From left: Pizza Wagon owner Josh Goldstein; Caramel Kitchen’s tuna, The motherload at Red Mango.
Café to Catch Up With Friends Café Fleur Tucked away in Valley Forge Flowers, Café Fleur is the ideal setting for a sophisticated breakfast or lunch with your gal pals. 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 687-5566, www.valleyforgeflowers.com.
Carnivorous Entrées The Red Cedar Grille & Cocktails Break out the steak knife for the grilled New York strip and the bourbon-marinated rib eye. Dig into crisp, fried Tuscan pork cutlets, beer-brined suckling pig, or coriander-pepper cured brisket. Tempting traditional sides include creamy spinach, steak-cut fries, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and more. 249 Bethlehem Pike, Colmar, (267) 477-1422, www.theredcedar.com.
Caterer Le Petit Chef Tea sandwiches were en vogue in 1936, when Le Petit Chef first opened on the Main Line. They’re still offered today in several varieties, including watercress and cream cheese, chicken salad, and peanut butter and jelly. Other options include soups, meat entrées, and pastries that’ll make the guests at your next party très heureux. 297 Gulph Hills Road, Radnor, (610) 643-6300, www.teasandwiches.com.
Cheesemaker Birchrun Hills Farm’s Sue Miller What started as a mission to save her dairy farm has turned into a prosperous business for Sue Miller. With the help of her husband, Ken, and sons Randy and Jesse, she crafts small-batch cheeses from the milk of Holstein and Jersey cows. We love the subtle, buttery Birchrun Blue and the tangy, earthy Fat Cat. 2573 Horseshoe Trail, Chester Springs, www.birchrunhillsfarm.com, (610) 827-1603.
Cheese Plate Henry’s Café & Fine Groceries It’s Paris meets Pottstown at this hidden gem of a BYOB. Henry’s plates four cheeses sourced from Skippack’s Grand Fromage with local honey and honeycomb, guava paste, house-made fruit preserves, and fresh fruit, all of it served with hearty seven-grain bread. 20 S. Charlotte St., Pottstown, (610) 326-0069.
Cheesesteak Pepper Mill Its beef cooked to juicy perfection every time, the best cheesesteak outside Philly can be found in West Chester. There, we’ve said it … and, yes, fried onions, please. 813 N. Chester Road, West Chester, (610) 692-0100.
Chef Majolica’s Andrew Deery Andrew Deery combines an obsessive attention to quality and technique with the bonhomie of a small-town restaurant owner. His meticulously constructed, color-splashed plates never fail to woo diners. Deliciously scientific creations include foie-gras crème caramel accented with toasted cumin, and crab risotto with uni butter and specks of charred scallion. And he’s just getting started. 258 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 917-0962, www.majolicarestaurant.com.
Chinese Han Dynasty Han Dynasty’s fiery dishes generously showcase Szechuan cuisine’s peppercorns and chilies in authentic preparations. Try the dan dan noodles with minced pork, scallions and chili oil, or the dry-pepper chicken, with its mix of long hot and dry chili peppers. 260 N. Pottstown Pike, Exton, (610) 524-4002; 4356 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 508-2066; www.handynasty.net.
Chocolatier Tradestone Confections Conshohocken’s first artisanal chocolate shop is helmed by former Le Bec-Fin colleagues Chip Roman and Fred Ortega. Tradestone specializes in small batches and bold, sophisticated flavors. Try the ultra-creamy malted-milk truffles. Or dabble in buttery hunks of caramel infused with sea salt. 117 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (484) 368-3096, www.tradestoneconfections.com.
Cider Maker Frecon Farms Family-owned since 1944, Berks County’s Frecon Farms offers three flagship ciders, plus small-batch releases all crafted with a blend of dessert, cider and aromatic apples. Start with the tart, bottle-conditioned Crabby Granny cyser, move to the light-bodied Early Man, and finish with the sparkling New England-style Hogshead. Available at select farmers’ markets, www.freconfarms.com.
Cinnamon Roll The Bacon Press Served warm, these doughy spirals are cloaked with a decadent cream-cheese frosting. But what makes them even better? Bacon — and lots of it —sprinkled on in copious chunks. 235 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (484) 328-3118, www.baconpresscafe.com.
Cocktail Bar Sovana Bistro Indulge in lovingly crafted cocktails that spotlight the flavors of the season. In the hands of Sovana’s skilled bartenders, aromatic herbs, fresh fruits and infused liquors make for memorable combinations. 696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, (610) 444-5600, www.sovanabistro.com.
Coffeehouse Burlap and Bean By day, it’s a cozy spot filled with local moms and laptop-toting regulars. By night, the place is a vibrant performance space, drawing an increasingly impressive mix of touring acts and local musicians, poets and storytellers. 204 S. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, (484) 427-4547, www.burlapandbean.com.
Coffee Roaster Pour Richard’s Coffee Co. Opened this past winter, Pour Richard’s serves environmentally friendly coffee while promoting knowledge of its origins and roasting profiles. No frappucinos and artificial sweeteners here; just great brews and perfectly pulled espresso shots. 36 Berkeley Road, Devon, (484) 857-9406, www.pourrichardscoffee.com.
Community-Driven Food Market Swarthmore Co-Op This full-service market got its start in 1932, and it continues to thrive. It has as complete a selection of locally sourced provisions as any supermarket. Shareholders enjoy specials, discounts and a frequent-buyer program. 341 Dartmouth Ave., Swarthmore, (610) 543-9805, www.swarthmore.coop.
Cooking Classes The Kitchen Workshop Owner Art Roman offers daily classes that focus on technique, recipe sharing and more. Brush up on kitchen basics, or learn the art of Thai or French cuisine. 21 Plank Ave., Suite 204, Paoli, (610) 993-2665, www.kitchenworkshop.com.
Corporate Escape Ralph’s of South Philly Ralph’s is an oasis of authenticity in synthetic King of Prussia. Classics like veal saltimbocca, frutti di mare and pappardelle pomodoro are served just as they are at the original South Philly Ralph’s, the oldest Italian restaurant in the country. 480 N. Gulph Road, King of Prussia, (484) 238-1990, www.ralphsofsouthphilly.com.
Creative Brunch Black Lab Bistro Crab-cake Benedict and decadent butterscotch French toast are favorites on a menu that changes often. And don’t miss the banana bread. 248 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 935-5988, www.blacklabbistro.net.
CSA Vollmecke Orchards & CSA Karen Vollmecke’s 30 years of growing experience shows through in a vibrant array of crops. And with three membership options, even the greenest newbie can get a taste of what this thriving CSA has to offer. Shares can be acquired June-November in Exton, West Chester, Paoli and Narberth. 155 Cedar Knoll Road, Coatesville, (610) 383-4616, www.csachestercounty.com.
Culinary Kid Sean “The Gourmet” Bruce Fourteen years old and a natural salesman, Lancaster’s Sean Bruce has caused quite a stir around here since partnering with Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani to sell his Got Hummus? at area farmers’ markets, trade shows and cooking demos. And, yes, it lives up to the hype. Available at select farmers’ markets, www.gothummus.com.
Date-Night Dining Mediterranean This unassumingly romantic family-owned BYOB dabbles in a delectable, though hardly eccentric, mix of Lebanese and Italian cuisines. Menu highlights include shrimp scampi, a beef kabob platter, and linguine with meat sauce. And don’t even think about passing up the baklava. 150 W. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 431-7074, www.themedwcpa.com.
Dessert Menu Ella’s American Bistro The casual elegance of Ella’s interior is echoed in its refined dessert menu, with indulgences like pear-brioche bread pudding and chocolate-peanut-butter gâteau. Beautiful plating accentuates the care that goes into each heavenly dessert. 214 Sugartown Road, Wayne, (610) 964-3552, www.ellasamericanbistro.com.
Doughnuts Suzy Jo Donuts Suzy Jo regulars arrive early on Saturday morning (or phone the day before) to score favorites like hard chocolate, peanut butter fluff, apple fritter and several fruit-filled varieties. 49 E. Fourth St., Bridgeport, (610) 279-1350, www.suzyjodonuts.com.
Dumplings Susanna Foo Start with the pan-seared Kennett Square wild mushroom ravioli, or the crispy curry chicken. Better yet, go for the sampler, an array of dumpling delights. 555 E. Lancaster Ave., Radnor, (610) 688-8808, www.susannafoo.com.
Farm-to-Table Menus Twelves Grill & Cafe Chester County farms are the inspiration for this BYOB, where grass-fed Cochranville beef and Lancaster cheeses and produce form the basis for modern dishes bursting with flavor. The burger, with cheddar and local bacon, is a simple, juicy triumph. 10 Exchange Place, West Grove, (610) 869-4020, www.twelvesgrill.com.
Female Restaurateur Lotus Farm to Table’s Courtney Rozsas Courtney Rozsas marries her expertise in biology with a passion for healthy food inspired by her travels in Southeast Asia. Aside from its conscientiously prepared dishes, the menu features nearly a dozen varieties of tea. 112 W. State St., Media, www.lotusfarmtotable.com, (610) 565-5554.
Fishmonger Gadaleto’s Seafood Market The first Gadaleto’s opened in Upstate New York almost 70 years ago. Four generations later, the West Chester outpost offers Chilean sea bass, salmon, and shellfish galore from Maine, Alaska, Florida and other seafood hubs. 929 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 430-7777, www.gadaletoseafood.com.
Food-and-Drink Pairings 320 Market Café A purveyor of fine cheeses for 12 years, co-owner Dave Cunicelli is a master at marrying craft beer to an ever-changing selection of cheeses. 713 S. Chester Road, Swarthmore, (610) 328-7211, www.the320marketcafe.com.
French Getaway Paris Bistro & Jazz Café Buttery escargot with Pernod, dreamy rabbit fricassee, and soul- warming cassoulet bring the taste of 1930s Paris to Chestnut Hill. Live performances in the jazz club downstairs complete the time warp. 8229 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill, (215) 242-6200, www.parisbistro.net.
Fried Chicken Country-View Barbecue Trek to the farthest corner of the Lancaster County Farmers Market to snag one of the best deals anywhere: a three-piece fried-chicken dinner with all the trimmings for less than $10. Individual pieces, sold by the pound, are perfect for picnics. 389 W.Lancaster Ave., Wayne, www.lancastercountyfarmersmarket.com, (610) 687-2012.
From-Scratch Pasta Vera Pasta Owner Joe D’Andrea’s perfectly textured pasta starts with flour imported from Italy. Local mushrooms and produce add bright flavors while upping the freshness factor. 319 Westtown Road, Suite K, West Chester, (610) 701-5400, www.verapasta.com.
Frozen Yogurt Red Mango Red Mango is one of the few fro-yo shops that gets its yogurt fresh from the farm, with no artificial ingredients or excessive fat and sugar. Flavors include Madagascar vanilla, white peach and (our favorite) Honey Badger. 150 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (484) 367-7581, www.redmangousa.com.
From left: Birchrun Hills Farm’s Sue Miller; Suzy Joe Donuts’ classic glazed and Bavarian cream; The Lucky Well’s drink of choice.
Gluten-Free Menu Honeygrow Honeygrow is a haven for diners with food sensitivities thanks to its stir-fries, salads, smoothies and sweets, which are easily customizable.Keep an eye out for two new area locations. 169 E. City Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 667-2573, www.honeygrow.com.
Go-to Beer Expert Mile Post Pub’s Joe Breslin A certified beer server (yes, there really is such a thing), Joe Breslin curates the shelves and heads up the tastings and schools at Whole Foods’ in-house pub. The guy has a brew for every mood, food or occasion. Whole Foods, 821 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-9400, www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese House Will it be the Stack, made with double-crème Brie, white cheddar, caramelized onions and smoked bacon? Or maybe the Florentine, with Brie, fresh spinach and ripe tomato? Cool twists on a comfy standby encourage repeat visits to this House. 110-114 S. Jackson St., Media, (610) 566-2505, www.eatathouse.com.
Green Grocer MOM’s Organic Market A fantastic selection, easy-to-navigate aisles and an expert staff make MOM’s a must for eco-friendly foodstuffs. Produce comes in compostable bags; seafood is sustainable; there’s even a charging station for hybrid cars. And did we mention the fabulous juice bar? 1149 E. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (484) 385-0220, www.momsorganicmarket.com.
Group Dining Vickers From corporate lunches, rehearsal dinners and intimate gatherings to weddings, bar mitzvahs and holiday parties, Vickers is a no-brainer for celebrations. Up to 150 guests can enjoy the Continental cuisine on the eatery’s French-influenced menu, inside or out (in fair weather). And expert help is available from in-house event planners. 192 E. Welsh Pool Road, Exton, (610) 363-7998, www.vickersrestaurant.com.
Guacamole Dos Gringos Mexican Kitchen Even the most discerning guac fans will appreciate this hearty combination of avocados, lime, cilantro and spices made in-house daily. For a real treat, add jumbo lump crabmeat. And don’t forget to BYOT (bring your own tequila). 113 S. Olive St., Media, (610) 565-7794, www.dosgringosmedia.com.
Happy Hour Isabella Delightful libations and an amazing small-plates menu get double-billing at this cozy Mediterranean tapas spot. Favorites include crisp veal meatballs, house-brined imported olives, roasted-garlic-marinated beef skewers, and slow-roasted baby-back ribs. Prices run just $5-$7 from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays. 382 E. Elm St., Conshohocken, (484) 532-7470, www.barisabella.com.
Hotdog Black Powder Tavern Gourmet burgers are all the rage, but what about hotdogs? Black Powder Tavern has responded with a banh-mi-style, all-beef version layered with Sriracha mayonnaise, cucumber, carrots and cilantro, and served with a side of shrimp chips. 1164 Valley Forge Road, Wayne, (610) 293-9333, www.blackpowdertavern.com.
Hotel Bar Glenmorgan Bar & Grill Motel 6, it ain’t. The Radnor Hotel plays host to an impeccable contemporary eatery with stunning natural mahogany accents and a polished flair. Lunch, dinner and late-night menus feature Premium Gold Angus beef, Jail Island salmon, hearty bar bites, salads, sandwiches and homemade desserts, plus classic cocktails. 593 E. Lancaster Ave., St. Davids, (610) 341-3188, www.glenmorgan.com.
Indian Ekta Indian Cuisine It’s all about high-quality flavor at this casual BYOB, where the distinctive aromas of cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, curry, cayenne and coriander swell from steaming copper bowls packed with authentic dishes. Start with the vegetable samosas before moving on to the luscious tandoori chicken. Select from 12 kinds of charcoal-fired naan bread, and savor sips of a tangy traditional lassi. 10031/2 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 581-7070, www.ektaindianrestaurant.com.
Italian Restaurant Alba Alba owner Sean Weinberg’s hands-on culinary education in Northern Italy shines most prominently in his rustically transcendent seasonal, contemporary dishes. Don’t miss the pappardelle with ultra-rich wild-boar ragù. 7 W. King St., Malvern, (610) 644-4009, www.restaurantalba.com.
Kid-Friendly Dining Farmer’s Road Drive Thru Farmer’s Road makes little bellies happy and healthy for less than $9 a pop. The build-your-own bento box kids’ meal offers a choice of PB&J, baked chicken tenders (gluten-free available), or an all-natural grass-fed beef hotdog, along with a beverage choice and two sides (pita chips and hummus, banana chips and Nutella, or apple-cinnamon wedges). 210 Painters Crossing, Chadds Ford, (610) 558-2220, www.farmersroaddrivethru.com.
Local Brewery Victory Brewing Company It’s amazing the places you’ll find Victory beer these days. Since opening in 1996, the Chester County craft brewery has been raking in awards and accolades. And with a new production facility in Parkesburg, Victory’s place at the forefront of the national artisan-beer movement remains secure. 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, (610) 873-0881, www.victorybeer.com.
Local Distiller Dad’s Hat Rye Following a 200-year-old tradition, the folks at Dad’s Hat make traditional Pennsylvania rye whiskey with locally sourced ingredients. It’s spicy, yet smooth and complex. We recommend the white rye, and the limited-release port and sweet-vermouth. Available at select liquor stores and restaurants. 925 Canal St., Building 4, Bristol, (215) 781-8300, www.dadshatrye.com.
Local Winery Penns Woods Winery Penns Woods Winery’s extraordinary efforts to bolster the vineyard experience include gourmet-cupcake-and-wine pairings, painting classes, music festivals, yoga classes and more. 124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, (610) 459-0808, www.pennswoodsevents.com.
Macarons Brulee Bakery Ardmore-based pastry chef Lila Colello knows her French macarons (that’s one “o,” not two). Top sellers include the honey-pistachio mascarpone and the refreshing sweet-tart passion fruit. Chocolate lovers crave the rich ganache. Available at select farmers’ markets and stores. (484) 450-6576, www.bruleebakery.com.
Margarita Taste of Puebla Taste of Puebla’s new home in Kennett Square is ground zero for the area’s zingiest made-from-scratch magaritas—a perfect match for its spicy-rich mole poblano. 201 Birch St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-5085, www.tasteofpuebla.com.
Martinis Paramour Armed with a fruity assortment of infused vodkas, Paramour bartenders craft intriguing martinis, often with humorous twists. The Muddy Pothole’s black-olive “tires” made patrons smile during our long winter, and the Peeptini (with limoncello and toasted marshmallow syrup) was an Easter ode to Peeps. Punchline or no, all martinis are half-price during Liquid Therapy Happy Hour. 139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 977-0600, www.paramourwayne.com.
Mediterranean Nova Mediterranean Grill Paying rightful homage to the flavors of his Greek childhood, Costas Xinos serves tasty fare with suprising efficiency. Regulars praise the chicken gyro and the lamb-and-falafel bowl. 815 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, (610) 525-4745, www.novagrill.com.
Mobile Pizza Pizza Wagon Catering Company It’s the ice-cream-truck effect, only with pizza. When the big, red wagon rolls into local events, folks invariably line up for the Neapolitan-style slices (with a bubbly crust and a tinge of char) made in its wood-fired brick oven. North Wales, (610) 310-6725, www.ilovethepizzawagon.com.
Modern-Day Farmers Woodland Jewel Mushrooms Heather and Norman Fetter have turned a modest six acres in French Creek into mushroom heaven, supplying high-end restaurants with exotic varieties like Royal Trumpet and Golden Oyster. They even offer growing kits to DIYers. www.woodlandjewel.com.
New BYOB-Centric Zip Code 19083 Quite suddenly, the treelined bedroom community of Havertown is a mecca for an interesting assortment of bring-your-owns. From the French-Thai Nais Cuisine to cozy Giampino’s Cucina Italian to Kristen and Philip Ferro’s acclaimed Edgewood Cafe, we now have quite a few reasons to celebrate Havertown — with a bottle in tow.
New Fast-Food Concept Taqueria del Sol Everyone’s loco for the fast-casual Southwest cuisine of Mexican native Eddie Hernandez. Taco standouts include carnitas with salsa frita, fried chicken with lime-jalapeño mayo, and tilapia with poblano tartar sauce. Or dive into a plate of enchiladas with red chili, green chili or lemon cream sauces. 781 W. Sproul Road, Springfield, (484) 472-8644, www.taqueriadelsol.com.
New Gourmet Grocer The Meat House It’s a butcher shop. No, it’s a place for edible gourmet gifts—and, wait, you can also get prepared foods for carryout. The concept has spread up and down the East Coast, even landing in Oklahoma and California. Now, it’s arrived here, and we predict a bright future. 200 Wilmington West Chester Pike, Chadds Ford, (610) 910-4030, www.themeathouse.com.
New Irish Pub Molly Maguire’s Irish Restaurant & Pub Conor Cummins and Declan Mannion have transformed Downingtown’s former firehouse into Molly’s third area outpost, where barkeeps serve perfect pours of Guinness and exceptional whiskies. Executive chef Jerry Eichner has mastered the obligatory fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, and bangers and mash. Live music and friendly service complete the convivial Emerald Isle vibe. 202 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (610) 873-1099, www.mollymaguiresdowningtown.com.
New Restaurant Bar Lucca The Stone Rose Restaurant’s Brian Pieri has captured lightning in a bottle once again with Bar Lucca. Modeled after the hipster joints Pieri discovered in Tuscany, it’s a rustic, Euro-cool hub for wood-fired pizzas, meat-and-cheese boards, hearty main courses, Italian-focused beers and wines, and spritzy cocktails. 729 E. Hector St., Conshohocken, (610) 825-2700, www.barluccarestaurant.com.
Night Out Black Walnut Winery With regular wine-pairing events and live music on weekends, Black Walnut has upped its game to become more than an occasional destination. The 2011 sauvignon blanc is worth a taste, as are the two port-style wines and the 2010 syrah. 3000 W. Lincoln Highway, Sadsburyville, (610) 857-5566; 260 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (484) 924-8740; www.blackwalnutwinery.com.
No-Filler Crab Cake The Old Guard House Inn The all-meat rule holds true at the Guard House, from the crab cake sandwich to the jumbo-lump entrée with red curry sauce. 953 Youngsford Road, Gladwyne, (610) 649-9708, www.guardhouseinn.com.
Old-School Italian Hoagie Pagano’s It’s called a classic Italian for a reason. Almost too big to handle, this Delco staple comes on a crusty sesame-seed bun from Fontana Panetteria. It’s layered with high- quality, cured meats, sharp Provolone, roasted red peppers, leafy greens and a hearty smear of olive oil. 1216 Township Line Road, Drexel Hill, (610) 853-6410, www.paganosdeli.com.
Oyster Bar Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House Whether you want ’em “Noisy” (with Doc’s cocktail sauce and Blue Point Lager), on the half shell (with cocktail sauce and mignonette) or shooter style (in a shot glass with cocktail sauce and vodka), Doc’s has the remedy. 117 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 429-4046, www.docmagrogans.com.
Pho Kooma Modern Asian Simmered for hours, Kooma’s house-made broth is loaded with rice noodles, scallions and onions, and your choice of eye-of-round, meatballs, brisket or chicken. Experiment with a side plate of Asian basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapeños and lime wedges, plus hoisin, Sriracha and chili sauces. Veggie options are also available. 151 W. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 947-5410, www.koomaviet.com.
Pies Nomadic Pies So good you won’t want to share a slice, Nomadic’s pies are available at farmers’ markets, local festivals and its Chester County shop. Varieties range from classic fruit (blueberry, mixed berry, apple) to the more avant-garde Asian pear maple-ginger. 344 W. First. Ave., Parkesburg, (610) 857-7600, www.nomadicpies.com.
Pizza Vecchia Pizzeria Ingredients imported from Naples, Italy, wood-fired in an oven made of stone from Mount Vesuvius make for some amazing pizza. The Regina Margherita is a must, its generous helping of sauce topped with mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil leaves. 249 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 933-1355.
Pop-Up Dinners Wyebrook Farm Market & Café Wyebrook regularly hosts visiting chefs, who prepare adventurous one-night-only feasts crafted with farm-sourced ingredients. Check the website for menus and dates — and register promptly, as the dinners do sell out. 150 Wyebrook Road, Honey Brook, (610) 942-7481, www.wyebrookfarm.com.
Reason to Go Green Sweetgreen It’s easy being eco-conscious on the go with Sweetgreen’s Santorini salad (chopped romaine, citrus shrimp, feta, chickpeas, cucumber-basil yogurt dressing), frozen yogurt (topped with local honey and blueberries) and selection of cold-pressed juices. Even the packaging is plant-based and compostable. 68 Coulter Ave., Ardmore, (610) 642-9400, www.sweetgreen.com.
Restaurant Revamp Brittingham’s A floor-to-ceiling renovation has transformed this onetime neighborhood hangout into a stylish destination with three dining rooms, a rooftop bar and extensive outdoor seating. The kitchen has undergone an equally impressive transformation, with acclaimed former Georges’ chef Joe Frost now turning out upscale, inventive comfort food. 640 E. Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, (484) 344-5162, www.brittinghams.com.
Reuben Hymie’s Delicatessen You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-built reuben than the one at Hymie’s, where layers of corned beef are piled outrageously high and sandwiched, with the requisite melted swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing, between thick slices of rye bread. Boost the carb quotient by substituting latkes for the rye. 342 Montgomery Ave., Merion Station, (610) 668-3354, www.barsonsdeli.com.
Roman Holiday Fraschetta Also the co-owner of Center City’s Melograno, Gianluca Demontis creates stunningly simple Roman-style haute cuisine. Try the cured salumi platter, the tender octopus in garlicky sweet-pea stew, and the bucatini all’amatriciana in a zesty tomato sauce with house-cured Berkshire pork pancetta. 816 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-1007.
Service General Warren Inne From intimate, romantic dinners for two to large weddings, the friendly staff at the General Warren makes every experience as exceptional as the surroundings. Managers are cordial and attentive. The waiters and bar staff are helpful but unobtrusive. 9 Old Lancaster Road, Malvern, (610) 296-3637, www.generalwarren.com.
Sixtel Selection Exton Beverage Company Allagash. Wait … Clown Shoes. Hold it … Saucony Creek. Well, maybe Yards. The decisions aren’t easy with a lineup this expansive — and it changes every 30 minutes. These beer gurus deal in the popular 1/6 keg. Get on the mailing list, check the online menu, and call to reserve favorites. 310 Lincoln Highway, Exton, (610) 363-7020, www.extonbeverage.com.
Small-Batch Crusader Righteous Felon Jerky Cartel Seven renegade cooks are now leading their own cured-cuisine renaissance, combining boutique beef from Maryland’s Roseda Farm with serious do-it-yourself passion. This makeshift jerky brigade specializes in small batches crafted with all-natural seasonings. www.righteousfelon.com.
Smoking Champ Sugartown Smoked Specialties Since 1992, Sugartown’s proprietary blends of woods and spices have been bringing out the best in seafood, fowl and pork. Don’t skip the moist, flaky hot-smoked trout sourced from the pristine waters of Tasmania. 306-1Q Westtown Road, West Chester, (610) 429-4080, www.smokedfoods.com.
Special-Occasion Cakes Cakes & Candies by Maryellen Whether it’s for the wedding of the century or baby’s first birthday, this connoisseur of confections uses quality ingredients and passionate creativity to craft cakes that taste as great as they look. While you’re there, you might as well try the candies, cupcakes and cake pops, too. 1332 West Chester Pike, West Chester, (484) 266-0710, www.cakesandcandiesbymaryellen.com.
Spot to Take Your Pup Four Dogs Tavern Originally the stables for the Marshalton Inn, this casual eatery has a spacious outdoor patio perfect for human and canine patrons alike. The brasserie-style menu is heavy on shareable small plates like pommes frites, a Kennett Square mushroom flatbread and shrimp dumplings. The slow-cooked pork entrée is a favorite with regulars — of which there are plenty. 1300 W. Strasburg Road, West Chester, (610) 692-4367, www.marshaltoninn.com.
Staycation Brandywine Valley Wine Trail The BV Wine Trail is a rock-solid backyard getaway option for couples and oenophiles. Though all the wineries merit a visit, don’t miss Penns Woods, Black Walnut and Paradocx. Book a Sip & Stay Getaway package with a participating B&B. www.bvwinetrail.com.
Summer Ale McKenzie Brew House A round (or two) of Saison Vautour is the perfect quaff for a muggy July evening on McKenzie’s covered deck. The award-winning farmhouse-style ale has it all: grapefruit notes, bites of yeastiness, and a mouth quench that complements practically anything on the menu. 240 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 296-2222, www.mckenziebrewhouse.com.
Sushi Tasting Margaret Kuo’s From spicy tuna tartare to the brown-rice maki combination, more adventurous sushi enthusiasts have a champion in Margaret Kuo. We highly recommend the omakase dinner: 16 courses chosen by the sushi chef. 175 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-7200, www.margaretkuo.com.
Tacos El Limon Marinated to perfection, the meat is the star at El Limon, especially when simply dressed with cilantro and lime. Make it a trio with chicken, steak and chorizo. 103 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 567-0120.
Taste of Summer Without the Drive Quincy’s Original Lobster Rolls Go traditional with the Classic: Maine lobster meat with light mayo, lemon-butter drizzle and a dash of seasoning on a split-top bun. Or keep it close to home (sort of) with the Maine Liner, featuring Quincy’s secret- recipe lobster salad. It’s wicked either way. 414 W. Swedesford Road, Berwyn, (484) 328-3905, www.quincysoriginal.com.
Tea Pureblend Owner Kari Dandrea’s knack for mixing teas with natural ingredients explains the name — be it seasonal blends, old favorites or herbal remedies. 118 Brandywine Ave., Downingtown, (484) 639-1546, www.pureblendtea.com.
Tech-Savvy Dining Carmel Kitchen & Wine Bar Is it a glimpse of the future or a techie novelty? Once seated, you get an iPad menu for online ordering-—but feel free to ask a server for help. As for the modern Mediterreanean cuisine, it transcends gimmicks. 372 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (484) 580-6725, www.carmelcafe.com.
Thai Chabaa Thai Bistro Owner Moon Krapugthong carefully crafts minor culinary masterpieces with fresh, high-quality ingredients, right down to the garnishing. Expect unusual textures and delectable contemporary twists on classic Thai. 4371 Main St., Manayunk, (215) 483-1979, www.chabaathai.com.
Throwback Farm Store Why Not Farm All decked out in denim as they work the land and grass-feed their sturdy Texas Long Horns and Scottish Highlanders, Ray and Mary Nestorick look like living illustrations from the Farmers’ Almanac. Their store is stocked with prized beef, free-range chickens, eggs, goat’s-milk products, cheeses, local honey and organic peanut butter. Don’t forget to pay up at the honor box. 3108 Conestoga Road, Glenmoore, (610) 458-5408, www.whynotfarm.com.
Tomato Pie Corropolese Bakery & Deli Corropolese’s delicious rectangles charm with their hearty simplicity — sweet tomato sauce, a bready crust and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan. 2014 Old Arch Road, Suite 2, Norristown, (610) 275-6664, www.corropolesebakery.com.
Unique Artisan Product Long Cove Foods’ Vegan Scrapple Will Ternay takes a meat-free approach to a love-it-or-hate-it Pennsylvania tradition. Made with organic vegetables, traditional spices and a cornmeal base, his scrapple crisps just like the original. Available at select local stores and Artisan Exchange in West Chester. 208 Carter Drive, Suite 13B, West Chester, (267) 374-9922, www.longcovefoods.com.
Vegan/Vegetarian Oasis Juice Bar A former food scientist, Tiffany Watts has shifted her focus to fresh-pressed juices and seasonal smoothies. Current hits include an apple-lemon-kale mix and decadent cashew shakes. Protein powders and cocoa nibs provide a boost. 224 Sugartown Road, Wayne, (610) 254-9797, www.oasisjuicebar.net.
Waffles Waffatopia Waffatopia’s buttery, doughy delights are caramelized with Belgian pearl sugar. Flavors include cinnamon-vanilla, chocolate, maple-bacon, and seasonal options like orange-pomegranate. Available online and at select coffee shops and farmers’ markets. (484) 639-9327, www.waffatopia.com.
Whiskey Bar The Lucky Well Nothing goes better with good barbecue than whiskey. Food Network Star’s Chad Rosenthal stocks more than 50 top-shelf varieties at his much-hyped meat-centric joint. The Kentucky Tea, with Knob Creek and Earl Grey, is a dangerously delicious cocktail. 111 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, (215) 646-4242, www.theluckywell.com.
Wild-Game Dining Half Moon Restaurant & Saloon Venison, elk, boar and pheasant are among the lean meats this Kennett standby offers health-conscious carnivores. The diverse menu and daily specials include wild-game chili, a daily game burger and more. 108 W. State St., Kennett Square, (610) 444-7232, www.halfmoonrestaurant.com.
Wine Geek Spot Peppercorn This chic bistro’s ever-changing wine list spotlights hard-to-find bottles and enticing new releases. Educated staffers help patrons negotiate the 100-plus selection. First Friday dinners offer wine-and-food pairings. 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 964-2588, www.peppercornmainline.com.
Wings Appetites on Main At this friendly Exton taproom, the wings are prepared to perfection. Among the seven flavors, we recommend the spicy barbecue, washed down with a hoppy IPA. Get twice as many on Mondays, when the wings are half price. 286 Main St., Exton, (610) 594-2030, www.appetitesonmain.com.
Worth-the-Wait Newcomer Manatawny Still Works Fifteen months in the making, this new Pennsylvania distillery crafts a range of incredibly smooth small-batch spirits, including white and aged whiskeys, wheat-based vodka, gin, and rum. Its production is backed by brewer-turned-distiller Max Pfeffer, who takes a refreshing approach to an age-old craft. Be sure to hit the tasting room. 320 Circle of Progress Drive, Suite 104, Pottstown, (484) 624-8271. www.manatawnystillworks.com.
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