November 2, 2012

A Starr Restaurant for Every Occasion

Stephen Starr restaurants have been capturing the hearts credit cards of city and suburban Philadelphians for decades. By now, the dining experiences across his local empire have become so diverse that there is a Starr restaurant for nearly every occasion.

Here's a handy guide to help you match some of Starr's restaurants with your next big night out. Leave in the comments how you would you match up these, or the other Starr Restaurants we didn't cover (Alma de Cuba, El Rey, POD, Pizzeria Stella, Route 6...) with the perfect occasion.

Buddakan - First big night out for Philadelphia newbie. It seems like "everyone" has been to Buddakan once so you may as well join the club early. It will help make you sound like you know what you're talking about when meeting new people.

The Dandelion - Cozy Winter Date Night. Along with good upscale pub food and eclectic cask beers, Dandelion offers comfy couches and a roaring fireplace to cozy up in front of while you wait. You may as well be in your second home across the pond, just with a lot of other people around. [Read our original review]

Talula's Garden Cheese Board
Talula's Garden - Anniversary. It is where we went for ours! Earthy, pretty Talula's is a mini escape from the city rush. The seasonal menu doesn't send you into a food coma and the cheese boards are awesome. Sit in the courtyard in warmer weather or swing by the indoor bars for wine and cheese any time. [View our photos here]

Morimoto - Gift Card. If you're ever going to venture beyond your sushi comfort zone, this is the place to do it. The "omakase" menu, or "chef's choice" tasting menu is totally worth $80 - $120 a person (before drinks) but your adventurous side will enjoy it even more if that's not actually what you're paying for it. [Read our original review]

Barclay Prime or Butcher & Singer - Work Dinner. Indulge with a wedge salad, dry-aged porterhouse and loads of starchy sides whilst sipping dry martinis and cabernet. Your client-old-enough-to-be-your-dad will love the old world steakhouse feel and you will love expensing it.

The Continental / Continental Midtown - Bachelorette Party. Tang-rimmed cocktails, funky chairs and dozens of sharable small plates make these hot spots every party girl's dream. And reservations are only taken for larger parties so at least you won't have to wait two hours if you bring a lot of friends. [Read why I always HAVE to get the french onion soup dumplings]

Parc - First Date. "Oooo la la, Paris c'est romantique!" After living in Paris for 6 months, I have to say Starr did a pretty good job emulating a very large Parisian cafe. Plus it's uber hip, has a good bar for pre-dinner wine, and offers great people watching when the conversation runs dry.

Square Burger in Franklin Square
Square Burger - Birthday for kids of all ages. Milkshakes aren't just for kids anymore, especially when made with classic Butterscotch Krimpet Tastykakes. Grab a burger and a Cake Shake from Starr's Franklin Square shack, then ride the carousel and play Philly-themed mini golf. [Read our original review]

Il Pittore - Graduation Night. When else can you slide an expensive and delicious Italian meal past your parents without protest? In our experience, both the food and service lived up to expectations on the price point, so mom and dad should be pleased. [Read our original review]

El Vez - Margarita and Taco Night with Friends. El Vez is super fun and convenient on 13th Street, with flavored margaritas and giant bowls of guac. The food is fine, but this place is more about the scene and having a good time with your friends.

Jones - Date Night with a Picky Eater. If your guy/gal isn't into raw fish, french food, mexican, craft beer or stinky cheese, they must like fried chicken, macaroni n' cheese or meatloaf, right? You can't go wrong with Jones for the Starr-version of comfort food.

For further discussion... Philadelphia Magazine argues in the latest issue that Stephen Starr is one of Philadelphia's most brilliant innovators. Do you agree?

(P.S. We're honored to be nominated for Philly's Top Food Writer of 2012 by Epikur Magazine. Please click here and vote for Kristy (22nd & Philly) - no personal information required. One vote per person. Thank you!)


Robin Shreeves said...

Despite my love of Philly and all it's wonderful restaurants, I've eaten at very few Starr restaurants for no particular reason.

We do absolutely love Dandelion, though. My husband and I stumbled upon it one night over a year ago with another couple when we couldn't get a table across the street at the wine bar (name is escaping me). We've been back half a dozen times since, and never have a bad experience. Love the homemade ricotta and, believe it or not, the braised celery entree is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes in town.
I read the Philadelphia Magazine piece yesterday. I didn't know just how influential Stephen Starr has been in helping to turn Philadelphia into the great dining city it is today. It makes me want to try more Starr restaurants. I don't feel as if I know enough to agree or disagree with the "brilliant innovator" label yet, though.

Anonymous said...

Jones has a really great Brunch! I love their French Roast!

Kristy said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Robin. I think people get hung up on the innovator concept being just about the food. Of course that's top of the list, but there's a lot more that goes into it from a business perspective. Right location, right atmosphere...

A and J said...

Love this post! He really has done amazing things for the city and the food culture here-- as much as I sometimes hate to admit it :)

I'd also recommend Butcher and Singer as a great steakhouse as well- less upscale than Barclay Prime but still quite an experience.

Also- El Rey has the best happy hour food deals (you can fill up for $5 with delicious tacos) and Frankford Hall is all around awesome.