As is customary at Philly Lunch, every Tuesday we turn over the site to a different lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Philadelphia. This week it’s Matt, a consultant with a passion for burgers.
Where in Philly do you Work?: Center City, 18th & Arch
Favorite Kind of Food: This is like asking a father to choose which of his children he loves the most. Sure, he’s got a favorite, but he can’t bring himself to admit it publically. Besides, it’s close enough that on any given day Chicken Tikka Masala could overtake Spicy Tuna Roll with an A+ on a math test.
My stomach is perpetually jealous of Noah’s Ark, as I’ve never met an animal that wasn’t delicious. I love culture-specific cuisine, especially Asian and European, and the more authentic the better. I’m blissful at Tony Luke’s and Le Bec Fin alike. But my true passion has to be burgers, which I love to irrational extremes. I’m on a mission to eat, rank and review every burger in the city. I lay awake at night, wondering if there’s a better burger out there and defying the notion that I should be content with a personal favorite without testing every candidate (I’m tracking my results at www.awesomeopolis.com/burgermap).
Least Favorite Kind of Food: In general, I can’t stand food that tries too hard and restaurants that over-reach. I don’t care what I’m eating, as long as it’s done well. I’d rather eat a Shank’s chicken cutlet sandwich or a Hershel’s pastrami on pumpernickel than the filet mignon at a kitschy tourist trap or foie gras from a Denny’s. I’ll take the best of any category over mediocre execution in an allegedly “better” category any day of the week.
Specifically, my least favorite food in town is the last burger I had at the Applebee’s on 15th Street—its mere existence is an open declaration of war against food itself.
Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Philly:
Chung King Garden (915 Arch St): Water Boiled Fish; Green Pepper Chicken. This place has the best and most authentic Szechuan cuisine I’ve ever had.
Varga Bar (10th and Spruce): Kobe Beef Burger; Truffle Mac and Cheese. Best new gastropub in Philly, and they do a good brunch too (which is half-lunch, right?).
Shank’s Original (120 S. 15th St): Any of the chicken cutlet sandwiches, which are rightfully considered among the best in the country.
4th Street Deli (38 S. 19th St): Pastrami Cheesesteak; Challah French Toast; any sandwich. Forget the possibility of leaving hungry; come close to finishing a zaftig-sized sandwich here and you’ll be lucky to retain the ability to walk erect.
Reading Terminal Market (12th and Filbert): Follow your nose. This place is inspirational, and no, I’m not using that word too liberally.
Mama’s Vegetarian (18 S. 20th St): Falafel. Best lunch for a kosher/vegan; freshest fries in town.
DiBruno Brothers (Various locations): They make my favorite sandwiches to eat while working, but try not to go at around 11:50AM (that’s when I like to sneak in early to beat the line).
I could go on for quite a while, but I would consider any of these places at the top of their particular categories.
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Posted at 10:39 am, February 23rd, 2010 under PROFILE: Philly Lunch'er.