As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers, and we'll be sharing their answers between now and New Year's. Responses are related in no particular order.
To kick things off, we asked our expert panel for their restaurant standbys in 2013. Making the list are a lot of neighborhood haunts and casual go-tos, from Dim Sum Garden to Los Gallos to a couple of votes for Sidecar Bar. Check out their answers below, and add any you haven't tried to your list — they're sure to be hits if this crowd keeps going back. And please, add your own restaurant standbys in the comments.
Joy Manning, editor of Edible Philly:
This year, I probably went to Vedge more than I went anywhere else. The great happy hour and ever-changing menu of vegetable-driven dishes always made me happy. I took out-of-towner food writing colleagues there to "show off' Philly, and the place never let me down. I have been predicting that LaBan will elevate Vedge to 4-bell status in his year in bells next week.
Michael Klein, editor/producer/columnist/blogger for Philly.com:
Jamie Shanker, editor of Midtown Lunch Philly:
This would have to be Sidecar. Always consistent with great food and great beer, though I hate when they won't seat me when my full party isn't present.
Los Gallos. I think my wife and I ordered take-out from that place every fucking weekend. Luz [Jimenez, the owner] is such a nice guy and crazy hard worker; he has the kind of business you want to support.
If we were to rewind my 2013 dining experiences, you will likely find me at SPTR or Sidecar getting drunk and eating half off appetizers for full meals. If we were to fast forward, 2014 will probably follow suit.
[Photo: Sidecar Bar/Official]
Brian Freedman, critic at Philadelphia Weekly and wine writer/educator:
Dim Sum Garden. Before we moved from Old City, it was a 10-minute walk from our apartment.
Danya Henninger, editor of Zagat Philly:
Percy Street Barbecue. Yes, It's less than two blocks from my house, so it's been a go-to since it opened. However, I've been enjoying it this year more than ever, thanks to Erin O'Shea's move beyond strict Texas meat. Cured egg yolk and pork belly! Chicken biscuit situation! Fried oysters and grits! Those exclamation points are not superfluous, not a single one. The lineup of craft cans (best in the nation) also makes it fun - Max and Nera at the bar always clue me in to new arrivals.
Kevin McKenzie of Amusing My Bouche:
Le Virtu. Maybe it's the pollo alla casalinga (roast chicken) which is my definition of comfort food, maybe it's my obsession with pasta, or maybe it's the amazing back massages Joe Cicala gives in the dining room to repeat clients, but no matter how you slice the salumi, it just became my absolute go-to when I needed a feel-good-about-myself meal.
Holly Moore, industry all-rounder behind HollyEats.com:
Sang Kee on 9th Street.
Arthur Etchells, founder of Foobooz:
Resurrection Ale House - Proximity helps, but the place is always good, the menu rotates and if all else fails, there's fried chicken and great beer.
Caroline Russock, food editor at Philadelphia City Paper:
It's a toss up but I think that burgers and beers at Fountain Porter was the go-to for those all too frequent nights when I have no idea what I want to eat and but am dead set on not cooking.
I have two kids, ages 4 and 2, so unfortunately we spent a lot of time at diarrhea factories like Uno Pizzeria. We also live in Northwest Philadelphia where the options are somewhat limited. Thankfully, we're lucky enough to have Earth Bread + Brewery close by. It's super kid-friendly and their house beers are always interesting, so we're there once a week.
The place I visited the most? Definitely American Sardine Bar. It's a killer bar at which to be a regular, since the staff is wonderful and the 16 taps and sandwich-centric menu are changed up on a near-daily basis. For restaurants, it's got to be Vernick.
Kristina Jenkins, editor of Uwishunu:
Cheu. It's just three or so blocks from my house, and I'm borderline addicted to the fish ribs and miso ramen. Needless to say, I'm a regular.