dining Service
Kuo’s meticulous and uncompromising approach to service brings a celebratory feel to any occasion, as do specialties like Royal Peking duck, Szechuan black-pepper rack of lamb, and crispy whole black bass.
Multiple locations, www.margaretkuo.com
Andy Gadaleto knows his fish. His market is one of 19 specialty shops in the United States with a sustainability program that pinpoints the exact boat and captain who harvested each fish. All fish is filleted in-house, and the takeout menu features local favorites like battered grouper bites.
1193 Wilmington Pike, West Chester, (610) 430-7777, www.gadaletoseafood.com
Empanadas aren’t exactly commonplace in our area—great ones even less so. And that makes this food truck a slice of heaven for lovers of the stuffed pastry. A rotating menu ensures that something new and exciting awaits—like beef and cheese, barbecue chicken and sweet corn, a pizzanada, and a veggienada.
(610) 389-2589, www.abuelitasempanadas.com
The grilled panini, sandwiches, and baked goods are impressive. But it’s the Old World-inspired gelato that sets Toto’s apart. Flavors like pistachio, chocolate and stracciatella are on point.
35 N. Main St., Ambler, (215) 628-3980, www.facebook.com/TotosAmbler
This Cupcake Wars winner has several delicious gluten-free varieties available, including white velvet, Snickerdoodle and Black Magic. Don’t see it on the menu? Call and ask if your favorite flavor can be made.
100 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 476-5684, www.diadoce.com
Gourmet Pasta Shop
Joe D’Andrea’s shop is an indispensable resource for artisan pasta lovers looking for ravioli, Venetian squid-ink linguine and more. He also sells at area farmers’ markets and select retailers.
319 Westtown Road, Suite K, West Chester, (610) 701-5400, www.verapasta.com
Loaded pizzas, a diverse beer selection and approachable pricing make this family-owned eatery a northern Chesco favorite. Try the
Al Pacino, with asparagus and eggplant, or the Godfather, with fresh garlic and broccoli rabe.
226 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-0880, www.franco-ristorante.com
The owners of this socially conscious juicery and café use all-organic ingredients. The Truly Green (kale, spinach, parsley, ginger, cucumber, green apple, lime, cilantro and celery) and the Simply Green smoothie (kale, pineapple, banana and almond milk) are sublime. Whips, sandwiches and refreshing salads complete the menu.
4330 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 483-8888, www.thejuicemerchant.com
Kick back at this rustic, industrial-chic hangout and enjoy $2 off draft beer, well drinks and glasses of wine, plus $1 discounts on bottles and cans. Great patio, too.
101 E. Seventh Ave., Conshohocken, (610) 897-8212, www.jaspersbackyard.com
Build from the crust up with sauce, cheeses, proteins and veggies. Then add a bold finishing touch—think cilantro-lime crema, balsamic syrup or truffle oil.
4 Station Road, Ardmore, (610) 896-4488, www.snapcustompizza.com
At this tiny, unassuming café, the deceptively simple menu has some refreshing creative touches. Popular daily specials include candied-pecan banana pancakes, breakfast enchiladas and a roasted pork reuben. The Philly Fair Trade Roasters coffee is also a plus.
18 S. Orange St., Media, (610) 566-1660, www.eatatbittersweet.com
This grassy IPA blends the sweetness of Jonagold apples and the tartness of the GoldRush variety for a balanced sip. Pair it with a high-acid young goat cheese or sharp cheddar.
1606 Bendersville-Wenksville Road, Aspers, (717) 347-6462, www.ploughmancider.com
The Tudor Revival-style Wayne Hotel is one of the Main Line’s most iconic structures. Within it is Paramour—the modern, casually refined dining room offering lunch, dinner and brunch. Try the scallop crudo, the rack of lamb, or a Maine-inspired lobster roll.
139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 977-0600, www.paramourwayne.com
Get together with the girls for the jaw-dropping cocktail offerings at Avenue Kitchen. Whether you crave a fruit-filled sangria, a cocktail-laden happy hour or late-night mixed drinks, the libations cater to every taste. Try the raspberry-orange cosmo—it has “GNO” written all over it.
509 Wilmington West Chester Pike, Glen Mills, (484) 800-8070, www.avekitchen.com
Live Music and Culinary Fun
With five restaurants and a host of seasonal outdoor events, there’s no shortage of family fun at Eagleview Town Center. Cruise the shops during the day before grabbing a bite on Restaurant Row. Choose between steak and seafood, Italian, Mexican and more. Check the online schedule for the farmers’ market, shows and festivals.
Wellington Square, Exton, www.eagleviewtowncenter.com
Treat yourself to Nala’s exotic flavors. Its cuisine is a delightful mix of Indian and Thai—available at a generous all-you-can-eat buffet. Choose from vegetarian, chicken, lamb and fish options, plus salads, desserts and freshly made naan. We love the Malabar curry, with its overtones of fennel and Malabar peppercorns.
126 Woodcutter St., Exton, (484) 879-6728, www.nalaexton.com
Manayunk’s award-winning burger joint melds the best of two tempting worlds with its signature Mak Attack. House-baked mac and cheese is placed atop a cheesy beef patty, then topped with more cheese, all on a Liscio’s roll. It takes two hands to lift this mountain of gooeyness into your mouth.
4421 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 509-6005, www.luckyslastchance.com
Menu for Humans and Dogs
Tail wagging is guaranteed at this gastropub, which offers a canine-tested menu of ice cream, oatmeal-peanut-butter cookies, beef bones and cow ears. Humans can enjoy craft-inspired cocktails or a favorite brew with pub fare like a double-onion cheddar burger. Proceeds from the puppy menu are donated to a local rescue.
212 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 935-7141, www.bistroonbridge.com
This breakfast-and-lunch spot is a go-to for stacks of pancakes. Plate-sized hotcakes come stuffed with a multitude of sweet fillings like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, apples, chocolate chips, bacon or nuts. Top them with eggs, chipped beef or sausage gravy.
150 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Downingtown, (610) 873-1700, www.greenstgrill.com
Milkshakes for Kids of All Ages
Nestled in the basement floor of the Suburban Building, this retro-feel ice cream parlor makes hand-spun milkshakes of all kinds. The premium ice cream comes from local vendors like Little Baby’s and Scooped, as well as Graeter’s in Ohio. Local milk and vintage Hamilton Beach mixers create a one-of-a-kind experience.
134 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (484) 580-8822, www.thewaynebar.com
Mixologist Christina Cunningham echoes the focus and attention to detail of Nectar’s kitchen in her full-flavored and well-composed libations. The Blackberry and Thai Basil Smash is the perfect example, featuring Glenmorangie scotch, blackberry syrup, fresh Thai basil and lemon zest.
1091 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 725-9000, www.tastenectar.com
Modern Indian Cuisine
The appetizers here are spot-on—try the curry potato aloo tikki. The list of naan is nearly infinite, and the vegetarian courses please meat eaters, too. The marinated and slow-cooked tandoor dishes—chicken, shrimp and salmon—leave us wanting more. Add biryani (prepared basmati rice) for a real treat.
1003 ½ W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 581-7070, www.ektaindianrestaurant.com
Modern Middle Eastern Cuisine
This new addition to Malvern is winning over the lunch crowd. The kitchen focuses on a mix of traditional Middle Eastern and Greek preparations and modern interpretations. The Kafta burger is a must-try, seared to perfection and expertly seasoned. Aficionados will heartily approve of the tender shawarma and savory gyros. Don’t miss the homemade chocolate pudding.
182 E. Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (484) 568-4465, www.facebook.com/TheFattoushRestaurant
New Beer Release
Stable 12 has made its reputation by producing a changing lineup of brews only available at its tasting room and by canning a few stalwarts, like Crowd Pleaser. The East Coast-style double IPA is packed with intense hop aroma, yet is subtly bitter.
368 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 715-2665, www.stable12.com
New Beer Shop
Here, you’ll find 18 rotating draft-beer lines available by the pint or growler and 2,000 beers and ciders by the bottle, many housed in the 30-door refrigerated case along the back wall. Check out the “Brewery of the Month” program for $9.99 six-packs.
325 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-1150, www.fooderybeer.com
Three friends from Penn State turned their home-brewing hobby into a 5,200-square-foot production brewery, with a tasting room. Grab a flight of their “Founding Four” beers—an ESB, an IPA, a pale ale and a stout—and order from one of the food trucks in the parking lot.
50 Three Tun Road, Suite 4, Malvern, (484) 324-4141, www.locustlanecraftbrewery.com
New World Italian
Chef Craig Wilson and wife Jaqi pay homage to gigis (mothers and grandmothers) with a blend of Old and New World Italian fare. The menu embraces fresh and local ingredients and is served in a romantic ambience. We love the mussels, the grilled octopus, anything salmon and the tender house-made pasta.
4371 Main St., Manayunk, (267) 323-2899, www.gigiphiladelphia.com
Everyone knows that the frosting is the best part of a cupcake, so Malvern’s Dixie Picnic gives the people what they want. Baked fresh daily in-house, its Upcakes are cupcakes turned upside down and frosted all over. We can’t get enough of the coconut-covered devil’s food or the lemon-frosted yellow cake.
215 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (484) 320-8024, www.dixiepicnic.com
Chef John Brandt-Lee’s modern take on Italian cuisine is inventive and indulgent. The kitchen has a knack for putting out refined dishes with just enough rustic charm. Its antipasto is a collection of the familiar (burrata, provolone, salami and artichokes) and the unexpected (wine-soaked figs, baccalà fritters and truffle honey).
116 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 436-4100, www.avalonrestaurant.net
Off-Site Wedding Catering
The event pros here use their considerable expertise to turn your special day into a dream come true. All-inclusive packages remove any worry and provide a day-of coordinator. You’ll delight in restaurant-quality food and all the trappings at one of its three off-site venues or any of its partner properties.
4 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-6336, www.robertryancatering.com
On-the-Go Meals for Families
Simplify life with a tantalizing, easy-to-reheat meal. Hand-trimmed meats, made-from-scratch sauces, and low-fat and vegetarian options are available. The 18-plus entrées change monthly and can be personalized to your family’s preferences. Try the paella and the stuffed chicken breasts. Delivery is also available.
1 Paoli Plaza, Paoli, (610) 647-1002, www.homecooked.net
The edict at this quaint eatery is home cooking. All products are organic, natural and locally sourced when possible. Snag an egg-and-cheese sandwich for a morning pick-me-up, or settle in for lunch with a loaded, blue-cheese-topped wedge salad or a sammie with hummus, spinach, onion, tomato, roasted peppers and mozzarella.
1211 Wilmington Pike, West Chester, (484) 315-8431, www.shoomamascafe.com
Visit the first traditional French bakery in the West Chester area, opened by professionally trained and internationally experienced Catherine Seisson. Baked treats include croissants, breakfast pastries, artisan loaves, quiche and cakes. Our favorites are the fig-and-nut bread, the almond croissants and the pain de campagne.
202 W. Market St., West Chester, (610) 620-4729, http://magicbaguette.com
MacGregor Mann digs into Pennsylvania’s culinary roots, with influences from Native Americans and Swiss and German settlers. He pays homage to preservation and sustainability with his commitment to turning local ingredients into signature favorites and seasonal specialties like free-range chicken with sweet potato, fire-roasted beets, spelt dumplings, and birch-infused chicken jus.
100 Ridge Road, Olde Ridge Village Shoppes, Chadds Ford, (484) 574-8041, www.juntobyob.com
Andrew Patten is bringing his trademark favorites to a new location. His focus at this quaint, comfortable BYOB is on meat, seafood and locally sourced produce. Try the seasonal artisan salads, sandwiches and soups. We love the spinach salad with poppy-seed dressing and the tarragon chicken salad kissed with grapes.
131 N. High St., West Chester, (610) 918-1272, www.spence.cafe
With more than 25 years of experience, this “locally grown” co-owner of the Night Kitchen Bakery makes us crave signature mocha mousse cake daily. A Culinary Institute of America grad, Edelman creates delicacies that defy imagination and satiate our sweet tooth. Make sure you get a double-fudge brownie, which was a hit on The Rachael Ray Show.
7725 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, (215) 248-9235, www.nightkitchenbakery.com
Patio for Beer Drinking
This brewery boasts a prime outdoor sipping location along the Schuylkill River Trail. Grab a Conshohocken IPA, a Burn Everything rye porter or something seasonal, and head through the garage-like doors to socialize and people-watch. You can even ride your bike to the taproom.
739 E. Elm St., Conshohocken, (610) 897-8962, www.conshohockenbrewing.com
Peek Into the Kitchen
This bright, airy space is cheery and clean, with its white walls and light wood accents. Sunshine and plants add warmth to the bustling bakery café. The open kitchen puts the food center stage as staffers pound out dough and prep vegetables. The buffet-style serving means everything is constantly being refreshed.
233 E. King St., Malvern, (610) 296-2534, www.malvernbuttery.com
Pho Street in Bryn Mawr
Bringing real northern Vietnamese street food to the Main Line is no easy task, but Pho Street does it. Flat rice noodles, scallions, yellow onions, cilantro, basil, bean sprouts and jalapeños float in a warm, hearty broth. Add-ins include meatballs, brisket, chicken, shrimp and tofu.
1001 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-1413, www.phostreet.com
Pie for Breakfast
This family-owned and -operated spot actually sizzles a bacon of the month. Seasonal gourmet pies include blackberry, peach, raspberry and strawberry rhubarb. Not feeling fruity? Go for sweet potato, peanut butter or the sinful maple-bourbon bacon pecan. Any way you slice it, consider your waistline forewarned.
128 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-8508, www.avenueeatz.com
Place for After-Dinner Drinks
Cap off the night with creative cocktails prepared with house-made ingredients, including Bluebird’s own gin, vodka, rum and whiskey. Order the Bluebird—vodka, simple syrup, lime, mint and blueberries—or take it up a notch with the Firebird—habanero-infused vodka, simple syrup, lime and a chipotle rim.
100 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-7827, www.bluebirddistilling.com
Place to Eat With Kids
Rino’s has been serving family-friendly Italian for over 25 years. It even hosts kids’ parties, complete with hands-on pizza making (call ahead). The menu boasts kid-approved items, plus adult favorites like its famous seafood lasagna. Rino’s also has a thoughtful craft-beer list.
327 E. Lancaster Ave., Exton, (610) 363-0515, www.rinosrestaurant.com
Place to Watch the Game (and Drink Craft Beer)
When you need a game-day retreat, this pizza-and-beer-centric neighborhood hangout is the place. Televisions strategically line the restaurant walls so you won’t miss a moment. Order a brew from the extensive craft-beer selection, and settle in with some comfort food.
131 E. Baltimore Ave., Media, (610) 566-7767, www.pinpizza.com
Quick and Healthy Lunch
Fresh-pressed juices and smoothies accompany handmade tacos and a slew of temptations at Jaco. The beach-shack décor is bright and cheery, but if you can’t stay, hit the sidewalk to-go window. Our favorites are the Mad Mango smoothie and the Tijuana Street Taco in a tortilla topped with cilantro and hot sauce.
8 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 436-4177, www.jacojuiceandtaco.com
Place for Groups
Chef Eric Yost offers an Oktoberfest vibe year-round. The rotating tap list features 20-plus local beers. Have a seat at one of the communal tables and nibble on Bavarian pretzels, fried deviled eggs, mac and cheese, or pierogies. Outside, you’ll find a fire pit, lawn games and live music.
570 Wellington Square, Exton, (610) 458-2337, www.suburbanbg.com
Reason to Eat Out for Breakfast
You’re never far from your breakfast fix at any of the 10 area Nudy’s. Known for omelets, bennies and pancakes, this eatery also rustles up a mean sunny-side-up plate of eggs with crisped scrapple, potatoes, toast and coffee. With 110 menu items, there’s something for every breakfast craving.
Multiple locations, www.nudyscafes.com
Restaurant for a First Date
First dates are all about impressions. Chef Jonathan Amann excels at artful platings and creative seasonal fare—like Long Island duck breast in balsamic demi-glace, greens with a fire-roasted pepper vinaigrette, and grilled oysters. Wow your date by bringing a favorite spirit for Amani’s signature cocktail mixes.
105 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (484) 237-8179, www.amanisbyob.com
Restaurant for People-Watching
A this farm-to-table pioneer, the local and seasonally driven menu changes monthly, featuring dishes like barbecue braised short-rib sliders with pickled long hots and a Yuengling-lager cheddar-cheese sauce. Come for the food, but stay for the procession of diners.
200 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 225-3700, www.whitedog.com
Stop here for soul-satisfying grub, courtesy of chef Keith Taylor, who uses family recipes for lip-smackin’ goodness. Cut to order and slow-smoked with hickory, the dry-rubbed St. Louis pork ribs are heavenly. Load up on collard greens and potato salad for a real bonus—and don’t forget the cornbread.
1709 Markley St., Norristown, (610) 272-1800, www.zacharysbbq.com
The wine list at Sovana echoes its food in both quality and variety. Expect a smattering of top-notch local vintners alongside delicious offerings from France, Latin America and beyond. The knowledgeable sommeliers are helpful if you’re on the fence or need an education on the menu.
696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, (610) 444-5600, www.sovanabistro.com
Executive chef and owner Chip Roman’s menu changes daily. Dishes could be the gently smoked Scottish salmon, the creamy crab risotto, the pan-seared sea bream, the deepwater monkfish, or a classic surf and turf with a twist that incorporates braised beef short rib and day-boat scallops.
119 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 397-0888, www.blackfishrestaurant.com
Fresh ingredients take center stage on executive chef Yianni Arhontoulis’ menu. Decadent dishes have included pot-roasted cauliflower with Burgundy truffles and raisins, stuffed skate wing with Brussels sprouts and brown butter, and beet salad with pumpkin seed, grapefruit and creamy avocado.
8609 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, (267) 335-3912, www.micarestaurant.com
Service With a Smile
It’s always a bonus when the staff is as outstanding as the food. Here, they enjoy what they do—and it shows. Crowds are energetic, yet the pace is relaxed and the service is attentive. Tackle chef Carlo deMarco’s java pork tenderloin or house-made Parmesan gnocchi.
333 Belrose Lane, Radnor, (610) 293-1000, www.333belrose.com
Enjoy generous portions at this Euro-chic mini-market. Dig into one of its 13 original specialty sandwiches like Mediterranean tuna or prosciutto, Brie, truffle oil, toasted pine nuts and arugula. Or try a hot sammie like a gooey Asiago turkey with bacon, tomato and pesto mayo.
185 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 254-0323, www.trediciitalianmarket.com
Smoked Fish Appetizer
If the historic ambience, intimate dining rooms and garden patio aren’t enough to entice you, then let the legendary French continental cuisine win you over. Start with smoked salmon with capers and red onion, plated with a warming bite of horseradish crème fraîche. Pair it with a vintage cocktail like the Negroni.
192 E. Welsh Pool Road, Exton, (610) 363-7998, www.vickersrestaurant.com
A vegan, gluten-free and organic refuge, Raw Can Roll Cafe whips up healthy, vitamin-packed smoothies, almond milkshakes and wheatgrass shots. The berry-blast and pumpkin-spice smoothies are seasonal favorites. We also can’t resist the Good Vibrations, packed with kale, cucumber, banana, celery, and apple or orange juice.
767 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (484) 580-8454, www.facebook.com/rawcanrollcafe
Something for Everyone
This neighborhood mainstay continues to delight with cheesesteaks, burgers, hearty entrées and its signature personal pizza, the Oval. Owner Ron Inverso prides himself on food for all, including those with sensitivities. Try the crab-and-artichoke bake, the chicken-and-broccoli aglio olio, and the drunken-shrimp capellini.
74 E. Uwchlan Ave., Exton, (610) 594-9900, www.ronsoriginal.com
Special Occasion Dinner Spot
This historic former general store elevates romance, intimacy and candlelight dining to create the perfect special-occasion spot. Bring your favorite bottle to pair with a seasonal menu by chef Kevin McMunn, who favors eclectic comfort food like fall-apart braised short ribs and tomato-lemon-basil sea scallops.
1701 W. Doe Run Road, Unionville, (610) 347-2227, www.catherinesrestaurant.com
Specialty Coffee Drinks
This hip and cozy café on Kennett Square’s main drag serves serious coffee. Specialty roasts from local roaster Ceremony change seasonally, and brew methods include attentive hand pours and expertly pulled espresso. Seasonal drinks, along with sweet and savory bites, round out the menu.
111 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-7687, www.philtercoffee.com
When you need to feel the burn, the menu at Spice will not disappoint. Heat can be adjusted to your preference, and hot really means hot. The spiciest of all is the fiery vindaloo, a tomato-based curry seasoned with chilies. Grab a lassi or some raita to put out the fire.
4843 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 356-5262, www.spicebyob.com
Spot for Tacos
This taco hot spot lets customers pick from six fillings, with a choice of corn or flour tortillas. El Limon serves all of its tacos with diced onions and fresh cilantro, but you can opt for the “supreme” version with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. The chicken tinga is especially flavorful.
446 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (484) 329-7969, www.ellimontaqueria.com
What’s better than ice cream in the summer? How about retro treats like gummies, nonpareils and Candy Buttons? Choose Bassetts Ice Cream by the cone, dish, sundae or float. There’s also tasty Morrone’s Water Ice and high-protein, low-sugar Halo Top ice cream.
3117 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 356-1066, www.thesugaree.com
Superior Sushi Selection
This talented team—many of whom trained under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto—wows diners with imaginative Asian cuisine, especially sushi. Take your pick from an extensive list of rolls, sashimi, specials and à la carte selections. Stay authentic with slices of hamachi and toro, or try a unique offering like the salmon tartare.
5492 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 644-8270, www.teikokurestaurant.com
From Thursday to Sunday, veteran pastry chef Jane Urban wows with French provincial breakfast and lunch fare at this creekside country charmer. Stop in frequently to nab the elusive banoffee tart. This banana-chocolate-caramel dream, topped with double cream, doesn’t last long. And be sure to try the other tarts.
1406 Hollow Road, Birchrunville, (610) 827-0900, www.facebook.com/butterscotchpastry
Taqueria and Tequila Bar
Mexican-fare cravers head to this brightly decorated gem when they need tacos de carne or an impressive spread of tacos de verdura (for veggie lovers). All pair perfectly with margaritas and Xolo’s tequila-infused creations like the Mango Habanero, the La Fresca and the Smokey Tangerine with chipotle and orange.
14 N. Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-7777, www.xolotacos.com
Taste of the Mediterranean
Byrsa Bistro continues to warm hearts and bellies with Mediterranean specialties. The menu tours Italy, Morocco, Spain and more with expertly prepared dishes. Be sure to try the paella, the veggie tagine and the branzino, and you’ll quickly see the breadth of the kitchen’s talent.
128 Glen Mills Road, Glen Mills, (610) 444-3277, www.byrsabistro.com
You’ll be hooked on this Delco original. Craving a bite to eat while sipping tried-and-true faves like ASAP IPA or something new like the Pollen Nation imperial saison? Local food-truck vendors are on hand Thursday-Saturday.
120 Concord Road, Units 101-103, Aston, (484) 483-7860, www.2spbrewing.com
Tasty and Healthy To-Go Meals
Don’t tell ’em it’s healthy, and they’ll never taste a difference. Indian, Latin, Asian, Italian and classic American selections make for delicious meals. Plus, Snap Kitchen offers gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options at affordable prices.
Multiple locations, www.snapkitchen.com
Chef Saida Davis executes a genuine Moroccan tagine that transforms meats and veggies with a warming blend of spices, creating rich flavors and depth. Choose a one-, two-, three- or four-person pot, with chicken, meatballs, salmon, shrimp or eggs. Side salads are colorful and crisp, and the pitas are perfectly grilled.
54 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (267) 603-8227, www.tastemarokko.com
Levante continues to elevate craft brewing from its “garage-ish” 15-barrel brewery and taproom. Owners Tim Floros and Eric Santostefano’s crisp collaborations of balanced brews span from on-trend IPAs and pilsners to tripels, quads, porters and ciders.
208 Carter Drive, Suite 2, West Chester, (484) 999-8761, www.levantebrewing.com
Tried-and-True Happy Hour
One door down from the popular Teresa’s Cafe, imbibe barrel-aged cocktails like the Pear o’ the Dog or poured on-tap “kegtails” like the Fred Collins Fizz. There’s also an epic wine, craft-beer and cider list. Pair your drink of choice with victuals like mussels, pommes frites and mouthwatering burgers.
124-126 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 293-9909, www.teresas-cafe.com
The rustic farmhouse ambience is charming and intimate—perfect for dates or gatherings with friends. While there are many standouts on the menu, the turkey burger exceeds expectations. It’s juicy, perfectly seasoned, and served on a whole-grain roll with basil pistou.
1300 W. Strasburg Road, West Chester, (610) 692-4367, www.thefourdogstavern.com
Twist on French Cuisine
This BYOB is the real Asian-French fusion deal. Distinct, sometimes rich sauces accentuate curry of chicken, rack of lamb, roast duckling and the fish of the day. Try the escargot baked in garlic butter on spinach and topped with Swiss cheese, as well as the white truffle with raspberry sauce for dessert.
152 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 651-2836, www.bunhafaun.net
Co-owners Jon Masishin and Michael Slachta’s tavern boasts unique, otherworldly décor and 25 rotating taps. The elevated menu offers salads, wings and tacos, but it’s the signature Inquisition Burger that has us drooling, with two patties of LaFrieda beef, bacon jam, ale-washed cheddar and a farm-fried egg.
1548 Shadyside Road, West Chester, (484) 593-0850, www.righteoustaphouse.com
Perhaps it’s the malt sauce that creates the irresistible smoky-nutty hints bursting from the signature two-patty SOMO Stack Burger. Adding layers of manchego cheese and a fried egg has us hooked. Sip a whimsical cocktail or a craft beer from the bar area after an afternoon of strolling around Manayunk.
4311 Main St., Manayunk, (267) 297-6668, www.somomanayunk.com
Upscale Casual BYOB
Chef Ben Thomas’ immaculate plating is the first hint of the expressive flavors that flow from his kitchen. The prix-fixe meal comprises four courses that will leave you comfortably full. Offerings might include black-truffle-kissed arancini, Nordic cod loin, and rosemary-infused cinnamon cake.
1011 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-4400, www.restaurantcerise.com
There’s an upscale vibe at this friendly neighborhood haunt, thanks to a remarkable selection of libations and a diverse menu. Spend time looking over the list of whiskeys, tequilas, mezcals, wines, beers and ciders while considering cuisine like braised short rib, crispy duck sliders and creamy burrata salad.
26 W. State St., Media, (484) 443-8441, www.bricknbrewpub.com
Pica's Restaurant in West Chester
This West Chester outpost is following in the footsteps of the famed Delco flagship. Pica’s dough is unique, with a distinct chew and airiness. The slow-cooked sauce atop gooey cheese and crust creates an end result that’s molto bene.
1233 West Chester Pike, West Chester, (484) 983-3704, www.picas-restaurant.com
Joe Solar’s outstanding vegan menu has locals buzzing. A revamped, earth-friendly interior plays host to Italian- and Mexican-inspired dishes like the Rigatoni Salsiccia Fra Diablo and Smokey Craig’s BaBeQue (made with seitan), along with stacked black-bean nachos and a savory assortment of oven-baked pizzas.
81 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 240-0222, www.thegreyhoundcafe.com
A picturesque setting, inviting décor, attentive staff and a winning menu are just some of the reasons why couples select this breathtaking wedding location. Event planners help you through every step, whether that’s using the Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant or sister venue Blue Bell Country Club.
1401 Morris Road, Blue Bell, (215) 616-8500, www.normandyfarm.com
Weekly specials show off the kitchen’s prowess. Ask your server about the special, paying attention to dishes with Southern flair and those featuring game meats. A juicy bison burger and smoked pork belly are at home beside layers of vegan eggplant lasagna.
133 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 455-0100, www.rootscafewc.com
Weeknight Dinner Date
Split Rail has found its footing in downtown West Chester thanks to a consistently excellent menu that offers classic fare with a twist. Standouts include the wings, the tomato pie, a killer overstuffed reuben, pan-seared trout, and duck-confit salad. For an atypical Tuesday night out, catch a late dinner and hang around until 10:30 p.m. for drag-queen karaoke.
15 N. Walnut St., West Chester, (484) 999-8805, www.splitrailtavern.com
The spirit of this whiskey-centric eatery is steeped in charred oak. Favorites like Basil Hayden’s and Buffalo Trace rub shoulders with local gems like Dad’s Hat rye. Ask a well-educated bartender to guide you through the experience, and watch the website for whiskey education nights.
151 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 701-8489, www.saloon151.com
At wine dinners, not only will you indulge in delectable cuisine paired with special vintages, you’ll learn something. The chef introduces each course, and a dedicated wine professional leads each wine tasting. By night’s end, you’ll know about the fields that are home to the grapes you spent the evening sipping.
1390 Old Wilmington Pike, West Chester, (610) 399-1390, www.dilworthtown.com
Exuding elegance, this 200-year-old building is nestled among vivid gardens and a rambling stream. Award-winning classic cuisine like shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque and dry-aged rib-eye steak pair beautifully with a well-rounded international wine list. French chardonnays, German Rieslings, Argentinian malbecs, Italian reds and California classics turn on the charm.
2105 Kimberton Road, Kimberton, (610) 933-8148, www.kimbertoninn.com
Executive chef Scott Megill delivers dinner—with a focus on seasonal—for six to 10 guests in his speakeasy-style wine cellar. A five-course, prix-fixe meal, paired with boutique vintages, will enthuse oenophiles and foodies alike. Light weekend fare and tasting-room appetizers are also available.
50 Sweetwater Road, Glen Mills, (610) 459-4711, www.gracewinery.com
Wine-Soaked Festivals and Events
Wine and … cupcakes? How about alongside a classic car show? Or at yoga? You can sip and enjoy all that and more at any number of festivals and events packing the Penns Woods Winery calendar year-round.
124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 459-0808, www.pennswoodsevents.com
The perfectly charred, smoke-scented panini satisfy any sandwich craving. Choose one of four kinds (chicken, salmon, vegetarian and prosciutto with mozzarella), served exclusively during lunch. Each comes with different toppings for a well-curated lineup.
106 W. State St., Media, (610) 892-7616, www.felliniscafe.com
Year-Round Farmers’ Market
Thanks to a partnership with the Chester County Food Bank, this market serves up freshness year-round. Meats, baked goods and other artisan products join produce every month so locavores don’t have to hold out until the summer to grab their favorite farmers’ market goodies.
Wellington Square, Eagleview Town Center, Exton, (610) 836-1391; in winter at the Chester County Food Bank, 650 Pennsylvania Ave., Exton, (610) 836-1391; www.growingrootspartners.com/eagleview-farmers-market