Philadelphia has always been a foodie's paradise. In 2011, some restaurants received national recognition for their outstanding cuisine and atmosphere, while other eateries were deemed worthy of a nod for being so delicious, wildly unique, or both.
Hours: Sun to Thurs 5p.m.-10 p.m.; Fri to Sat 5p.m.-11 p.m.
Talula's Garden, one of Bon Appetit's Top Ten Best New Restaurants in America for 2011, has the feel of a magical garden, with window boxes, bird houses and fun garden chairs. The interior is whimsical, too, with communal tables, warm red walls and gorgeous reclaimed wood tables. Additionally, the pink granite cheese bar is a highlight at this establishment.
"If I made a list of my top-ten dishes of 2011, three would come from [Aimee] Olexy's new big-city spot…," said Andrew Knowlton, food reviewer for Bon Appetit magazine. Knowlton's three favorite dishes at Talula's Garden in Washington Square are braised rabbit with handkerchief pasta, soft-shell crab with spicy fennel pickle and golden potato gnocchi with succotash and lemon-brown butter.
Talula's Gardens has rapidly become a Philadelphia hotspot thanks to the upscale menu and unique dining experience.
Hours: Mon to Wed, 11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5:00 pm-12:00 am; Thurs to Sat 11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5:00 pm-2:00 am
The 70-seat restaurant is a sight to behold, with its bubbly-looking walls and a bar canopy made entirely of birch branches. Designed by Jun Aizaki, it was inspired by Athens' Gazi neighborhood. The unique atmosphere is an appropriate match for a hip and playful spin on Greek food in the Midtown Village restaurant, Opa. The hard-to-please Crag LaBan, restaurant critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, especially enjoyed the Zucchini Chips; he called the oregano-battered delights an "addictive pre-theater snack." Another fan of Opa's Mezedes (appetizers) is Kirsten Henri, from Philadelphia magazine. She enjoyed the "trio of adorable mini lamb gyros tucked into waxed paper."
Hours: Tue to Thurs 11 a.m.–7 p.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10:30 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sun 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m.; Mondays Closed
Located in Olde City, Wedge + Fig is a unique concept. The eatery serves only lunch, light dinners and brunch. The menu is packed with culinary delights like the Betty Draper, which is truffled egg, cucumber and lemon salt on whole wheat and comes with candy cigarettes. For brunch, try French toast bread pudding made with creamy, rich Mascarpone cheese, seasonal fruit and real maple syrup. Wedge + Fig also carries and sells a wide selection of specialty cheeses. Additionally, Wedge + Fig invites you to bring your own booze. When the weather gets nice, you can enjoy your own wine with their Crostini of the evening in their cozy back garden.
Hours: Hot donuts, 7-10 a.m.; Fancy donuts, 7 a.m.-'til they're gone; Fried chicken, 12 p.m.-'til they're gone
From doughnuts to fried chicken, Federal Donuts can satisfy any sweet or savory craving. The unique doughnut selection ranges from key lime to blood orange cream with orange blossom. You can also purchase whole and half chickens. Due to the high demand, Federal Donuts will pass out tickets to customers about 15 minutes before the chickens are ready, and the wait will be worth every bite of these delicious treats .
Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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