Born and raised in northern Greece, Piazza Presto founder Chronis Sapalidis carries on a longstanding family tradition of restaurateuring in his open-kitchen bistro. Pizza, pasta, and sandwiches populate the lunch and dinner menus—and on Chronis’ specialties menu he betrays his Mediterranean origins and Philadelphian affinities. During the day the restaurant serves as a café and bakery, and patio welcome guests with open awnings whenever weather allows and no pteranodons darken the sky. A BYOB establishment, Piazza Presto secrets a wine cellar in a rich wooden cabinet, and will keep diners’ wines chilled for their next visit if requested.
Thai Spice's plenteous noodle and curry dishes infuse rich flavors from traditional Thai recipes. Dress up perpetually bald tongues with the spicy basil noodle, a wide-noodle dish laced with string beans, mushrooms, and chili peppers ($10.95–$13.95). Alternatively, bored forks can search for the seafood-combo treasure at the bottom of the Emerald Sea platter ($17.95), or sample the bamboo shoots swimming in coconut, carrots, sweet peppers, and broccoli in the kang ped curry ($12.95–$14.95).
The top brass twisters at Auntie Anne's, one of the world's largest hand-rolled, soft-pretzel franchises, create enough twirly treats every year to wrap the earth in deliciously salted dough three times over. Pretzel professionals prepare a wide array of sweet and salty snacks, spiraling them into ornate knots with the delicacy of a grandmotherly sailor and baking them to golden brown in full view of customers. A plain pretzel offers a satisfyingly simple snack, while sacchariferous ingredients such as cinnamon sugar and toasted-almond toffee make tongues sweat with anticipation. Mouths will mambo to the Mediterranean flavors of the garlic pretzel, a perfect treat to submerge into a dunk tank of marinara or one of the other available dipping sauces. Or, sample slender tubewiches swathed in the warm embrace of pretzel dough with signature pretzel dogs. Pair braided bites with a chalice of lemonade or a frozen ICEE drink, both of which pack a flavorful punch that’s more refreshing than a brisk morning run that successfully evades a pursuing snow leopard.
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.
Housemade marinades infuse Tortuga's Mexican Restaurant’s meaty dishes with pops of flavor. Chefs drench fajitas’ skirt steak in a marinade and saturate creamy chipotle-chicken pieces in a smoky jalapeño cream sauce. Lime juice with cilantro and a spicy red chili also flavor meats, which are then stuffed inside a burrito, served on a bed of rice, or displayed on a fluffy pillow. Meat-free dishes include cheesy enchiladas and a trio of tacos filled with beans, cheese, and guacamole.
This cone-shaped sweet shop lavishes refreshment on tongues with an expansive menu of soft-serve and hand-dipped ice cream, fresh milkshakes, sundaes, and other savory snacks. After fastidiously scanning through the shop's 13 flavors of ice cream, transport dollops of sub-zero black raspberry or sumptuous peanut-butter weave ($2.79 for a regular serving) to your mouth via sugar cone ($.25 extra), waffle cone ($.75 extra), or frosted particle accelerator. Handmade milkshakes ($3.75) rescue jaws from the taxing duties of mastication, and cookies ($1) and funnel cakes ($1.75) succor sweet teeth sans the threat of orthodontic-headgear hypothermia. Those looking to maximize flavor variety can enhance icy eats with toppings such as rainbow sprinkles, gummy bears, skittles, and broken cookies ($.50 each).