Where Tom went:
The happiest happy hour around involves well-balanced cocktails in the company of chopped liver slathered on a cushion of toasted rye brushed with schmaltz. The combo will make you eager to book for dinner in this whimsical tribute to Jewish fare from the owner of the esteemed Zahav. Don't miss the rye-based Yesterday, Today and Amaro. On the menu: duck blintzes and veal schnitzel nestled in tacos with anchovy mayonnaise.
1623 Sansom St.
Name something wonderful — wild-caught shrimp, Italian Nutella, sweet corn from Jersey — and chances are, this food emporium sells it (for a premium). The biggest branch in the bunch is in Rittenhouse Square, where the prepared foods run to chickpea-kale burgers and Italian wedding soup.
1730 Chestnut St.
Dim Sum Garden
“Do you know how to eat them?” a server might ask when she sets down an order of soup dumplings. Before you have time to respond, she demonstrates how to tackle the beggar’s purses filled with pork meatballs and boiling-hot broth without staining or scalding yourself. Slurp-licious! Other hits: pickled cabbage with silken bean curd, and flaky scallion pancakes.
1020 Race St.
Famous Italian Ices
The best source in the city for a signature treat with the texture of sorbet, this family-owned destination dates to 1965. The crayon-colored refreshers are made on-site, in 60 flavors. Coconut is created from the real deal; passion fruit reflects the taste of the shop’s large Hispanic fan base.
1950 E. Lehigh Ave.
Fante’s Kitchen Shop
A one-stop shop in the historic Italian Market for just about anything a cook or host could want. Among the wares: chestnut flour, rosette irons, canning sets, terra cotta spice jars, Emile Henry tagines, hibiscus powder and cookie cutters in the shape of bikinis. Need a pick-me-up? A clerk makes a mean espresso.
1006 S. Ninth St.
Here’s what makes this contemporary American restaurant one of the most coveted reservations in town: vitello tonnato rethought with scarlet cubes of raw tuna; gossamer ravioli stuffed with zesty lamb ragu; breads worthy of a course of their own; a birch forest painted on the wall. Chef-owner Eli Kulp, who suffered a grave spinal cord injury in the May Amtrak derailment, can be proud of the care his colleagues continue to express in every detail as he works toward recovery.
306 Market St.
Prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr's contribution to edgy Fishtown: a 400-seat indoor-outdoor German beer garden replete with linden trees in a gravel courtyard, pretzels the size of steering wheels and ping-pong games fueled by rivers of hefeweizen and other German brews.
1210 Frankford Ave.
John’s Roast Pork
Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan has said that he'd want his last meal to be at this scruffy joint, which the James Beard Foundation has recognized as an American Classic. One taste of the signature sandwich, built from garlicky shaved pork piled on a crusty roll with provolone and hot peppers, explains why the place remains busy 85 years after opening.
14 E. Snyder Ave.
Joseph Fox Bookshop
This gem of an independent bookstore, established in 1951, stocks a small but select collection of works by distinguished food scribes and chefs both local and world-famous. Among the authors are M.F.K. Fisher, Marc Vetri and Yotam Ottolenghi. Cool find: “How to Eat” by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, a pocket-size ode to eating as meditation.
1724 Sansom St.
The craft coffee roaster’s splashiest branch unfolds in a former warehouse in Fishtown. Among the attractions are free cuppings of single-origin coffees twice a month, an in-house bakery (check out the baguette with ham and butter) plus a rum distillery for incorporating beans into liquor.
1335 Frankford Ave.
Herring sliders, nutmeg-laced pork croquettes and beer-battered whitefish on a mash of peas and carrots make for a Dutch delight in this tiny — and noisy — BYOB treasure. Tables near Noord’s folding cafe windows capture East Passyunk’s must-see (and hear!) Singing Fountain.
1046 Tasker St.
The Olde Bar
Housed in the historic Old Original Bookbinder’s building, this dashing, tile-paved, wood-warmed saloon from “Iron Chef" Jose Garces summons yesteryear with a raw bar and a signboard of classic drinks. Think oysters on the half shell or beef-fat fries washed back with a Corpse Reviver No. 2 or Rusty Nail.
125 Walnut St.
Hands down the finest place to slurp oysters in the city is at this power spot's cool white bar, made from pavers retrieved from Independence Mall and in view of expert shuckers. Eat like a local and ask for the fried oyster platter, served with a side of chicken salad, or the sherry-laced snapper soup.
1516 Sansom St.
Reading Terminal Market
Eighty or so vendors under one roof can be daunting. Cut to the chase and seek out Valley Shepherd Creamery for halloumi, feta and cave-aged blue cheese the owners make themselves; Tommy DiNic’s for a winy shredded roast pork sandwich with garlicky broccoli rabe and aged provolone on a roll from the peerless Sarcone’s Deli; and Bassetts (the first merchant to sign a lease here -- in 1892) for ice cream.
12th and Arch Streets
Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market
Bordering a lush park, this Tuesday and Saturday attraction tempts shoppers not just with great seasonal produce but also with rich ice cream from Zsa’s (love the berry crisp), fresh root beer sold by Hilltop Kitchen, peach gazpacho courtesy of Good Spoon, even wines from Blue Mountain Vineyards.
18th and Walnut streets
Spruce Street Harbor Park
This May-through-September pop-up park on the Delaware River waterfront has a little something for everyone: a beer garden, hammocks for lounging, ping-pong tables, shuffleboard, arcade games and eats from the local Garces Group, dispensed from converted shipping containers. A hot day calls for cold sesame noodles with peanut sauce, cabbage and mint from the boxy Chifa.
Columbus Boulevard and Spruce Street
The same thought that goes into your glass goes onto your plate at this neighborly corner tavern in Northern Liberties, which features a dozen or so locally made beers on tap to accompany such eclectic pub grub as fried smelts, tamarind baby back ribs and duck liver mousse. The combination is anything but standard.
901 N. Second St.
When it comes to vegan dining, Vedge sets the bar — for the country — with appetizers such as a creamy avocado filled with pickled cauliflower and entrees such as a single spicy wood-roasted carrot reclining on a slice of pumpernickel with sauerkraut puree, a riff on a Reuben. Suave service, fine wines and elegant desserts (miso custard with kaffir lime sorbet) make for an enlightened evening.
1221 Locust St.
Vernick Food & Drink
Eat in Philly for a week, and your best meal is apt to be anything prepared by Greg Vernick and enjoyed in the chef’s moody back dining room. Picture warm Parmesan custard scattered with chanterelles, Thai chilies and pistachio pesto, followed by snowy halibut set in lemon grass broth with delicate shrimp dumplings. Unusual wines — and blueberry pie with lemon verbena ice cream — will send you into the night on a sigh.
2031 Walnut St.
Although the $155-a-head tasting menu is the most expensive in town, Marc Vetri’s cooking puts him in the company of the country’s best Italian chefs. Memories are made of a golden fritto misto starring soft-shell crab, and ricotta ravioli tricked out with orange and nutmeg, as well as grand wines to wash them back. Upstairs from the narrow townhouse setting is part of the maestro’s Whole Grain Project: a milling room.
1312 Spruce St.
Villa di Roma
South Philly’s no-frills, cash-only red-sauce joint has a spumoni-colored neon sign out front that hints at the time warp inside, grandmotherly service and wagon-wheel chandeliers included. Go for the spaghetti with clams and white sauce or hearty veal parmigiana, one of nearly a dozen ways to eat the meat here in the heart of the Italian Market.
936 S. Ninth St.
Conceived by the husband-and-wife team behind the upscale Vedge, V Street is a (vegan) celebration of street food from around the world — jerk trumpet mushrooms, barbecue seitan tacos — in a hipster setting. The meatless version of langos from Hungary yields a pillowy round of fried bread slathered with “remoulade” and diced smoked beets, a snack best paired with a cocktail called Colonel Mustard In the Library With a Dagger: gin, Cocchi, mustard syrup — pow!
126 S. 19th St.
Alone, the enticing vegetable dips and salads will make you wish there were more restaurants like this one, a contemporary tribute to the cooking of Israel. Few kitchens do better beets (with tzatziki, rhubarb and pistachio) or charcoal-grilled kebabs (try the duck) than the one piloted by chef Michael Solomonov, whose creation aptly translates from Hebrew as “gold.”
237 St. James Pl.