Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs 2018 Critics' Choice: Food & Drink
Best BYOB Newcomer winner The Choice. Photo by Ed Williams.
From 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday at this wood-fired-inspired insititution, you can snag high-end bites at friendly prices. Dates stuffed with goat cheese, olives packed with fried sausage, crispy onion rings, and hand-cut fries are all $6 and under. And at $18 or less, small plates are perfect for sharing.
7 W. King St., Malvern, (610) 644-4009, www.restaurantalba.com.
So much more than a smoothie bar, the Superfoods Cafe offers utltra-healthy drinks and bites—sans allergens—along with a hearty vegan menu. Menu standouts include the tofu scrambles, sandwiches with pine-nut basil pesto or sunflower-seed butter, and calming sips like lavender lemonade.
1007 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-2200, www.sunsetmoonwellnesscenter.com.
Asian Chef’s Specials
At Veekoo, Chinese, Japanese and Thai mingle effortlessly in the Szechuan rack of lamb, pine nut fish and Hong Kong-style soft shell crab. A great fallback is the Tangerine Three Delicacies: breaded jumbo shrimp, scallops and chicken in spicy tangerine sauce.
564 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (484) 318-7655, www.veekooasiancuisine.com.
Authentic British Pub
A well-kept secret in the heart of horse country, this cozy, cottage-like pub offers authentic shepherd’s pie, a savory-crunchy Scotch egg, and traditional bangers and mash. Alfresco dining on the patio overlooking Doe Run Creek is sublimely bucolic on a summer evening.
1383 N. Chatham Road, Coatesville, (610) 383-0600, www.thewhiptavern.com.
Authentic Irish Pub
There’s something to be said for the worn-in, unpretentious vibe of a classic pub, and the family-owned McShea’s is the ideal— with its weathered bar stools, friendly, no-nonsense bartenders, cold beer (craft and otherwise), and hearty, well-conceived food menu.
242 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 667-0510, www.mcsheas.com.
Authentic Japanese Cuisine
Whether its the katsu, the udon or the sushi, the artful platings are merely a prelude to the amazing flavors and textures found on Yananko’s traditional menu. With its beautiful wood paneling and subtle accents throughout, the dining room evokes Japan with rustic sophistication and even a bit of whimsy.
4255 Main St., Manayunk, (267) 297-8151, www.theyanako.com.
Authentic Thai Cuisine
The pad thai and panang curry are perfectly executed. Atypical dishes like beef naam tok (grilled tenderloin with spicy lime dressing and sticky rice powder) and kang pla curry make Thai L’Elephant a true Far East original.
301 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 935-8613, www.thailelephant.com.
Bang for Your Buck
The dining room at Fayette Street Grille is classic continental, but the kitchen transcends that mold. For $38.50, you can indulge in a pan-roasted duck breast with sweet potato mousse and cranberry bourbon demi-glace, plus an app and a dessert. Start with the shrimp cocktail, dressed with orange-cilantro guacamole and watermelon salsa.
308 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 567-0366, www.fayettestreetgrille.com.
This cozy Southern-themed gem offers elevated apps like fried Brussels sprouts with shaved Asiago and crab salad with mango and avocado. And don’t let a seat at the bar prevent you from trying the signature shrimp and grits, spiked with peppers, bacon and local mushrooms.
423 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-7700, www.thegablesatchaddsford.com.
The proliferation of craft beer options can overwhelm even the savviest brew aficionado. The Beer Shoppe boasts a selection of over 900 bottles and cans, from Belgian farmhouse sours to summer lagers to inky black stouts. But its greatest asset may be its helpful staff, which makes discovering a new favorite a breeze.
44 Greenfield Ave., Ardmore, (484) 416-3594, www.ardmorebeershoppe.com.
Check the calendar for a mashup of guest tap takeovers, beer releases, beer dinners and even a brewer’s brunch at Iron Hill’s Media location. Our top picks are the annual Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers’ Festival, with dozens of local brewers, and events that support local first responders like Hook & Lager brew day.
30 E. State Street, Media, (610) 627-9000, www.ironhillbrewery.com/media-pa.
First-time restaurateur Paul Kong’s sleek and sassy 50-seat eatery is fast becoming bibimbop central. For this uniquely Korean dish, sizzling stone bowls are filled with white rice, a choice of protein (fish, chicken, short ribs, tofu) and seasoned toppers (cucumber, seaweed, carrots). Signature sauces provide the kick.
31 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (484) 844-7827, www.bambamkitchen.com.
Bottled Beer Selection
When it comes to selection, Greeks won’t be outdone. It’s stocked with well over 1,000 bottles and cans, with origins from abroad and just down the road. You’ll find large bottles and a vast variety of six-packs, single cans and bottles, plus a selection of ciders.
237 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 664-1960, www.thegreeksnextdoor.com.
This small-ish craft brewery manages an impressive range of styles. Head brewer Dan Popernack skillfully employs barrel aging, wild yeasts and innovative flavors to create sours, saisons, fruited ales, porters and more. Peter, a recent Flemish-red bottle release, is crisp, dry and full of tart cherry flavor.
642 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 240-7908, www.lacabrabrewing.com.
Breakfast for Commuters
At this diminutive kiosk in the Villanova train station, the smoothies are a meal in themselves. Many incorporate fresh greens— like the Green Creamsicle with kale, spinach, mango, pineapple, orange juice and almond milk.
320 N. Spring Mill Road, Villanova, (610) 742-2139.
This 100-seat offshoot includes a dozen taps pouring Conshy IPAs, ales and stouts. Growler pendant lighting and keg wall art provide a casual, whimsical vibe for enjoying small bites, soups, salads, and handhelds like the Bridgeport burger with pork belly, smoked cheddar, barbecue sauce and a fried egg.
13 W. Benedict Ave., Havertown, (484) 452-5198, www.conshohockenbrewing.com/towntap.
No corkage fee is just one of the draws at House. Pair your favorite libations with comfort food like the Full Monty (on brioche with ham, Swiss cheese and sriracha maple syrup), a decadent truffled mac and cheese, and a panini with buffalo chicken salad, bacon and caramelized onions.
110-114 S. Jackson St., Media, (610) 566-2505, www.eatathouse.com.
Chef Volodymyr Hyvel has generated a buzz among local foodies with a no-nonsense approach in the kitchen and his flair for Euro-fusion and Asian cuisine. With its tartares, sashimi, duck and seafood-themed plates, his menu offers global variety and sophistication.
845 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 383-3230, www.thechoice-restaurant.com.
Amy Edelman and John Millard create minor masterpieces with fondant and piping—everything from popular movie scenes to nature-inspired floral arrangements. And it all tastes as great as it looks.
7725 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, (215) 248-9235, www.nightkitchenbakery.com.
If there is such a thing as an old-school approach to cheesesteaks, Thunderbird has been sticking with it since 1956, smothering its thick ribbons of grade A beef in American, Provolone, Swiss or Wiz. Onions and a seeded roll are optional, but regulars typically ask for both.
2323 West Chester Pike, Broomall, (610) 356-8869, www.theoriginalthunderbird.com.
Best Chef winner Chris Calhoun of The Desmond Hotel. Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
Impeccable attention to detail is Chris Calhoun’s calling card. The fish is overnighted to the kitchen and fileted with frequent washes in cold salted water, and the whole beef tenderloin is carved to order. Innovative flavor combinations— like lamb satay with chestnut honey, cashews and tangerine-curry sauce—surprise and delight.
1 Liberty Blvd., Malvern, (610) 296-9800, www.desmondgv.com.
Savory is an afterthought at many bakeries. Not so at this cozy spot, where the from-scratch philosophy carries over from the heavenly coconut cream pie to the chicken salad (with tender breast meat, scallions and crisp apple chunks).
604 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-4139, www.thebakeryhouse.net.
This Main Line fixture is now owned by pastry chef Marqessa Gesualdi. The best time to grab a croissant is shortly after the shop opens. Rich, flaky and tender layers give way to a semi-soft chocolate center.
162 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 971-0300, www.auxpetits.com.
For a great sazerac, look no further than the Bluebird Distilling tasting room. The typical mix of two bitters and simple syrup hits new heights with its rye whiskey. The Old Fashioned and the Dark ‘n’ Stormy will win over even the most discerning cocktail connisseur.
100 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-7827, www.bluebirddistilling.com.
The delicious organic juice cleanses from this plant-based hot spot revitalize the body with fresh fruits, vegetables and spices for a maximum micro- and macronutrient bump. Try the Beta Boost, with carrot, apple and ginger.
767 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (484) 580-8454, www.eatrawcanrollcafe.com.
Owners Richard and Mindyjane Berman source their beans through direct trade with farmers in different coffee-growing regions around the globe. Their small batches are freshly roasted in-house, then used to craft espresso drinks, drip and single-cup aeropress coffee, and cold brew. And we do mean craft.
36 Berkley Road, Devon, (484) 857-9406, www.pourrichardscoffee.com.
Coffee for Commuters
This small shop in Bala Cynwyd train station serves eye-opening brews made with beans from Green Street Roasters and Blue Band Coffee in Philly. Espresso drinks and teas are also available, along with tasty paninis and a selection of pastries from Mt. Airy’s High Point Bakery.
375 Conshohocken State Road, Bala Cynwyd, (484) 429- 9514, www.trailsend.cafe.
The shiny La Marzocco espresso machine and the line of pour-over setups indicate serious coffee skills at Philter. Whether you’re after a drip or a free-pour cortado, informed staffers can tell you about each brewing method in detail—and the results are always rewarding.
111 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444- 7687, www.philtercoffee.com.
Maryellen Bowers’ exceedingly creative concepts include the Pike: a pumpkin pie and an apple pie baked into a frosted, two-layer chocolate-and-vanilla cake.
1332 West Chester Pike, West Chester, (484) 266-0710.
The dramatic columned location and ample outdoor seating bring outsized charm to this downtown gem. Weekly revolving specials include tender paccheri pasta with hearty meatballs in red sauce, grilled and stuffed pork chops, eggplant Parmigiana and braciole di manzo, and pan-fried stuffed beef drenched in sauce.
1 W. State St., Media, (610) 565-7803, www.spassoitaliangrill.com/media.
Stroll down State Street and marvel over the culinary options from the Middle East, Thailand, Japan, France, Italy and more. During restaurant week in April and November, a bevy of dinner specials are offered as eateries roll out special three- to four-course tasting menus at approachable prices.
The engine in question is the emerald-green La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine that pulls shot after shot of silky-black espresso, topped with luscious layers of crema. The quality beans come from Philly’s small-batch Rival Bros. Coffee roastery, but full credit for stellar execution goes to the baristas.
16 Haverford Station Road, Haverford, www.greenenginecoffee.com.
Family-Friendly Beer Garden
If you had the wherewithal to turn your backyard into a beer garden, you’d want it to be a lot like the Creamery. Kennett’s seasonal “it” spot features a great draft selection, a rotating food-truck roster, live music, and lawn games for the kids.
401 Birch St., Kennett Square, (484) 732-7040, kennettcreamery.com.
Snap takes everything you love about made-to-order salad shops and applies it to pizza. Each pie can be customized with an array of sauces, cheeses, proteins, veggies, and “finishing touches” like a drizzle of chili oil. Gluten-free crusts are also available.
4 Station Road, Ardmore, (610) 896-4488, www.snapcustompizza.com.
Every server is fair game at this Americana-themed breakfast-and-lunch spot. Need hot sauce? Just ask the first person you see. Start the day with a build-your-own omelet, or power-up midday with the quinoa-and-kale salad.
120 Woodcutter St., Exton, (484) 387- 5559, www.famoustoastery.com.
A daily tasting-menu favorite, this elegant dish is presented pan-seared and warm, or pâté-style, cold and rolled into the classic torchon. Accompaniments might include pumpernickel crumble, gooseberry or raspberry puree, onion souvise, pickled mustard seeds, toasted pistachio, and prosciutto.
11 Louella Court, Wayne, (610) 964-9700, atthetablebyob.com.
From croissants to chocolate tarts to meringues, everything at Le Petit Mitron is made daily. Grab a pastry and cup of La Colombe coffee, pick a spot at one of a handful of tables, and linger for a Euro-flavored breakfast.
207 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (484) 562-0500, www.lepetitmitronpa.com.
Crispy puffs of batter surround an over-the-top molten Oreo center. With a side of buttercream icing for dipping, it’s a decadent treat that pairs with any number of Stable 12 brews.
368 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 715-2665, www.stable12.com.
Have dietary restrictions or preferences? True Food Kitchen’s menu items are clearly labeled. Dishes like spicy panang curry, the inside-out quinoa burger, and charred cauliflower with harissa tahini and pistachio reflect the kitchen’s creativity. Many items can be customized upon request.
239 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia, (484) 751-1954, www.truefoodkitchen.com.
Gluten-Free and Vegan Cupcakes
The Black Magic is decadent and complex—rich chocolate cake topped with chocolate buttercream and filled with a gooey vanilla-bean cream. Visit Cathey’s Coffee Bar, or look for the cupcake truck at local events.
100 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 476-5684, www.diadoce.com.
Gourmet Cheese Grocer
For those occasions when the supermarket won’t do, allow the knowledgeable cheesemongers at this Narberth mainstay to guide you through an impressive international selection that includes many smaller purveyors. Also check out the artisan jams, crackers, sweets and other speciality goods.
217 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 667-3663, www.thecheeseco.com.
The light, chewy crust, fresh sauce and creative toppings hint at Italy, but the vibe at BIGA is modern America: hip, unfussy and playful. The pies are fussed-over and exceptional, from the simple Margherita to the loaded Homeslice, with sausage, tomato, mozzarella, pecorino, broccoli rabe and garlic.
810 Glenbrook Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-4800, www.restaurantbiga.com.
Long night? Kick your weekend morning into gear with the veggie- and protein-packed specialties at this casual near-campus spot. Popular hangover cures include kofta (grilled meatballs) on a fluffy pita with lettuce, tomatoes and tzatziki, the Greek Caesar salad, or a hearty falafel bowl.
815 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, (610) 525-4745, www.novagrill.com.
Andrew Wyeth was a regular here for a reason. Comfort foods abound at Katie and Anthony Young’s labor of love. Regulars swear by the corned beef hash, the triple-decker club, the juicy rib-eyes and the Maryland-style crab cakes. Greek specialities also have a place in Hank’s kitchen—the gyros rock.
1625 Creek Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-7061, hanks-place.net.
The Belfiores have expanded their original i-Pasta restaurant to a neighboring historic building. The result is a sleek, renovated interior and a refreshed northern Italian menu featuring mix-and-match housemade pastas and exceptional sauces like pistachio pesto and pecorino formaggio.
134 E. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 887-0760, www.dolcezola.com.
Lucky’s dogs are made from Dietz & Watson natural-casings beef and pork blend, nestled in a soft, buttered New England-style roll. Traditional toppings include cheese and sauerkraut. Or pile on the pulled pork (with a housemade mustard-based barbecue sauce) and coleslaw, or shredded chicken smothered in buffalo sauce and topped with blue cheese crumbles.
4421 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 509-6005, luckyslastchance.com.
Don’t let the shopping center locale fool you—everything at Rize is designed for an elevated culinary experience, including the housemade mozzarella. Try it on a Venus pie, with artichoke hearts, baby spinach, red onion, fontina, feta and roasted garlic.
1991 S. Sproul Road, Broomall, (610) 325-7493, www.rizepizza.com.
Housemade Wing Sauce
Give your wings a serious kick with the hot or nuclear varieties, or play it safe with mild, barbecue or honey barbecue. The sauces at this no-frills pizza joint are all housemade—and they taste like it.
2900 West Chester Pike, Broomall, (610) 355-9424, www.alfredos-pizza.com.
The crispy dosa is served with sambar and chutney, and housemade breads like naan, roti and paratha perfect for sopping up the rich gravies from a memorable lamb roganjosh and murg korma. The ghulab jamun—sweet fried dumplings in rose-water syrup—makes the perfect sweet ending.
522 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 254- 9100, www.saffronofphilly.com.
CinCin’s menu deftly glides from Chinese and Pan Asian dishes to the occasional European offering. Fan favorites include the satay lamb sticks (chargrilled with a Malaysian barbecue sauce), spicy tarragon chicken with shiitake mushrooms, and veal escalopes with spicy peppers and onions in cumin sauce.
7838 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, (215) 242-8800, cincinrestaurant.com.
Italian for Families
The indoor fountain, wall murals and floor-to-ceiling windows transport diners young and old to an Italian piazza. For adults, there’s the prosciutto con rucola (with sharp provolone, arugula and balsamic), the baked branzino and a lightly breaded veal Parmesan. Younger, less adventurous diners will find plenty to their liking among the pasta dishes and, of course, the dessert menu.
4 Manor Road, Paoli, (610) 695-8990, sannicola.net.
This well-established foodie hub delivers some of the region’s finest Italian food in a market setting. Baked ziti, chicken pomodoro and lobster ravioli are a few customer favorites. We’re partial to the meatballs and the eggplant Caprese.
2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore, (610) 649-4046, www.carlinosmarket.com.
Chef Bert Johnston embellishes Miss Winnie’s signature recipes for Jamaican jerk, oxtail stew, curry chicken and fried plantains. Desserts include royal rum cake, plantain tarts and guava swirl cake.
211 E. Market St., West Chester, (484) 469-9151, misswinnies.com.
For a fitting introduction to Azie on Main’s impeccably crafted, well-sourced Pan-Asian cuisine, you can’t get much better than the soft-shell crab sushi rolls. Other stellar menu items include the wasabi Caesar, the surf-and-turf toban yaki (sizzling hot plate), and the drunken noodles.
789 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, (610) 527-5700, www.azieonmain.com.
Laurie and Thom D’Antonio have built a thriving little business around their savory, hand-blended small batches. Popular flavors include teriyaki-pineapple brisket, pizza-cheesesteak brisket and Sunday bottom round. Viable non-jerky options include Thomato chips and maple-sugar cotton candy.
20 Marchwood Road, Exton, (610) 524-1630, www.thomsjerky.com.
Tucked away in the manicured greenery, Longwood’s seasonal beer garden features signature brews on tap from Victory Brewing Company, which you can pair with wood-fired pizza, barbecue and burgers. Feel free to take your beer to go as you enjoy the fountain shows, live music and stunning horticulture. Fun fact: Some of the brews have ingredients from Longwood’s greenhouses.
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388- 1000, longwoodgardens.org.
Kabobs, Italian dishes, sandwiches and breakfast options cohabitate with Bonu’s signature pastry. Baked daily, the kolaches come with a variety of fillings, including sausage, egg and cheese, pomodoro mozzarella, and a dozen fruity variations.
320 E. Lincoln Hwy., Exton, (484) 872-8494, www.bonucafe.com.
Kombucha on Tap
MOM’s offers three rotating variations of this fermented, mildly effervescent tea on tap—all from Vermont-based Aqua ViTea. Kombucha is said to aid digestion and gut health, and it does have trace amounts of alcohol (less than .5 percent ABV). Memorable flavors include hibiscus ginger lime, strawberry sage and blood orange. Can’t get enough? Take home a growler.
1149 E. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 385-0220, momsorganicmarket.com.
This niche bakery crafts all sorts of sweets and baked goods using only kosher ingredients and following kashrut guidelines. The challah, hamantaschen and rugelach are delicious, as are the breads and croissants. But it’s the cookies— chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and more—that will really win you over.
219 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 667-9440.
Night owls love the “Ten After Nine” menu, which features comfy $10 dishes like barbecue beef-and-cheddar sliders, fish and chips, grilled chicken salad and homemade wild mushroom ravioli. A full bar and a select draft list keep the late-night fun going.
8636 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, (215) 247-9948, tavernonthehill.biz.
Local Beer Festival
Dozens of notable craft brewers from near and far will be slinging suds, with select distilleries and cideries pouring samples, at this annual bash, scheduled for Oct. 4 and 6. Nosh on pay-as-you-go options like barbecue, artisan pizzas, pretzel necklaces and sweets. It’s a well-orchestrated large-scale event befitting one of the biggest shopping hubs on the planet.
160 N. Gulph Road, King of Prussia, (484) 681-9452, kopbeerfest.com.
In just a few years, Tired Hands has evolved from a Euro-style brewing nook serving quirky, delicious beers into a craft beer powerhouse. Devotees drive hours to wait in line for its limited can releases. Lucky locals can pop in for a pint at either of its locations.
Fermentaria, 35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore, (418) 413-2983; Brew Café, 16 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore, (610) 896-7621, www.tiredhands.com.
Available at select local bars, restaurants, breweries and distilleries, Dressler’s hard ciders are pleasingly complex. Modern Still—the best of three excellent options—is made from a blend of Lancaster County pressed apples, its crispness and acidity providing enough punch to pair with creamy cheeses and charcuterie.
301 Whiteland Ave., Downingtown, (484) 693-0918, www.dresslerestate.com.
Locally Inspired Menu
Junto’s simple, stately dining room belies an adventurous kitchen that sources its meat, cheese and produce from around the region. On a menu loaded with highlights, we love the corn-and-mushroom agnolotti (with ricotta, black shallot, chili oil and fresh basil), and the baked East Coast oysters (with lemon-verbena butter and horseradish pearls).
100 Ridge Road, Suite 31, Chadds Ford, (484) 574-8041, www.juntobyob.com.
Save your appetite for the $14 Pronto Special, which includes a cup of homemade soup, a half sandwich on artisan bread—either lightly breaded chicken Parm or roasted salmon with pancetta—a salad or fries, and a beverage. You’ll be stuffed and out the door in no time.
1623 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (484) 770-8631, anticapa.com.
With their smooth, chewy exteriors and sweet, creamy centers, these two-bite delights come in classic flavors like chocolate ganache and cassis, and more experimental combos like lemon fig and raspberry rose.
9 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 649-7001, www.delicechocolat.com.
Margaritas and Mojitos
The margaritas in this stylish, upscale cantina are as well-executed as they come. Cool and refreshing with an easy slow burn, the Cucumber Jalapeño is perfect with ceviche or shrimp tacos. For pork dishes, the signature Al Pastor combines pineapple and allspice. Or forgo a traditional mojito for a more exotic strawberry, blackberry or pineapple twist.
560 Wellington Square, Exton, (484) 341-8886, www.eatalpastor.com.
Grass-fed, dry-aged prime beef is the star here. You’ll find dozens of custom cuts in the case, along with lamb, poultry and veal—all of it locally raised. Harder-to-find game options like squab and rabbit are also available—and don’t miss artisan sausage, marinated kabobs, seafood, cheese and baked goods.
145 S. Walnut St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-5980, www.countrybutchermarket.com.
This family-owned standby epitomizes the authentic Greek experience, specializing in souvlaki, paidakia, gyros, and other fish, lamb and chicken dishes, delivered to the table in ample portions. The signature moussaka is a must.
50 N. Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-0288, lourdasgreekrestaurant.com.
Authentic specials include chilaquiles—tortilla chips smothered in sauce and topped with eggs, queso fresco and avocado—and the bistec y huevos, a souped-up Mexican variation of steak and eggs served with homemade tortillas. Tote some vodka and order a pitcher of Bloody Mary mix.
1620 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (484) 770-8345, agavebyo.com.
La Piña carries 10 different varieties of this smoky tequila variation, which is made with agave cooked inside earthen pits lined with lava rocks and filled with wood and charcoal. Try it straight or in an Old Fashioned dusted with chili pepper-flecked worm salt—a potent cocktail that creeps up on you.
95 Wilmington West Chester Pike, Chadds Ford, (484) 800-8055, lapinacantina.com.
This Colombia native spent 10 years in Europe and another decade in our area mastering his mad skills behind the bar. At Enoteca Tredici, Hurtado is known for his signature cocktail, the Papi Collins—gin with cucumber-thyme nectar, fresh lime juice and champagne.
915 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 381-0268, www.tredicibm.com.
You know the naan is fresh at Nala because it’s made right before your eyes—chewy and tender, with just the right amount of char. The Kashmiri naan—stuffed with shredded coconut, cherries, golden raisins and almonds—is perfect for sopping up curries.
126 Woodcutter St., Exton, (484) 879-6728, www.nalaexton.com.
Neighborhood Italian Spot
Pescatore’s rustic Italian menu and generous portions are the perfect match for a welcoming atmosphere that’s upscale enough for any special occasion and casual enough for a weekend dinner with the kids. Standouts include fettuccine bolognese, chicken melanzana, tuna tartare salad, and braised short ribs with portobello ravioli.
134 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 660-9400, pescatorebyob.com.
Taking over the former station for the Minquas Fire Company, logtime friends Dylan Meanix and Kevin McGovern employ recycled pallets and custom wall art for a hipster ambience. And the beer is pretty good, too. Saddle up to the hand-poured concrete bar for a pint of the pale ale, West Coast IPA, DIPA or kölsch.
202 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (484) 593- 0815, eastbranchbrewing.com.
New Brewery Grub
Standouts at this small-batch newcomer include the 3-Legged Rabbit Altbier and Flying Guillotine IPA, along with handcrafted sandwiches like the black-bean dog and the pork-and-ham Cubano. Among the veggie delights: sweet-corn-and-green-chili flautas and the cilantro lime coleslaw.
1 N. Main St., Phoenixville, (484) 393-2337, rootdownbrewing.com.
New Hotel Restaurant
A facelift and a new menu bring fresh excitement to the Desmond’s former Hunt Room. As for chef Chris Calhoun’s menu, some of it is adventurous—as in the shrimp cocktail with lime-saffron aioli and cranberry-guava cocktail sauce. Other options are more staightforward but no less delicious—like the Black Angus beef tips with mac and cheese, smoked paprika, asparagus, and crème fraîche.
1 Liberty Blvd., Malvern, (610) 296-9800, www.forkandbottlemalvern.com.
Whether it’s a wedding, a b’nai mitzvah or an anniversary party, Serock will provide the custom touches. Opt for a traditional Mediterranean menu, mini beef Wellingtons or numerous other selections, then work with the team to nail your theme.
835 Lincoln Ave. A-2, West Chester, (610) 640- 2836, www.serockcatering.com.
Outdoor Bar and Patio
When the weather gets warm, Firepoint’s expansive patio space heats up. With its covered design, rain is never a deterrent. And even when it’s a little on the cool side, you can always cozy up with your sigificant other on a sofa near the outdoor fireplace.
3739 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (484) 428-3093, www.firepointgrill.com.
What Sardi’s lacks in ambience it makes up for with its flavorful chargrilled meats and affordable prices. If you’re looking for authenticity, opt for the rotisserie chicken with arroz chaufa (Peruvian fried rice) and vegetarian pinto beans.
4510 City Ave., Philadelphia, (215) 307- 3658, www.sardischicken.com.
Best Pie for Breakfast winner Apple Walnut Cafe. Photo by Ed Williams.
Pie for Breakfast
Pie for breakfast? Don’t knock it till you try it. Though the brunch menu at Apple Walnut has its own decadent charms (try the Fat Elvis French Toast, with peanut butter, banana and bacon), you may want to indulge in a homemade, crumb-topped slice of the namesake pie. It happens more than you know.
2924 West Chester Pike, Broomall, (610) 353-1384, applewalnut.com.
Pizza and Beer Joint
Grab a beer flight and dive into the Pontz—with local Italian sausage, Parmesan, roasted onions and mushrooms—or a white pie with pecorino, mozzarella and hand-piped ricotta. The bustling outdoor patio is made for summer.
8221 Germantown Ave., Market at the Fareway, Chestnut Hill, (215) 247-0300, www.chestnuthillbrewingcompany.com.
Place to Build a Craft Beer Six-Pack
This family-run Delco original has been serving great pies and more for generations. But informed beer lovers know that this is no ordinary pizza joint—thanks to the 25 rotating taps and 1,000 specialty bottles on site. The inventory rotates, so you can stock up on everything from local ales to obscure imports.
31 E. Baltimore Ave., Media, (610) 566-7767, pinbeer.com.
Place for Small Private Parties
Celebrate life’s moments in a quaint private or semiprivate nook fit for 15-60 guests—the event coordinator will handle the details. Menus are customizable and seasonal. Choices might include the jumbo lump crab cake, charred octopus and arugula salad, or the java pork tenderloin.
333 Belrose Lane, Wayne, (610) 293-1000, 333belrose.com.
Pop-Up Culinary Classes
Just off the busy Route 1 thoroughfare and not far from the construction juggernaut on 322, Terrain at Styers is an oasis amid the bustle of expansion. Escape into its rustically elegant garden center, where you can learn how to bake bread, make signature cookies and much more.
914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, (610) 459-6030, www.shopterrain.com/glen-mills.
This bright, inviting spot is a bastion of porcine enticements, from wild-boar burgers to bacon-slab flatbreads to a meaty, buttery Iberico loin that’s the Wagyu beef of prime pork.
382 E. Elm St., Conshohocken, (610) 234-0561, www.cerdorestaurant.com.
Stuffed with tender locally grown mushrooms, this cheesy wonder is served with smoky fire-roasted corn, black-bean salsa and a drizzle of umami-rich truffle aioli.
5 Brookline Blvd., Havertown, (610) 789-8432, www.vidabyob.com.
Barely a year old, Rai Rai Ramen is already a fixture in downtown West Chester, thanks to its mastery of more than 30 combinations of this classic noodle- and broth-based Asian comfort food. The rib-eye is a sure-bet protein—and don’t fear the ox tail.
124 E. Market St., Suite D, West Chester, (610) 738-8808.
Red Sauce Sunday
Every Sunday, Pepperoncini offers a selection of substantial plates from a special $15 menu (entree and a house salad). Our favorite? The herb-crusted grouper with fresh tomato, onion and olive caper sauce.
72 Poplar St., Conshohocken, (610) 941-7783, www.pepperoncinirestaurant.com.
The transformation of the former La Madera was a labor of love for new owner and chef Scott Morozin (Sola BYOB). Among the visually stunning plates: vodka-cured Ora King salmon, venison and Creekstone Farms ribeye. Throughout the menu, the texture and flavor combinations push the envelope. Cap your meal with the decadent chocolate combo served five ways.
102 East State St., Kennett Square, (484) 732-7932, www.verbenabyob.com.
The clubs, burgers, wraps, hoagies and cheesesteaks are all highlights. Grab a bite to go, or dine in among the ’60s-inspired art. A masterful example of decadence on a roll: the tiger steak, a mashup of beef and chicken cheesesteak with bacon.
523 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (484) 344-5250, www.masterpeacegrill.com.
To fully revel in the delicate flavors and textures elicited by the exceptional technique of executive sushi chefs Koichi Aoyama and Ken Dumrongkit-Mun, try the colorful sashimi sampler, with toro, tuna, salmon, yellowtail and king crab.
5492 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 644-8270, www.teikokurestaurant.com.
Seafood Fra Diavolo
Fra diavolo translates to “devil monk”—which would imply that this is a classic Italian dish with some bite. Fellini gets the balance just right, countering the fiery marinara sauce with an ample helping of mussels, calamari and crabmeat, making it a dark-horse menu favorite.
3541 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 353- 6131, fellinicafenewtownsquare.com.
White linens and earthy colors combine for a pleasant, farm-centric vibe at chef Jon Amann’s beloved BYOB. The menu is driven by the latest offerings from local farms. For first-time transcendence, opt for the crispy Berkshire pork belly with fennel, orange, pine nuts and white-bean puree.
105 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (484) 237-8179, amanisbyob.com.
Chef Andrew Cini’s tapas creations are pleasing to the eye and the palate. Some dishes on the seasonally driven menu change daily. Don’t ignore the crisped bravas potatoes, tossed in a choice of salsa verde, saffron aioli or salsa roja.
148 W. State St., Kennett Square, (302) 500-5576, www.delfrescoevents.com/mezze.
Matching the caravan-inspired décor, the plates are eclectic and even a little exotic, drawing from Italian and American culinary influences with elements of whimsy. With just oil, salt, red-pepper flakes, rosemary and a side of red sauce, Kim’s Gypsy Flatbread is a minimalist must. Ditto the cheesesteak egg rolls with spicy ketchup.
128 Ford St., Conshohocken, (610) 828-8494, www.gypsysaloon.com.
With a recipe that holds up to South Philly scrutiny, Ron’s roast pork is a menu sleeper—seasoned perfectly, sliced thin and piled high on your choice of bread, with a side of jus for dipping and drizzling. Toppings include broccoli rabe, hot peppers, provolone, Wisconsin cheddar, and horseradish sauce.
74 E. Uwchlan Ave., Exton, (610) 594- 9900, www.ronsoriginal.com.
Smoked Scottish Salmon
Chef Chip Roman continues to wow diners at his seafood-centric gem. The signature Scottish smoked salmon is a delicate balance of flavors and textures. A buttery hunk of smoked fish is centered over a deep fried egg, with a crispy-thin potato slice and mizuna microgreens perched on top.
119 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 397-0888, blackfishrestaurant.com.
At just 26, certified sommelier Michele Konopi is younger than some of the wines she’s pouring at Gulph Mills’ bastion of Riviera-inspired fine dining. Yet her passion for all things viniferous make her an impressively seasoned somm. This summer, try one of the refreshing rosés she’s featuring.
100 Old Gulph Road, Gulph Mills, (610) 520-1200, www.savonarestaurant.com.
Thanks to Scott Anderson’s approachable take on modern global fare, a break in shopping now means luscious shareables like spicy honey-mustard wings, ginger-pork meatballs, and toasts encrusted in macadamia nuts and slathered with onion jam. Mistral’s happy hour is casually haute—and affordable.
160 N. Gulph Road, King of Prussia, (610) 768-1630, www.mistralkop.com.
Spicy Sichuan/ Taiwanese Cuisine
Catherina and Kevin Huang have mimicked their Rittenhouse success story in the suburbs. The Sichuan and Taiwanese cuisine gives the restaurant its heat. Highlights include the fried pot stickers, hot-and-sour soup, spicy black-bean minced pork, and the signature DanDan noodles.
214 Sugartown Road, Wayne, (484) 580-8558, dandanrestaurant.com.
These addictive crispy nuggets come with any meal served in the dining room—with a spicy side of homemade ranch dressing.
519 Kimberton Road, Phoenixville, (484) 927-4244, libertyunionbar.com.
Barrel-cut rib-eye, center-cut filet mignon and melt-in-your-mouth prime rib pair perfectly with the bruts, Old and New World vintages, and impressive local blends at this historic tavern turned steakouse. Happy hour boasts paninis, sandwiches and award-winning burgers.
1617 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-8088, www.brandywineprime.com.
Talented, passionate and seemingly everywhere, Yong Kim spends six days a week ricocheting between City Line Avenue’s B2, Bluefin in East Norriton and his newest venture, Bluefin Eagleview, in Exton. Want to know what this guy can do? For starters, order the sushi and sashimi Omakase with three different artful cuts of melt-in-your-mouth Spanish bluefin tuna.
Now under new ownership, this cheery shop offers any array of traditional and vegan ice cream flavors, along with the requisite toppings. Also on the menu: shakes, sundaes, floats, and housemade cookies, brownies and baked goods. The salted caramel butter bars taste as decadent as they sound.
236 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 668-8888, www.villagetreatsnarberth.com.
The tacos made within the brightly painted exterior of this downhome Mexican kitchen are as authentic as they come. The clincher is the care devoted to the seasoned pork and other savory fillings. The corn tortillas are fresh, and toppings include cilantro, radish, lime, onion, rice, and red or green sauce. Feeling adventurous? Try the beef tongue.
609 W. Cypress St., Kennett Square, (610) 925-2651, lapenamexicana.com.
Aside from Beth Amadio’s hearty Provolone-and-marinara-smothered breaded cutlet stacks, the cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) is the major draw at this cozy Italian-American BYOB. Watch—and try not to drool—as your ample portion of fresh pasta is twirled with salt and cracked black pepper in the molten hollow of a blow-torched pecorino Romano cheese wheel.
201 Jefferson St., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 660-5224, www.cotoletta.net.
A Manayunk mainstay since 1987, Bruce Cooper continues to thrive by adapting to the millennial crowd as he keeps older audiences happy, as well. Fittingly, the grilled calves’ liver is retro with a twist, its dated implications erased by a red-wine demi, smoked bacon, onion jam and apple-potato hash.
4365 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 483-0444, www.jakesandcoopers.com.
Owner David Ravanesi makes his fior di latte cheese in-house, and his traditional long-fermented dough has exceptional flavor and texture. That accounts for the sublime Neapolitan pies that emerge from the giant wood-burning pizza oven.
790 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, (484) 840-8912, ravanesipizza.com.
Picture a modern country inn with a cowboy twist. Equally interesting are menu items like guacamole with lump crabmeat, a grilled shrimp BLT topped with buttermilk peppercorn dressing, and the grilled filet with sake-shitake sauce and truffle whipped potatoes. Outdoor seating is a bonus, weather permitting.
101 E. 7th Ave., Conshohocken, (610) 897- 8212, www.jaspersbackyard.com.
Upscale Casual Dining in the Western Suburbs
At Bryan Sikora’s utterly charming eatery, the many highlights include housemade pastas like mafalde with duck confit and walnut pesto, grilled octopus with charred lemon salsa verde and polenta croutons, and rustic wood-fired pizzas.
847 E. Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square, (484) 732-8320, www.hearthkennettsquare.com.
Upscale Japanese Cuisine
The sushi-boat presentations are works of art, loaded with subtle details that elevate the experience. Or treat yourself to the royal Peking duck, roasted in a custom-built pit and served with homemade pancakes—a Kuo original since 1974.
4-6 W. State St., Media, (610) 892-0115, margaretkuo.com.
Sleek, industrial, intimate and sexy, Phoenixville’s neo-vegan bistro showcases shareable plant-based alternatives, local beer and wine, and natural spirits. Don’t pass up the pickled Lancaster County vegetables, the seitan “rib” sliders, the ancho-spiced “carnitas” platos with marinated jackfruit, or the savory flatbreads.
236 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (484) 924-9530, sandcastlewinery.com/taste-phoenixville.
Vegan cold cuts and cheeses form the foundation for delicious meat-free copies like the My Favorite Cuban—faux pork, ham and salami with pickles and mustard, served panini-style.
18 S. Church St., West Chester, (484) 266-7381, www.loveagainlocal.com.
Whole Foods’ sushi supplier has more fish-free options than just your typical avocado roll. The Miso Garden Roll gets the salty and sweet balance just right with mango. Or try the Vegetable Dragon Roll, with avocado, carrots, cucumber and spinach.
15 E. Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, (610) 896- 3737, www.genjiweb.com.
Vegans and carnivores alike should appreciate this hearty grilled patty. It’s topped with balsamic red onions and served on a sweet potato roll with a side of veggie chips.
148 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 917-3333, thegreatamericanpub.com.
The Beard’s whiskey “bible” celebrates standards and rarities from the United States, Scotland and Ireland. Sip a Woodford Reserve or a Glenmorangie 18 in an atmosphere that’s part bistro, part saloon. And nothing goes better with a stiff drink than a menu favorite like steak mac and cheese.
4201 Main St., Manayunk, (267) 323-2495, www.thegoatsbeardmanayunk.com.
Made with Pennsylvania-grown grapes, Gino Razzi’s award-winning wine draws folks from near and far. And his events keep them coming back. Pairing events feature cheese and cupcakes. There’s also live music on the weekends.
124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 459-0808, www.pennswoodsevents.com.
Wine and Tapas
Owner Danilo Angelucci orchestrated his stunning expansion last year, incorporating a cozy bar and more dining space while retaining the approachable neighborhood feel. Soak up the friendly vibe as you sip Old and New World wines and nibble on ample small plates like the stacked baked eggplant, fried calamari and beef carpaccio.
78 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (610) 873-5544, anthonyscucinafresca.com.
With a name like Winger’s, you better know your wings. And the proof is in the sauce at this Nova institution, with a dozen options ranging on the heat index from mild (honey barbecue) to sinus-clearing “liquid fire” (mango habanero).
819 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, (610) 519-0300, www.wingersvillanova.com.
Though brick ovens are now a more common site at local restaurants, Felicia’s maintains its firm grasp on smoky-charred goodness. The classic cheese never disappoints, and specialty pies like the clams-and-garlic white and the goat-cheese-and-bacon are worth the upcharge.
18 Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 649-6900.
Year-Round Farmers Market
This hip community gathering place gives locavores their fix for 12 months straight. Grab a bite from one of the many food vendors, then shop for local produce, meats, baked goods and coffee. Or simply kick back in one of the oversized throne chairs near the outdoor fireplace.
8221 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, (570) 726-7030, www.marketatthefareway.com.