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Category Archives: South Philly

Heavenly Burger

Hi there, burger loving friends! I apologize for the gap in posting but September has been a super-busy month between Labor Day, weddings, a vacation (to New Orleans! I’ll be sharing some of the delicious food I ate there in an upcoming post) and of course – the historic visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia! And keeping with the (holy) spirit of the weekend, I checked out the burger at Pub on Passyunk East, better known as the P.O.P.E. of South Philadelphia.

They were having a big party all week long leading up to the event with special themed beers like Philadelphia Brewing’s Holy Wooder & Manayunk Brewing’s Papal Ale, which I both tried. The burger itself is an 8 oz. patty, topped with cheddar cheese, a fried green tomato, grilled red onion and basil mayo on a buttery brioche bun.

The burger came out perfectly medium as requested and was flavorful and juicy. The cheddar cheese was gooey and the grilled onions were delicious (even if there were a few too many of them). The fried green tomato was tasty, but eventually popped out of it’s breading. However, the tomato remained crisp & not hot or soggy like fried tomatoes can sometimes be. The breading that was left behind also remained crispy, giving a little crunch to the burger. The flavor of the basil mayo was nice and I alternated between dipping my fries and my burger into it. The burger-to-bun ratio was proportional as well, although the patty did shift a bit throughout my meal so I had to eat my way around it a bit. Despite having been to POPE on several occasions, this was my first time sitting down to a meal here and I really enjoyed it. They also have lots of vegan options as well for your non-meat eating friends. I bet the real Pope would have blessed this burger – it was fit to be canonized!

Burger rating: “A”

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Whet Your Whistle

The restaurant space at the corner of 5th & Bainbridge has seen a lot of changes throughout the years. With various openings and closings and being vacant for extended periods of time, residents in the Queen Village neighborhood worried they might never have a steady hot-spot in the hood. Hoping to “reverse the curse” (so to speak), the owners of Brauhaus Schmitz have recently opened  Whetstone Tavern and crafted a menu of classic American cuisine using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. As you can probably already guess, I headed straight for the bar & ordered the Dad’s Burger – a LaFrieda blend patty on a Martin’s potato roll, topped with cooper sharp cheese, iceberg lettuce slaw, heirloom tomato, diced onion, and pickles. You can opt for a single or a double patty; I went with just one to give it a good baseline. You can pair it with fries, chips or a half salad – I chose fries.

I wasn’t asked how I wanted the burger cooked but it was on the medium-well side. It didn’t matter because I knew the quality of the La Frieda meat would ensure that my burger was moist, flavorful & delicious. Also, it was on a soft Martin’s potato roll, which automatically makes any burger taste amazing. It was on the small side, but still tasty. I loved seeing the little yellow sliver of the heirloom tomato after I took my first bite. The burger also comes topped with a house burger sauce (probably some kind of in-house thousand island variation). I failed to notice that the ketchup listed on the menu was sriracha ketchup so after my first bite, my mouth was on fire! Luckily, I was able to dip the fries in the burger sauce/meat juice run off, which made them extra tasty. The fries were kind of under-salted, so the drippings helped alleviate some of the blandness as well. Next time I will definitely opt for the double decker burger & chips! Also be sure to save room for  one of Pastry Chef Jessica Nolen’s amazing desserts – or you can wait until her new, standalone bakery The Little Bird opens just a few blocks away!

Burger rating: “B”

From All Sides

Long time South Philly bar staple Triangle Tavern recently had new life breathed into it earlier this year after having been closed for over half a decade. Located at the triangular intersection of East Passyunk, Reed & 10th streets, the Triangle has been given an upgrade by the Royal Tavern/Khyber Pass Pub/Cantina team. And keeping with the South Philly flair, they’re serving up spiked water ice (a godsend given that the Rita’s across the street shuttered last year) and Italian classics like spaghetti & meatballs and eggplant parm. There’s also a burger on the menu, topped with bacon, provolone & a long hot. Normally, I’d be remiss to order a burger at a restaurant that caters to a particular ethnic cuisine, but I love the burgers at Royal Tavern & Khyber, so I took my chances.

My burger came out & the first thing I noticed was the lack of fries. I guess at $12, I had wrongly assumed that I would get something on the side other than a giant pickle & pepper? But what the burger lacked in accompaniments, it made up for in size. The patty was massive! At least 10 ounces, cooked perfectly to medium & had an amazing char on the outside. The housemade bun was soft and proportional to the patty and made great work of holding back all the juicy runoff from the meat (having a “lettuce diaper” underneath helped as well). The bacon was nice and crispy and the cheese, gooey with a little bit of sharpness. I didn’t eat the long hot because of my wimpy palette, but I could certainly smell how hot it was! In the end, I was thankful that the burger hadn’t come with fries because the patty was so big, I could barely finish it all! I’ve had burgers that I’ve failed to finish because they were terrible or I ran out of bun, but this guy was just too much meat for me to handle.

If you’re heading to the Triangle for brunch, I strongly suggest ordering a Bloody Mary – it comes with a meatball garnish! And dat’s a spicy meatball!

Burger rating: “B”

Una Bella Burger

If you’ve ever been to Atlantic City or the Jersey Shore, then you’re probably already familiar with Luke Palladino’s various restaurant establishments, focusing on innovative Italian cuisine. His latest venture, Palladino’s, brings his talents to Philly’s booming culinary epicenter, East Passyunk Ave, and focuses on Italian food as well as wood-fired steaks and chops. And it just so happens, they have a burger on their menu! Offered at the bar and during brunch, the 8 oz. wood-grilled burger is served on a house-made snowflake roll, and comes topped with Tallegio cheese, thick cut pickles, and smoked chili ranch.

I was skeptical at first when I heard the words “wood grilled”. Would special attention be paid to my requested temperature, or would my burger come out overcooked? This is a steakhouse after all, so I really should have known better – ensuring meat is cooked to the requested temperature is their specialty! My burger came out perfectly medium and was delicious, flavorful & juicy with every bite. The house-made bun was lightly toasted, yet still soft and fresh (although I did have to keep wiping the flour dust off my hands). The cheese was gooey and the pickles had a nice crunch to them. The smoked chili ranch wasn’t overpowering, which was good; this way you could taste the freshness of the meat. The only downside of the meal for me were the accompanying wedge fries, which were too thickly cut and not cooked enough for my liking, and the house made ketchup was way too sweet. Otherwise, the burger was perfect and (especially on the 90+ degree day when I went) didn’t leave me feeling weighed down or super full.

And since Palladino’s is launching their brand new happy hour TODAY (!), you can check out the burger Monday through Friday from 5-7 PM and Sundays from 2:30-5 PM for only $10!

Burger rating: “A”

Burgers In The House!

There’s no shortage of restaurants in South Philly. Unfortunately, fine dining or family-style Italian places seems to outnumber places serving up good ol’ fashioned burgers. Not that that’s a bad thing, but for the purposes of this blog, it requires a little  more legwork than usual. So I strapped on my sneakers and hoofed it all the way down to 13th & Shunk this week to check out SouthHouse, which opened just a few months ago. The bar has a really cozy neighborhood vibe while also feeling like a chic gastropub. They’ve got lots of great craft beers on tap, as well as veggie and gluten-free options in addition to their upscale bar fare. I opted for their SouthHouse burger: a house made burger topped with roasted red pepper, portobello mushroom, smoked manchego, rocket pesto on an onion poppy brioche.

It took a while for the burgers to come out & when they did, I could see why. They appear to be baked instead of cooked on a flat top grill, which is fine by me (my parents used to cook burgers this way at home in the winter months before the invention of the George Foreman grill, lol). Unfortunately that meant that my medium burger came out slightly more on the medium-well side, with just a wink of pink. Since they also have meatballs on the menu, I’m guessing they used the same seasoned meat blend for the burgers, which gave the patty a really nice flavor. The roll was nice and fresh, thick enough to withstand the juices from the patty. The house-made pesto topping also paired really well with the seasoning of the meat; truly a South Philly Italian burger right here! It was tasty and didn’t leave me feeling stuffed afterwards – which gave me plenty of extra room to pick at their hand-cut fries, which have a seasoning on them similar to BBQ potato chips (finger-lickin’ good!). They also make their ketchup in house and you can choose from regular or pomegranate. Go for the pomegranate – it’s amazing and not overly sweet – definitely a must-try!

Burger rating: “B”

Fresh From The Farm

Being conscious of where your food comes from these days is becoming more and more important to lots of people. It’s not just about some hippie-dippie Portlandia crap, it’s about supporting small, local businesses; farmers who have been operating farms for generations. Here in Pennsylvania, that’s one of our biggest points of pride – just look at Lancaster County! And lots of restaurants these days are making it a point to partner with local farms and markets to get the best and freshest ingredients. Case in point: South Philly Taproom, who partners with Rineer Family Farms (part of the Lancaster Farmland Trust) for several items on their menu, including their burger! I’ve tried their breakfast burger before, but came back this week for the regular burger as part of an event sponsored by Daryl Rineer to showcase the farm’s products and educate patrons.

Everything about the burger was great. Even though I ordered mine medium (they only give you 3 options – rare, medium, or well), it came out on the medium-well side. Understandable as there were many people there for this particular event so cooking up a lot of burgers at once can be a challenge. I loved the thick-cut bacon on top (my dining partner didn’t even eat all of his so I had to steal more, it was so good) and the smoked cheddar. It was just an all together, tasty and well-rounded burger. And it tasted even better since I knew that the meat was coming from some place nearby and not sitting in a warehouse in god-knows-where after being pumped full of hormones and preservatives!

In addition to the burger, the chicken used for the Southern Fried Chicken, Brussels sprouts, and even the jam for the Taproom’s infamous Fried PB&J all come from Rineer Family Farms! I was also excited to learn that Rineer does a CSA, which can be picked up at several locations around the city including 12th Street Gym and the Rittenhouse Square Farmers Market. Now I can enjoy these delicious burgers right at home!

Burger rating: “B+”

In The Navy (Yard)

Thirty years ago when my dad was stationed in the Navy, he spent a lot of time here in Philadelphia down at the Navy Yard. Back then, I bet he never imagined one day his daughter would be living in Philly and enjoying delicious, roasted fare right inside the gates he passed in and out of every day. That’s right – this week’s burger adventure takes us to Marc Vetri’s newly opened, Lo Spiedo. Aside from pork ribs, chicken and a spit-roasted octopus (!), Lo Spiedo also cooks up Creekstone Farms brisket and uses that brisket in it’s burger. You can opt to get it topped with bacon, cheese or grilled onions, but who likes to choose only one topping? I went with cheese AND grilled onions.

The burger also comes with lettuce and tomato, and a side of ketchup & mayo for your shoestring fries (seriously, fries dipped in ketchup & mayo is the best). The burger was cooked slightly more on the medium well side, but was still delicious and juicy. The brisket patty was super moist and flavorful; I can’t wait to try a regular cut of it. The bun was a soft, seeded roll, perfectly proportional to the patty, and didn’t get soggy from any burger juice runoff. The grilled onions also added a nice flavor. And for $10 during happy hour, it was a steal! Just make sure you bring your appetite: there are so many other amazing snacks on the happy hour menu that we might have gotten a little overzealous and ordered almost all of them. But no matter how full you are, don’t forget to finish your fries!

Burger rating: “B+”

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