Owner and culinary mastermind of French Quarter Bistro, Mark Van Horn’s prerequisites for a good meal are simple: authenticity, home cooking, and a liberal dash of soul. This dedication to comfort cooking has earned the French Quarter Bistro a host of dedicated regulars as well as the Philly Hot List's award for Best Soul Food in 2009, 2010, and 2011. In the bustling kitchen, chefs whip up creole and Cajun eats using unique ingredients such as house roasted peppers, alligator sausage, and fried pickles. Along with their flavorful dishes, French Quarter Bistro also serves up a variety of entertainment throughout the week, including open mic nights with local singers and poets tired of the wrestling portion of poetry slams.
TJ's gourmet a la carte menu features fresh-made fare, with everything prudently prepared to order. Wake up to a savory serving of crab hollandaise over poached eggs, a homemade biscuit, and steamed asparagus ($9.50) or keep your strength up for a long day of clown wrestling with a protein-packed breakfast sandwich ($7.25), which you can top with apple-wood-smoked bacon or maple sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheddar and jack cheeses—all encased in either a pub roll or a garlic-herb wrap. Patrons with sweetie-pie palates will be more pleased with a decadent plate of cinnamon-bun french toast topped with maple butter and pecan syrup ($8.25) or the banana-walnut pancakes ($8.25).
Puck hosts blossoming local artists onstage in a bustling jazz club atmosphere, augmented by a full menu of casual pub fare served on the fresh-air patio. Gum gallop through the salmon's horseradish-crusted terrain accented with flowing streams of raspberry sauce ($10.95, dinner service only) to bring out savory flavors and prompt splash fights, or scatter caramelized onions and mushrooms across the grilled steak doused in sun-dried tomato and gorgonzola sauce ($12.95, dinner service only). An 8-ounce burger burrows in a pillowy bun ($8.95) with savory snuggle buddies such as bacon and chili ($1 each), and behemoth chicken fingers stir up dangerous rip tides in seas of barbecue sauce ($6.95).
Operated by brothers Rick and Jeff Spano, this family business boasts a list of handheld noshables and traditional bar fare. Amuse appetites with starters such as the wings cloaked in a choice of sauce and accompanied by blue-cheese dressing ($0.30 each). The basket of sweet-potato fries delights dippers ($5.50), and the fried white cheddar and broccoli bites come prepped and ready for a ceremonial ranch dressing rite of passage ($7). Meat mavens can affix their maxilla around the 8-ounce Angus beef burger ($7.75) or chicken sandwich ($7.50), and fish favorers can opt for the lager-battered haddock or the grilled swordfish entree, served with pineapple salsa, sautéed spinach, and shoestring potatoes for those who have graduated beyond Velcro slip-ons ($12).
Ever since its first location opened in 1994, very rarely is there a quiet moment at J.D. McGillicuddy's. Crowds watching the Phillies cheer and groan in unison, and members of bachelorette parties dance around groups of old friends meeting for a drink. The only time the noise dips is when the staff brings out plates of the house's flavorful pub food. Wings, burgers, pizzas, and nachos fill the menu, with East Coast twists such as Old Bay seasoning and jumbo lump crabmeat. Each spacious location has also been known to host special events, from DJ-spun theme nights and pub crawls to Easter breakfasts.