Shake on it: Kensington Quarters in Philadelphia

Shake on it: Kensington Quarters in Philadelphia

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The moment meat lovers have all been waiting for has arrived: Kensington Quarters will be opening its doors this fall. In Fishtown, one of Philadelphia’s increasingly hip neighborhoods, husband and wife Michael and Jeniphur Pasquarello have partnered with butcher Bryan Mayer to open the new restaurant and butcher shop. The restaurant will reside along Frankford Avenue and will offer a selection of the region’s finest meats in its butcher shop while guests savor drinks and dinner by executive chef Damon Menapace.

“Our Philosophy at Kensington Quarters is centered on a handshake between industry experts,” says Michael Pasquarello. This handshake represents the guiding principle of Kensington Quarters, and so they commissioned the neighborhood’s own graphic designers and tattoo artists of True Hand Society to design the logo for the restaurant. Mike Ski, the creator of the logo, will also paint a large mural depicting the handshake along one wall of the dining room. As Mayer adds, “We respect each other’s craft and knowledge, trusting that our passions will guide our principles and that each of us will adhere to the highest standards and most responsible practices.”

The butcher shop will make locals feel as if they were in the Italian market of South Philly, minus the smell. Mayer, a butcher and instructor, has made trips out to farms and has stayed involved throughout the entire process to ensure the animals are being raised as nature intended: free of chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, and GMO feed. Mayer has also ensured that the animals are treated honorably and humanely in the slaughter process. The butcher shop will also include a cut-to-order personalized selection and will foster conscious consumption.

Chef Menapace’s menu will highlight Mayer’s selection of meats while focusing on sustainability, freshness, and the best of the region’s seasonal ingredients. Known for his rustic farmhouse-style cuisine, the chef will use open flames of wood-burning grills and brick ovens, and his dishes will incorporate an impressive list of house-cured charcuterie like salami and terrines. Along with the food, Kensington Quarters’ drink program will have a 20-tap system that will pour 12 beers and eight organic and biodynamic wines. A bottle list of 20 to 25 selections as well as a reserve list of cellared wines and beers will also be available. Cocktails will be made with non-GMO-based cordials as well.

The Pasquarellos are already well-known in the Philadelphian community, as Kensington Quarters will be their fourth restaurant, in addition to Café Lift, Prohibition Taproom, and Bufad. The restaurant will be open for dinner seven days a week, and the butcher shop will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Sunday until 6 p.m.

Fette Sau now has a savory competition; Steven Starr versus the Pasquarellos, if you will. Who will be the meat of our flannel-wearing neighborhood? You can decide.

About 6 months left in Philly, help me prioritize my restaurant list

Here is a list of all of the restaurants that I would like to try before I leave Philly, in no particular order. There is also a list of all of the restaurants (and a few bars) I've already tried, roughly in the order I enjoyed them. Aside from Woody's are there any recommendations on what I should add to the list? Anything thing I should try before everything else?

Fat Ham (closed on Monday's)

Vernick Food and Drink (closed on Monday's)

Memphis Taproom (Kensington)

Dim Sum Garden (not on Race)

Put zahav right at the top. Fava bean hummus. fo reals

Yeah, came here to say Zahav is a must before you leave. Especially since you already have Woody's covered.

Vedge blew my mind. I never thought Iɽ have a vegan meal which was better tasting and more satisfying than 99% of "normal" meals. On the other end of the price scale, I had Wishbone in University City today and was impressed. Buttermilk/pretzel crust chicken fingers with eight different sauces, killer mac and cheese & biscuits.

Since your range includes places like Vetri ($250+ a person), let me throw in Sunday brunch at Lacroix. It's expensive -- I think $100 a person -- but it is worth it for anyone to save up for. One of the best food-related experiences I've had anywhere, not just in Philly. Here's the menu.

On the still-expensive-but-maybe-not-as-much side, Barclay Prime has the best steak in the city. (To be honest though, most of the big chop houses in Philly are similar.)


Our real, white-meat chicken is fresh, never frozen, hand-breaded, and cooked to order every time with no antibiotics—ever.

Chick'n Shack

Crispy chicken breast topped with lettuce, pickles, buttermilk herb mayo.
550 cal

Chick'n Bites

Crispy, whole white meat bites served with honey mustard or BBQ.
300 cal – 510 cal

Shake It Up At Home With These Local Cocktail Recipes

If you&rsquore looking to sharpen your at-home bartending skills, look no further than these signature spirits recipes from three of our suburban favorites.


Fearless Restaurants&rsquo (fearlessrestaurants.com) newest concept is known for its authentic Italian soul food menu highlighting items like handmade pastas, stone-fired pizzas and small plates. The collection of original libations is often heavy on ingredients&mdashbut we promise you can tackle this cocoa-flavored creation at home. Make this mocha martini straight from the menu, and then check out one of the restaurant group&rsquos new cocktail classes on Zoom with Beverage Director Len Boris.


1 oz. Three Olives espresso vodka

½ oz. Destillaré Chocolat vodka

¼ oz. Lazzaroni Infinito Nero


1. In a shaker, add all of your ingredients.

2. Add ice, shake and double strain.

3. Pour into a coupe glass and garnish with grated nutmeg.


The first day of spring is next month, so why not celebrate le printemps a little early with this pretty purple martini from Davio&rsquos (davios.com)? Served in a chilled martini glass, the libation features Malfy Gin, which evokes aromas of Italian juniper and citrus. For a feminine touch, switch up the lemon for edible flowers.



1. Add ingredients to a shaker.

2. Shake and serve in a chilled martini glass.

3. Garnish with a lemon twist and edible flowers.


Savona&rsquos (savonarestaurant.com) master mixologist Pablo &ldquoPapi&rdquo Hurtado uses Granny Smith apples to add a tart twist to this otherwise sweet concoction.


2 oz. Grey Goose La Vanille vodka

1 ½ oz. homemade apple puree

¼ oz. lemon grass nectar ¼ oz. yuzu Japanese citrus juice

4 little splashes of old-fashioned bitters


1. In a cocktail shaker, add all ingredients with ice.

2. Shake strongly for a few seconds and then strain into a chilled martini glass.

Shake on it: Kensington Quarters in Philadelphia - Recipes

Over the last few months, I've been souping it up in Pho-ladelphia. Home to the third largest Vietnamese population on the East Coast, this city has long been a destination for many great renditions of the deeply warming and aromatic noodle soup. Few meals in the world deliver more satisfaction for $10 or less. And since the winter chill settled in, slurping through a steamy pool of exotic broth, rice noodles, Thai basil, and sundry cuts of meat has been the equivalent of hitting the "defrost" button.

Learning to pronounce it correctly has been something of a career-long quest (I've sadly yet to master). Just say it as if asking a question: "Fuh?"

The eating part? I've refined that considerably as I hungrily prowled through many of the city's Vietnamese soup halls in search of my favorites.

But here, of course, it gets complex.

Philly's wider food culture cosmos has suddenly aligned to focus on pho, and this once exotic bowl of Asian soup is finally having its mainstream moment. There are pho shooters with tiny bobbing quail eggs on the luxurious weekend buffet at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse. The lunch menu at Rich Landau's new vegan street food bar, V Street, serves a mushroom-based "Pho French Dip." And there is a sleek new Fishtown pho counter run by a non-Vietnamese chef, Tyler Akin, who's been giving pho a "clean" modern upgrade with hormone-free beef bones, top-notch spices and no MSG.

Pho has also become a darling for the Paleo diet craze, and the focus on nutritious "bone broth" that's become one of the hottest trends. The Feast Your Eyes catering company, in fact, is offering a "Pho Friday" cooking class and dinner tomorrow night at its commissary (1750 N. Front St. 215-634-3002) in South Philadelphia.

On the cusp of pho's taco-like crossover from "ethnic" specialty onto America's Main Street menu, however, I felt compelled to return to the authentic source for some enlightenment on what, in fact, makes a good one. Because for those who did not grow up Vietnamese, it can frankly be challenging to discern significant differences between one big look-alike bowl of pho from the other.

The pho's soul is in its broth. But if you're tasting closely, the craftsmanship and seasoning will become apparent. Are the intricate spices (star anise, Saigon cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, among many others) deeply woven and in balance?

"I was initially leaving cloves out because I never really liked cloves in anything," concedes Akin. "But we began adding them a couple months ago, and it's begun to tie it all together."

Is the broth cloudy or clear?

"Clear is what you go for back in the motherland," says Tuan Tran, whose mother, Dung Tran, rises at 4 a.m. daily to make one of my new pho favorites at Thang Long on Kensington Avenue. "If your broth is not clear you're doing something wrong."

Does it have the rich lip-coating texture of broth steeped from good bones with marrow? Is it steamy enough to make you sweat?

"It has to be piping hot," says Lê, the Vietnamese-born owner of Hop Sing Laundromat. "Also, when they put the bean sprouts and basil in front of you, I want to make sure it's fresh."

Of course, the dish's typically abundant entourage of fragrant garnishes - platters of herbs, bean sprouts, citrus wedges and jalapeño, squeeze bottles of sauce - can be distracting.

"Once the basil and lime are in there, anything that differentiates one bowl from another is mostly lost," says Akin, a purist who's done more than any chef in recent months to further the pho dialogue.

Don't even think about squirting sweet hoisin or spicy Sriracha into the bowl: "They are meant for dipping pieces of meat into," says Akin.

Akin's bold BYOB experiment to upgrade the classic at Stock has been a flashpoint for some, largely habitués of the larger cheaper Vietnamese soup halls in South Philadelphia who gripe that $9 a bowl made with superior ingredients was too expensive compared with a slightly cheaper version made with lower-grade beef. (The same people, no doubt, have no problem spending $13 for a bowl of ramen. Akin also now also serves a $7 "small" bowl that isn't very small at all – so the value criticism is moot.)

But I also nitpicked in my October review over the question of a missing familiar flavor. While Akin's broth achieved a profoundly beef depth, its seasoning lacked a certain "native edge."

It might have been that clove. But the search for that elusive note is what subsequently launched me on this obsessive three-month crawl through the city's many authentic pho pots to discern exactly what it was I was seeking. I went from one end of Washington Avenue to the other, through Chinatown and Kensington, too, where a small, lesser-known enclave of excellent Vietnamese noodles shops sits beneath the Frankford El.

I occasionally veered from my prime focus on standard beef soup (pho bò) to myriad worthy variations with chicken (pho gá) and the chile-fired pork-and-beef bowls of Central Vietnam (bún bò hue). I came to appreciate the gelatinous chew of a proper beef tendon, the noodle-like snap of delicate, frilly tripe. I made pho at home. I even learned some off-the-menu lingo - nuóc beó (Newk-BAIL) please! - that will surely impress your server as well as enrich your soup. This in-the-know side of rendered beef fat is the tasty equivalent of Viet schmaltz.

But I have also come to agree with Akin, after a recent revisit, that at least part of the elusive flavor I was missing at Stock was . . . MSG. The controversial flavor enhancer, a naturally occurring sodium salt (that many people attribute to headaches) is a standard presence in pretty much every authentic restaurant pho I sampled beyond Stock. The essential seasonings were there in Stock's bowl, but they remained subtle without the benefit of MSG's pop.

"I have no problem with people who do it," says Akin. "I've read the studies and the MSG syndrome has been largely debunked. But as a chef it's important to me to try to arrive at depth of flavor naturally. We experimented with it, and I was amazed at what this powder could do. It gave a boost. It made it more thrilling for a few bites. But after a big bowl, it was exhausting."

I'm not as dogmatic about avoiding MSG as Akin. But after the five bowls I sampled back-to-back one afternoon on my first Washington Avenue pho crawl, my mouth was on fire with the after burn of MSG's umami overdrive. I can't recommend such a gauntlet.

The best, though, used MSG only sparingly. And when savored individually, I found some wonderful, trip-worthy bowls of soup, brimming with a deep meaty resonance and seasonings that shimmered as one.

"Even if do you put MSG there, which is standard," said Nam Hoang, manager at one of my favorites, Pho Saigon, "you need to put in enough beef. You still need to taste the soup."

And that is exactly what I did, one slurp at a time. My Philly Pho-tacular, detailed here, found some brothy wonders to treasure all winter long.

Philly Pho Finder

I visited a dozen authentic soup halls across three of Philly's prime pho zones: Washington Avenue (the heart of Viet Philly), East Kensington (the hidden pho enclave), and Chinatown (Philly's first Vietnamese community). Below are my favorites, by category: classic beef, chicken pho gà, and spicy beef-pork, bún bò hue.

Many full-service Vietnamese restaurants serve very good pho (Vietnam Restaurant, Vietnam Palace, Nam Phuong, Le Viet, Mekong River). For this survey, I focused on other more-soup-centric restaurants that specialize primarily in pho.

Best Beef Pho Bò

Thang Long. 2536 Kensington Ave., 215-425-0078 thanglongphilly.com.

The Tran family owns Mac's Poultry, the live bird butcher right next door to their surprisingly well-appointed restaurant in the shadow of the Frankford El. So they are rightly proud of their fresh chicken pho gà with downy soft strips of meat in a lemongrass-rich broth. But it is the beef pho here that really hit a sweet spot for me with its genuine homespun touch. That comes from matron and chef Dung Tran, who rises at 4 a.m. daily to get the oxtails and marrow bones simmering, according to her mother's North Vietnamese recipe. There is definitely a rustic touch to the presentation, but the chippy beef is surprisingly tender, and the overall effect is one of deeply steeped pho harmony at its best, with a tingle of slow-charred ginger and ginseng that lingers at the back of the throat. Also not to miss: the excellent spring rolls and exceptional Hanoi-style pork.

Pho Saigon. 1100 S. Columbus Blvd. No. 22, 267-773-7305.

Set in a Columbus Boulevard strip mall off Washington Avenue, Pho Saigon is a relative newcomer to South Philly's bustling Southeast Asian commercial strip. It's also a brighter, cleaner, and more pleasant space than the rest, with a broader menu to supplement the soup. But it's really the polished beef pho here that sets it apart, with careful layering of ingredients (the rare beef was elevated to avoid premature cooking). It also had by far the beefiest-flavored broth in the neighborhood, rounded by vivid sweet spices that popped with a squeeze of lime, and a bountiful plate of extremely fresh herbs, including some (culantro) not offered elsewhere. The big flat-screens can be a plus for sports fans, too - just not on football Sundays, when the TVs are turned off. "We're packed," says manager Nam Hoang. "And we need those tables to rotate fast."

Huong Tràm. Hoa Binh Plaza, 1601 Washington Ave., 215-545-4067.

This gem is hidden inside the gallery of a supermarket plaza on the less-traveled end of Washington, west of Broad. But it's worth seeking. Just renovated in September and renamed from Nam Son (the excellent banh mi bakery still next door), Hung Tràm makes one of the best bowls of beef pho on the strip, a naturally flavored broth that bumps with star anise and other spice, but is the epitome of subtlety and balance. The broad menu has other highlights, including a spot-on crispy crepe and my favorite cup of dark, sweet Vietnamese coffee.

Stock. 308 E. Girard Ave. stockphilly.com.

Tyler Akin takes no shortcuts with the natural brew he steeps for 24 hours from grass-fed bones and top-notch spices at his minimalist Fishtown pho counter. Deliberate omission of the usual MSG, however, makes it a notable outlier in flavor. There's an admirably deep beefiness bolstered by excellent-quality brisket and rare beef, but the lack of MSG leaves the soup with a more subtle seasoning that I've come to appreciate. Akin's umami-bomb mushroom pho, meanwhile, is the absolutely best vegetarian pho in town.

Vietnam House. 901 Race St., 215-413-2828 vietnamhouse.ordersnapp.com.

This bare-bones corner is one of the newer options for Vietnamese fare in Chinatown - but also one of the best, especially for late-night souping. Like the no-frills decor, the presentations have a home-style look, but the somewhat cloudy bone-broth beef pho strikes a coveted harmony with background spice (cinnamon, clove, and star anise) that swirls deep through this soulful, beefy broth. The bún riêu, a tangy tomato-tamarind broth-noodle soup with funky crab-shrimp meatballs, also satisfies an acquired taste. Added night-owl bonus: Pho's on until 3 a.m. weekends.

Pho 75. 1122 Washington Ave., 215-271-5866.

Long my favorite noodle haven on the avenue, this utilitarian-but-still-tidy soup hall chain has slipped a notch. The bowls are still meticulously built, and the broth is crystalline. But compared with the competition, the broth's flavor here was pale and more sedate than I recalled, with a salty aftertaste. Pho 75 still has the snappiest noodles of the lot, and tender fatty brisket. In a way, because it delivers such a simple, low-profile pho, it may still remain one of the best places for newbies to start.

Best Pho Gà (chicken)

Cafe Pho Ga Thanh Thanh. 2539 Kensington Ave., 215-427-0483.

Chuong Le and his chef-wife, Woa Nguyen, were among the restaurant pioneers in this lesser-known enclave of Vietnamese businesses in East Kensington. And while the menu is far more limited than Thang Long across the street, their single-minded mastery of chicken pho gà earns them a "must-visit" designation. Their chicken broth - made from whole birds freshly killed each morning - is positively electric, with a complexity that comes, son Tony says, from his mother's keen sense of timing as to when to add each layer of ginger, herbs, and spice. Regulars get half chickens and strip them clean on the side of plain bowls of noodles and soup. But first-timers should start with a fully composed bowl with noodles and chicken. Most important, do not miss Thanh Thanh's secret weapon: a tiny dipping dish of salt, pepper, lime juice, habanero slivers, and lemon leaves that can elevate a simple slice of chicken into something magical.

Best Bún Bò Hue (spicy beef-pork soup)

Cafe Diem. 1031 S. Eighth St., 215-923-8347.

This tiny, family-run pho-asis just north of Washington Avenue has gotten a sleekly tiled decor upgrade from the no-frills dive I recall from years ago. And its rendition of common beef pho was still excellent, built from rich stock with vibrant sweet spice that became almost lush with an extra shake of fish sauce. The most compelling reason to visit Diem, though, is a glass bowl of the bún bò hue, the spicy beef-pork soup typical of Central Vietnam. Diem's positively crackles, from the lip-numbing sheen of roasty orange chile oil floating on top to the herbal blast of scallions and lemongrass, and a funky undertow, both briny and sweet, that bathes thicker, spaghetti-shaped rice noodles. Adventure meat-lovers should try the deluxe version, which adds snappy, bolognalike Viet ham to the standard array of rare beef, tendon ribbons. and jellied chunks of pig's feet.

Homemade pho is not only tricky, but costly, too

Cooking pho at home the right way is not a casual undertaking nor an inexpensive commitment. And success is hardly guaranteed if you choose the wrong recipe.

After eight hours of simmering an expensive pile of locally sourced grass-fed beef bones ($60-plus from Kensington Quarters), my wife made it clear that the disappointingly bland recipe from Vietnamese Home Cooking (Ten Speed Press, 2012) by the noted San Francisco chef Charles Phan wasn't going to cut it.

"Who spends an entire weekend day trying to make pho at home when you can get a far better bowl for $7 on Washington Avenue?" she asked.

That's the logical question. But just as there will always be people determined to master a 30-ingredient mole, there will be those determined to perfect the fine art of pho.

Tyler Akin is one. The former Zahav and Little Serow cook got hooked on the soup during his travels in Southeast Asia. And he has continuously refined the procedure for the rich MSG-free broth he serves at Stock, his minimalist pho counter in Fishtown. The recipe has come a long way since he began his pho-cooking a few years ago - with that same basic Phan template.

Aside from a more intense dose of seasonings in the mix, Akin grill-chars the ginger and onions, and carefully toasts his spices to enhance their punch. Freshness and quality of the spices also matter. Akin sources his from New York vendor La Boîte (laboiteny.com), using "whole-bark" Saigon cinnamon, black cardamom, and the darkest palm sugar available.

Finally, don't overlook (or overcook) the rice noodles. Akin's tip: Look for fresh rice noodles, usually near tofu at Asian markets, which cook more consistently than dried.

If all goes well with this recipe (a short version of Akin's), your guests won't be longing for Washington Avenue, but asking for a second bowl. - Craig LaBan

Tyler Akin's Home-style (no MSG) Pho

Serves 8 to 10, depending on size of bowl

10 pounds beef bones by preference: shank (ideally with meat attached), oxtails, knuckles, feet, neck, or mixed (see Note)

1 5-inch piece of unpeeled ginger, split lengthwise

1 medium yellow onion, split and peeled

5 star anise pods

8 whole cloves

1 1/2 sticks cinnamon (or sub 1/8 cup of whole bark Saigon cinnamon, do not sub ground cinnamon)

1/4 cup coriander seeds

2 black cardamom pods, crushed to release seeds

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons palm sugar (darkest shade available)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 pounds beef brisket, cut into approximately 3-by-3-inch chunks.

2 pounds rice noodles (preferably fresh, but dried is OK)

To Garnish: Mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime wedges, jalapeños, sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce

1. Place bones in pot large enough to cover with two inches of water. Bring to boil and allow to boil for 10 minutes.

2. Drain contents of pot into clean sink and allow bones to cool briefly. Rinse and scrub each bone, returning to clean pot. (Blanching and cleaning bones will produce a clear and beautiful stock.)

2. While bones are blanching, place split length of ginger and yellow onion on a hot grill or on the grates of a gas stove. Char both sides until black, but not carbonized. Cut ginger into half-inch pieces. Set ginger and onion aside.

3. Add 10 quarts of water to pot with cleaned bones add palm sugar, granulated sugar, and kosher salt. Simmer over moderate heat for 6 hours. Skim any remaining scum.

4. Toast all spices in a hot, dry pan for two minutes or a 300-degree oven until aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add toasted spices, charred ginger and onion and brisket and simmer for 2 additional hours. If pieces are not extremely tender, continue simmering for 15-30 more minutes.

5. Remove brisket and place into ice water bath. Strain soup through finest mesh sieve available. Cool overnight to allow fat to solidify for removal or let rest 15 minutes in order to skim most of fat off using a ladle. (It is important to leave some fat, as it coats the mouth and enhances the beefiness of your pho.)

6. Refrigerate soup up to five days or freeze up to three months.

7. To finish: Assemble garnish plates.

8. If using dried rice noodles, cook in boiling water until tender (about 6 to 10 minutes, depending on width), then rinse thoroughly in a colander with cold water. If using fresh rice noodles, cook 3 to 5 seconds in boiling water using a Chinese "spider" utensil then immediately submerge in ice water to stop cooking and rinse starch. Place in colander.

9. Bring stock to boil. Taste and adjust with fish sauce and palm or granulated sugar to your preference.

10. Rinse noodles again with room temperature water, and distribute evenly between 6 to 8 bowls. Place a pinch of scallions, a small handful of cilantro, brisket, and raw flank slices in each bowl. Ladle pho into each bowl and serve immediately. Tease any clumped noodles gently with chopsticks.

11. Garnish as desired. (Sriracha and hoisin should not be added to the bowl of soup. They are meant for dipping pieces of meat into.)

Note: At least half of the bones should contain exposed bone marrow. Most butchers will cut bones into one- or two-inch cross sections. Doing so will extract more collagen without simmering for 18 to 24 hours, producing more gelatin to give soup a substantial texture.

Culinary Tours & Tastings Flavor Visits To Philadelphia

When foodies hit the road, they take their passion for culinary tours and tastings with them. In Philadelphia, visitors can tour breweries, distilleries and wineries, follow guides to favorite haunts of foodies, partake in cooking classes and more—all the while getting a great sense of the city, its neighborhoods and countryside.

Here’s a look at some of the region’s top culinary experiences:

Food Tours:

  • Chew Philly Food Tours – These mom-and-pop-operation-focused tours show off foodie highlights of the city’s Manayunk and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods. The 2.5-hour excursions treat guests to six or more tastings of savory and sweet foods and include bits of history and culture along the way. A portion of ticket sales goes to Philadelphia non-profit The Food Trust. (800) 656-0713, phillyfoodtours.com
  • City Food Tours – Visitors can eat like locals on culinary crawls with specific themes: Flavors of Philly, Decadent Gourmet, Ethnic Eats of South Philly, Hot & Spicy Philly and Highlights of East Passyunk. (800) 656-0713, cityfoodtours.com
  • Philadelphia Urban Adventures – Among the food- and drink-based options on these tours are Philly On Tap, a small group tour of some of the city’s great watering holes during happy hour Beyond the Cheesesteak, combining street food and hallowed buildings of University City Cheesesteak Segway Tour, a two-hour jaunt that samples five versions of Philly’s famed sandwich and Italian Market Immersion, inviting visitors to wander around the famous food-forward corridor. Private tours are also available and offer tasting options. (215) 280-3746, philadelphiaurbanadventures.com
  • Philly Food Adventures – Food writer and blogger Jamie Shanker welcomes groups of four to 20 for her 2.5-hour jaunts around Chinatown. The tour begins under the neighborhood’s iconic Friendship Gate and offers insights on the city’s diverse Asian population before moving eaters to five spots (plus markets) for dumplings, noodles and under-the-radar street fare. (267) 587-6225, phillyfoodadventures.com
  • Philly’s Chinatown Tour and Dim Sum Tasting – A Chinatown and dumpling expert (who also leads dumpling-making workshops) takes visitors to lesser-known neighborhood spots, such as an herbal medicine shop, fried ice cream shop, and a Chinese bakery and bubble teahouse. The three-hour experience includes lunch at a traditional dim sum restaurant. Groups meet at the Friendship Gate. 10th & Arch Streets, (215) 352-4324, dumplingacademy.com
  • Taste 4 Travel Food Tours – Chef Jacquie serves as a personable culinary guide to her own South Philadelphia neighborhood and beyond. Daily behind-the-scenes trips through the 9th Street Italian Market, East Passyunk Avenue and Chestnut Hill include samples from local favorites and neighborhood culture. (610) 506-6120, taste4travel.net
  • 3rd Saturday Tours – Monthly guided walks through New Hope and Lambertville feature local history and tastings. A typical tour includes stops at five restaurants and shops for food and conversation with chefs. Advance tickets required. (908) 268-1720, sistercitiestours.com
  • Wok ’n Walk Tours – Chef Joseph Poon’s Chinatown tours make for unforgettable vacation stories. The private group outings include visits to a fortune cookie factory, an Asian grocery, a Chinese bakery and a Chinese place of worship, among other stops, and end with a meal at one of Poon’s favorite Chinatown restaurants. (215) 928-9333, josephpoon.com

Winery, Brewery & Distillery Tours:

  • Brewery Tours – Philly and its countryside proudly brew some of the nation’s best beers. People can get an up-close look at the process during tours of area breweries, including Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC), Manayunk Brewing Company and Sly Fox Brewing Company. Yards, 500 Spring Garden Street, (215) 525-0175, yardsbrewing.com PBC, 2440 Frankford Avenue, (215) 427-2739, philadelphiabrewing.com Manayunk, 4120 Main Street, (215) 482-8220, manayunkbrewery.com Sly Fox, 331 Circle of Progress Drive, Pottstown, (484) 300-4644, slyfoxbeer.com
  • Wine Trails – Throughout the Philadelphia region, the winery scene has grown into three distinct trails. Each offers the delicious opportunity for self-guided tours through vineyards and vintners of the Brandywine Valley, Bucks County and Montgomery County. Brandywine Artisan Wine Trail, brandywineartisanwinetrail.com Bucks County Wine Trail, buckscountywinetrail.com Montgomery County Wine Trail, (215) 801-2227, montgomerycountywinetrail.com
  • City Brew Tours – Local beer enthusiasts guide guests to their favorite breweries during three- to five-hour tours that include up to 15 tastings and an overview of the region’s brewing scene. Snacks and meals soak up the suds, and van transportation makes the tour safe. Tours depart from the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. 1227 Filbert Street, (215) 866-2337, citybrewtours.com
  • Liberty Brew Tours – Craft breweries in Philly and Bucks County are the destinations for three tours (one focuses on Central Bucks exclusively) from a company founded in 2015 by three local craft beer insiders. Participants take vans between destinations, where they sample rare brews, and enjoy lunch or dinner — and snack on Philly soft pretzels for in-between. (267) 606-7403, libertybrewtours.com
  • Tastings & Tours’ Winery, Brewery & Distillery Tours – Those who appreciate a good drink can enjoy a carefree day during guided, all-inclusive, private tours that cover some of the area’s finest wineries, breweries, brewpubs and distilleries, along with some beautiful scenery in Bucks County. (484) 695-6465, tastingsandtours.com
  • Tippler’s Tour – Participants sing along to 18th-century drinking songs, hear stories of tavern traditions of Colonial times and sample beverages and snacks while rambling through Philadelphia’s Historic District. Led by an energetic Colonial tippler, the happy-hour tour takes place on Thursdays from mid-November through January and departs from the Betsy Ross House. 239 Arch Street, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org

Get Schooled:

  • Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction – A rustic, stylish Old City cocktail shop from the creators of artisan whiskey, gin, cordials, bourbon, rum and more made with tamarind, cacao, quince, fig and such hosts popular cocktails classes among their wares (bar accessories, recipe books). Recent sold-out workshops and classes have featured cocktail-making with CBD oil and flower extracts. 116 N. 3rd Street, (215) 922-2600, artintheage.com
  • Cocktail Culture Co. – Guests shake, stir, mix and muddle with cocktail experts during two-hour workshops in Old City. Perfect for individuals or groups, the events include Prohibition Era Cocktails, Fresh Fruit Cocktails and Herbs & Spices in Mixology. 16 S. 2nd Street, (267) 702-3404, cocktailculture.co
  • COOK – In Audrey Taichman’s Rittenhouse kitchen, renowned chefs share their secrets during culinary class/dinner events. Guests sit around an Instagram-worthy island to watch as their meals go from recipe to masterpiece. The onsite boutique sells a wonderful selection of cookbooks, kitchen tools and pantry goods. 253 S. 20th Street, (215) 735-2665, audreyclairecook.com
  • La Cucina at the Market – Anna Maria Florio helms this demonstration kitchen near the historic Reading Terminal Market. La Cucina offers hands-on cooking classes for all skill levels and spotlights varied cuisines and food categories. 1206 Arch Street, (215) 922-1170, lacucinaatthemarket.com
  • Kensington Quarters – A bi-level, meat-forward restaurant in Fishtown is known for incredible dishes, a wine-centric bar, sustainable processes and knowledgeable staff—many who lead classes and demonstrations on pasta making, whole-hog butchering, vegetable fermentation, cocktail mixing and more. 1310 Frankford Avenue, (267) 314-5086, kensingtonquarters.com
  • Pinot Boutique – This “Best of Philly” winner offers great wine, tastings, classes and private parties. Some wine classes are uniquely Philadelphian, letting drinkers pair vino with cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, Tastykakes and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews or offering casual lessons on wines of the American Revolution. Locals stop here for a nice selection of wines from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, plus accessories galore. 227 Market Street, (215) 627-WINE, pinotboutique.com
  • Primal Supply Meats – Heather Marold Thomason’s modern East Passyunk butcher shop quite literally shows students how the sausage is made, and also schools them in the rugged art of whole-animal (pig, lamb) butchery. Classes often sell out in advance. 1538 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 595-2255, primalsupplymeats.com
  • Reading Terminal Market – The motherland for the buy-local movement in Philadelphia offers free, vendor-centric local cooking demonstrations every other Saturday in its educational cooking space. Every Wednesday and Saturday, a local food writer shares stories of the market and its iconic foods during 75-minute market tours. 11 th & Arch Streets, (215) 922-1170, readingterminalmarket.org

VISIT PHILADELPHIA ® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

Taste of the Nation Philadelphia

Its back one of my all time favorite events in Philadelphia. Actually one of the 1st that I attended as Homemade Delish. An amazing night for all foodie lovers for a great cause.

Premier tasting event, which supports No Kid Hungry’s work to end childhood hunger in America, will feature Philadelphia’s top chefs and mixologists united for a cause: making sure all children in this country get the healthy food they need.

Guests will have the opportunity to taste dishes and cocktails from 50 of the city’s most influential people in the food and drink scene. They’ll also enjoy live entertainment and a historically competitive silent auction.

Debuting for the first-time this year, the Chefs Behind Bars happy hour series is an additional promotional fundraiser leading up to the main event. Philly’s top chefs trade in their aprons for cocktail shakers. For a flat $15 donation <100% proceeds go directly to the No Kid Hungry Foundation>guests will get to mingle with top chefs and enjoy a special complementary cocktail. The first Chefs Behind Bars happy hour was hosted by Charlie was a Sinner and included Chef Ted Manko and Top-Chef winner, Jen Carroll.

The final Chefs Behind Bars happy hour will be hosted on Monday, April 27 at Jerry’s Bar in Northern Liberties from 5-8pm. Tickets for Taste of the Nation will be available for purchase at the door at a discounted price.

2015 Restaurant Lineup:

Aldine, The Avenue Deli, Bank & Bourbon, Barbuzzo, Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery, Bing Bing Dim Sum, Bistrot La Minette, Blue Duck Sandwich Co., Bru, Buddakan, Capofitto, Charlie was a sinner., Creekstone Farms, Elements, The Farm and Fisherman, Fond, Fork, The Good King Tavern, Grand Lux Café, Helm, Jerry’s Bar, Kensington Quarters, Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, Lo Spiedo, Mercato, Nectar, Opa, Petruce et al., Pod, Pub & Kitchen P’unk Burger R2L Red Owl Tavern Russet Shake Shack Square 1682 Taproom on 19th Townsend, V Street, Vernick Food & Drink, Will BYOB, and Zeppoli

2015 Mixologist Lineup:
1 Tippling, a.kitchen, Brick & Mortar, The Good King Tavern, Olde Bar, Vedge, and Vesper

For more information and to purchase tickets visit: http://ce.strength.org/philadelphia

“Philadelphia’s Taste of the Nation is more than just an chance to eat and drink—though that part is pretty great,” said Linda Huss, co-chair of the event. “It’s the opportunity to give baPhiladelphia’s Taste of the Nation® for No Kid Hungry returns Sunday, May 3 to the Loews Philadelphia Hotel with an additional first-ever, Chef Behind Bars Happy Hour series, concluding at Jerry’s Bar on Monday, April 27. Theck and connect children in need to healthy meals. It’s a fantastic night out for a deserving cause.”

Shake Milton needs to simplify his game to help the Philadelphia 76ers.

More from Section 215

Shake Milton is a shooting guard.

While he has played point guard at times and has turned in some incredible performances while predominantly logging minutes at the one, Milton’s really not built to be a high-usage facilitator who can run an offense.

Mind you, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Milton’s counterpart in the Philadelphia 76ers’ contest against the Pheonix Suns, Devin Booker, has been moved on and off the ball a number of times during his professional career and is currently in the middle of a really good campaign paired up with future Hall of Famer Chris Paul.

If Milton had a point guard to play off of regularly of the same caliber as Paul – see Simmons, Ben – maybe he too would be able to relax, focus up, and play his role to the best of his ability, but when Simmons is out, and the Sixers put the ball in his hands with more regularity, the third-year guard out of SMU tried to take Marc Zumoff‘s “turn garbage into gold” catchphrase a bit too literally.

Despite having played 777 minutes through the first 57 games of the 2020-21 NBA season with either Tyrese Maxey or Simmons, Milton has the second-highest usage rate (24.9) of any player on the team behind only Joel Embiid. Now theoretically, that shouldn’t matter one way or another. Usage rate doesn’t define a player’s impact or quantify their efficiency it just highlights how often any given player is involved in a play, with 20 percent being average as per Bleacher Report.

A 24.9 usage rate signifies that Milton is touching the ball on pretty much every possession, which you’d expect from a point guard but isn’t ideal for a shooting guard. Seth Curry, for example, has a usage rate of 17.4, and he averages near-identical assist totals to Milton.

Part of the reason why the Sixers drafted Maxey and then traded for George Hill – besides both moves being of good value – is because they are both good facilitators with experience playing alongside scoring combo guards. Pairing either player up with Milton – or Simmons, for that matter – could divvy up the on-ball responsibilities more evenly and add some movement to Doc Rivers’ offense. Had that actually happened, maybe Milton wouldn’t be in the middle of his least-efficient professional season, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.

No, too often have we seen Maxey – who isn’t a particularly good outside shooter – waiting on the wings while Milton dribbles around trying to find a seam in a defense that knows what’s coming.

Moving forward, that needs to change.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, Rivers would be wise to give Milton fewer responsibilities moving forward in the hopes of settling down his young guard and rebuilding his confidence over the final month of the season. Maybe a “promotion” to the starting lineup where dominating the ball becomes a whole lot harder when paired up with Simmons and Embiid could chill out Milton’s burning need to do more and allow him to ease back into more of a complementary role.

Alternatively, Rivers could fully hand the keys over to Hill and allow the veteran point guard to provide a calming presence to Philly’s second unit. If Milton and Hill can trade-off possessions or even run a pass-heavy two-man game anchored by Dwight Howard, it’ll make the Sixers’ bench unit all the more explosive and potentially tire out an opposing defense a la a strong running game in football.

Heck, Maxey has been playing some of the best basketball of his young career as of late why not let him run the show with Milton serving as a spot-up shooter on the wings? Milton was the Sixers’ most efficient 3 point shooter last season and could surely become it again with a few more off-ball open looks per game.

Either way, getting zero points out of Milton in the second half can’t become the new norm.

Any NBA season, especially one with a consensed schedule, is a marathon, not a sprint. Players will get hot for a bit, go cold for a bit, and ultimately even out if the season is looked at as a whole. Maybe Shake Milton is trying to force things because his shots aren’t falling as often as usual, or he’s simply trying to do too much because he really wants to win even when his team is down a starter or three. Either way, the Philadelphia 76ers would be wise to find a way to better utilize Milton moving forward, as he hasn’t quite excelled in the Lou Williams-esque walking bucket some expected coming into the season.

Learn More

About the Foodizen series

Foodizen, a new regular feature from The Citizen, delves into the nexus of food and culture in cities, as a way to tell us about the people, experiences, tastes and history of Philadelphia.

We know that food is about more than food. And food stories intersect with the roiling life of the city—its politics, diversity, education, its ideas of home, the environment and quality of life. Through food, we can see how people strive for sustainability survive food deserts urban farm build restaurants with social consciences use restaurants as centers for activism, welcome and good cheer. We can see how people live—and what keeps them doing it.

Foodizen will take us into neighborhoods, far from the Center City foodie epicenter, not just for stories but also for community gatherings to explore some of the ideas that are continuously re-creating the city of Philadelphia.

Jason Wilson is The Citizen’s 2019 Jeremy Nowak Fellow, funded by Spring Point Partners, in honor of our late chairman Jeremy Nowak. He is the author of three books, including Boozehound and Godforsaken Grapes, which will be released in paperback in April. His next book, The Cider Revival, is due out in September. He is the series editor of The Best American Travel Writing, and writes for the Washington Post, New York Times, New Yorker and many other publications. His food writing has won numerous awards from the Association of Food Journalists, including Best Food Column four times. You can find him at jasonwilson.com

We’d love to hear from you. What food stories do you want to read about?

Where to eat this fall in Philly

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Here’s the lowdown on nine restaurants slated to open this month or next.


Joe Cicala is opening Brigantessa soon.

Where: 1520 E. Passyunk Ave.
When: October
Vibe: Homey Italian
The scoop: Chef Joe Cicala, Francis Cratil-Cretarola and Catherine Lee — all from Le Virtu — are opening this pizzeria serving Neapolitan pies and pasta wood-fired in an oven that immigrated from Italy by boat.

City Tap House Logan Square
Where: 2 Logan Square
When: mid-October
Vibe: Similar to its sister location in University City, but with an 18-by-9 video wall for watching the games.
The scoop: The menu is sandwiches, burgers and other pub fare, plus 40 taps and a bottle list.

2nd Story Brewing
Where: 117 Chestnut St. (formerly Triumph Brewing)
When: Oct. 21
Vibe: Casual and spacious, with outdoor seating
The scoop: The food is elevated American pub fare, complemented by head brewer John Wible’s approachable ales and lagers.

Kensington Quarters
Where: 1310 Frankford Ave.
When: Late October or early November
Vibe: Farm-to-table
The scoop: Fishtown is getting a four-in-one with KQ: It’s a restaurant, bar, butcher shop and classroom space for butchering and cooking workshops.

Where: 1901 Chestnut (formerly Noche)
When: Late October or early November
Vibe: “Thoughtful” and seasonal
The scoop: George and Jennifer Sabatino’s 70-seater will offer two reservations-only tasting menus — one for omnivores, one for herbivores — plus an a la carte small plates menu for walk-ins and bar guests. Pastry chef Sara May is in charge of desserts.

Where: 1320 Chestnut
When: Late October or early November
Vibe: Trendy bar/restaurant/club
The scoop: U-Bahn has a local focus, with Pennsylvania craft brews, local liquors and “Philly-focused” food.

P’unk Burger
Where: 1823 E. Passyunk Ave.
When: November
Vibe: Casual but hip
The scoop: Slice owners Marlo and Jason Dilks are behind this twist on a classic diner, featuring burgers, fries and shakes as well as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options and organic fountain soda. It’s in the space Chhaya Cafe just left for a bigger location a few doors down.

Jake’s Sandwich Board
Where: 125 S. 40th St.
When: Late November-ish
Vibe: Casual and take out
The scoop: The University City location will be similar to the newly renovated Midtown Village Jake’s. Both spots are adding “roasts” for the dinner menu: shareable portions of pig, brisket or turkey in a cast-iron skillet, plus sides. But we know you’ll just be going for the Barnyard.

Luke Palladino is bringing his Italian fare to East Passyunk.

Where: 1934 E. Passyunk Ave.
When: Late November or early December
Vibe: Upscale but non-snooty Italian
The scoop: Chef Luke Palladino is no stranger to the restaurant scene, and his first foray into Philly is on one of the hottest food strips.

Zavino Hospitality Group owner Greg Dodge is working on another Mediterranean spot, this one with 50 seats and a full bar at 114 S. 13th St., across the street from the Midtown Village Zavino. It will be “Zavino-light.” Tredici is shooting for an early 2015 opening.