Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs 2012: Food & Drink

Main Line Today’s readers and critics pick their favorites.

Readers’ Picks
(page 2-4)

Critics’ Picks
(page 5-24)


Readers’ Picks

Appetizers âž™ Xilantro
103 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne; (484) 580-8415

Bakery âž™ Cakes and Candies by Maryellen
1332 West Chester Pike, West Chester; (484) 266-0710,

Brewpub âž™ McKenzie Brew House
Various locations,

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Burger âž™ The Capital Grille
236 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia; (610) 265-1415,

Caterer âž™ Feastivities Events
440 Domino Lane, Manayunk; (610) 889-0750,

Cheesesteaks âž™ Berwyn Pizza
1026 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 647-6339,

Chef âž™ Michael Giampa, Paramour
139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (484) 977-0600,

Continued on page 3 …

Deli âž™ Our Deli & Meats
39 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli; (610) 296-3350,

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Gourmet Market âž™ Carlino’s Specialty Foods & Catering
2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore; (610) 649-4046,

Happy Hour âž™ Glenmorgan Bar & Grill
593 E. Lancaster Ave., St. Davids; (484) 341-3188,

Hoagies âž™ Primo Hoagies
Various locations,

Main Line BYO âž™ Alfredo
668 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 640-2962,

Neighborhood Bar/Tavern âž™ Christopher’s
108 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne; (610) 687-6558,

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New Main Line Restaurant âž™ Paramour
The Wayne Hotel, 139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 977-0600,

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New Philadelphia Restaurant âž™ La Calaca Feliz
2321 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia; (215) 787-9930,

Philadelphia BYO âž™ La Viola
253 S. 16th St., Apt. 1, Philadelphia, (215) 735-8630.

Pizza âž™ America’s Pie
323 E. Gay St., West Chester; (484) 947-5115,

Place for Kids âž™ Front Street Fountain
One W. Front St., Media; (610) 565-4130,

Place for Private Parties âž™ Terrain Garden Café
914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills; (610) 459-2400,

Seafood âž™ Legal Sea Foods
680 W. Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia; (610) 265-5566,

Steakhouse âž™ Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
555 E. Lancaster Ave., Radnor; (610) 688-9463,

Wine List âž™ Georges’
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 964-2588,

Critic’s picks continued on page 5 …

Critics’ Picks

Appetizer âž™ Gemelli on Main’s Vitello Tonnato
When Clark Gilbert moved his restaurant to Main Street, we sure were glad he took his signature appetizer with him, even if it doesn’t always make an appearance on the menu. Tuna tartare, crispy veal sweetbreads, a tangy tonnato sauce—utter perfection worth a visit on its own.
4161 Main St., Manayunk; (215) 487-1230,

Appetizer to Share âž™ Nectar’s Steamed Pork Buns
If you have any fondness for Asian street food, it doesn’t get much better than Patrick Feury’s version. Gingery-sweet, lean pork belly and the crunch of some iceberg lettuce happily mingle with a pillowy steamed bun that’s meant to be grabbed with your hands and (easily) inhaled. Perfect for two, but hard to share.
1091 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 725-9000,

Best Barbeque: Phamous Phils (Photo by Steve Legato)Barbecue âž™ Phamous Phil’s
Real Southern barbecue is a hotly contested issue around here, but there’s no debating the authenticity of Phil Schmidt’s smoked specialties, all perfected in Tennessee. The beef brisket and pulled-pork are as tender as can be, and sides include Schmidt’s crazy-good baked beans.
3839 Germantown Pike, Collegeville; (610) 489-7675,

Beer Selection âž™ Station Taproom
If you’re a suds lover, you’ll ogle over the selection at this cozy gastro pub. Local and seasonal brews are always on tap, plus whatever’s in the cask at the moment. The bottled beer list is also impressive, with French farmhouse ales and American IPAs at every price point.
207 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown; (484) 593-0560,

Best-kept Secret âž™ Le Bus Outlet
Just minutes from the King of Prussia Mall sits this favorite Philly bakery’s outpost for breads, pastries, muffins and other doughy treats. Most of the items are leftovers from that day’s shipment, so everything is freshly baked and scrumptious. Huge loaves of bread, rolls, morning pastries and even breakfast sandwiches and coffee are available. Get there early for the good stuff.
479 Shoemaker Road, King of Prussia; (610) 337-1444,

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Best-looking Cakes âž™ Clay’s Creative Corner Bakery
The talented decorators at Clay’s have yet to be stumped. Show them an image or throw out a theme, and they’ll come up with something that exceeds your expectations. As for taste, there’s a reason they’ve been around for more than 20 years. 700 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 647-2119,

Best-tasting Cakes âž™ Bakery House
Everything that emerges from the ovens here is moist, spongy and consistently flavorful. We’re partial to the red velvet and the chocolate chip, but you can’t go wrong with any cake here. Always opt for the larger cakes, because your guests will definitely be back for seconds.
604 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; (610) 525-4139,

Bread âž™ Art of Bread
It’s well worth waiting out the service glitches at Georges Perrier’s new café and bakery for its crusty baguettes. And the substantial loaves of multigrain, raisin-walnut and sunflower rye hold up to any sandwich filling. Or simply toast a slice or two and slather on the butter.
920 Montgomery Ave., Narberth; (610) 660-8222,

Breakfast Belly-buster âž™ Market Street Grill’s Bruno Burrito
Warning: The Bruno is not for amateurs. The friendly folks at one of West Chester’s most popular eateries cram a full day’s worth of sin into a massive grilled tortilla: fried eggs, cheddar cheese, creamy homemade andouille sausage gravy and hash browns. Thank goodness for the side of tomatoes.
6 W. Market St., West Chester, (610) 429-5328.

Burger-and-dessert Combo âž™ Billy Burger
At this throwback joint, made-to-order specialty burgers are filling and full of flavor. If you have room after lunch, check out the fresh desserts, from carrot cake to cupcakes. The shakes rock, too.
2 N. Five Points Road, West Chester; (610) 431-3100,

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Café âž™ Green Bean
Owners Tammin Kim and Brian Storey may be young, and their small café may not be in the most bustling of areas. But the duo has found the secret to running a successful—and charming—Main Line eatery. Highlights include homemade soups,
salads and sandwiches made with local, seasonal ingredients, plus perfect pastries, great coffee, and Capogiro gelato and sorbet.
358 Righters Mill Road, Gladwyne; (484) 412-8266,

Carry-out Beer âž™ Pinocchio’s Beer Garden
It’s no lie: With more than 800 specialty beers from several hundred American craft and international breweries, this place has what suds aficionados are after: limited releases, seasonal brews, growlers waiting to be filled with one of the dozens of ever-rotating brews—even mix-and-match six packs.
131 E. Baltimore Pike, Media; (610) 566-7767,

Casual Chinese Cuisine âž™ Sampan Inn
There’s nothing fancy about this small, unassuming eatery—but fancy doesn’t always mean good. Sampan’s straightforward classics—along with a few imaginative variations you won’t see on other Chinese menus—are excellent and affordable. The sushi and other Japanese items are nice touches, too.
2-8 Brookline Blvd., Havertown; (610) 446-3000,

Caterer âž™ Delightful Desserts & Culinary Creations
For the past 20 years, Merrill Simon-Johnston has been the caterer of choice for some of the most intimate (and lavish) affairs in Chester County. Her success lies in knowing that being a great caterer is more than just serving memorable food  (which she does). It’s also about getting all the little details just right for the client.
510 E. Barnard St., Suite A14, West Chester; (610) 692-5551,

Cheap Authentic Mexican Cuisine âž™ Rosalita’s Fresh Mexican
You don’t have to travel far and wide to get really good, inexpensive Mexican food—Malvern will suffice. The 24-hour marinated pork is a favorite, but everything from the beer-battered fish tacos to the traditional enchiladas is fresh, homemade and under $10.
215 Lancaster Ave., Malvern; (610) 647-9100,

Cheeses âž™ Birchrun Hills Farm
Sue Miller is passionate about her cheese—and, boy, can you taste the love. Her handcrafted raw-milk variety has garnered multiple accolades from the chefs who source her products. There’s also those of us who can’t get enough of her renowned Birchrun Blue and pungent, creamy Red Cat raw cow’s-milk blend. Thankfully, you can find her cheese throughout the area, from farmers’ markets to retail shops.
2573 Horseshoe Trail, Chester Springs; (610) 827-1603,

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Chef âž™ The Desmond Hotel’s Christopher Calhoun
Since his arrival at the Desmond’s Hunt Room late last year, this West Chester native has been shaking things up—and garnering praise in the process. His considerable talent is evident in a new-and-improved menu that focuses on simple, seasonal dishes.
One Liberty Blvd., Malvern; (610) 296-9800,

Chef’s Tasting Menu âž™ Majolica
It’s refreshing to leave the decision-making to the chef—especially a fabulous one. Chef Andrew Deery chooses all courses, mixing some of Majolica’s more popular items with new dishes. And at $55 or $75, you can’t go wrong with any of the thoughtful, seasonal offerings at this elegant gem.
258 Bridge St., Phoenixville; (610) 917-0962,

Chinese Cuisine âž™ Han Dynasty
Manayunk is close enough to warrant a trip to Han Dynasty for some seriously good, not-your-everyday Chinese food. In fact, most of the menu will probably look excitingly unfamiliar. Sichuan-style dishes vary in spice level from one to 10. Begin with the addictive Dan Dan noodles.
4356 Main St., Philadelphia; (215) 508-2066,

Chocolate âž™ Éclat
Christopher Curtin’s masterful creations have found their way to the pages of Vogue, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine. We can’t get enough of his truffles, caramels, and chile-and-pink- peppercorn Obsession Bars. The assorted, pre-packaged boxes make fabulous gifts.
24 S. High St., West Chester; (610) 692-5206

Coffee Shop âž™ Burlap and Bean
We love everything about this friendly spot. More than just a caffeine fueling station, Burlap and Bean offers a surprisingly robust menu, excellent coffee made with organic, Fair Trade beans, and a full slate of quality live entertainment thanks to a passionate and informed involvement in the local music scene.
204 S. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square; (484) 427-4547,

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Diner âž™ 401 Diner
About as atypical as diners come, 401 offers a BYO dinner menu and countless hearty comfort-food options made with locally sourced ingredients. One thing that is typical: Breakfast is served all day. Try the signature Isabella omelet, with roasted tomatoes, spinach and fresh mozzarella.
401 Fayette St., Conshohocken; (484) 351-8029,

Dining with a Mission âž™ Black Cat Café
The food at the Black Cat is good—really good. And it somehow tastes even better with the knowledge that every dime goes toward PALS pet rescue. Owned and operated by the nonprofit, the café turns out some of the best sandwiches, salads and desserts around, while helping countless abandoned and homeless animals find new homes. Culinary chops and a charitable streak—a winning combo, indeed.
40 Berkley Road, Devon; (610) 688-1930,

Dinner with Foodie Friends âž™ World Tour Wednesdays at Silverspoon Café
Sometimes, you don’t want to travel that far for food that’s a bit different and a concept that’s really fun. Silverspoon’s weekly journey touches on culinary hotspots around the world—even American cities like New York and Boston. The price is right, too.
Eagle Village Shops, Wayne; (610) 688-7646,

Doughnuts âž™ Apple Cider Doughnuts at Northbrook MarketPlace
It’s likely you’re going out of your way to find this country store (in both vibe and geography). And even if you’re partial to the usual whopping, glazed confection, one taste of these tiny, warm, cinnamon-and-sugar coated delights, and you’ll find yourself finishing a half-dozen before they have time to cool.
1805 Unionville-Wawaset Road, West Chester; (610) 793-1210,

Drink for Girls’ Night Out âž™ Paramour’s Salted Plum Martini
Thanks to Sex and the City, the Cosmopolitan has been the reliable go-to drink for ladies out for a bit of man-free time. At long last, we may have found its worthy successor. A seductive concoction of ginger liqueur, homemade lemon sour and rum infused with salted-dried plum is poured over vanilla cotton candy made right in the kitchen for the perfect complement to a balmy evening on the veranda.
The Wayne Hotel, 139 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 977-0600,

Drink Menu âž™ The Gables at Chadds Ford
When the same old bottle of beer just won’t cut it, an aged Scotch or a bottle of New Zealand white for two at the Gables does the trick. The creative seasonal cocktail menu is reason enough to visit this historic spot.
423 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford; (610) 388-7700,

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Expansion âž™ Carlino’s Specialty Foods & Catering
Out of sheer Carlino’s lust, we gladly nudged our way through dense dinnertime crowds to get our pasta and salad fixings. Now, thanks to a much-needed expansion, everything has a convenient home, from the new olive-oil grove to the bakery and pizza outposts. And no more elbows.
2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore; (610) 649-4046,

Farmers’ Market in the City âž™ Headhouse Farmers’ Market
This weekly outdoor market in historic—if somewhat neglected—Headhouse Square may be smaller than many of its counterparts in the region, but it packs a heck of a punch. Headliners include the sausages and gourmet dips from Talula’s Table and artisan pastries from Wildflour Bakery, not to mention the gorgeous selection of fruits and veggies. Save your appetite and grab a taco or burger from one of the on-site food trucks.
Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday year-round. Second and Lombard streets, Philadelphia; (215) 575-0444,

Feel-good Food âž™ Harvest
Despite all best intentions, dining out can often be a caloric catastrophe. But you can rest easy knowing the food at Harvest is local, sustainable and diet-friendly, with just about everything coming in at under 500 calories—and not tasting like it (try the flatbreads). Even the perfectly portioned peanut butter mousse, Key lime pie and pecan pie are not-too-sinful indulgences.
549 Wilmington-West Chester Pike, Glen Mills; (610) 358-1005,

French Cuisine âž™ A La Maison
Easily overlooked on busy Lancaster Avenue, this friendly eatery’s consistently excellent bistro fare is at once comforting and sophisticated. Try the perfectly executed steak frites, the garlicky escargot and the stellar cheese plate. The heavenly crème brûlée is something you’ll dream about until your next visit.
53 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore; (484) 412-8009,

Gelato âž™ D’Ascenzo’s Gelato
Ever since Spazzo went dark, downtown West Chester has been nursing a serious gelato craving. Seemingly out of nowhere comes D’Ascenzo’s, a modest husband-and-wife operation inspired by a 1999 trip to Italy. Dense and decadent, this is not the stuff of part-time hobbyists, but passionate artisans. A recent batch of avocado—one of a varying selection of 24 flavors—had the creamy richness and velvety consistency of chilled icing from a gourmet cake.
132 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 453-1958.

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Gourmet Cupcakes âž™ Dia Doce
If her recent win on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars is any indication, Thais da Silva must be doing something right. One taste of her thoughtfully crafted treats made believers out of us. You’ll find such unique varieties as blueberry buttermilk pancake and maple bacon at several area retail locations. Or make a quick stop at her truck; weekly locations are listed online.
(610) 476-5684,

Gourmet Market âž™ Whole Foods
We waited … and waited … and waited. Finally, our patience was rewarded with another Whole Foods outpost—this one along Route 202 in Glen Mills. It’s all there: the glorious local produce, the craft beer, the killer salad bar, the fine foods of all stripes, even a parking lot that somehow manages to yield a free space or two during peak hours. Lunch, anyone?
Various locations,

Gourmet Meal Delivery âž™ Dish by Meg and Mimi
When a busy weekday schedule conspires to make dinner an afterthought, place your order on Tuesday and, come Thursday night, a hot meal arrives on your doorstep. Options include spicy Thai shrimp soup, hearty homemade lasagna, jumbo salads and sour-cream-and-lemon pound cake. Your family will thank you—and you’ll thank Meg and Mimi.
(484) 679-6455,

Gourmet Pizza âž™ Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar
The steaming pizza perfection that emerges from the brick oven at Cooper’s is defined by interesting ingredients (think short ribs and oven-roasted asparagus) and delightfully thin crusts. Pair your pie with a bottle of white or red from the extensive wine list.
4365 Main St., Manayunk; (215) 483-0444,

Guacamole âž™ Verdad Restaurant & Tequila Bar
Once you try the strawberry-habenero guacamole at Verdad, you’ll never settle for traditional guac again. A fruity sweetness wonderfully offsets the habenero spice—an unlikely but inspired combination that’ll have you tussling with your dining partner over the last homemade tortilla chip.
818 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; (610) 520-9100,

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Ham Sandwich âž™ Corner Bakery Café
There’s a reason they call it Mom’s Ham Sandwich. Thick slices of post-holiday-dinner bliss are generously stacked, slathered with Dijon or mayo, topped with romaine and tomato, and sandwiched between slices of fresh bread. You-know-who would definitely approve.
2 Coulter Ave., Ardmore, (610) 896-0703; 205 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia, (610) 337-0385,

Happy Hour âž™ Georges’
At Perrier’s place, one always knows a $5 drink awaits after a long day—that, and a tempting $8 bar menu to go with it. In winter, the roaring fireplace is an ideal place to unwind, and the gorgeous bar is always a lively place to chat over sliders and spring rolls.
503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 964-2588,

Happy Hour Menu âž™ Half-off Small Plates at Stella Blu
With options like grilled baby octopus, mini beef filet and wild mushroom ravioli (more than 20 choices, in fact), it’s awfully hard to choose what to sample from Stella Blu’s small-plates menu. So make it easy on yourself and show up for happy hour
Monday-Friday (5-7 p.m.), when all that decision-making comes at a 50-percent discount.
101 Ford St., West Conshohocken; (610) 825-7060,

Happy Hour Sushi Deals âž™ Azie On Main
Daily, from 5 to 7 p.m., a selection of Azie on Main’s signature sushi is available for half-price. Score a California roll for just $3, or an asparagus tempura roll for $8. We’ll drink to that—and stay for dinner.
789 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova; (610) 527-5700,

Healthy Lunch Options âž™ SweetGreen
SweetGreen’s philosophy is more a way of life than simply a way to satisfy a lunch craving. Local, organic ingredients, seasonal flair and rampant creativity set its nutritious, flavor-packed salad combos apart—and so do imaginative names like
Curry Gold, Bondi and Santorini. It’s SaladWorks for locavores.
68 Coulter Ave., Ardmore; (610) 642-9400,

Hoagies âž™ New Tiny Hoagie Shoppe
In this case, smaller really is better. Nothing special about the contents, really—just fresh-sliced Dietz & Watson meats and cheeses on a chewy roll. Proof that the same ingredients taste better when handled with care.
122 Manchester Ave., Media; (610) 565-9055.

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Homemade Soup âž™ La Locanda’s Scrippelles
For this cherished family recipe, feather-light, Italian-style crêpes stuffed with Parmigiano-Reggiano swim in a rich chicken broth. Take your time, and the cheese will soon add a delicious milky consistency to every spoonful.
4989 West Chester Pike, Edgemont; (610) 353-7033,

Homestyle Italian Cuisine âž™ Pepperoncini Restaurant and Bar
Anyone who’s had a run-in with Pepperoncini’s classic Italian fare (braciole, pasta, pizza, seafood and more) has likely come away stuffed and content. For a taste—and then some—gather up the family and take advantage of the popular Red Sauce Sundays menu, where $15 gets you a salad, entrée and dessert. This ain’t no Olive Garden, baby.
72 Poplar St., Conshohocken; (610) 941-7783,

Hummus Plate âž™ Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Humble hummus—mashed garbanzo beans, sesame paste and olive oil—can either be done exceptionally well or poorly. Iron Hill’s “shared plate” takes a flavorful preparation of the Middle Eastern staple and invites complementary friends like Kalamata olives, chunky feta cheese, cucumbers and soft, warm pita to the party. It’s an appetizer for two that eats like a meal.
Various locations,

Ice Cream âž™ Scoops
Making your way to Conshy for a double-dip of Scoops’ Death by Chocolate—or a sundae, water ice, gelati or shake—was always one inconvenience with a major payoff. But those in Delaware County now have much to celebrate with the opening of second location in Morton.
515 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 828-1413; 8 N. Morton Ave., Morton, (610) 543-7905;

Improvements in the Kitchen âž™ White Dog Cafe
Our first impression of the White Dog’s suburban outpost wasn’t the best one. Slowly but surely, however, the busy—and beautiful—Wayne eatery has really come around. Making the most of local ingredients, apps and entrées are consistently well executed, expertly planned and satisfying. And the White Dog’s Sunday brunch is fast becoming one of our weekly rituals.
200 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 225-3700,

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Indian Buffet âž™ Shere-E-Punjab
Lauded by internationals for its spot-on authenticity—and by everyone else for its bounty, value and all-around deliciousness, this lunchtime spread (only $10 during the week) hits the mark for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Chicken, lamb and kebabs share space with curries, vegetable samosas, lentil soup and patties, a variety of rice dishes, sauces, a salad bar, and tasty regional sweets. And, naturally, we applaud the eatery’s enthusiastic all-you-can-eat policy.
208 W. State St., Media; (610) 891-0400, 5059 State Road, Drexel Hill, (484) 452-8140;

Indian Cuisine âž™ Saffron Indian Kitchen
Plenty of Indian restaurants have debuted on the dining scene in the past year, but there’s something a little extra-special about Saffron’s deeply flavored, perfectly spiced dishes that gives it an edge over the others. Nothing this side of City Line beats its steaming bowls of saffron-infused rice, yogurt-marinated tandoor chicken and incredibly flavorful saag paneer. The weekend lunch buffet is a must.
145 Montgomery Ave., Bala Cynwyd; (484) 278-4112,

Local Food Selection âž™ Swarthmore Co-op
An unerring commitment to partnerships with local farmers and vendors is evident in every aspect of this remarkable co-op—whether it’s the collard greens and eggplants from a farmer in Vineland, N.J., or the organic, gluten-free ice pops made in Chester County. Not that it’s any surprise. Swarthmore’s mix of earnest college students, seasoned academics and aging flower children demands that even supermarkets offer a selection of locally sourced foods. But this co-op’s proactive philosophy takes it a step further, ensuring that the processes used are sustainable.
341 Dartmouth Ave., Swarthmore; (610) 543-9805,

Local Food Trend âž™ Self-serve Frozen Yogurt

Low-carb Menu Options âž™ Ron’s Original Bar & Grille
You’d think that a place famous for its pizza-like “ovals” wouldn’t take kindly to low-carb requests. But the truth is, Ron’s menu has so many options that there’s no need to get hung up on dough. The salad selection alone is impressive, and with a health-conscious owner behind the menu, any meal can be as guilt-free as you’re conscience desires.
74 E. Uwchlan Ave., Exton; (610) 594-9900,

Lunch for Kids âž™ Bette’s Lunch Box at Dixie Picnic
Picky young eaters are a thing of the past thanks to this super-cute idea. For $8.99, your kid gets a delicious gourmet sandwich (nutty chicken salad, roast beef and Provolone, or Virginia baked ham and cheese, to name a few), a choice of salad, chips or applesauce, a deviled egg, and a famous Dixie Upcake. One question: Can adults get in on it, too?
215 Lancaster Ave., Frazer; (484) 320-8024,

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Margarita âž™ Xilantro
With a tequila list surpassing 100 choices, you better believe the bartenders at Xilantro know what to do with the hard stuff. Margaritas are the drink of choice for most diners at this high-end Mexican eatery—just don’t order too many if you’re monitoring your sobriety (or your wallet). Several variations come highly recommended, and the Skinny variety is quite popular. We like ours minus the fuss—with fresh lime juice and salt.
103 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne; (484) 580-8415,

Menu for Kids âž™ Meltdown
How genius is it to open a shop devoted to the simplest of sandwiches? Really, who doesn’t love grilled cheese? For more refined palates, there’s lump crab meat with Monterey Jack, and honey apple is favorite. Little diners can top it off with a hand-dipped “melt” shake or ice cream sandwiched between buttery grilled poundcake. And, please, don’t judge if you see us big kids, too.
522 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 293-6988,

Menu Makeover âž™ The Hunt Room at the Desmond Hotel
Chris Calhoun has certainly made his presence known. His wine-poached halibut with braised kale and saffron aioli recently won best dish at the Philly Cooks competition. And it speaks well for the rest the Hunt Room’s updated menu, which impresses with its simplicity and seasonality, allowing the meticulous execution and fresh ingredients to stand on their own merits.
One Liberty Blvd., Malvern; (610) 296-9800,

Mussels âž™ La Belle Epoque Wine Bistro
A good bowl of mussels shouldn’t require that much work, but it’s surprising how many restaurants can’t get it right. Suffice to say, the steaming moules marinières from this elegant yet comfy bistro don’t fall into that category. Classically prepared with white wine, tomatoes, garlic and parsley, they’re best enjoyed with a glass from La Belle Epoque’s impressive wine list.
38 W. State St., Media; (610) 566-6808,

Neighborhood Bar âž™ Gypsy Saloon
Even if they don’t know your name (yet), they sure make you feel welcome at this popular West Conshy mainstay. Gypsy Saloon’s unforced, intimate vibe is like showing up at a party you’re always invited to. Nightly specials like all-you-can-eat mussels over linguine (Sundays and Mondays) and Mexican Night (Thursdays; $2 tacos at the bar, $5 margaritas and sangrias) make it easy to become a regular—even if you don’t live nearby.
128 Ford St., West Conshohocken; (610) 828-8494,

New Main Line Restaurant âž™ Aperto
Aperto had some pretty big shoes to fill after the space’s former tenant, Clark Gilbert, moved his much-loved Gemelli across the river to Manayunk. From the start, chef/owner John Wolferth settled in seamlessly, bringing out the best in every ingredient while taking seemingly simple items to soul-satisfying levels. With excellent service and a killer kitchen staff to boot, this is one neighborhood eatery that transcends the term.
232 Woodbine Ave., Narberth; (610) 660-0160,

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New Philadelphia BYO âž™ The Farm and Fisherman BYOB
Most recently of New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Joshua Lawler has apparently made the right move in coming to Philly. His small BYO is a true farm-to-table gem, offering some of the most inspired dishes in recent memory. If it’s available,
don’t pass on the bloody beet-steak appetizer.
1120 Pine St., Philadelphia; (267) 687-1555,

New Philadelphia Restaurant âž™ Tashan
Inconsistencies in service aside, Tashan features a surplus of the most innovative, flavorful and exciting food we’ve seen emerge from a restaurant kitchen in quite some time. Traditional Indian cuisine gets a contemporary upgrade in dishes that emerge from the stove, clay oven, charcoal or flat grill in a heavenly cloud of spice. For a real demonstration of what the restaurant can do, opt for the $60 chef’s tasting menu. It’s worth every penny.
777 S. Broad St., Philadelphia; (267) 687-2170,

Oasis in the City âž™ Talula’s Garden
Stepping through this garden’s iron gates, one is transported from city block to lush oasis. The overwhelming feeling of calm is undeniable, whether you’re enjoying a cocktail and one of Aimee Olexy’s famous cheese boards on the beautiful outdoor terrace, or making your way through course after luscious course of fresh, delight-fully original cuisine.
210 W. Washington Square, Philadelphia; (215) 592-7787,

Offbeat Ice Cream Flavors âž™ Scooped
Once you’ve tasted owner John Reece’s killer concoctions, you may never go back to chocolate and vanilla (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Scooped makes the most of local, organic ingredients in creations like chocolate caramel with sea salt, candied bacon, and maple and caramel stout.
30 Pottstown Pike, Chester Springs, (610) 458-8209; 100 S. High St., West Chester, (484) 358-7099;

Outdoor Dining âž™ Azie
When the warm weather beckons, the last place most of us want to be is stuck behind a stove or in a cramped dining room. Azie’s rooftop deck is one of the best reasons to get out and grab a great meal while enjoying the weather and sights below. Don’t blame us if you stay all night.
217 W. State St., Media; (610) 566-4750,

Outdoor Patio âž™ The Whip Tavern
For the perfect wind-down after a long week, you’ll often find me sipping a pint and enjoying authentic English pub fare alongside the steady trickle of a nearby stream amid the lush rolling hills of Chester County horse country. Trust me, you’ll never want to leave.
1383 N. Chatham Road, Coatesville; (610) 383-0600,

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Party Trays âž™ Tredici Italian Market
Expectations are often low for the humble party platter—but Tredici might just be setting the bar unreasonably high. Is it possible to satisfy 30 guests with a traditional antipasto tray for less than $100? Tredici can do it for south of $80, and with the quality meats, cheeses and marinated delights we’ve come to expect from this much-loved Italian market. But don’t stop there. The panini platter boasts a selection of 13 signature sandwiches for $8 a head.
185 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 254-0323,

Pizza for Kids âž™ Peace A Pizza
Interactivity lures young-’uns to this nationally franchised Rosemont-based spot, where children can indulge in a huge variety of prepared pies with toppings like barbecued chicken and mac ’n’ cheese. They can also partake in the opportunity to make a real pizza of their own. Pint-sized chefs are provided with a crust, sauce, cheese and pepperoni to assemble their own creation, which is then baked (by adults) especially for them. TVs showing kid-friendly movies add to the tyke appeal. Various locations,

Place for Specialty Foods âž™ Di Bruno Bros. in the Ardmore Farmers Market
It was a breath of fresh air when Di Bruno Bros. arrived in the Ardmore Farmers Market last March. Ever since, Main Liners have been thanking the food gods for every morsel of cheese tasted and gourmet party platter purchased. It’s the place to go for olive oils, artisan bread and everything in between.
120 Coulter Ave., Ardmore; (484) 416-3311,

Place to Catch the Game âž™ Twenty9
Don’t be put off by Twenty9’s corporate surroundings. This Malvern restaurant and bar is a great place to gather the troops and catch the game. Flat-screens are easily visible from the casually upscale dining room, but don’t overpower the not-very-sports-minded among the group. The lower-level bar and deck are all about beer, snacks and carefree afternoons.
16 Great Valley Parkway, Malvern; (610) 251-9229,

Place to Feel Like a Kid Again âž™ PBandU
As a kids, we ate PB&J because it was something easy Mom could slap together. These days, we eat it around here because the selection is so hard to resist at PBandU. Founder/owner Mercury Amodio proves everything really does taste better with peanut butter, thanks to signature offerings like the PB-and-turkey BLT and PB-and-jelly with cream cheese. You can even create your own combo by mixing peanut butter with featured toppings like Nutella, potato chips, raisins and chocolate chips. The options are endlessly delicious, which calls for multiple visits.
163 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (484) 367-7799,

Place to Grab a Meal for One âž™ Du Jour Market
With a vast array of lunchtime quick bites like paninis and salads, along with burgers and pizza, Du Jour is the preferred stop for anyone looking for something that surpasses fast food or sitdown chain fare. At dinner, Du Jour kicks things up a notch, with more involved dishes like salmon and roast duck. But it’s the seat-yourself side of things that takes the pressure off the single diner, making you feel like the on-the-go person you are, rather than a dateless diner.
379 Lancaster Ave., Haverford; (610) 896-4556,

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Place to Take a First Date âž™ Derek’s
Classy yet casual, Derek’s is dressed to impress, without trying too hard to make a stunning first impression. On nights when the weather is cooperating, snag a sidewalk table. There’s enough action on Main Street to smooth over any awkward lulls in a first-date conversation.
4411 Main St., Manayunk; (215) 483-9400,

Private Dining Space âž™ The Wine Cellar at Newtown Grill
More than 13,000 bricks went into this Old World European-style hideaway with its own bar and two fireplaces. It can hold up to 60 guests for a sit-down event, and as many as 100 for cocktails. For something cozier, reserve one of the equally charming connecting rooms.
191 S. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square; (610) 356-9700,

Prix Fixe Menu âž™ Avalon Pasta Bistro
Chef John Brandt-Lee knows how to get my attention, and that’s exactly what he did when he cracked the seal on this rustic Italian tapas-style eatery last year. His $35 chef’s tour is one fantastic deal, giving everyone the chance try different plates (all of which are fabulous) and get into the spirit of a family-style meal.
78 W. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown; (610) 873-4200,

Reason to Hang Up the Apron âž™ TiraMisu
When you don’t feel like cooking, this small BYO’s homey Roman Jewish cuisine is the solution. You won’t spend a bundle for a solid selection of homemade pasta and fresh seafood that arrives steaming hot and always tasty. Don’t pass on the tiramisu for dessert—it does its namesake proud.
720 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 906-3299,

Reasonably Priced Italian Cuisine âž™ Trattoria San Nicola
Think “authentic” is code for “please empty your wallet at the door”? Not here. Chef Vito Giannandrea brings the bounty of his Italian homeland to the Main Line without forcing diners to open a line of credit. With entrées like a hefty nine- to 10-ounce beef filet for $22 and not a single pasta dish for more than $15, you’ll be tempted to spring for the check in sheer celebration of the fact that you can.
4 Manor Road, Paoli; (610) 695-8990,

Main Line Restaurant âž™ Aneu Bistro
With just the right balance of casual and class, Aneu does it all—breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, bar food, catering—and does it all well. The menus offer just enough familiarity to inspire loyalty, and almost as many thoughtful diversions to keep things fresh for foodie grazers and repeat customers alike. The stellar corporate and residential catering services are yet another feather in Aneu’s cap.
575 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 251-9600,

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Restaurant for Groups âž™ Susanna Foo Gourmet Kitchen
No need to worry about keeping your “inside voice” in check at this lively gathering spot for devotees of Foo’s award-winning Asian cuisine. Excellent for groups of all sizes and temperaments, the large, round tables make meals here convivial and fun. Throw in a few dumpling samplers and sushi/sashimi platters, and you’ve got yourself a party.
555 E. Lancaster Ave., Radnor; (610) 688-8808,

Restaurant to Impress Your Parents âž™ Spring Mill Café
Visiting parents breezing through town and looking for a place to take the family out to dinner can’t go wrong with this delightful French BYO and Main Line standby. It has the food, the atmosphere (thanks to two lovely dining rooms, plus a garden patio and porch) and the prices to make any visit an unforgettable one.
164 Barren Hill Road, Conshohocken; (610) 828-2550,

Roast Pork Sandwich âž™ A Cut Above’s Pork Italiano
There aren’t too many things better than a well-made roast pork sandwich. A few really good ingredients is all it takes—and the sandwich gurus at A Cut Above have those covered: layers of hot, seasoned pork, roasted sweet peppers and sharp Provolone, stuffed between a Sarcone’s roll. Succulent proof that deli-fresh hoagies aren’t this Delaware County institution’s only specialty.
3523 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square; (610) 353-4543,

Romantic Dining Spot âž™ Savona
Maybe it’s the wine. Or it could be the innate giddiness that accompanies plate after plate of immaculately executed cuisine. But something about Savona always makes us feel special. Whether your eating in the wine cellar, the dining area or the breezy outdoor terrace, every meal is a treat—especially when it ends with a few luscious shared desserts.
100 Old Gulph Road, Gulph Mills; (610) 520-1200,

Salads âž™ DiFabio’s 9th Street Market & Catering Co.
We know salads can be boring. But those from DiFabio’s are anything but. Healthy servings of veggies, meat and fish benefit from preparations both traditional and creative. We love the pistachio chicken and the grilled veggie and feta. Each  makes a great meal on its own, or an ample side when paired with a sandwich or entrée. And prices top out at a reasonable $7.50.
1032 N. Providence Road, Media; (484) 444-0850,

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Sandwiches âž™ Homemade Sandwich Shop
When the much-loved Ice Café left Narberth, we wondered if anything could take its place. Then we tried the sandwiches from this friendly little spot—and never looked back. Chicken cutlet, slow-roasted brisket, homemade meatballs, pulled-chicken salad … Work your way through the menu, and chances are you’ll never be disappointed.
106 N. Essex Ave., Narberth; (484) 270-8328,

Sauce Grandma Used to Make âž™ Narberth Café & Catering’s Bolognese
Nothing can replace the matriarch’s all-day version, but John DiPrimio’s rich sauce comes awfully close. Red-wine-braised ground beef and sausage bolster a hearty blend of onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil. It’s great with spaghetti or rigatoni—and even on its own.
109 N. Narberth Ave., Narberth; (610) 664-9263,

School Food with a Conscience âž™ Haverford College
Whether it’s through relationships with local farms or the efforts to reduce the waste created at mealtime, Haverford has taken the lead among its Main Line peers. About a third of the dining services’ food budget goes to locally sourced or produced food, and initiatives are well underway to use biodegradable plates, cups, napkins and takeout containers. Scraps from food preparation are composted, bottled water is nowhere to be found, and even the used cooking oil becomes biodiesel fuel.
370 Lancaster Ave., Haverford; (610) 896-1000,

Short Ribs âž™ Margaret Kuo’s Mishima Kobe Beef Short Ribs
No one can confirm the massages or the sake, but coveted American Wagyu cattle do provide the beef for this customer favorite. Ribs are slow-roasted for two hours with maitake mushrooms, resulting in a flavorful broth and buttery-tender meat—which is then served boneless over sautéed snow-pea sprouts for a surprisingly light finish.
175 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 688-7200,

Small Plates âž™ Isabella
The easy solution to anyone’s “What should I order?” quandry: the small-plates menu at Isabella. Be sure to sample an array of charcuterie, cheeses, pasta, meat and fish. That way, you’ll be sure to get the most out of a Mediterranean-style tapas menu that’s as beautifully executed as it is downright inspiring. This girl rocks.
382 E. Elm St., Conshohocken; (484) 532-7470,

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Soup That Eats Like a Meal âž™ Sangkee Noodle Bowl
Sangkee’s substantial bowls of steaming broth, noodles and wontons are enough to make anyone a soup person. Choose your noodle type, then add dumplings, roast duck, pork, veggies, braised beef or shrimp. Perfect for sharing, but also a satisfying meal for one.
4755 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square; (610) 353-5353,

Soups âž™ Pure Bread
Fresh-baked bread may be this locally minded deli and bakery’s claim to fame, but Pure Bread’s homemade soups may just take the cake. Six different varieties are offered each day of the week, including lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options. You can upgrade to a sourdough bread bowl for a little more substance, but there’s really no need. These soups are hearty enough on their own.
100 Evergreen Drive, Glen Mills; (610) 358-9866,

Southern Comfort Food âž™ Zachary’s BBQ
Eating with a knife and fork is overrated—especially when you’re digging into Zachary’s slow-smoked ribs or a pulled chicken sandwich smothered in barbecue sauce. There’s something so quintessentially Southern about anything cooked in a wood-fired pit—even better when it’s in your own backyard. Zachary’s catering services are the answer to your summer party prayers.
1709 Markley St., Norristown; (610) 272-1800,

Specials âž™ Ella’s American Bistro
This Wayne eatery’s everyday menu is nothing to sneeze at. But Ella’s really nails its nightly specials (which are posted daily on Facebook, if you want a sneak peek). At least 10 additional dishes (plus the occasional dessert) are on offer each night—all as thoughtfully conceived they are executed. Seasonal, exciting and special indeed.
214 Sugartown Road, Wayne; (610) 964-3552,

Specialty Pizza âž™ Ariano
It took me several return visits to work my way through the wood-fired pizza list at this Media BYO, but it’s worth it. Crisp, slightly charred dough (available in gluten-free) makes an ideal vehicle for combos like arugula, garlic and mozzarella, or hot Italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto. The simple, rustic flavors keep me coming back.
114 S. Olive St., Media; (610) 892-6944,

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Summer Day Trips âž™ Chaddsford Winery
Summer days just beg for a last-minute sojourn—and why not get a little wine into the mix? Thursday-Sunday, Chaddsford hosts tastings throughout the afternoon at $10 for dry wines and no charge for its sweet vintages. The cozy tasting room and gorgeous surrounding countryside provide a perfect setting for hanging out until the sun sinks.
632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford; (610) 388-6221,

Sunday Brunch âž™ Teresa’s Café & Teresa’s Next Door
Teresa’s knows what we crave, cranking out familiar favorites with just enough variation and innovation to make us Sunday regulars. Whether its the sugar waffles with chicken apple sausage, sunny-side-up eggs and cinnamon apples, or a sandwich of filet tips, eggs and sharp cheddar, brunch here is a weekend habit we simply can’t quit.
124 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne; (610) 293-9909,

Sunday Brunch Worth the Drive âž™ Kimberton Inn
A lovely, historic setting (not far from King of Prussia or Exton) sets the tone for an equally special brunch, where made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes, vanilla French toast and other comforting standbys share the menu with elegant splurges like lobster bisque and grilled tenderloin with eggs and home fries. The free homemade sticky buns and cheesy biscuits are a nice touch, too.
2105 Kimberton Road, Kimberton; (610) 933-8148,

Supermarket Produce âž™ Wegmans
Search, squeeze, check for bruises, search some more. The routine gets a little old—and it’s something that’s rarely required at Wegmans, where you know you’re getting produce that tastes as good as it looks.
Various locations,

Thai Cuisine âž™ Thai Orchid
Finally, an eatery we can count on for tasty, authentic Thai food at affordable prices. Thai Orchid’s flavorful curries, swear-you-won’t-miss-the-meat vegetarian entrées and fragrant, exotic chef’s specialties hit the spot every time.
556 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn; (610) 651-7840,

Sushi âž™ Harusame
You’ve probably driven by Harusame a thousand times without really noticing it. We advise you to take note next time you’re in the mood for some stellar sushi. Its menu features more than 80 types of rolls (as simple or crazy as you want to go), along with various combinations of noodles, rice meat and seafood. The $99 Titanic Cruiser (56 pieces of assorted sushi and sashimi) is a godsend for hungry groups.
2371 Haverford Road, Ardmore; (610) 649-7192,

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Takeout Pizza âž™ Pie in the Sky
As far as we’re concerned, Pie in the Sky is the only takeout number you need on speed dial. This local mainstay thrives on its winning formula for a simple cheese pie: hearty crust, tons of cheese, never too
much sauce and minimal grease. They also make a great specialty pizza. Try their straight-up take on the margherita—a zesty tomato pie with fresh mozzarella and basil.
102 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne; (610) 293-1390,

Thursday-night Menu âž™ Redhound Grille
Beer and game-night specials aside, Redhound earns points with pub food that’s a little more upscale than what you’re likely to find at most local watering holes. And if you find yourself there on a Thursday night, pass up a burger and beer at the bar and treat yourself right with the $25 three-course menu. Appetizers like steamed mussels, hummus or the restaurant’s special flatbreads are a warm-up for filling entrées like vegetarian gnocchi and braised short ribs. Wrap it up with one of their ever-changing desserts.
128 Paoli Pike, Paoli; (484) 318-8047,

Traditional Pizza âž™ Gaetano’s Pizza
If you live in Delaware County, chances are you’ve fallen under Gaetano’s humble spell. Nothing fancy—just some of the best pizza around. The unconventional placement of the mozzarella beneath the just-sweet-enough tomato sauce may take some getting used to (if that’s sort of thing that bothers you). One taste, though, and you won’t care where the cheese falls. Call early if you plan on picking up—everyone else loves Gaetano’s, too.
506 Baltimore Pike, Springfield; (610) 328-9180.

Under-the-radar Italian Restaurant âž™ Dolce Vita
Ingredients for specialties like osso bucco and beef braciole are picked fresh daily from a garden behind this rowhome-turned-BYO, where you’ll feel like you’re dining at a friend’s place. Not a fan of Italian fare? Don’t let that keep you away. Bridgeport’s best-kept secret also offers a full Mexican menu Friday-Sunday. Really make yourself at home and ask for the table inside the kitchen, where you can watch your meal being prepared.
516 Dekalb St., Bridgeport; (610) 279-1795,

Vegetarian Entrée âž™ Buddha’s Delicacy at Yangming
The bar for Main Line vegetarian dining was set exceptionally high when this item appeared on the menu of this venerable and richly awarded Chinese restaurant. Four dumpling-sized pockets made of thin tofu are stuffed with lightly steamed shredded carrots, shitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, snow peas and bamboo shoots. They’re steamed, served with a hot, gingery garlic sauce, and garnished with snow peas and more shitake mushrooms.
1051 Conestoga Road, Bryn Mawr; (610) 527-3200,

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Vegetarian Pizza âž™ A Casa Pizza’s
Mediterranean Pizza With a 25-year history of providing delicious cook-’em-yourself, take-home pies as Mom’s Bake at Home Pizza, the newly renamed A Casa still knows what we like: choices. And when faced with so many, we often opt for the Mediterranean—a white, whole-wheat, multigrain, oat bran or gluten-free crust topped with olive oil, cracked pepper, fresh garlic and spinach, plum tomatoes, marinated artichokes, pine nuts, and feta cheese.
4007 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square; (610) 356-4099.

Way to End a Meal âž™ Pescatore’s Tiramisu
This spirited BYO from South Philly’s Anastasi family is still fairly new, but it’s quickly winning over more and more diners with its pasta, seafood and irresistible homemade tiramisu. With its layers of moist cake and airy custard, this version has just enough cinnamony richness to satisfy your sweet tooth without the sugar rush. We challenge you to stop at one bite.
134 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd; (610) 660-9400,

Way to Spend a Saturday Morning âž™ West Chester Growers Market
Food-shopping never feels like work at this popular Saturday market. Recently, our dining editor was spotted noshing on a warm roll from Big Sky Bread while loading up on local fruits, veggies, cheese and coffee (and she’s not the only one). And while edibles may be at the top of your list, it’s tough to pass up the freshly cut, locally grown flowers.
North Church and West Chestnut streets, West Chester; (610) 869-2791,

Work-week Lunch âž™ 333 Belrose
Belrose is one of the few lunch spots we can navigate in an hour or less while still getting a meal worth savoring for a lot longer. The soups and salads are always spot-on. So is the salt-and-pepper calamari, not to mention hearty sandwiches like
the jumbo lump crab cake slider. If you have a few minutes to spare, share a New Orleans-style bread pudding with your office mates (and don’t worry about the warm whiskey sauce).
333 Belrose Lane, Radnor; (610) 293-1000,

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