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Philly Food Writers Share Their Top Restaurant Standbys of 2019

The restaurants professional eaters returned to again and again

sandwich, plate of bacon, coffee in paper cup
The sandwiches at Middle Child are a favorite among Philly food writers.
Middle Child [official photo]

For our end-of-year tradition, Eater Philly asked a group of food writers to weigh in on the local restaurant scene over the last year. They looked back on their favorite new restaurants, the best dining neighborhoods, the biggest complaints, and more.

Now we ask the experts: What were your top restaurant standbys of 2019?

Regan Stephens, food and travel writer for Food & Wine, Fortune, and Lonely Planet: Most of the year, my office was near Middle Child, which meant I could walk by on the way to work for the fluffiest egg sandwich in town, or get there before the lunch rush for a So Long Sal (hold the mayo.) There was an 80-percent chance if we were meeting friends for dinner, I booked a table at Fiore. From the warm hospitality and the homemade pastas (all of them) to the desserts (all of them) to the amaro collection to finish the meal, you just leave so happy. ITV is my go-to for great cocktails and snacks, and I spent a lot of time at Rival Bros. Not only do I love and consume vats of their coffee, but there have been many days, while I work from the Lombard Street location, that the Daily Bread is the only thing I eat. It’s High Street bread, toasted, with some kind of magic (cultured) butter and jam.

Adam Erace, national food and travel writer and cookbook author: I am really predictable. You’ll find me most often eating out at Palizzi and In the Valley [Ed. note: Erace wrote cookbooks with Joey Baldino of Palizzi and Nick Elmi of ITV and Laurel], but I also spent a lot of time this year at Triangle Tavern, which makes the best mozzarella sticks (actually triangles) in town; Essen, my go-to in the neighborhood for bagels and pastries; Hardena; Crème Brûlée; and Angelo’s. I continue to be impressed by Doreen DeMarco’s food at Sardine Bar, which punches way above its weight.

Sarah Maiellano, food and travel writer for Eater, the Philadelphia Inquirer, James Beard Foundation, Edible Philly, and USA Today: With all the new restaurant openings in town, I almost never get to go anywhere twice. Though the older I get, the more important vegetables feel to me, so I have been ordering HipCityVeg and Honeygrow more often.

Alex Tewfik, food editor at Philadelphia magazine: Middle Child, because it fills every hole in my porous little heart. Irwin’s in the summer for grilled vegetables, fried olives, and plenty of rosé on the roof, and Irwin’s in the fall/winter for awesome cocktails curled up on one of their many couches. It’s a home run all year round. And although it’s three years old at this point, nobody throws a pasta party like Res Ipsa Cafe.

Allison Steele, reporter and former food writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer: Suraya, Res Ipsa Cafe, Cheu Fishtown, QT Vietnamese Sandwiches, Oyster House, Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House, and Blue Corn.

Kae Lani Palmisano, Host of WHYY-TV’s Check, Please! Philly (airs January 9) and contributing food & travel editor for USA Today 10Best: I go to Cheu Noodle Bar at 10th and Locust more frequently than any other restaurant. They always have a couple of Tired Hands beers on tap, they’ve got a rotation of creative happy hour snacks, and the holy trinity of matzo ball, brisket, and ramen is the ultimate meal.