About 250,000 visitors are expected at the Philadelphia Flower Show from March 3 to 11.
Most of whom will be stopping to eat at the same time, it may seem.
Dining options are plentiful, as the Convention Center is on the doorstep of Chinatown and across the street from the granddaddy of all food halls, Reading Terminal Market. You can eat onsite at the show, as well; the menu from Aramark includes two panini, shrimp fried rice, and chilled grilled shrimp tacos.
I’ll break down 40 or so dining suggestions all within a few blocks to provide options for those headed into SEPTA’s Jefferson Station and for those driving who may not wish to move their cars. The restaurants mentioned here are open at least for lunch. (Yes, there’s also a Chili’s at 13th and Filbert Streets, a Maggiano’s at 12th and Filbert, and a Panera at 12th and Arch, but let’s spread our culinary wings a bit.)
Reading Terminal Market warrants its own article; it’s here.
For more options, check Inquirer critic Craig LaBan’s Ultimate Guide to Chinatown and staff writer Samantha Melamed’s field guide to Chinatown dessert shops.
Foo Kitchen (1301 Vine St.): At his dinerlike eatery just across Vine Street from Chinatown proper, George Pan sells creative Asian American fusion favorites, including Foowiches, which are grilled, overstuffed burritos, and red velvet cake balls, which are chocolate-covered balls of red velvet cake.
Bar-Ly (11th and Arch Streets): Literally across from the Convention Center, this sports bar delivers in every respect: 60 beers on tap and an enviable lineup of TVs.
Fergie’s (1214 Sansom St.): Quintessential Center City bar with no TVs.
This food hall at 1016 Race St. has a collection of independent stands, including the Halal Guys and ICE NY (rolled ice cream), Khmer Grill (Cambodian barbecue), Kurry Korner (curries), Correanos (a Mexican-Korean hybrid taco creation), The Bao Bar (Chinese steamed buns), Hi Kori (Japanese kushiyaki, oyster bar), and Philly Poke (poke).
Lee How Fook (219 N. 11th St.): Cantonese noodle soups are the specialties at this longtime destination.
Tasty Place (143 N. 11th St.): The more adventurous among us will want to head downstairs to this plain Hong Kong- and Cantonese-style dining room.
Sakura Mandarin (1038 N. 11th St.): So close to the Convention Center, this all-purpose Chinese restaurant is known for xiao long bao , the soup dumplings that arrive at the table with white-hot soup splashed beneath their skins.
A La Mousse (145 N. 11th St.): Civilized desserts, especially those containing matcha, in Chinatown.
Capogiro (119 S. 13th St.): Philly’s destination gelateria is on a corner in Washington Square West.
N2 Sweet Cafe (125 N 11th St.): The signature desserts use nitrogen to chill them quickly; try the Eskimo kisses, tiny nuggets of various frozen sweets that will make you breathe like a dragon.
Dim Sum Garden (1020 Race St.): Packed from opening to close, this BYOB celebrates the xiao long bao (soup dumpling).
Tom’s Dim Sum (59 N. 11th St.): Shanghai steamed pork buns as well as xiao long bao are the best sellers at Tom Guo’s destination around the corner from the Convention Center.
bbq Chicken (938 Race St.): Korean fried chicken typically is fried twice in peanut oil or vegetable shortening at two temperatures to achieve the crispy coating. At bbq — whose name means “best of the best quality” (not “barbeque”) — the cooks use olive oil and fry to order only once.
Bonchon (1020 Cherry St.): This bar-restaurant is pretty much the gold standard for Korean fried chicken in Chinatown.
Cheers Cut (122 N. 10th St.): Chicken cutlets almost as large as your head are the main attraction at this tiny, cash-only Taiwanese shop in Chinatown.
Bubblefish (909 Arch St.): Bubble tea and sushi. The name of this stylish bistro says it all.
Terakawa (204 N. Ninth St.): Six varieties of traditional soup base, plus two vegetarian kinds, make this traditional Japanese spot a good bet.
Yamitsuki (1028 Arch St.): The closest ramen shop to the terminal also offers sashimi, pork buns, bubble tea, and shaved ice, as well as various ramens (try the chicken broth).
Banana Leaf (1009 Arch St.): Roti canai, satay, and other Southeast Asian dishes in a comfortable dining room with plenty of room for large parties; it’s BYOB.
Penang (117 N. 10th St.): Malaysian fare in a spacious room with industrial-chic decor; it’s BYOB.
Honeygrow (15 S. 11th St.): Branch of the salad/stir-fry chain.
Nan Zhou Hand-Drawn Noodle House (1022 Race St.): Every bit of noodles at Chinatown’s oldest hand-drawn noodle house is made to order, in stir-fry dishes and soups; menu satisfies the adventurous as well as the more timid.
Spice C (131 N. 10th St.): Small corner hand-drawn noodle shop in Chinatown whose soup menu is based on a beef broth as well as a thicker, spicy Szechuan broth.
Zavino (112 S. 13th St.): Za as in pizza, vino as in wine. Energetic corner bar just south of the Convention Center.
Zio’s (111 S. 13th St.): Brick-oven pizzas and sandwiches.
APJ Texas Wieners (47 N. 13th St.): Old-school luncheonette serving Texas Tommies and other retro favorites.
Jake’s Sandwich Board (122 S. 12th St.): Well-prepared sandwiches, brisk-moving lines.
Luke’s Lobster (17 S. 11th St.): Lobster rolls from Maine are the signature.
Paris Baguette (923 Arch St.): Baguettes, pastries, and sandwiches are the specialties at this chain, new to Chinatown.
Tableau (128 N. Broad St., inside Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts): Basic sandwich/salad/soup options.
Double Knot (120 S. 13th St.): The $8 Viet-style lunch deals are a steal at this bistro, whose basement level is one of the city’s top sushi destinations in the evening. By day, it’s also a coffee shop.
Pho Cali (1000 Race St.): Among my circle of Chinatown-goers, this no-frills setting for pho and rolls has its passionate fans as well as a few detractors; everyone, however, raves about the service.
QT Vietnamese Sandwich (48 N. 10th St.): This Chinatown hole in the wall has perhaps six snug seats and banh mi widely regarded as some of the best in the city.
Vietnam (221 N. 11th St.): The Lai family’s long-running Viet bar-restaurant in Chinatown turns out some of the city’s best noodle dishes and spring rolls in a mildly stylish atmosphere.
Vietnam Palace (222 N. 11th St.): Coolly modern, this Chinatown Viet bar-restaurant offers great happy-hour deals, such as $2.75 domestic beer and imports for a dollar more from 4 to 6 p.m.weekdays.