Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs 2019 Critics' Choice: Food & Drink
Terrain Café at Devon Yard is this year's winner for Best Atmospheric Dining and Best Dessert. Photo courtesy of URBN.
This 30-year-old artisan bakery makes allergen-friendly sweets a priority. Gluten-free options include flourless chocolate cake and cupcakes, plus almond and coconut macaroons. Also try the egg-free chocolate chip shortbread, cherry crumb tarts and raspberry thumbprint cookies.
7723 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, (215) 248-9235, www.nightkitchenbakery.com.
Ensconced on the second floor of a refurbished firehouse, East Branch offers far more than great beer. The food menu’s Asian leanings are well represented in the savory pho and the brisket sesame noodles with kimchi, peanuts and Szechuan chili oil.
202 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (484) 593-0815, eastbranchbrewing.com.
Asian Lunch Specials
For more than 10 years, the Li family has been mixing and matching traditional Asian cuisine in surprising ways. Ample weekday lunch specials include General Tso’s chicken, Buddha’s Delight and Penang pad Thai shrimp. Or go with the sushi platter.
564 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (484) 318-7655, www.veekooasiancuisine.com.
At the newest Terrain location, natural light during the day and twinkling illumination at night accentuate a charming greenhouse ambiance defined by its lush flora. Rife with fresh ingredients, the menu takes its cues from the atmosphere.
138 Lancaster Ave., Devon, (610) 590-4675, www.shopterrain.com.
Authentic Irish Pub
This Route 3 institution has enjoyed a 25-year run as a Chester County favorite for all things Emerald Isle. Tradition dictates having a go at its hearty shepherd’s pie (topped with broiler-singed mashed potatoes), bangers and mash, and Scotch eggs—and you’ll likely be back for more. Guinness pints are de rigueur, and there are several new handcrafted Irish spirits.
1227 West Chester Pike, West Chester, (610) 436-5222, www.thestonetavern1867.com.
Authentic Japanese Food
At one of the few Japanese-owned establishments in the region, chefs showcase fragrant curries, crispy tempuras, delicate shumai, rich udon noodle dishes, and colorful bento boxes.
5 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (484) 417-6745, www.maidoardmore.com.
The Gables at Chadds Ford is this year's Best Bar Menu winner. Photo courtesy of The Gables at Chadds Ford.
Candlelight, vintage décor, tufted banquettes and a rustic bar lend a unique intimacy to this historic converted barn, where the happy hour is anything but ordinary. The poutine, potato-and-ham croquettes and authentic shrimp and grits are all perfect for pairing with a diverse selection of wine, mixed drinks and craft beer.
423 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-7700, thegablesatchaddsford.com.
“It’s not work if you love what you do”—or so the saying goes. It’s been Scott Blaine’s mantra since he began pouring at TJ’s when the place opened almost 16 years ago. Blaine’s familiarity with his customers (even those long-lost ones) is almost as impressive as his ability to recite, expound upon and flavor-profile a voluminous list of rotating draft beers.
35 Paoli Plaza, Paoli, (610) 725-0100, tjsbeer.com.
Beer Delivery Service
West Chester’s premier producer of IPAs and more now delivers cans directly to customers through Project Mercury, making it the first brewery in the state to do so. And prices are the same as a pickup.
This popular fall event kicks off with the Donnerstag happy hour, featuring unlimited beer and food samples. The next day spotlights more than 100 craft and international beers for the area’s most inclusive take on Oktoberfest.
Choose from a selection of over 900 local craft, imported, microbrew and domestic beers. The 30-foot cooler has everything you need to create your own mix-and-match six-packs. If you’re not in a rush, choose from among the 16 beers on tap and hit the game room.
44 Greenfield Ave., Ardmore, (484) 416-3594, ardmorebeershoppe.com.
Tucked away in a quaint South Ardmore neighborhood, this petite corner spot is easy to miss—but not so easy to forget. Khadijah Bush and chef Aziza Young offer an enticing global menu (Moroccan lamb skewers, General Tso tofu) with a surprise Southern twist (crispy fried chicken, shrimp and grits).
1531 W. Wynnewood Road, Ardmore, (484) 413-2779, www.lavibyob.com.
Bottled Beer Selection
Norristown’s long-running restaurant and tap room has its own bottle shop—one that carries at least 400 different beers. Co-owner and acknowledged beer geek Matt Capone has rounded up everything from mass-produced domestics to hard-to-find cult classics like Heady Topper and Pliny the Younger.
224 W. Germantown Pike, Norristown, (610) 279-4748, capones-pa.com.
Breakfast and Lunch
If you’re looking for eggs, just yell out how you like ’em—this is, after all, Your Mom’s Place. Bill and Nancy Rutter pride themselves on a flexible menu that includes a crafty selection of omelettes, French toast, pancakes, cream chipped beef and other breakfast classics, along with burgers, steaks, hoagies, club sandwiches and more.
324 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-7481, www.momsphoenixville.com.
The cooks at Green Street Grill can fry an egg and cream chipped beef like nobody else. But this fast-paced crew also makes the area’s best breakfast burrito, a toasty wrap filled with scrambled eggs, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes and avocado and topped with a zesty salsa. You’ll need two hands for this one.
150 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Downingtown, (610) 873-1700, greenstgrill.com.
At this easy in-and-out, brothers Sam and Bijan Zomorrodian expedite orders of any size with friendly precision, whether it’s a lone English muffin sandwich or multiple platters for a high-powered breakfast meeting.
320 E. Lincoln Highway, Exton, (484) 872-8494, www.bonucafe.com.
A natural complement to the small-batch beers at this convivial two-story tap house, the stellar smoked brisket comes as a hearty hand-carved platter or as the prime ingredient in its cheesesteaks. The meat’s tender goodness is the product of patience—a slow-cooking process over low heat.
1000 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-1100, www.tinlizardbrewingco.com.
This first-class steakhouse also excels at brunch. The buffet selection includes hearty soups, smoked salmon, cheese and charcuterie, mini housemade pastries, salads, and more. Locally sourced egg dishes, chicken and waffles, and steak frites are among the highlights from the kitchen. To liven things up, try a pomegranate or strawberry mimosa.
1617 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-8088, brandywineprime.com.
Autograph Brasserie in Wayne is this year's winner for Best Brunch Cocktails
A solid go-to is the Autograph Bloody Mary, made with Tito’s Vodka (infused with tomato and black pepper), sriracha and bleu cheese. If you’re looking for something a little different, try the Daly Pair, a mélange of Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, pear, fig, limoncello, iced tea, agave and lemon.
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 964-2588, www.autographbrasserie.com.
For the most sinful entry on his decadent burger list, chef Kevin Diskin starts with three artisanal patties from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors cooked to juicy medium perfection. The onion ring, mac and cheese, fried mozzarella, and candied bacon make seven. Less deadly are the lettuce, tomato and bacon jam. Come famished.
1548 Shadyside Road, West Chester, (484) 593-0850, righteoustaphouse.com.
Burger and Brew
Expertly grilled and topped with bacon, caramelized red onion, avocado and a choice of cheese, McKenzie’s Certified Hereford Beef burgers may be the local chain’s most underrated asset—especially when paired with a house-brewed lager or ale.
Various locations, www.mckenziebrewhouse.com.
BYOB with No Corkage Fee
Chef Steven Howells’ noodle dishes, tempting “conversation starters,” and heartier “more like mains” encourage sharing among multiple guests—not to mention multiple bottles. So it’s nice to know that you don’t have to worry about a corkage fee.
106 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (484) 924-9906, louettesbyo.com.
Café with a Conscience
Restaurants don’t get much more pet-friendly than this adorable low-key spot, which is owned by—and benefits—nonprofit Pet Adoption and Lifecare Society. Open 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, Black Cat serves breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches and quiche, plus a fairly extensive vegan menu. Don’t be surprised if a feline friend or two slinks past your table.
42 Berkley Road, Devon, (610) 688-1930, theblackcatcafe.business.site.
Thorndale Inn is revered by regulars for its friendly, casual atmosphere, but it’s the chef’s specials—as reasonably priced as they are internationally inspired—that keep serious diners coming back. Recent options included braised leg of Lamb Swabia, sauteed Mahi Galicia, and an 8-ounce filet topped with German-style sauerbraten sauce.
430 Bondsville Road, Downingtown, (610) 269-5455, www.thorndaleinn.com.
“Using the best butter makes the difference,” says Saint Peter’s Bakery owner Melanie Melle, whose intensive kneading process produces over 100 layers of pastry, making her flaky, buttery, bittersweet treats a true Parisian delight.
3441 Saint Peters Road, Saint Peters, (610) 469-7501, www.saintpetersbakery.com.
At the easygoing, retro-flavored Ripplewood, there’s a bar on each floor for a reason. You can’t miss with throwback favorites like the Ripp Manhattan, the Havana Old Fashioned, and a Whiskey Sour with an egg white flourish. Whimsically unique concoctions include the Buzzed Bunny (Maker’s Mark, carrot and ginger) and the Millionaire Juice Box (Old Grandad, orange, lemon and passion fruit).
29 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 486-7477, ripplewoodbar.com.
Classic Polish Meal
Count yourself fortunate if you can score this authentic Eastern European classic—kielbasa, sauerkraut, and homemade potato-and-cheese pierogies topped with horseradish cream sauce and crumbled bacon. It’s a newer special, so call ahead.
4 West Ave., Wayne, (610) 964-9535, thegreatamericanpub.com/wayne.
This Delware County-based indie coffeehouse roasts small-batch organic and fair trade blends full of depth and flavor. The bitey cardamom black pepper iced matcha latte is unlike anything you’ve ever sipped.
Various locations, www.burlapandbean.com.
Manatawny develops and distributes world-class spirits up and down the East Coast. Its Pennsylvania collaborations include a brandy made with apples from Boyertown’s Frecon Farms, plus two whiskeys—one made with local Swarmbustin honey and another with maple syrup from Avondale’s Whiskey Hollow.
320 Circle of Progress Drive, Pottstown, (484) 624-8271, www.manatawnystillworks.com.
The decadent gastropub treats at this wildly popular local chain redefine comfort—in particular, the confit wings braised in duck fat, short-rib grilled cheese with jalapeño jam, and wild boar sliders with whiskey apple compote. Cap off the decadence with some deep-fired cheescake.
Various locations, www.bricknbrewpub.com.
Kennett Square's Philter is this year's winner for Best Cozy Coffee House. Photo by Ed Williams.
The homey vibes are as savory as the coffee at this beloved downtown Kennett gathering spot persided over with the utmost care by Chris and Heather Thompson. Even when it’s busy, one can usually find a spot by the window to catch up on emails or people watch.
111 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-7687, philtercoffee.com.
Craft Your Own Six Pack
Part bottle shop, part pizzaria, Pinocchio’s has an inventory that encompasses 200-plus American and international breweries. Aside from the 25 rotating taps, the vast selection includes over 1,000 specialty beers in bottles and cans, along with gluten-free ciders and limited releases.
31 E. Baltimore Ave., Media, (610) 566-7767, pinbeer.com.
A funky bit of New Orleans just around the corner from West Chester University, High Street has been alive and kicking for almost 25 years—long enough to have a lock on Cajun cuisine (and the convivial vibe that accompanies it) in Chester County. Signature dishes include the jambalaya, etouffee, blackened alligator and (super) spicy voodoo shrimp.
322 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 696-7435, www.highstreetcaffe.com.
Alicat roves the region food-truck style, offering a French-inspired menu focused on made-to-order crêpes with fillings like ham and swiss, peaches and cream, and s’mores.
Tucked away in an industrial park off Route 30, this new craft brewery and taproom impresses with it’s spacious interior, vast windows, seasonal beer garden, and “Founding Four” IPA, pale ale, ESB and stout. You’ll want to take a reasonably priced 32-ounce crowler to go.
50 Three Tun Road, Malvern, (484) 324-4141, www.locustlanecraftbrewery.com.
Cooks of all skill levels will feel comfortable at chef Art Roman’s Kitchen Workshop, where they’ll receive hands-on instruction in a modern facility. Classes are limited to 12 students and cover everything from basic techniques to baking to healthy, low-fat cuisine.
21 Plank Ave., Paoli, (610) 993-2665, www.kitchen-workshop.com.
For almost 30 years, the skilled hands at Clay’s have been crafting single- or multi-layered works of art for birthdays, graduations, weddings and other special events. Trendy cake choices include amaretto, chocolate chip and marble, with an array of rich frostings, toppings and seasonal fillings.
700 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 647-2119, claysbakery.net.
Start by picking your crust: traditional, gluten-free or (our favorite) cauliflower. Then it’s on to the sauce (San Marzano tomato, basil pesto or spicy diablo), cheeses, proteins and veggies. Top off your creation with herbs and a drizzle of truffle oil or honey.
Various locations, www.snapcustompizza.com.
At this approachable Northern California-style bistro, the specials truly shine—so much so that they sometimes become regular menu items. Prime examples of this phenomenon are the Sunday Gravy—beef, pork and veal ragout with gemelli pasta and whipped ricotta—and the San Francisco Cioppino, with scallops, mussels, shrimp and jumbo lump crab meat.
789 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, (484) 380-3688, mainandvinebistro.com.
This unique closer arrives in a glass vessel that holds an earthy mix of soft milk chocolate ganache, dark-chocolate mousse, white chocolate matcha crunch, dark-chocolate cake and dulce de leche. Order two—you won’t want to share.
138 Lancaster Ave., Devon, (610) 590-4671, www.shopterrain.com.
Executive chef Sam Nahhas brings vibrant color and a touch of the unexpected to every dessert presentation, whether it’s his Guinness sponge cake, pink guava cheesecake, Nutella crêpes or house-made seasonal gelatos. For a treat to go, try the French macarons or ganache-filled bonbons from Normandy Farm’s on-site Bakeshop.
1401 Morris Road, Blue Bell, (215) 616-8300, www.farmersdaughterpa.com.
Every Wednesday evening from May through September, Media’s restaurants work together to transform State Street into a unique alfresco dining destination. Live music and entertainment abound, enhancing an array of cuisine from over 25 eateries.
(610) 566-5039, www.visitmediapa.com.
The corrugated-aluminum walls of this rough-and-tumble joint hold a delicious secret: flavorful hormone-free chicken wings, premium brisket, pulled pork, and St. Louis-style spare ribs—all cooked in an on-site smoker.
400 Brower Ave., Phoenixville, (610) 666-6600, www.theperky.com.
Dog-Friendly Beer Garden
Featuring over 500 beers from around the globe and a menu of traditional tavern favorites, this spacious watering hole is popular with pooches, too—thanks to its large outdoor patio.
102 Main St., Exton, (610) 991-2863, worldofbeer.com.
Sink your teeth into savory handheld deep-fried stuffed empanadas at this mobile marvel. Choices include beef, pork or chicken, plus weekly specials like potato-and-chorizo or broccoli-and-cheese combos with black beans and rice.
(610) 389-2589, www.abuelitasempanadas.com.
Oddly, the English translation of Suizas is Swiss. We’re told it has something to do with the creamy nature of this standout dish—three soft corn tortillas stuffed with grilled chicken, a velvety tomatillo sauce and melted queso Oaxaca, topped with onions and sour cream. Pair them with a Jaliscan Sunset or one of the other creative tequila cocktails.
821 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (484) 580-6369, lumbrada.com.
For just $16 a person (with food purchase), you can enjoy bottomless mimosas—or Bloody Marys. We can’t think of a better way to wash down an order of truffled scrambled eggs, corned beef hash or one of the other tasty items on chef Eric Yost’s à la carte menu. After all, brunch is about indulging, yes?
570 Wellington Square, Exton, (610) 458-2337, www.suburbanbg.com.
Located just steps from the Haverford R5 station, Green Engine brews Philly-based Rival Bros Coffee using an emerald-green La Marzocco GB/5 affectionately known as the “Green Machine.” The result is a smooth, rich espresso.
16 Haverford Station Road, Haverford, (610) 642-1700, www.greenenginecoffee.com.
Family Meals To-Go
In 2006, Claire Guarino came up with a way to get seasonally prepared, hassle free meals to your table. Menus using local ingredients include goat cheese and bacon stuffed chicken, hearty beef chili with corn and spinach mushroom and cheese quiche. Order by phone, in person or online for pick up or delivery. Simply pop it in the oven and voila, you have a home-cooked meal—without the dishes.
1 Paoli Plaza, Paoli, (610) 647-1002, www.homecooked.net.
Downright addictive, Lee Krasley’s hand-cut Garage Fries are deep-fried in Georgia peanut oil to a crispy golden brown. Go “dirty” and turn your side into a meal, with brown gravy, Cheez Whiz, Nueske’s bacon crumbles and scallions.
570 Simpson Drive, Chester Springs, (610) 615-5189, www.epicureangarage.com.
You won’t feel like you’re missing out when it comes to Dia Doce’s scrumptious selection of seasonal gluten-free and/or vegan cupcakes. Varieties include white velvet, snickerdoodle and the utterly enchanting black magic.
100 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 476-5684, www.diadoce.com.
You always feel like part of the family at Viggiano’s, where the impossibly tender gnocchi with baby meatballs is, in a word, transformative.
16 E. 1st Ave., Conshohocken, (484) 344-5561, viggianosbyob.com.
Gourmet Cheese Selection
This 36-year-old Main Line mainstay always impresses with its array of international cheeses, from the semi-hard Cotswold to the lusciously creamy Humboldt Fog.
217 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 667-3663, www.thecheeseco.com.
Customer favorites include the San Daniele, with prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, goat cheese, arugula and sea salt, and the Pizza Man Special, slathered with béchamel sauce and topped with grilled chicken, bacon and caramelized onions.
78 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (610) 873-5544, anthonyscucinafresca.com.
Olga and Brian Dressler’s dry and fruity Modern Still and oaky, lightly carbonated King in Arms are standouts in the burgeoning regional cider scene. The Downingtown cidery is continuing to widen its distribution at area restaurants and bottle shops.
Visit the website for locations. www.dresslerestate.com.
Offering alfresco dining overlooking Main Street, Winnie’s continues to be a favorite brunch destination thanks to healthy seasonal selections like steel-cut oatmeal, vegetarian chile, avocado toast, kale salad and a sublime veggie Benedict.
4266 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 487-2663, www.winniesmanayunk.com.
At Malvern’s sleek new hub for the health conscious, owners Ashley Kessler and Maroš Hajduck offer creative grain-free breakfast options like Warrior Toast topped with mashed avocado, egg, tumeric, pepper, pink Himalayan salt and olive oil, and Jamaican Jerk chicken and waffles. For lunch, we highly recommend the cauliflower cheesesteak, with carmelized onions and homemade cheese, served on grain-free focaccia bread.
360 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (484) 318-7537, www.theamfactory.com.
Alex “Tank” Reid and Joe “Libby” Libertore’s year-old joint is worth the drive to Drexel Hill for at least three reasons: their Bananas Foster hot cakes, a classic Italian roast pork sandwich, and a pulled corned-beef reuben to beat all reubens.
1011 Pontiac Road, Drexel Hill, (484) 455-7527, tankandlibbys.com.
Homemade Italian Specialties
A marquee favorite at Anthony’s is the center-cut tenderloin Filet Elisa, topped with jumbo lump crab meat, Swiss cheese and a rich hazelnut cream. Other can’t-miss classics at the 26-year-old Delco institution include the spaghetti with clam sauce and the eggplant Parmesan.
4990 State Road, Drexel Hill, (610) 623-6900, anthonysdrexelhill.com.
This unassuming spot has found a captive audience for its dosas, aloo bonda and other South Indian street food. We also crave its veggie-loaded Sambar soup, spicy chicken Korma, boneless chicken Biryani and hearty lamb Vindaloo.
216 Pottstown Pike, Exton, (610) 594-1500, www.ruchiexton.com.
The name speaks for itself. This casual BYOB on West Chester’s far eastern edge melds traditional Japanese fare with specialties from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. More creative dishes include the sushi pizza, with salmon, tuna and caviar. The udon and pad Thai also warrant a visit.
1107 West Chester Pike, West Chester, (610) 429-9999, www.fusionasianpa.com.
It takes only a few minutes of soaking up the interaction behind the counter to realize that this is the best sort of family operation. Paola Coppola loves to cook—and she loves her customers even more. First-timers are greated as warmly as regulars, and nothing on the menu disappoints, from the brick-oven pizzas and calzones to the salads, hoagies and pastas (some made in-house, others imported). Top off your takeout meal with classic tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake or crunchy cannolis.
128 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-6898, www.paolascucina.com.
Kombucha’s slightly fizzy, energy-boosting probiotics are all the rage right now, and Baba’s Bucha is some of the best around. The tasting room is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays at A Culture Factory, which also offers food workshops, yoga and more.
333 Morgan St., Phoenixville, (267) 738-1973, aculturefactory.com.
Buy the Dozen
Stock up for your next b’nai mitzvah, Hanukkah or Shabbat from this family-run bakery with a rabid Main Line following. Bulk goodies include traditional fruit-filled hamantaschen, bagels, challah, rugalah, kamish bread, cookies and croissants.
123 W. Rockland St., Philadelphia, (610) 667-9440.
At SOMO, happy hour makes an encore appearance from 10 to 11 p.m. every night. Soak up the alcohol with something from a delicous bar menu that includes honey or hot sriracha wings, pulled pork sliders, and the infamous Disco Fries, with short-rib gravy and bacon.
4311 Main St., Manayunk, (267) 297-6668, somomanayunk.com.
The award-winning brews may be the headliner at La Cabra, but the seasonal gastropub fare also warrants some love. Standouts include shrimp sopas and the signature braised goat. Look for a new La Cabra location in Bryn Mawr any day now.
642 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 240-7908, www.lacabrabrewing.com.
At one of Delco’s favorite Tex-Mex taquierias, the combo taco platters, taquitos and over-stuffed burritos are a huge draw. Lovers of tradition will appreciate the filling chicken and pork tamales.
1178 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, (610) 604-9599, www.fiestamaya-mexicangrill.com.
Whiskey Hollow Maple is this year's winner for Best Maple Syrup. Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
Avondale’s Kyle and Sara Dewees up the ante on the sweet-and-sticky stuff, aging it in barrels from Pottstown’s Manatawny Still Works. Popular at farmers’ markets, their all-natural syrup can also be found at Kimberton Whole Foods, Malvery Buttery, Mary Pat’s Provisions, Station Tap Room and worKS. The flavor profile is sweet and smooth—perfect as a recipe ingredient and, of course, for drizzling over pancakes.
Maple Sugar Cotton Candy
Laurie and Thom D’Antonio have built a thriving small business around their hand-blended small-batch jerky. And their maple-sugar cotton candy (when available) is a fluffy melt-in-your-mouth treat.
20 Marchwood Road, Exton, (610) 524-1630, www.thomsjerky.com.
The secret to an Al Pastor margarita is the house-made sour mix, which cushions the impact of the pure agave Lanazul Blanco Tequila.
560 Wellington Square, Exton, (484) 341-8886, www.eatalpastor.com.
Certified master butcher/owner Dan Boxler can conquer every carnivorous craving with his vast selection of beef, chicken and pork, plus custom cuts of bison, squab and pheasant. The inviting Euro-style market also offers local and international cheeses, baked goods, soups, salads, spices, sauces, and 16 varieties of housemade sausage.
145 S. Walnut St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-5980, www.countrybutchermarket.com.
Bryn Mawr's Enoteca Tredici is this year's winner for Best Mediterranean-Inspired Menu. Photo by Steve Legato.
Greg Dodge’s Enoteca empire continues to expand—and it’s no wonder. The menu is loaded with savory Mediterranean surprises like braised rabbit pappardelle, Albert’s chicken Parmesan drizzled with a spicy honey, and a 12-inch pistachio-pesto flatbread topped with arugula and lemony vinaigrette.
915 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 381-0268, tredicibm.com.
Two years since opening, Clint Tichnell and Jeremy Burke’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it brewery has gained a cult following with offbeat brews like Finer Wee Booty Stout, Scorned Woman IPA, and Hatchet, Ax and Saw Belgian Golden Strong. In their intimate Chester County space, these passionate beer-loving pals pour their creations Thursday-Sunday.
135 N. Main St., Spring City, tunedupbrew.com.
This massive brewery debuted late last year with Nate Olewine (Victory Brewing, Devils Backbone) at the helm. Draft cider, wine and signature cocktails round out the already accomplished lineup of pilsners, lagers, IPAs, stouts and seasonal brews.
250 King Manor Drive, King of Prussia, (484) 997-8278, www.workhorsebrewing.com.
The as-yet-unheralded Elizabeth Sempervive is starting to make a name for herself, recently as the executive chef at Malvern’s Avola Kitchen + Bar—where she demonstrated ample skill and style in signature plates like her Mediterranean-inspired Gnocchetti Sardi and Shrimp Saganaki—and currently as a line cook at the Brandywine River Museum of Art’s Millstone Café. For this young chef, the sky’s the proverbial limit. *
1 Hoffmans Mill Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, www.brandywine.org.
[*Editors note: This copy has been updated to reflect Sempervive’s new position at Millstone Café.]
Not-Your-Average Brunch Menu
Tote a bottle of something sparkling to go with the fresh-squeezed orange juice at this neighborhood fave. Recent specials have included the Italian-style Frittata Montella. The Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich—a spicy fried chicken breast topped with house-made ranch dressing and pickles, served on a soft snowflake bun—is pure Southern comfort.
521 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 832-5708, brunchconshy.com.
Not to be confused with the well-known national chain, this version offers a more focused take on its like-named counterpart. It offers organic produce, raw dairy, humanely raised meats, specialty and gourmet foods, baked goods, supplements, household items, and more—all with a more personalized touch.
Various locations, www.kimbertonwholefoods.com.
Phoenixville's Nui Nui Kitchen is this year's Best Pad Thai winner. Photo by Ed Williams.
Nui Kullanna still has a lock on the stir-fried rice noodle dish of her homeland, plus other street foods like fried dumplings and drunken noodles.
301 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (484) 302-5141, www.nuinuikitchen.com.
Andiario in West Chester is this year's winner for Best Pasta. Photo by Steve Legato.
A recent James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant in the Mid-Atlantic region, West Chester’s 34-seat darling earned that nomination due largely to chef Anthony Andiario’s hand-rolled pastas. Don’t miss the pheasant-and-ricotta-stuffed tortelloni, the sublime tagliatelle with creamy chanterelle, or his roasted onion ragu.
106 W. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 887-0919, andiario.com.
Fresh breads, croissants and flaky pastries take center stage at this open-concept farmhouse-style eatery. The totally Parisian galette pastry, with seasonal fruit, tastes like it was imported from the City of Light, and the pecan sticky buns are a worthy morning indulgence.
233 E. King St., Malvern, (610) 296-2534, www.malvernbuttery.com.
Rain or shine, Firepoint’s impressive outdoor eating-and-drinking area benefits from seasonal breezes, attentive servers, a massive 40-stool bar and a variety of seating options, from high-tops and standard tables to comfy sofas and chairs arranged in front of a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.
3739 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (484) 428-3093, www.firepointgrill.com.
This year-old spinoff of the successful South Philly original offers pho loaded with tender eye of round steak, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables. Or try the pho deluxe, which has just enough tripe and beef tendon to raise the exotic threshold.
43 Cricket Ave., Ardmore, (610) 642-1888, www.namphuongbistro.com.
It’s “the pie that built a café”—or at least that’s how the McCormick and Morozin families tout their to-die-for pie. Equally delicious are the Jewish apple cake and linzertorte.
2924 West Chester Pike, Broomall, (610) 353-1384, applewalnut.com.
Nova’s classic pita options—steak and lamb gyro, locanico (Greek sausage) and kofta (meatball)—are priced right and portioned perfectly for the nearby hungry student population. But the quality of the food proves that this is no mere college dive.
815 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, (610) 525-4745, www.novagrill.com.
Pizza and Beer
Chef Isaac Quinn brings Overbrook-style pan pizza to the hinterlands at this newly restored 1858 mansion. His repertoire includes barbecued chicken with grilled red onion, smoked mozzarella and cheddar, pepperoni and peppers, plus an old-school tomato pie. All go down well with a bottled beer or a draft.
3512 Strasburg Road, Coatesville, (484) 718-5121, www.stottsvilleinn.com.
Place for Special Celebrations
This Eagleview Town Center anchor provides a welcoming atmosphere and a diverse seasonal American menu with just enough ethnic flavor to spark interest, whether its a birthday lunch, an intimate anniverary dinner, or a private party for family, friends or coworkers.
540 Wellington Square, Exton, (610) 321-1600, www.bricksidegrille.com.
Place for Students and Parents
Just minutes from a handful of college campuses, this casual neighborhood pub has become a go-to for students and visiting parents. The vibe is friendly and fun but never rowdy, the food is simple and consistent, and you’ll always find a few hometown favorites on tap.
863 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 527-5870, thegroggrill.com.
Though Brett Holbert’s loving culinary tribute to all things fungi recently relocated, it didn’t move far. Just across State Street, the new larger space has a martini bar with its own food menu. There’s also a gas-fired pizza oven. Thankfully, Holbert has retained classics like the exotic mushroom crêpe, stroganoff (with creminis) and veal madeira (with portobellos).
108 E. State St., (610) 925-4984, www.portabellosofkennettsquare.com.
Nui Kullanna has reconceptualized her former Thai L’Elephant with a new Asian fusion menu, stunning décor and a liquor license. Don’t miss the butternut squash steak with shitake “bacon” or the braised hoisin pork rigatoni.
301 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (484) 302-5141, www.nuinuikitchen.com.
Established in 1991, Bunha Faun was a French Thai trailblazer in our western suburbs—and it has outlasted so many other restaurants for a reason. Its affordable menu runs the gamut, from escargot to chicken curry to filet mignon. But the roast duckling—meaty and succulent, with a seasonal fruit reduction sauce—is a perennial headliner.
152 W. Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 651-2836, www.bunhafaun.net.
At this comfortable Italian eatery nestled in the hills overlooking I-76 and the Schuylkill River, chef/owner Beth Amadio prepares Cacio e Pepe tableside. A fresh wheel of cheese serves as a bowl for twirling fresh pasta, which is then plated and topped with fresh-cracked pepper. Rarely does something so simple have the feel of such a culinary event.
201 Jefferson St., Belmont Hills, (610) 660-5224, www.cotoletta.net.
Phoenixville's Analog Room is this year's winner for Best Rooftop Bar. Photo by Ed Williams.
The quirky ’70s vibe is on point at the Analog, which offers a modified Volkswagen bus, beer-hall-style tables, retro arcade games and views of downtown Phoenixville.
212 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 935-7141, bistroonbridge.com.
Drinking sangria isn’t like wearing white. You can consume it year round—particularly at Cerdo. The bartenders at this Spanish-focused restaurant and bar infuse their memorable mixture with refreshing Sicilian Nero D’Avola, a full grenache-style red wine buffered with soft tannins.
382 E. Elm St., Conshohocken, (610) 234-0561, cerdorestaurant.com.
West meets East at this historic inn, which features an offbeat balance of American comfort fare and Pacific Rim specialties. We’re particulary impressed with the raw works of art coming from the sushi bar, including the yellowtail with jalapeños and a tantalizing tobiko-flecked tartare trio.
646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, (610) 234-6189, thegeneralnow.com.
Custom-made favorities for entertaining at home include poached salmon, cocktail shrimp, crab claws, and a selection of fish from Sugartown Smoked Specialties.
Various locations, www.hillsqualityseafood.com.
Seasonal Small Plates
At this acclaimed spot, crunchy spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, a smoked salmon Liberty Roll and other highlights on the regular menu are augmented by seasonal standouts like grilled octopus, scallop yakitori, gluten-free katsuobushi mussels, and more.
401 E. City Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 227-1507, www.b2bluefin.com.
Seasonal Tuscan Menu
The Orangery at Glen Isle
Multi-course meals at this cash-only BYOB are hosted once a night in the main house on this historic property, where the ambiance is simple yet exquisite. The menu changes weekly, but recent highlights have included a shrimp crostini in pink sauce, farfalle pasta with salmon, and Mugnaia-style seared tilapia with lemon, parsley and Italian spice.
130 S. Lloyd Ave., Downingtown, (484) 401-5554, www.orangeryatglenisle.com.
It stands to reason that one of the area’s top restaurants also has one of its most inviting lounges. Weekday happy hour (4-7 p.m.) is a great time in indulge in a variety of shareable nibbles like the tender short rib on toast, blackened Jail Island salmon tacos, and deviled eggs studded with chorizo and manchego.
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 964-2588, www.autographbrasserie.com.
Known for its pomme frites, croque madame and mussels, Teresa’s is also a marvel with soups. Rustic and zesty, this Flemish-style take on tomato meatball soup incorpates carrots and pork-and-veal fricadelles.
126 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, (610) 293-9909, teresas-nextdoor.com.
South American Cuisine
This barebones City Avenue storefront brings a well-seasoned Peruvian flair to the region with its street-style empanadas, Inca burrito bowls and pork chops. The namesake roasted half chicken is seared to perfection in a charcoal rotisserie.
4510 City Ave., Philadelphia, (215) 307-3658, www.sardischicken.com.
Like many a low-key barbecue joint in the South, Mabel’s makes up for the no-frills atmosphere with its food—ribs, brisket, chicken wings and fried catfish. Sides include hushpuppies, collard greens and fried okra.
607 E. Market St., West Chester, (610) 701-0288, www.mabelsbarbeque.net.
Stuffed French Toast
This modest diner is tucked inside the Ardmore train station. But don’t let that discourage you from pursuing this weekend indulgence. Options include seasonal fruit or peanut butter and banana, both made with thick Challah bread.
6 Station Road, Ardmore, (610) 642-3889, www.ardmorecafe.com.
Sweet and Salty Gifts
Penny candies, fresh nuts, yeasty hard pretzels, rich chocolates, nut butters and other sweets comingle at this Conshohocken mainstay.
441 E. Hector St., Conshohocken, (610) 828-7440, edwardsfreeman.com.
Sweet Potato Cupcakes
The base for Kim Davis’ one-of-a-kind creation is spongy-soft sweet potato cake, topped with cream cheese frosting and a caramel rose buttercream.
15 Bridge Ave., Berwyn, (610) 644-1868, www.sweetjazmines.com.
You’ll be happy to eat your liver at Kimberton Inn, where the historically maligned dish is elevated to its proper retro stature with caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, mashed potatoes and a port wine reduction.
2105 Kimberton Road, Kimberton, (610) 933-8148, www.kimbertoninn.com.
With a name like Couch Tomato, you better make a great tomato soup—and their basil bisque version doesn’t disappoint. Go traditional with a grilled cheese for dunking. It’s creamy comfort in a bowl.
102 Rector St., Manayunk, (215) 483-2233; 31 W. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 887-0241; www.thecouchtomato.com.
Phillies and Eagles players have been spotted at the Bercy. But you don’t have to be a local celeb to revel in the steller scene at this Rittenhouse Square-caliber hotspot, with its horseshoe-shaped bar, soaring ceilings, elegant chandeliers and plush teal banquettes.
7 Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 589-0500, www.thebercy.com.
Bon Appetite has praised chocolatier Christopher Curtin for his Spanish-inspired truffle-crafting acumen. The velvety ganache of his Peruvian Nacional is coated in a rare cacao and hand-rolled in Venezuelan cocoa powder.
24 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 692-5206, eclatchocolate.com.
TSB’s double-stacked turkey burger is a mouthwatering beast, topped with gooey sharp cheddar and American cheeses, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a red chili Russian dressing. The grilled brioche bun is almost an afterthought.
843 E. Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square, (610) 444-3940, twostonespub.com.
Stacked on a toasted Liscio’s roll, these burgers are anything but ordinary. Options include the PB & Bacon, the double-pattied Joocey Lucy and the infamous PK Burger (with perogies, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and sour cream).
4421 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 509-6005, www.luckyslastchance.com.
Upscale Casual Dining
Talula’s Table cofounder Bryan Sikora makes strip-center dining artfully delicious at his stylish wine bar and café. Exceptional handmade pastas, salads soups, small plates, boards, wood-fired pizzas and more lure patrons into an unexpected culinary oasis.
847 E. Baltimore Pike, Kennett Square, (484) 732-8320, www.hearthkennettsquare.com.
This six-ounce soy-based patty has an uncanny meaty flavor and a juicy consistency that’s oh so close to the real thing. For something lighter, try the Impossible Mini Sliders.
81 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 240-0222, www.thegreyhoundcafe.com.
Anthony Vietri’s slice of hillside paradise in southern Chester County produces some of the finest varietal wines in the country. His exceptional single-field blends are aged in natural oak barrels, creating four distinct signature pours.
8820 Gap Newport Pike, Avondale, (610) 268-2702, valavineyards.com.
The newest Sterling Pig location has more to offer than its acclaimed IPAs, DIPAs, pilsners and Belgian-style ale brews. Its wings are smoked in-house for a juiciness and flavor profile that hold their own sans condiments. But if you must add sauce, there’s buffalo, chipotle or barbecue.
113 W. Market St., West Chester, (484) 999-8026, sterlingpig.com.
Year-Round Farmers’ Market
A popular spot for its orchards, pumpkin patch and other seasonal fun, Highland also offers a year-round market, where you’ll find everything from homemade breads, cookies, scones and pies to jams, apples and fruit baskets.
1000 Marshallton Thorndale Road, West Chester, (610) 269-3494, www.highlandorchards.net.