Voted top five in the Best Indian category of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 CityVoter awards, Laxmi's Indian Grille serves a range of dishes?from spicy meats to subtle vegetable stews?designed to please all palates. A perfume of fresh ginger, rose water, and house-made cottage cheese drifts from the bustling kitchen out into the dining room of the Main Street location, where vibrant paintings provide an elegant contrast to walls of rustic exposed stone. At both Main Street and the newly minted Tilden Street eatery, a clay tandoor oven is kept aflame throughout the day, enabling chefs to bake breads, meats, and underripe bananas to a golden patina.
Cute, brightly lit and run by a local husband-and-wife team, Epicure Café at East Falls answers East Falls residents’ need for a casual, low-key spot to grab a coffee or a bite. Open for breakfast and lunch every day and into the evenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday, Epicure serves up everything from a simple bagel and lox to omelets, salads, chili and paninis. When it comes to burgers, patrons can opt for a traditional sirloin version, a turkey one (topped with spinach, tomatoes and cranberry-horseradish dressing) or the Woodstock burger, a veggie patty created by co-owner Arlene Leschak with mushrooms, barley, oats and sunflower seeds.
A neighborhood pizza parlor, Slices Pizza has been turning out hot pies from its no-frills location in East Falls since 2004. A variety of pizzas await customers when they walk in, such as buffalo chicken, a Hawaiian with ham, pineapple and bacon and a garlicky white pizza. The menu extends far beyond the namesake pizza slices, however, offering hoagies, cheesesteaks, strombolis, wings and big salads. Combo specials let patrons feed the whole crew: the “Family Time” special includes a large plain pizza, a steak or hoagie, ten wings and a two-liter soda for around $20. Slices delivers throughout the day and stays open until 3 a.m. on weekends. A neatly maintained park and playground across the street allows customers to grab a slice to go and enjoy their meal outdoors.
Impressively thin and tasty pizzas emerge from the wood-fired oven visible in In Riva’s open kitchen. The pies don’t need to spend a lot of time inside that glowing oven to come out perfectly crisp, and they’re topped with creative combinations: one has Sicilian tuna, San Marzano tomatoes, black olives and arugula; another features fresh burrata cheese, cauliflower, golden raisins and pine nuts. The rest of the spot-on menu of this East Falls eatery shouldn’t be ignored. The eight homemade pastas are just as accomplished as the pies, as are the salads. The pizzeria’s is filled with dark and warm woods that create a homey, yet elegant surrounding, and a wide back deck offers a great view of the Schuylkill River.
After taking a seat on the outdoor patio along the banks of the Schuylkill, trattorize your face with Franco's menu and rush an appetizer of white wine and garlic steamed mussels ($9.50) directly onto the table of your tongue. For the secondi, try Franco's salsicce con peperoni (penne with zesty tomato sauce, sausage, peppers, and onions; $16.75), or devour the pork Milanese as the butterflied, breaded pork chop ($18.75) emerges from its chrysalis in the frying pan. The shrimp arrabbiata (shrimp sautéed with garlic and served over linguine with a special spicy tomato sauce; $19.75) gives seafood eaters something succulent to share with the remoras that clean the bacteria off their dorsal fins. Light eaters will prefer the gorgonzola salad ($8.50), which garnishes a mix of spring greens with walnuts, apples, and balsamic, along with deliciously gorgonzolic cheese. Otherwise, keep yourself from floating away during a gravity outage with Franco's house lasagna ($16.75), which interposes layers of ground beef, sausage, and ricotta cheese between the sweet, wheaty embrace of tender pasta, and pairs best with the house wines and a little live music every Friday.
Science has proven that the sense of smell is closely connected to both memory and cookie desire. Sniff your way to memorably tasty baked goods with today’s Groupon to Sugar & Spice Bakeshop. For $5, you’ll get $10 worth of muffins, croissants, cookies, cupcakes, and sandwiches. The vibrant red walls and colorful wall art beckon even the noseless to sit atop a tall chair at the serpentine counter or cozy up with a friend on the red sofa.