The best restaurants for solo dining | Let’s Eat
Also: Critic Craig LaBan enjoys a modern meal at Messina Social Club and we share tips for Thanksgiving takeout and the best pies in the city.
Table for one? We’ve all been there, and we offer 11 ideas of restaurants that will accommodate the solo you comfortably. Also this week, critic Craig LaBan enjoys a modern meal at a century-old social club, we run down 15 places for snag your holiday pie, a bunch of options for Thanksgiving takeout, and I catch you up on restaurant news.
📨 Talk foodie to me: What’s a meal or dish that you loved this week? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM a photo to @phillyinsider on Instagram. I’ll feature the most interesting reader submissions.
Table for 1️⃣ ? Here are 11 of our favorites
No plus-one for dinner? No problem. You won’t need to be on your own when choosing a place for a solo meal, as contributor Alisha Miranda runs down 11 restaurants where you can be yourself. One tip: Don’t ask for separate checks. Your waiter has heard this one before.
🥧Our favorite holiday pies
The Philadelphia area has no shortage of incredible pie makers, writes contributor Kae Lani Palmisano, who offers 15 shops for your holiday pastry needs. And wait till you hear about the Frankenpie from Pie & Plate in Ambler, which we happen to have ordered for our Thanksgiving dinner.
🍗 And if you need more than a pie for Thanksgiving — perhaps the entire meal — staff writer Nick Vadala has you covered with a list of restaurants and caterers that will cook for you. Are you a restaurant taking orders for Thanksgiving takeout? Please let deputy food editor Joseph Hernandez know by dropping him a line.
Speaking of holidays, if you’re a restaurant or business planning to serve a holiday menu in December for dine-in or takeout, let us know via this form.
Craig LaBan reviews Messina Social Club
Critic Craig LaBan visits the South Philly rowhouse of Messina Social Club, where Top Chef alums Jason Cichonski and Eddie Konrad have brought the kitchen into the 21st century with Konrad’s cutting-edge techniques but also informed by the spirit of his upbringing in a Polish-Italian Port Richmond family. The look, the history — it’s “unmistakably Philly,” Craig writes in his review.
A pizza man returns to the biz, on his terms
Damien Polizzi was a South Jersey pizzeria lifer who chucked it all for a less-stressful career in sales. So why did he do a 180 and go back? And in a town with 30 other pizzerias? His son helped guide him.
Hardena hosts a block party for a mural unveiling
The Indonesian restaurant Hardena is more than just the homey kitchen run by the Widjojo family. It’s a center of the region’s Indonesian community. On Sunday, Nov. 14, a mural celebrating the culture by artist Winnie Sidharta Ambron will be unveiled during a family friendly block party (noon-4 p.m.) at Hicks and Moore Streets in South Philadelphia. Vendors including Sate Kampar, Sris Co., Tabachoy, Ratchada, and Hardena will sell food.
Marsha Brown has sold her eponymous restaurant in New Hope, which closed at the outset of the pandemic, to a partnership that includes alums Wilfer Naranjo and Michael Sklar. They’ve added a few design touches and will open Friday, Nov. 12 as Oldestone (as in, the stone building’s previous appellation, the Olde Stone Church). This is destination/special-occasion dining. Bar/lounge is still on the first floor, and you head upstairs to the bi-level dining room in the former sanctuary, with its soaring ceilings and stunning stained glass. There’s now a stage on balcony/loft for live jazz and other music seven days a week. Chef Seth Wheeler’s steak and seafood menu includes three of the New Orleans-raised Brown’s creole dishes (jambalaya, lollipop lamb chops, and eggplant Ophelia). Two other suggestions: deep-fried Meyer lemon rings with raspberry tomato emulsion, and bacon-wrapped prawns with a basil, ginger, and hoisin almond sauce. Most entrees are in the $30s; steaks start at $38 for a 16-ounce New York strip and top out at $186 for a 45-day-aged, 46-ounce porterhouse for two.
Naranjo and Sklar own the nearby Greenhouse New Hope restaurant, and they’re backed in the venture by their landlords, brothers Gaspar and Vincent Ferrara. Opens at 5:30 p.m. daily.
Valet parking, a must in that part of town.
Mr. Joe’s Cafe, the passion project by Termini Bros. bakery patriarch Vince Termini, has closed. “After much consideration, Vince has decided to formally retire and begin the next chapter of his life,” the Instagram post began. “He is in excellent health and truly misses all of his customers.” Something else is planned at 1514 S. Eighth St.
St. Stephen’s Green, the Irish tap at 1701 Green St. in Spring Garden, is closed, and operator James Stephens tells me that he is not sure if this is temporary or permanent. He’s hoping for government relief.
Not a good month for Jewish delis in Cherry Hill. Short Hills Deli shut down this week, and the 82-year-old owner cites pandemic woes. This news follows the recent closing of Herman’s Woodcrest Deli, which I just heard about. One bright spot: Brandon Parish at the Kibitz Room has no beef with business.
Philadelphia is a step closer to making those pandemic-era streeteries permanent in certain areas, but would force other restaurants to seek Council approval for their outdoor dining structures. Staff writer Laura McCrystal writes that the bill is on its way to the full Council.
Scoop DeVille, the ice cream parlor, will finally do a grand opening for its six-month-old location at 538 South St., next to a Federal Donuts, from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12. There are $1 ice creams involved.
Sugar Factory, the sweet-and-savory celeb-backed national chain with a branch at the Hard Rock in Atlantic City, is saying Dec. 1 for its Center City Philadelphia outpost, at the former Porta restaurant at 1216 Chestnut St., which I told you about back in July.
The Atlantic City institution Tony’s Baltimore Grill and Fishtown’s Liberty Kitchen will get together to benefit Amanda Eap and Andre Chin, the couple who own South Philly’s Artisan Boulanger Patissier and are facing health issues. Dishes on the pop-up menu include shrimp parm combining Tony’s fried shrimp and Liberty Kitchen’s crab gravy with Caputo’s mozzarella on a Carangi roll. Starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs till sellout Monday, Nov. 15 at Herman’s Coffee, 1313 S. Third St. in the city’s Pennsport neighborhood.
Stickman Brews will be behind the bar at BLDG39 at the Arsenal in the city’s Tacony section for a pop-up tasting room from 6-10 p.m. every Friday. Stickman will offer three or four seasonal beers to twin with food from a vendor from BLDG39′s shared kitchen, starting with Bao & Bun Studio for the next few weeks. It’s pay as you go.
The pandemic brought two major changes to Lou & Choo’s Lounge, which for decades has been a version of Cheers on Hunting Park Avenue in the city’s Nicetown-Hunting Park neighborhood: a slick, new look, inside and out, and new menu. A sandwich of fried salmon stuffed with crabmeat? Yes, please.
Remember Opa, the stylish modern-Greek restaurant-cocktail bar at 1311 Sansom St. that siblings George and Vasiliki Tsiouris converted into Drury Beer Garden during the early days of the pandemic? It’s back, technically as a pop-up through the end of the year, with a substantial food and drink menu (gyros, souvlaki, spicy feta, octopus, etc.) to complement Drury’s more casual American experience. It’s served in the streetery, the rear garden, and indoors, from 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
What you’ve been eating this week
I’m putting out the call for deliciousness. Send me an Instagram photo of the best dish you’ve eaten recently at a restaurant in Philadelphia or the Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs. This week’s submissions come from @therealjerseydan (a smoked turkey panini from Volo Coffeehouse in Manayunk) and @tastytemptationsjso (the spaghetti with poached lobster and trout roe from Hearthside in Collingswood). Share your photos on Instagram to @phillyinsider.