Bars / Center City / Good Food / Restaurants

Foodie Guide for #Bloghouse 2016 in Philadelphia

Bloghouse Philadelphia

Thanks to the power of social media (Twitter), I learned what Bloghouse is today. According to the website:

BlogHouse is a four-day/three-night opportunity to live, work, and learn in a small group environment with both experienced and novice bloggers. Participants spend time learning from members of Navigate Media Group on a large variety of topics such as working with public relations and brands, website optimization, photography, video production, writing, WordPress tips, monetization, and much more. This is a low-stress, high-giving environment for a close mentoring experience.

Basically a blogger conference. Not sure how Bloghouse never made it on my radar before today. Perhaps because the event is geared towards travel bloggers? I’m a food blogger, after all, and we have our own conferences for that kind of thing. But still.

In any case, I’m happy that I learned about Bloghouse because as my fellow travel bloggers can appreciate, it’s giving me fodder to write an article chock full of original content – USEFUL, HELPFUL content – that might drive a few more eyeballs to my humble little blog here. Plus I also love to help travelers and first-timers to Philadelphia to explore the local food scene so they don’t have to hit up chain restaurants or the cliche spots. It will be impossible for you to take it all in during your stay, of course. Hopefully this little guide can be a start for you.

So welcome to Philadelphia… Bloghousers!? Can I call you that? Ahem.

Seriously, you guys are in for a real treat. Not only is Philadelphia incredibly historic (duh) but there’s TONS of great food here! From old favorites offering familiar comfort fare, to the latest, hippest spots to be seen — we got whatever you fancy. We have Iron Chefs (Jose Garces) and Top Chefs (Kevin Sbraga, Nicholas Elmi). I could go on and on, but I digress.

The tweet that started it all:

Like any out-of-towner would, Sherry Ott, of Ott’s World, was wondering where she could find a cheesesteak while in town. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that, I could afford a few cheesesteaks! Anyway, Sarah Hawkins Miduski tagged me on Sherry’s query.

At first, I recommended Sonny’s Steaks in Old City. Because honestly, Old City is the most touristy neighborhood in the city, and as travelers, I guessed you might want to visit the landmarks and whatnot while you’re in town. Sonny’s would be exceptionally easy to get to from 5th & Market. Yes, it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but convenient.

Please note: I refrain, where possible, from referring visitors to the usual suspects — I don’t think I have to say their names, do I?

Then it dawned on me that you guys are going to have a full day of blogger learning and networking at the host location Sonesta Philadelphia near the Rittenhouse Square area. While some may be more adventurous and want to travel to various neighborhoods in our fair city, I should probably point you to a few spots around the hotel. You’re in luck, because there are a TON of great food options just within a few blocks of the hotel!

For bloggers wanting a cheesesteak closer to the hotel, check out Cleavers at 108 S. 18th Street. It’s basically 1 block away. They have beef, chicken, and veggie steaks too.

If you’re craving something more on the gourmet side, don’t miss Di Bruno Bros, a true gourmet emporium, at 1730 Chestnut Street. Sort of like Eataly in NYC, but smaller. Lots of delicious sandwiches and other goodies to be found here. You’ll thank me!

Other quick-serve / fast casual spots in the neighborhood are HipCity Veg (vegan stuff) at 127 S. 18th Street, Hai Street Kitchen (can you say sushi burritos!?!) at 32 S. 18th Street, Luke’s Lobster (lobster rolls!) at 130 S. 17th Street, Shake Shake (burgers!) at 2000 Sansom Street, Dizengoff (hummus galore!) at 1625 Sansom Street, Wok Street (Southeast Asian Bowls) at 1518 Chestnut Street, or Federal Donuts (fried chicken & donuts realness!) at 1632 Sansom Street. (FedNuts! FedNuts!)

Want to sit down and get served? Try one of these slick spots: The Dandelion (British pub!) at 18th & Sansom, + bar (contemporary bistro) at 135 S. 18th Street, Square 1682 (sustainable New American; nice brunch spot!) at 121 S. 17th Street, Dan Dan (modern Taiwanese) at 126 S. 16th Street, Vernick Food & Drink (up$cale American) at 2031 Walnut Street, Monk’s Cafe (Belgian gastropub) at 264 S. 16th Street, Pizzeria Vetri (pizza!) at 1615 Chancellor Street, Bar Bombon (plant-based Puerto Rican) at 133 S. 18th Street, or walk a short distance to Urban Farmer (steakhouse) at 1850 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. (I will be revisiting this!)

Something sweet? You gotta try Capogiro Gelato at 117 S. 20th Street. ‘Nuff said.

Drinks only? Franklin Bar (classic cocktails with a twist) at 112 S. 18th Street.

If you still want to stay in Center City but still within reasonable walking distance of the hotel, hop over to the other side of Broad Street and consider these spots:

Bru Craft & Wurst (German bierhall) at 1316 Chestnut Street, Pennsylvania 6 (contemporary American bistro) at 114 S 12th Street, Vedge (all vegetable restaurant) at 1221 Locust Street, Bud & Marilyn’s (Retro American) at 1234 Locust Street, Sampan (Modern Asian) at 124 S. 13th Street, or McMillin’s Old Ale House (Philly’s oldest bar!) at 1310 Drury Lane — hard to find, but worth it!

Drinks only? Check out Charlie was a sinner (vegan drinks at that!) at 131 S. 13th Street, Fergie’s Pub (low brow pub!) at 1214 Sansom Street, Time (whiskey bar!) at 1315 Sansom Street, or Rosewood (craft cocktails) at 1302 Walnut Street.

If you’re looking for something specific (cuisine-wise), or you’re looking to explore other neighborhoods and go off the beaten path, just tweet at me or email me ( Let me know what you’re thinking or in the mood for and I will do my best to oblige!

Whatever you do, wherever you go — enjoy your stay in Philadelphia! If you hit up a spot not listed here, let me know – feel free to tag me! I’ll also try to add to this when I find time tomorrow.

FYI — I’ll be at Sonesta’s Art Bar tomorrow night. This was scheduled weeks ago – so a mere coincidence. 😄

8 thoughts on “Foodie Guide for #Bloghouse 2016 in Philadelphia

  1. Thanks for sharing this with us and taking into account our location at Sonesta! Sushi burritos sound delicious! And I’ve heard great things about Federal Donuts…plus they deliver – right?!
    This list is awesome! I’m hoping I will get some time to escape and try some of these places this weekend! We’ll actually be around Sonesta tonight at a reception – so will look for you!
    AND – Bloghouse isn’t just for travel bloggers – could be any kind of blogging. But we are all travel bloggers primarily so that’s normally our main audience.

    • Federal Donuts is a MUST! Absolute must.
      If I see the reception going on, maybe I’ll poke my head in and say hello. Otherwise, we have reservations at Art Bar.
      Thanks for the info about Bloghouse. Sounds like a great resource for bloggers!
      Have a great time in Philly!

  2. Hi! I found your tweet about this post via the #BlogHouse tag because my friend Lee Blackwood of @EatTravelCook was tweeting about Blog House. I went to Penn and then worked for Penn for many years, but based in California, so I would travel to Philly several times a year. I was happy to see that I recognized so many places on your recommendations for the Blog House folks. And now I’m following you! Just wanted to give a shout out to twitter for making all these connections!

  3. Love the blog/Twitter! You’re on top of things and LOVE LOVE LOVE that you answer Tweets all the time. It’s pretty awesome. And also love that you recommended us above! I gotta push back on the term “tourist trap.” (And I’m pretty sure I’m being overly defensive — so, I apologize).

    The term “tourist trap” implies that an establishment is created/purposed to exploit tourists. I totally understand why at first glance we appear tourist trappy. It’s just that, well, we’re really really proud of being the opposite.

    Our sandwiches are unlike most other shops. I have this whole blog post waiting to go up about it… but no blog (yet). Basically, all the big names fall into the same price range. There are very tangible ways we’re different. We go through extra lengths all around to make our sandwiches great. We order beef and slice it fresh every morning in house. We get daily fresh deliveries of Amoroso Rolls. Even our cheeses are pretty good. We really don’t have to do this stuff. For example, I’m not sure anyone slices their meat daily in-house. We could freeze rolls. Etc. But I find if you start cutting back in one area, it’s a domino effect. Before you know it, we’re making sandwiches from a pile of meat that has been on the grill for hours (not naming names).

    Ever since GQ rated us #1, we consistently rank amongst the best in the city (but rankings can be questionable on occasion). But one thing GQ mentioned, which we make a point of, was our service. We hire nice people. It’s a policy and a choice. We’re very conscious of it. For one, kindness is great. But also, we want people to get sandwiches they like. So we encourage questions. No rushing or funny looks.

    One that always stood out to me, though, was this one, which was “scientific” We were really proud of this. I posted about it on Facebook. We ranked number three behind John’s Dalessandro’s. That rocked. They collectively have, like, over 100 years on us. We make literally use them as references on how to make cheesesteaks. So when John from John’s Roast Pork commented positively on my post, it basically made my month.

    On the flip side, we certainly try to appeal to the tourist crowd. I always think of that scene from The Office where Michael goes to Sbarro in NYC for some real New York pizza. Maybe the Philly equivalent would be if someone went to WaWa for a cheesesteak. South Philly is far… and Dalessandro’s is even more far.

    Anyway, This was a really long comment. I want to sleep now. For real, thanks for the mention and let’s be in touch!

    Scientific Cheesesteaks:
    Facebook Post:

    • First of all, thank you so much for the amazing response and kind words. You don’t know how much this means to me! This makes blogging infinitely more gratifying for me. Anyways, as you saw, you were the first cheesesteak place I recommended to the original query. I could have recommended the usual names and the other ones you mentioned that get talked about a lot, but I was thinking of the audience; where they might be while in town and making it easy for them to access one. With that said, I would not point them to an establishment that wasn’t credible. So I was confident in my recommendation of your shop. When I said “tourist trap” I meant that as in the neighborhood and its proximity to the landmarks and museums. Knowing full well that you attract the tourists visiting those destinations simply because of how close you are to them. I certainly didn’t mean to imply it was your ethos and raison d’etre. It was no reflection on your quality product. But I am SO HAPPY that you came here to explain all of the wonderful things that set you apart from the others and your commitment to a delicious, quality product. That makes me so happy and affirms why I recommended you in the first place. Once again, thank you! And hopefully we can stop by sometime soon to meet in person. This is why I love social media, and ultimately one of the many reasons I LOVE PHILLY! Cheers, Marilyn.

      • Haha, yeah, I figured as much. Let’s put it this way – I don’t sleep a lot and Wikipedia’ed “Tourist Trap.” Thanks again for the recommendation! I need to sleep.

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