July 31, 2011

Brunch Week! The Charm of Carman's Country Kitchen

Update: Carman's sadly closed its doors in late 2012 after more than 30 years in business. Carman moved south to take a new adventures. Big loss for Philly's breakfast scene, so glad we got to try it. 

This spring/summer I've been out to brunch more than usual. I followed up Distrito in April and Sabrina's Cafe in May with outings to Carman's Country Kitchen, Morning Glory and Xochitl in the past six weeks. All very different, each has its own flair and appeal.

In honor of this personal brunch conquest, and because I need to catch up on posts, this week has officially been declared "Brunch Week" at 22nd & Philly. Here's my take on brunch at Carman's in South Philly. Stay tuned for reviews of Xochitl and Morning Glory later this week.

Brunch at Carman's is nothing short of an "experience." It has  an incredible charm, driven largely by a colorful mix of wacky/nostalgic/random/cutesy/phallic decor and very friendly staff. Carman's is also super small, with seating for only about 10-12 people including counter spots. On weekends you can also sit outside in the flatbed of a pickup truck parked on the street (sure why not?).

It was the perfect spot to bring a few fun-loving, world-traveling girlfriends in town and ready to party down at a wedding the next night.

Everything we ate was mouthwateringly good: Challah French Toast with mangos in a peach/pineapple sauce with key lime gramcracker gelato; Buttermilk Pancakes with banana, raisins, toasted coconut and vanilla; Omelet with cheese, avocadoes, tomatoes, sweet onions, scallions and yucca with a hint of white anchovies and cilantro. Drool over them in photos below.

I won't go into more detail, though, because the menu changes weekly. Carman was nice enough to come out of her itsy bitsy kitchen and chat with us, sharing that the inspiration for her inventive dishes is simple - she makes whatever she feels like eating that week - often a creative twist on traditional foods - and invites the rest of us to join her. Her ingredients also come from all over the world. If she wants mangoes but they're out of season in the U.S., she gets them from wherever they are in season. I like a woman that makes things happen!

I'm confident that no matter when you go, all four menu options will be amazingly creative, hearty and delicious, made with every bit of Carman's contagious spirit. I've read other reviews that say the menu will almost always have a waffle/pancake, omelet and french toast option plus one other meat or fish dish, so you really can't go wrong.

Bring cash because its cash-only but leave your kids at home because the stuff around you is super fun but not exactly PG-13. At such a small size, you'll likely have to wait a while on weekends. I think it's totally worth it, but if you can swing by on a Friday or Monday morning, go then. We had no trouble sitting at the counter on a Friday in summer. Hoping to have another one free to go back!

Inside of Carman's
Menu of the week
Challah French Toast with mangoes in a peach/pineapple sauce with key lime graham cracker gelato (say wha??)
Omelet with white Mexican cheese, avocadoes, tomatoes, sweet onions, scallions, yucca, white anchovies and cilantro

Pancakes with banana, raisins, toasted coconut and vanilla (and drizzled chocolate sauce!!)
Wharton Street view, with the eat-in pick up truck parked at the left.

Carman’s Country Kitchen
1301 S. 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 339-9613
No website

Carman's Country Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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