Girls on Food

Philadelphia

Renzell: The Perfect App For Fine Dining Lovers

The world of foodie apps is like the wild west right now. Developers are striving to become the next big thing, but few apps offer anything unique to stand out from just being a local restaurant directory. I thought I had seen it all with these apps, until GOF blogger Marcie told me to check out an app called Renzell and it has since become my go-to restaurant directory app.

Cocktail from Redbird in LA, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Why Renzell?

It’s for those with impeccable taste –  What separates Renzell out from the other apps is a restaurant directory that is specifically hand-picked by Renzell staff of fine dining establishments in major metropolitan cities. This app isn’t here to help you find a new coffee shop, it’s to help you find the perfect special occasion spot. Think Marea in NYC, Redbird in LA and Alinea in Chicago.

Be undercover –  Members can rate restaurants anonymously through their surveys, which are scored based off overall numbers, no long write-ups required. Their surveys are broken down into categories like ambiance, service, food and cocktails. What I love about this so much is that it’s not public what scores users gave, so I can quietly and candidly score spots. See full list of restaurants here.

Prove it – There is also more accountability in the scores than other review apps. Members are encouraged to show proof of dining by providing a receipt from their visit. This makes me feel better when I read the scores, cause it’s lessening the likelihood of fake reviews.

Get rewarded! – The more you survey and/or provide proof of receipt, the more goodies you can get! Recent rewards include Starbucks gift cards, SoulCycle classes, a month of free Spotify premium and so much more.

With membership benefits, secure anonymity and consistent app functionality, I will consider myself a “lifer” Renzell member.

  • Featured image – Strozzapreti from Marea in New York, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Christina’s Food Crawl: Philly Style

One of my favorite ways to travel is to eat my way through the city or aka create a food craw. Food crawling is exactly what I do each time I’m in Philadelphia. With the variety and volume of restaurants, you can go to Philly and have a completely different culinary experience every time.

Choose your own adventure or follow the path I took below:

 

My first stop is always Jim’s South St.  The cheesesteak debate is heated and personal but Jim’s wins for me. That art deco store front calls my name from across the street. The chewy bread, the piping hot meat and the Whiz. You gotta get the Whiz!

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Megan’s Philly Tour Part 2: Eastern State Penitentiary and Philly Foods

Sure, I drank my way through Market Street, but surely, I wasn’t done. There is so much more of the Philly food landscape that’s ripe for exploring. To work up an appetite though I had to do a little sightseeing first. That brought me to The Franklin Institute and The Jurassic World exhibit.  ROAAAAAR, real monsters, and The Eastern State Penitentiary.

Straight up chillin’ in the prison yard, yo

The Eastern State Penitentiary is a pretty baller landmark to visit on a beautiful day. Using an audio tour, you weave in and out of its hallways, peak into Al Capone’s luxury cell, and get to take the tourist photo from atop the loft looking down a dark corridor. I accomplished all three and even got to work on my tan in the prison yard.

Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19130
https://www.easternstate.org

 

a view from the balcony
classy pants art installation

They had some pretty neat art installations on exhibit. This in particular by Cindy Stockton Moore entitled “Other Absences,” showcased the victims of the inmates, hanging their photos from the ceiling of a corroding jail cell. I emerged triumphant, having experienced my very own Shawshank Redemption, falling to my knees and staring up at the sky my head turned slightly, and I looked across the street noticing a charming eatery cobbled out of an old firehouse.

Jack’s Firehouse
2130 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
http://www.jacksfirehouse.com/

The day could not have been more perfect, and the warm April air joined us for our nosh. The large doors of the converted firehouse are left open when the weather is just right allowing diners inside to get a glimpse of the historical landmark and the gorgeous day.

Biscuits

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Phil Er Up: National Mechanics, Revolution House and Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar

My DIY Bloody Mary

I have journeyed back to the historical land that is Philadelphia to further explore the city and its many food offerings. First stop was National Mechanics, a spot I hit up last time but while researching the ‘hood discovered that, during brunch, it has its very own DIY Bloody Mary Bar. I mean… how can I not? This eatery is unique, utilizing old wooden church pews for booths and showcasing fun bug collections, mounted bison skulls, and cute displays of plants.

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Taco Tuesday: Buena Onda in Philly

After a sleep deprived night in Center City Philadelphia, Fatboi Jess and friends set off to find a brunch spot worthy of a blog post. Promises of an hour wait from Sabrina’s Cafe led the crew to happen upon Buena Onda Taqueria. This spot opens at 11 and when we arrived at 10:45 there was already a line forming, which proved to be a good sign. Walking into the establishment we were met with dreamy, island decor. A beer tap beckoned with a sign for a free cerveza for patrons of age. Who could fret over a line with an invitation like that?

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Fatboi’s Philly Takeover: Spuntino

Picture this: you’re sitting in a bar admiring a Firkin, which you had learned early in the day was an incredible selection of local Philly brews, when you start to feel the familiar pangs of hunger that accompany a few adult beverages. After one more longing look at the plethora of beers, your end goal changes; you need pizza, and you needed it yesterday. Well lucky for you, Fatbois has you covered. Spuntino, tucked away in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, has the pizza you know you needed and the Burrata you never knew you needed. Upon our arrival, our Fatboi Friend in command, Moogan, ordered two Caprese salads for the table.

Spuntino
701 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19123
http://www.spuntinophilly.com

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It’s Always Christmas in Philadelphia

Philadelphia – the land of liberty, lovers, and a hands-on Ben Franklin Museum that will leave you tapping screens like a two-year old with a head cold. Journeying to Old City Philly this holiday, I couldn’t help but notice it was beginning to look like way more than cheese steak.  With restaurant upon restaurant lining the cobblestone streets, it’s hard to know where to spend a spirited Christmas meal – but I think we made some excellent choices on our patriotic path of digestible freedom.

The Plough And the Stars
123 Chestnut Street, Entrance on 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA
http://www.ploughstars.com

Christmas Day is a relative ghost town in downtown Philly, except for a few restaurants that remain open. I’m so used to NYC with tourists lining the streets on holidays clutching their bags of Magnolia cupcakes and Nintendo Store swag that it never dawns on me it’s possible for businesses in OTHER cities to be closed. Given our limited selection we still managed to stumble on a fantastic place for lunch called The Plough and the Stars, an Irish pub that boasts the best soda bread for miles.  Every customer gets their own piece of brown bread and soda bread, very well made palate cleansers that make you full once the actual meal arrives… happily full, of course!

To start, we ordered their aptly named “Christmas Salad,”  a spirited array of beets, goat cheese, pine nuts, and arugula.  The appetizer pasta I ordered went full bore with the ravioli.  A meal in itself, the pasta were well cooked and seasoned.

I’m a sucker for holiday prime rib (medium rare!) and when I noticed it written on their special Christmas menu, I had eyes for no other entrée. It is said the Irish know their meat and potatoes and this upscale pub proves that tenfold. The Plough and the Stars is a land of well made breads, meats, and dranks – I highly recommend a visit. Within walking distance of many of Old City’s  landmark attractions, including Christ’s Church and Independence Hall, it’s a wonderful choice for both lunch and dinner, or just a wee pint between touristing.

After a viewing of the film Jackie (because what says Christmas more than Natalie Portman in a biopic about the day of JFK’s assassination?) we ventured to Red Owl Tavern. Our stomachs only craved a piece of pie but when our eyes noticed they had a two-day holiday pop up paying homage to A Christmas Story, with the Chinese menu as seen in the film, how could we say no?  All of my nostalgic pleasure centers were at attention when we stared at each other, understanding THIS MOMENT was what doggy bags were created for.

Red Owl Tavern
433 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA  19106
http://www.redowltavern.com

We opted for the duck confit steam buns and short rib ramen. I nervously eyed the entire duck that was served to my dining neighbor and sighed that I thankfully did not order that. They kept up the beautiful charade by serving my vanilla ice cream (courtesy of Franklin Fountain Ice Cream & Sorbets) in a Chinese take-out box… color me enchanted. I swoon over generalized nerdery!

The Chinese food was delightfully tasty, and with a waiter rocking a David The Gnome ugly Christmas Sweater the spirit-o-meter was high. Suffice to say……we holiday’ed like we hath never before. What was left after all this debauchery and touristing? Making a pop art portrait of the two of us, obviously!

Never trust me with phone apps-I’m as smitten as a six-year-old with an Etch-a-Sketch. If you happen to roll through Old City Philadelphia, stop by either of these gems on a holiday or just a Wednesday. You will not be disappointed.