Craig LaBan’s Best of the ’burbs

Montgomery County’s Top Restaurants​

In and around Ambler
King of Prussia
Cheltenham to Willow Grove
Lansdale
Conshohocken
Blue Bell and beyond
Elsewhere in Montgomery County
Mapping where to eat and drink in Montgomery County
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Superior
Rare, sets regional dining standards.
Excellent
Special, excels in most every category of the dining experience.
Very Good
Interesting, with above-average food.
Hit-or-miss
Too inconsistent for a strong recommendation.
In and around Ambler
An international flavor - paella to osso buco, modern Mexican to Nashville hot chicken - has energized this downtown strip and surrounding area.
FAVORITE PICK Cantina Feliz
424 S Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, 215-646-1320, visit website
Price: $$-$$$
After six years and several spin-offs (La Calaca Feliz, Taqueria Feliz), the original Cantina in Fort Washington remains the best of the Feliz family from Brian Sirhal and chef Tim Spinner, who’ve created here one of the region’s most satisfying Nuevo Mexican dining experiences, blending a colorful, casual space with outgoing service, excellent tequila cocktails, myriad fresh guacamole variations and a menu built to please a broad audience. While the food certainly caters to suburban American tastes, Spinner, a Garces alum, creates dishes that are rooted in classic, no-shortcut preparations updated with polished style and great ingredients, from excellent ceviches to the tender steak grilled al carbon with fresh tortillas, awesome fish tacos, and delicate black bass over creamy poblano rice with crab. And yes, Cantina also makes my favorite nachos, an imposing but irresistible tortilla montaña that’s intricately built, where every chip has a tasty salsa, pickled chile, soft frijole, trickling river of molten cheese or tender morsel of smoky brisket that seems to be calling my name. Cantina has proven to be one of the most consistent winners in the suburbs. It has continuously evolved and improved (now with soundproofing to dampen the margarita-fuled noise) — enough to step up to 3 bells.
555 Lagiola
10 W. Butler Pike, Ambler, 267-460-8842, visit website
Price: $$
There are suddenly two Spanish restaurants on Ambler’s main street, and while Vida & Comida has a crisper modern style, the rustic little BYOB called 555 Lagiola was decisively superior in back-to-back meals. Italian chef-owner Antonio Rondinelli, who learned his craft well while working in San Sebastián, serves-up a traditional array of tapas, from platters of rich jamon Ibérico sliced to order off the bone, to imported Spanish cheeses, stellar octopus, tender garlicky shrimp, and one of the best paellas I’ve eaten in the region, rich with the flavors of house-made chorizo, delicately cooked seafood and tender of chicken on the bone.
Po Le Cucina
805 N. Bethlehem Pike, Lower Gwynedd Township, 267-663-7204, visit website
Price: $$$
Don’t let chef Po Le’s country of origin fool you. Since coming to America from Vietnam in 1982, he has worked almost exclusively in Italian kitchens, from Il Gallo Nero to La Veranda and then San Marco, where over 14 years he worked his way up to executive chef. So when, at age 53, he finally achieved the lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant four years ago, it was no surprise that this charming little self-named BYOB (just down the street from San Marco) was serving some of the Italian classics he’s been refining for decades. Perfectly moist clams Casino are scented with bacon. Silky pappardelle wrap around braised duck ragù. Le’s osso buco is one of the best I’ve had, the huge shank braised to a sublime tenderness over risotto enriched with veal’s natural gravy.

But Po Le is also an excellent place to order a whole fish like fresh Dover sole, which came expertly pan-seared with a lemony caper olive oil sauce. And then, of course, there are the pastries, which Le’s family, who warmly run the dining room, will explain harken back to his early days as a pastry chef for Susanna Foo. The mille-feuille, for example, layers seasonal fruit with rich crème chibouste into flaky layers of house made puff pastry. And it’s a dish that has a timeless appeal when homemade — not unlike this unexpected BYOB, which exudes the kind of personal pride and familiar warmth that can make dinner here memorable.
Southern Belle 2.0
700 Bethlehem Pike, Erdenheim, 215-233-2316, visit website
Price: $$
Good Southern food is so hard to find around here that I’ve stopped insisting on strict authenticity. And to be fair, chef Tim Thomas doesn’t pretend to adhere rigidly to tradition at the pair of Southern Belles he’s opened with partners Jose and Jennifer Vargas. Southern inspiration is more like it, as well as the soul food traditions Thomas grew up on in Nicetown. But most importantly, this veteran of the Vargas restaurant group knows how to give his food a generosity of Creole flavors with subtle hints of seasonal creativity, from the spice-dusted shrimp over cheesy grits, to zesty okra stew, crispy vegan fritters of black-eyed peas over sautéed eggplant, tender ribs and a meaty crab cake with corn maque choux. The cash-only Jenkintown original is an intimate 26-seat BYOB addition to the neighborhood, with a decadent mac and cheese not to be missed. The double-sized Erdenheim space accepts credit cards but also benefits from a partnership with Cardinal Hollow winery, whose license allows them to also pour local beer and spirits. Good thing. You’ll need a cold glass of brew to tame Thomas’ version of Nashville hot chicken that’s exclusive to this location. This buttermilk-fried bird is set over a thick slice of bread smeared with smoked paprika rémoulade and then glazed in the red shine of a chile-Sriracha oil so spicy that one customer needed to take his shirt off. If that isn’t a vote of approval, I don’t know what is.
Dettera
129 E Butler Ave., Ambler, 215-643-0111, visit website
Price: $$$
This swank bi-level restaurant outfitted with mahogany, a long curving bar, multiple fireplaces, an outdoor patio, and more than 40 wines by the glass (plus 200 bottles) is Ambler’s most sophisticated dining destination. The cocktails also are impressive (try the brandied riff on an Old Fashioned). But it’s the stylish New American menu from talented exec-chef Jeffrey Power that really drew me back; fine homemade pastas (like the silky agnolotti stuffed with braised beef), artisan meat and cheese boards, pizzas, and ambitious seasonal entrées. A perfectly charred “zucchini steak” over pureed yellow tomato sauce, smoked tomatoes, and Castle Valley grits was one of the better vegetarian dishes I ate all summer.
Zakes Cakes and Cafe
444 S. Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, 215-654-7600, visit website
Price: $$
A devoted lunch crowd fills the rambling dining rooms and sunny porch of this Victorian stone house near the Fort Washington train station, lured by the bountiful salads, deep-dish quiches, and sandwiches, from house-roasted turkey with Brie to an excellent Cubano. The real menu gems have an unexpected Asian flair, including the Saigon rolls, Vietnamese beef and mango salad, and a Thai salmon salad with peanut sauce. For dessert, go for one of the cakes that harken back to the mid-1990s when Marlene Zakes and her brother, Joseph McFadden, started as a bakery. An ambitious dinner service was added a couple years ago.
Arpeggio
1101 N. Bethlehem Pike, Spring House, 215-646-5055, visit website
Price: $$-$$$
There are few spaces in the suburbs as impressive as the new location for Arpeggio, the 22-year-old Italian-Med BYOB that owners Mary Gigliotti Collum and Hamdy Khalil just moved across the parking lot of the Spring House Village Center. Their new spot is a big contemporary dining room with soaring 24-foot ceilings and a 50-seat deck overlooking the valley. And despite the fancy new setting (with wine lockers even!) the service is down to earth and personal. And the expansive menu still has an almost diner-esque reach with a something-for-everyone approach, ranging from wood-fired pizzas (try the Palermo) to pastas and simply cooked fresh fish. I favor the Middle Eastern flavors that speak to Khalil’s Egyptian roots, especially the sesame-crusted falafel and baba ghanoush on the combo platter, flaky spanakopita, and marinated chicken shish taouk skewers served with fresh-baked pita.
Forest & Main
61 N. Main St., Ambler, 215-542-1776, visit website
This rambling old house just off Ambler's main strip is the source for some of the region's most lyrical barrel-aged saisons, including some made with wild yeast harvested from cherry blossoms in the front yard, as well as outstanding bitters and IPAs. F&M seems to have lost much interest in being a dining destination, though, with a pub menu that is increasingly limited, inconsistently executed, and served by a young staff that simply didn't seem to care that our meal was off.
Bánh Street
832 N. Bethlehem Pike, Ambler, 626-2698; 832, visit website
Price: $
This take-out shack with patio tables serving fusion take on classic Vietnamese bánh mi hoagies is perhaps an unlikely concept from TV celeb chef Chad Rosenthal, who’s best known for American barbecue at Ambler’s Lucky Well. But it’s my favorite project from him to date, as each of these crusty baguette sandwiches is made warm to order with fresh ingredients that pop: pickled carrots and daikon, plumes of cilantro, creamy liver pâté (a supplemental add-on, but essential), full-flavored proteins, and punny names (Simon Le Bánh garlic chicken; Al Báhndy spicy rib eye). It is pure coincidence my favorite happens to be the grilled pork meatball hoagie called … the Craig LaBánh. (Really) The Ambler branch has the added draw of Korean fried chicken.
Saffron Indian Kitchen
60 E Butler Ave, Ambler, 484-278-4112, visit website
Price: $$
There are a number of Indian chains vying for the tandoori dollars of the Philly suburbs, and the Saffron group is one that consistently serves a broad menu that hits a nice middle place between authentic Indian flavors and milder American tastes. At a recent visit to the golden-hued Bala location, we enjoyed the fluffy-centered samosas, comforting yellow dal, tender bone-in tandoori chicken sizzling over onions on a steel platter, and the wafer-like curl of a masala dosa with funky sambar and coconut chutney dips for a convincing South Indian touch. The chana masala chickpea stew managed to be vividly flavored without being imposingly spicy. The typically spicy lamb vindaloo was one noticeably under-powered disappointment. But the specials are often rewarding, and that night's offering did not let me down, an unusual trio of minced chicken patties lit with Indian spice and a refreshing raita yogurt drizzle.
Blue Bell and beyond
A gastropub goes country, a solo chef picks his own veggies, Blue Bell hits and the sandwich traditions of Montgomery County.
FAVORITE PICK The Butcher & Barkeep
712 Main St., Harleysville, 267-932-8407, visit website
Price: $-$
Can you imagine a bumping Northern Liberties-style gastropub slipped into a quiet retail strip “out in the sticks”? That’s exactly what Standard Tap alums Cody Ferdinand and Gerard Angelini have created at the Butcher & Barkeep in Harleysville, channeling that “city vibe by turning the lights down low and the music up.” They’ve also loaded the 21-tap draft system (plus a vast list of bottles) with one of the best beer selections in the suburbs covering local, esoteric and international stars. But this is more than a beer bar. I had some of the best craft cocktails of my summer here, including a perfect Boulevardier softened by the vanilla oak of weeks in a barrel. Next time, I’ll be stepping up to the boozy pyrotechnics of a North Country Fair, a bourbon-apple jack and Cynar concoction that gets smoked to order with a star anise pod. Killer Bloody Mary’s anchor the chicken-and-waffles Sunday brunch.

All the great libations are only part of the reason 550 people can cycle through its spacious series of barn-like dining rooms on a busy Saturday. Chef Jeff Sacco has created a neighborhood-friendly menu with bold flavors that adds up to an admirably affordable experience for the quality, with fresh takes on (fairly large) small plates almost entirely under $15 (the confit of rabbit hits $17), rotating meat and cheese boards, sandwiches built with scratch meats (house-corned beef for the Reuben), and a frequent Southern flair, from the decadent shrimp and grits with tasso ham and andouille pepper cream, to tender St. Louis ribs and a convincing shrimp gumbo over dirty rice. A thick slice of cashew-crusted mahi mahi over sweet potatoes ringed by chive cream was both creative and a stellar value at $14. But the can’t-miss dish here, no doubt, is the “sexy fries,” a mountain of fresh cut, excellent frites tossed in truffled hollandaise and shaved Parmesan with the crunchy lift of scallions. It is such a no-holds-barred decadent mess that resistance is futile. Yes, “sex” can sell French fries in a strip mall. But it’s really the complete package of the right concept in the most unlikely place that makes the Butcher & Barkeep one of the region’s great neighborhood restaurants.
Henry’s Café And Fine Groceries
20 S Charlotte St., Pottstown, 610-326-0069, visit website
Price: $$$
You’ll need to set aside a few hours if you plan to dine at Henry’s Café, which is neck and neck with Maize (in Perkasie) for the title of Slowest Restaurant That’s Worth the Bother. But it’s understandable once you realize that chef Frank Raski—who named the place for his favorite author, O. Henry—is feverishly working solo behind the glass-walled kitchen at this eccentric Pottstown storefront, surveying the dark dining room strung with Christmas lights in between the frequent pyrotechnics of flambee fireballs at his stove.

Raski’s regulars, who show up with coolers of craft beer and cases of BYO wine, are thoroughly down with Henry’s quirks, including its cash-only policy and limited hours for weekend-only dinners. An advanced request for one of his antipasto platters to tide them over helps. It’s not everywhere the chef picks his own vegetables each morning at a neighboring farm for the blackboard menu that changes daily. But most importantly, Raski, who worked at Taquet among other stops, cooks with a zest for big flavors and good ingredients that pays off with satisfying, homey plates that are particularly strong with seafood.

Sweet corn and bits of slab bacon from Foresta’s Country Meat Market in Phoenixville anchored a summer chowder brimming with sweet crab. The fish and chips he started making at his first location, at a flea market in Limerick, are still a coveted special. Big fillets of fancier fish, like dorade, come seared beneath a brothy wine sauce touched with basil. Thick Chilean seabass arrives over brown buttered leeks. A Hungarian pork stew is a soulful nod to Raski’s time at Budapest’s legendary Café Gerbeaud—though this dish was rather expensive, at $32, considering the portion. Henry’s isn’t cheap. But oh, those spicy mussels would bring me back no matter what. Raski layers the red sauce for those mussels with so many shades of spice—crushed chiles, dried anchos, two kinds of Thai curry paste and garlic, tempered with just a sweet kiss of agave-that I’d simply open up another bottle of cold beer, toast a table of new friends, and wait however long it takes.
Radice
722 W. DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, 610-272-5700, visit website
Price: $$
Not much has changed in the seven years since I last visited the whitewashed dining room and domed wood-fired hearth of Radice, the Blue Bell ode to rustic Italian flavors from chef-partner Donna Ewanciw, Claire DiLullo, and Toto Schiavone. In this case, that’s a good thing. The team behind Moonstruck in the Northeast (plus Toto and DiLullo Centro before that) has been producing some of the most elegant and distinctive Italian food in the suburbs, from soulful bean soup to tender lamb ragù over pappardelle, crispy risotto cakes stuffed with minced scallops and butternut squash, and a moist hunk of grilled swordfish over saffron risotto. Slow-cooked pork, beef and veal ribs are favorites from a previous visit, as well as the elegantly thin-layered eggplant Parm. Only the pizzas remain a shade less than exceptional, given the context of the region’s recent pizza revolution. But with a professional and outgoing service staff, an affordable wine list focused on regional Italian bottles, and those exceptional dessert cannoli made from delicate pastry tubes as thin as wafers, Radice remains one of Blue Bell’s best bets for a satisfying meal.
Blue Bell Inn
601 W Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, 215-646-2010, visit website
Price: $$$
One of the oldest dining destinations in the region, with 18th-century roots — and a conservative crowd that once gave this place the nickname “Blue Hair Inn” — has been gorgeously revamped by its current ownership into an elegant blend of old and new, with a gracious patio space ringed by a dining room with roll-up garage doors (good for live music), a lively bar for the martini crowd (plus a not-bad list of local brews), and an updated American menu focused on the raw bar and chops. I was glad to see the fried oysters remain as a tribute to tradition. A juicy burger, flavorful lobster roll in citrus aioli, and crisp seafood wedge salad topped with huge shrimp cocktail and lumps of crab were all satisfying, despite landing on the pricey side.
Eve’s Lunch
318 Johnson Highway, Norristown, 610-277-6600, visit website
Price: $
A zep is like a hoagie, but it’s not. It’s more like the South Philly hoagie’s Norristown cousin. But there are a few rules that define it. It comes on a roll that’s a little wider and longer than a typical hoagie (like the popular current choice from Conshohocken Bakery), and yes, its shape evokes a zeppelin. You don’t mix meats (cooked Hatfield salami is standard at Eve’s Lunch, though the tuna fish salad is a sleeper hit). The onion and tomato are cut extra thick. There’s a nice zesty smear of hot pepper relish.

And there’s absolutely never, ever any lettuce: “Not allowed on the premises,” says Anthony Mashett, whose mother Eve (Scirica) Mashett, bought their sandwich shop in 1965. “because then you’re getting into hoagie territory.” And if you’re lucky, Josephine Wieber will make it. With half a century behind Eve’s counter, there may be no more experienced sandwich master in the region, which is why I take as gospel her explanation for hand-slicing every onion and tomato to order: “You want all the vegetables’ juices to go straight into that sandwich.” It worked for me, as that hand-cut onion tasted extra sweet and crunchy (who needs iceberg, anyway?), with a juicy tomato boost elevated by a finishing touch of dried oregano that gave this zep’s flavor a powerfully satisfying resonance.
Woojung
1017 Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, 610-272-2869, visit website
Price: $$-$$$
The good sushi karma of the original Bluefin space has transferred nicely to its latest tenants in this cozy family-run BYOB, where quality fish and a hint of creativity have cultivated loyal fans. There are often premium fish behind the counter for aficionados seeking live scallop sashimi, or a whole mackerel served three ways — sashimi, ngiri over rice, and with its dramatically presented bones fried into an edible skeleton cracker. But the crowds come for the signature “Kiss” creations, including the smoky-sweet Kiss of Smoke and a Kiss of Fire tempura shrimp roll topped with a brûléed mince of fish so spicy (at just a “3”!) it left my lips happily numb.
Ye Olde Ale House
405 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, 610-825-2469, visit website
Price: $
There are basically three good reasons to visit this old school tavern: hot beef sandwiches hand-carved from a huge roast sitting in a pool of juices behind the counter; a seat alongside friendly Lafayette Hillers at the big wrap-around bar for Eagles games; and the hot beef sandwiches. Did I mention the hot beef sandwiches? Order something else at your peril. The tender and deeply flavored beef, though, is worth the trip, especially with an extra cup of juices on the side for dipping and a draft of good local brew.
El Limon
1000 Sandy Hill Rd, Norristown, 610-567-0120, visit website
Price: $
This fast-growing chain with roots in the Mexican state of Michoacan has appeared at the perfect moment in our region's Mexican education. The local taqueria scene has grown rapidly in Philly over the past 15 years, and enough mainstream audiences now crave the authentic flavors of an al pastor taco wrapped in the earthy softness of fresh corn tortillas, that the Americanized polish of, say, a Chipotle, is no longer required to win a devoted following. And that's exactly what El Limon delivers, a collection of pleasant but utilitarian dining rooms paired with consistent taqueria fare built on fresh ingredients, bold flavors and traditional ideas. These kitchens do an excellent job with all the classic meats-al pastor, carnitas and smoky chicken tinga. I've been especially impressed with the hand-pressed sopes, the simple freshness of the marinated shrimp tacos, the crackly crisp tostada rounds, and pretty much anything in the excellent tomatillo-tanged salsa verde.
Cheltenham to Willow Grove
Exciting Asian flavors from Korea to Vietnam plus a craft-beer newcomer are among the offerings along Rte. 611.
1333 W. Cheltenham Ave., Elkins Park, 215-782-3828, visit website
Price: $$
The name means tofu, in a nod to the bubbling bowls of spicy soondubu stew that make the signature dish. But you don’t have to be into bean curd to appreciate that this hidden gem, tucked into a surprisingly contemporary space at the back of an Elkins Park strip mall, is one of the area’s best all-around Korean restaurants. The menu covers a familiar array of authentic classics, from grilled L.A. short ribs to a stone pot bibimbap (with a wider “dolpan” bowl for more crispy rice), but with extra layers of depth, finesse, and spicy funk that set it apart. Don’t miss the mandoo or japchae and cold naengmyun noodles, excellent beef bulgogi, as well as a spicy pork variation. Bonus: with a colorful, glassed-in playroom near the entrance (with handy video monitors for parents) this is one of the more child-friendly restaurants around.
Borough Brewhouse
208 York Rd., Jenkintown, 267-636-5858, visit website
Price: $
Jenkintown has turned a brewpub disaster into redemption. The impressive industrial chic bones of a former Rolls-Royce showroom beside the Hiway Theater — which failed as Guild Hall Brewery after just four months — has been revived as an energetic outlet for Croyden’s Neshaminy Creek Brewing. The 20 taps of Neshaminy brews are reliably good (J.A.W.N., Concrete Pillow, Passive Though Kölsch, And Justice for Alt, Croyden is Burning). But now so is the food, with the team behind Revolution Taco turning out global small plates that are affordable and fun for beer-drinking nibbles, with dry-aged beef meatballs, fried chicken bao buns, some outstanding empanadas, and flatbread tossed with goat cheese and merguez.
Pho & Beyond
47 Easton Rd., Willow Grove, 215-639-3465, visit website
Price: $
This surprisingly well-appointed triangular wedge of a strip-mall dining room has become a worthy destination in the northern ‘burbs for a large menu of traditional Vietnamese cuisine, with stellar soups and a “beyond” list of highlights that include barbecued pork summer rolls in soft rice paper wrappers, refreshing “goi ga” chicken-cabbage salad lifted with citrusy fish sauce dressing and mint, plus the sweet and savory cubes of wok-tossed “shaking beef” served with salt and pepper lime dip. The pho is deservedly the signature draw, its outstanding broth full of beefy, natural flavor, tender meat and snappy noodles. The spicy pho satay, however, is my go-to bowl, with a boldly spiced and aromatic broth that also is filled with bundles of thinly shaved rib-eye that draw extra flavor and tenderness from a special marinade.
Southern Belle
700 West Ave., Jenkintown, 215-887-2961, visit website
Price: $$
Good Southern food is so hard to find around here that I’ve stopped insisting on strict authenticity. And to be fair, chef Tim Thomas doesn’t pretend to adhere rigidly to tradition at the pair of Southern Belles he’s opened with partners Jose and Jennifer Vargas. Southern inspiration is more like it, as well as the soul food traditions Thomas grew up on in Nicetown. But most importantly, this veteran of the Vargas restaurant group knows how to give his food a generosity of Creole flavors with subtle hints of seasonal creativity, from the spice-dusted shrimp over cheesy grits, to zesty okra stew, crispy vegan fritters of black-eyed peas over sautéed eggplant, tender ribs and a meaty crab cake with corn maque choux. The cash-only Jenkintown original is an intimate 26-seat BYOB addition to the neighborhood, with a decadent mac and cheese not to be missed. The double-sized Erdenheim space accepts credit cards but also benefits from a partnership with Cardinal Hollow winery, whose license allows them to also pour local beer and spirits. Good thing. You’ll need a cold glass of brew to tame Thomas’ version of Nashville hot chicken that’s exclusive to this location. This buttermilk-fried bird is set over a thick slice of bread smeared with smoked paprika rémoulade and then glazed in the red shine of a chile-Sriracha oil so spicy that one customer needed to take his shirt off. If that isn’t a vote of approval, I don’t know what is.
Bánh Street
1062 Tyson Ave., Abington, 626-2698; 832, visit website
Price: $
This take-out shack with patio tables serving fusion take on classic Vietnamese bánh mi hoagies is perhaps an unlikely concept from TV celeb chef Chad Rosenthal, who’s best known for American barbecue at Ambler’s Lucky Well. But it’s my favorite project from him to date, as each of these crusty baguette sandwiches is made warm to order with fresh ingredients that pop: pickled carrots and daikon, plumes of cilantro, creamy liver pâté (a supplemental add-on, but essential), full-flavored proteins, and punny names (Simon Le Bánh garlic chicken; Al Báhndy spicy rib eye). It is pure coincidence my favorite happens to be the grilled pork meatball hoagie called … the Craig LaBánh. (Really) The Ambler branch has the added draw of Korean fried chicken.
Conshohocken
This old mill town has reinvented itself as a hub for New American cooking and Mediterranean flavors.
FAVORITE PICK Blackfish
119 Fayette St., Conshohocken, 610-397-0888, visit website
Price: $$
Ten years ago, Chip Roman’s first bistro gave Conshohocken a sophisticated taste of the New American BYOB movement and became a trendsetter in suburban dining. After opening (then selling) several other restaurants over the years (Mica, Ela), the Fayette Street kitchen is once again Roman’s primary focus. A lovely meal this summer reminded why this Vetri and Le Bec-Fin alum’s food is still a hit, from delicate ravioli stuffed with English peas in brown butter to a tile fish caught by the chef himself over basmati and Madras curry sauce. At times, this menu can feel like an autopilot throwback to decade-old “classics” like the roulade of boneless chicken, the short rib-scallop twist on surf and turf, and beignets. But newer items, like the intense lobster ravioli topped with mild habanada chiles and a tostada piled with sweet crab, had a memorable Latin touch. The $49 Tuesday-Wednesday tasting menus built around changing themes also are especially worthwhile. A recent shellfish night featuring lemon spaghetti and shrimp in spicy ‘Nduja sauce, then gorgeous scallops with sweet corn and peppers, was a convincing reminder that Blackfish’s creative spark is still bright.
Bar Lucca
729 E. Hector St., Conshohocken, 610-825-2700, visit website
Price: $$-$$$
Brian Pieri intended to create an ode to his family’s roots in Lucca, Italy, with his first restaurant — until he got conservative and decided to go with the updated American pub that eventually became the popular Stone Rose. But Pieri returned to his affinity for Tuscany in his second act, a warm makeover for the former Totaro’s Ristorante on Hector Street (not Trattoria Totaro, still open on Spring Mill Ave.) The menu overseen by exec chef Will Langlois steers away from the red-sauce standards to more authentic-minded dishes, like the wild boar ragù; farro salad; thin-crusted Tuscan-style pizzas; and bucatini with fresh pecorino, chunks of bacon, and Calabrian peppers. Entrées take broader approach, but feature good ingredients, like the memorably tender pork chop set beneath lacy asparagus ribbons over polenta, or crisp branzino fillets set atop fregola studded with capers and sweet corn. A solid list of Italian wines, and a full bar that loves to play on the Aperol Spritz, keep the drink options affordable and on theme.
Cerdo
82 E. Elm St., Conshohocken, 610-234-0561, visit website
Price: $$-$$$
The former Isabella’s has been transformed by Brian Pieri’s crew into a Mediterranean-themed concept with an emphasis on Spanish wine and food — and, in particular, an obsession with pig. Tender wild boar ribs served roasted with harissa spice, while the wild boar burger is a dinner hit. Coveted Ibérico pig is served both as cured ham, hand-sliced onto a tasting platter with Valdéon cheese, or pan-roasted fresh to a juicy pink that has a unique richness in the world of pork. I loved the lighter lunch preparation over crunchy lettuce wraps. But chickpeas also got their due, fried into polenta-like “panella” fritters, and also crisped in the fryer and scattered over a Manchego cheese flatbread made partially with chickpea flour.
Spring Mill Café
164 Barren Hill Rd., Conshohocken, 610-828-2550, visit website
Price: $$
There are few spaces more charming than the 1831 post office and general store turned French bistro that is Spring Mill Café. Launched nearly 40 years ago by Michele Haines, the Café has history on its own as one of the region’s longest running BYOBs. The food remains classic French with a homecooked style (and an occasional North African touch). It’s particularly lovely at brunch, when sunlight fills the old rooms along with a vintage jazz soundtrack, and diners dig into croque Madames on thick-cut brioche, truffled pâté, and rustic dishes like local rabbit, slow-braised in Riesling mushroom cream over wide egg noodles.
El Limon
3 Fayette St., Conshohocken, 610-567-0120, visit website
Price: $
This fast-growing chain with roots in the Mexican state of Michoacan has appeared at the perfect moment in our region's Mexican education. The local taqueria scene has grown rapidly in Philly over the past 15 years, and enough mainstream audiences now crave the authentic flavors of an al pastor taco wrapped in the earthy softness of fresh corn tortillas, that the Americanized polish of, say, a Chipotle, is no longer required to win a devoted following. And that's exactly what El Limon delivers, a collection of pleasant but utilitarian dining rooms paired with consistent taqueria fare built on fresh ingredients, bold flavors and traditional ideas. These kitchens do an excellent job with all the classic meats-al pastor, carnitas and smoky chicken tinga. I've been especially impressed with the hand-pressed sopes, the simple freshness of the marinated shrimp tacos, the crackly crisp tostada rounds, and pretty much anything in the excellent tomatillo-tanged salsa verde.
Persian Grill
637 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, 610-825-2705, visit website
Price: $-$$
After more than three decades, the Persian Grill, founded in 1984, remains one of the region’s only reliable destinations for the distinctive flavors of Persian cuisine, from straight-up charcoal-grilled kebabs over fluffy basmati pilaf to exotic sweet-and-sour sauces vivid with aromatic (but not hot) spice, and slow-stewed delights like chicken Fesenjan. Try any of the great kebab platters (koubideh; joojeh; lamb chops; Bareh, Dandeh and Soltani), the funk aged garlic and “five-year-old relish” (torshi), or refreshing faloodeh shirazi Persian ice for dessert. My one disappointment: there was no crispy tahdig rice available at my last visit. At least the Grill has now doubled the Persian pleasure with a new second location in Hatboro.
Conshohocken Brewing Co.
739 E. Elm St., Suite B, Conshohocken, 610-897-8962, visit website
Suddenly, Conshohocken Brewing Co. is one of the region's fasting growing brewpub chains, with a pair of new locations coming soon to Havertown and Phoenixville in addition to its existing two. The original is a bare-bones former industrial space with a limited menu but a thirsty cyclist's delight, since it's perched right on the Schuylkill River Trail. The Bridgeport location is a full-on brewpub with a beer-garden view of the river and big menu, including fun tacos and the loaded "Prof" Wagyu burger that's a favorite of celebrity partner, sports radio host Glen Macnow. Most importantly, Conshy's beer quality is rising, too, with strong finishers in the Inquirer's recent Brew-vitational competition (Type A IPA, Conshohopfen Hull Melon Helles) to go along with its already excellent Puddlers Row ESB.
King of Prussia
There's more than the old mall and chains to King of Prussia.
160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, 610-768-1630, visit website
Price: $$$
Can a serious restaurant survive and thrive at the mall? Princeton’s star Scott Anderson is giving it a compelling effort with this airy King of Prussia sibling to his Central Jersey original, where a flexible menu of gorgeous plates in various sizes and diverse international influences finds a delicate balance between accessibility and modern culinary craft. Chef Craig Polignano riffs on tartare, with warm lamb and raw tuna, as well as a Thai-spiced grilled calamari show Mistral’s edgy side, while a standout burger with bacon jam, pineapple-chili-glazed chicken wings and a flatiron steak with potato pave suit more traditional tastes. Great cocktails, a focused but outstanding wine list (with a genuine somm to point out that Corsican rosé), a breezy dining room and an expansive patio view of the high-rent valet lot add to this ambitious new project’s potential as a post-shopping oasis to dine.
Creed’s Seafood And Steaks
499 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, 610-265-2550, visit website
Price: $$$
You can find pretty much any national steak-chain brand you prefer around the mall. But there’s a personal character to this independent King of Prussia survivor since the early 1980s — now thoroughly ringed on its service drive island by swanky new developments — that remains a worthy example of old-school chophouse class. Rich lobster bisque, no-nonsense lump crab cakes and excellent steaks (I splurged on the fairly-priced $42 Pennsylvania-raised one-pound rib-eye) keep the clubby dining rooms bustling with a business crowd. The two-course $17 lunch deal is an added incentive.
Pin Wei
314C S. Henderson Rd., King of Prussia, 610-768-5888, visit website
Price: $$
Gary and Yeng Kuo’s elegant strip-mall surprise is a destination for authentic Sichuan cuisine, from the sesame-rich dandan noodles to dumplings in orange oil that simmer with numbing anise spice. The heat levels here are relatively moderate compared with other Sichuan locales, but the aromatic flavors still were vivid in the double-cooked pork and cumin lamb. For milder dishes, don’t miss the semi-boneless whole fish fried into pinecone-like nubs, and a rustic chicken-ginseng soup with wolf berries that was positively medicinal.
Choolaah Indian Bbq
155 Main Street Suit 120, King of Prussia, 800-459-8860, visit website
Price: $
The tandoor meets Chipotle in this colorful and contemporary Indian twist on the quick-serve trend, which just opened in the chain hub of the new “neighborhood” of King of Prussia Town Center. Mix-and-match BBQ proteins over basmati rice bowls with the masala sauce of your choice and pair it with a spice-dusted naan flatbread baked fresh in one of the four orange drum-shaped tandoor ovens set behind glass in the open kitchen. I was impressed with the food, for around $10 a meal, which tones down the base heat of dishes but not the aromatic spicing. Ground lamb kebabs, tender chicken, and a number of the masala curries were worthy, especially the black lentil stew, channa chickpea, and yellow lentil dal. (The tikka masala was thin.) This is the first branch of this small national chain in the Philly region, but I wouldn’t be sorry if there were more.
Davio’s
King of Prussia Town Center, 200 Main St., King of Prussia, 610-337-4810, visit website
Price: $$$$
I have mixed feelings about the newest Davio’s, which is an awkward blend of steak-house luxury and populist kitsch. Its vast contemporary space is an impressive centerpiece for the new King of Prussia Town Center’s faux-village square, and the prime-grade “natural-aged” New York strip was one the best steaks I ate all year. The Italian fare is better than average. But the service is cloyingly over-personal. And the best-selling starters are prefab freezer-to-fryer cheesesteak spring rolls (available for sale in the lobby!) Ultimately, I was most impressed by Davio’s casual next door Galleria caffé, where paninis, salads, and good espresso make for daily quick bites, and some of the best gelati in the ‘burbs (try the pistachio) are made in house.
Davio’s Galleria
King of Prussia Town Center, 150 Main St., King of Prussia, 610-337-4810, visit website
Price: $$$$
I have mixed feelings about the newest Davio’s, which is an awkward blend of steak-house luxury and populist kitsch. Its vast contemporary space is an impressive centerpiece for the new King of Prussia Town Center’s faux-village square, and the prime-grade “natural-aged” New York strip was one the best steaks I ate all year. The Italian fare is better than average. But the service is cloyingly over-personal. And the best-selling starters are prefab freezer-to-fryer cheesesteak spring rolls (available for sale in the lobby!) Ultimately, I was most impressed by Davio’s casual next door Galleria caffé, where paninis, salads, and good espresso make for daily quick bites, and some of the best gelati in the ‘burbs (try the pistachio) are made in house.
Lansdale
This promising little downtown suddenly has all the makings of a perfect ecosystem - a brewery, a coffee roaster, a distillery, and a great corner restaurant featuring them all.
Stove & Tap
329 W. Main St., Lansdale, 215-393-8277, visit website
Price: $$
In a part of Montgomery County particularly dominated by chains, few restaurants have done as good a job of reinventing the neighborhood tavern with quality ingredients as much as this massive, bi-level corner project from two alums of the Stephen Starr orbit. Co-owner Justin Weathers and chef Benjamin “Biff” Gottehrer both worked at the Dandelion, and while the plan here is to update American comfort foods with scratch cooking and creative twists, there is a similar aura of a thoughtfully updated neighborhood pub, from the outgoing professional service to a versatile vibe that’s suitable for a casual date, football nights at the bar, or a family dinner.

There are chicken wings, but they’ve been smoked then slow-poached in schmaltz beforehand. Tender brisket — also smoked, then confit-cooked in its own fat — features prominently in a hearty take on poutine, mac and cheese, and elsewhere. There are lighter dishes, too, like the smoked tomato soup, the delicately grilled shrimp with garlic conserva, and some ambitious seafood specials. But heartier indulgences are the draw, including a juicy fried chicken with fresh Parker House rolls; a smoked chicken pot pie; and a nearly perfect double-pattied ode to the Big Mac, but with short rib-brisket patties and secret sauce that are so much better. The burger is one of the best in the ‘burbs. The local pride also runs deep with drinks, both at the bar where some beers and spirits are made in Lansdale, and the coffee pot, whose dark brew is roasted at Backyard Beans right across the street.
Round Guys Brewing Co.
324 W. Main St., Lansdale, 215-368-2640, visit website
Price: $
Downtown Lansdale’s blue-collar crowd has embraced Round Guys as a friendly hub for adventure brews, Quizzo, and brazenly indulgent eats. Go for “All the Beer” — couple of planks laden with 17 small pours — for the full range of Scott Rudich’s prolific creativity, from bretty creations and hoppy IPAs to fruit-kissed saisons and Rudich’s Brewvitational-winning Berliner. The heavy menu can be “round guy”-friendly to a fault, with a cheesy chopped Italian sausage-ground beef meat bomb (the Hasselhoff), myriad spaetzle riffs, and a local Bespoke Bacon platter worth indulging. There is “hipster hummus,” though, for a lighter touch.
Backyard Beans
408 W. Main St., Lansdale, 610-442-0899, visit website
One of the region’s rising coffee roasters graduated this spring from a wholesale-only warehouse to a bright café space downtown, where regulars come for the boldly roasted “Punch In the Face,” a chocolaty organic Honduran that’s become popular iced on nitro (now in cans!) A partnership with Round Guys Brewing across the street has added wine, beer and spirits to the mix — as well as The Underground, a lively concert space in the basement.
Boardroom Spirits
575 W 3rd St., Lansdale, 267-642-9961, visit website
Drink your vegetables and do your ABCs at this unique distillery that specializes in transforming produce into vivid spirits, from B (made from beets) to C (pure carrot), which local bartenders have found to be a source of great creativity. Vodkas infused with cranberry, ginger, and citrus are prized by local bartenders for their natural flavors without the typical added sweetness.
Elsewhere in Montgomery County
Elsewhere
FAVORITE PICK Farm & Fisherman Tavern
575 Horsham Rd., Horsham, 267-673-8974, visit website
Price: $-$$$
Can real food - seasonal, local, scratch-made, and creatively presented - survive in the suburbs in a way that feels accessible to a wide audience weaned on chains? The answer is yes. And co-chefs and co-owners Josh Lawler and Todd Fuller have cracked the code, transitioning from their fine-dining backgrounds to create a perfect neighborhood restaurant with their second edition of F&F Tavern.

This Pennsylvania counterpart to the South Jersey original feels more polished than Cherry Hill from the get-go, with refined recipes and ingredient sourcing, informed service, a wide-ranging drink program built on local craft beer and produce-forward cocktails (arugula gimlet anyone?), and a diverse American menu that delivers quality at every level, from garlicky roast pork sandwiches to seafood specials and homemade desserts - and with a greater sense of value than ever.

Lawler says their local produce costs about 30 percent more than what he could get from a Sysco truck, with a lack of standardization that often requires more skilled prep. But the multihued tomatoes burst with the juicy payoff of a nearby farm's summer ripeness, scattered atop creamy burrata streaked with balsamic.

And the value is still here: You can get out of happy hour with an outstanding burger and local beer for less than $10, a gorgeous crab cake full of sweet-lump crustacean for $15, or linger over a hearty plate of juicy Berkshire pork chops with creamed local sweet corn flecked with shishito peppers for $23.

The fritters might change daily on the must-order "Breads & Spreads" starter platter (ours were filled with quinoa bound with moist eggplant), but there's always a fresh-baked pita ringed by smoked paprika hummus, tangy red pepper romesco dip, chickpea fries, and pickles. Juicy hay-baked chicken, tender ribs glazed in birch beer barbecue sauce, and 24-hour onion fresh-made chips are other hits.

One can also serve a family of four for $40 with the nightly comfort-food takeout "bundles." The Monday fried chicken special, which pairs a whole bird with biscuits, two sides, and a dessert (doughnut holes with caramel!) was one of the most satisfying quality food values I've devoured all year.
Persian Grill
802 S. York Rd., Hatboro, 215-394-8814, visit website
Price: $-$$
After more than three decades, the Persian Grill, founded in 1984, remains one of the region’s only reliable destinations for the distinctive flavors of Persian cuisine, from straight-up charcoal-grilled kebabs over fluffy basmati pilaf to exotic sweet-and-sour sauces vivid with aromatic (but not hot) spice, and slow-stewed delights like chicken Fesenjan. Try any of the great kebab platters (koubideh; joojeh; lamb chops; Bareh, Dandeh and Soltani), the funk aged garlic and “five-year-old relish” (torshi), or refreshing faloodeh shirazi Persian ice for dessert. My one disappointment: there was no crispy tahdig rice available at my last visit. At least the Grill has now doubled the Persian pleasure with a new second location in Hatboro.
Ben & Irv’s
1962 County Line Rd., Huntingdon Valley, 215-355-2000, visit website
Price: $-$$
It’s hard to argue with the long lines that queue up on weekends, brush up on their Yiddish from the wall posters (don’t eat like a “Chazar!”), and linger over a feast of smoked fish and well-schmeared bagels. I was less impressed by the Reuben, a sloppily built open-face mess. But the matzo ball soup? Oy! With golden beads of chicken fat glistening atop its natural broth and a matzo ball that was the perfect balance of firmness and fluff, it is easily one of my favorites.
Corropolese Bakery & Deli
2014 Old Arch Rd., East Norriton, 610-275-6664, visit website
Price: $
It might look like pizza, but this region’s peculiar no-cheese variation on “tomato pie” is a beloved food group unto itself, a Sicilian-thick rectangle of pan-roasted dough smeared with a thick layer of zesty tomato sauce, best eaten at room temp. I’ve had many fine renditions from suburban bakeries like Carlino’s (with chunky, basil-laced sauce) and Conshohocken Bakery (a little sweet). But my tomato pie gold standard remains Corropolese Bakery: the fully pureed sauce and springy crust meld at the center to form a ribbon of dough thoroughly soaked with tomato that adds extra zing to each bite.
Karamoor
, Fort Washington, 215-641-0233, visit website
Is there such a thing as Fort Washington terroir? The passion project of Nick and Athena Karabots and winemaker Kevin Robinson is proof positive as Karamoor has fast become one of the region's most consistently polished wineries, with award-winning takes on Bordeaux grapes like cab franc and petit verdot, merlot and blended Meritage. Mostly available retail and in restaurants, but a tasting room on the gorgeous estate is apparently in the works.
Manatawny Still Works
320 Circle of Progress Dr. #104, Pottstown, 484-624-8271, visit website
This shiny distillery and tasting room was built for a crowd. Across from Sly Fox Brewery, also owned by John Giannopoulos, it has made great quality strides, especially with its aged spirits. The limited-edition series of unique small batch whiskeys is especially worth seeking out.
Pumpernick’s Deli
917 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales, 215-393-5800, visit website
Price: $
The standards are solid enough at this northern outpost for a deli fix, from the fresh turkey special to a grilled corned beef Rachel (with coleslaw instead of kraut) that was hard to stop eating, despite the fact the meat was sliced far thinner than I prefer. The standout flavors here were the crispy-edged potato pancakes — the centers a nice blend of pureed and chunky textures — and a mushroom barley soup flecked with tiny bits of carrot that remind why that hearty soup is often a sleeper hit. Also, since when did delis start serving craft beer? Pastrami tastes better washed down with Golden Monkey.
Saffron Indian Kitchen
145 Montgomery Ave., Bala Cynwyd, 484-278-4112, visit website
Price: $$
There are a number of Indian chains vying for the tandoori dollars of the Philly suburbs, and the Saffron group is one that consistently serves a broad menu that hits a nice middle place between authentic Indian flavors and milder American tastes. At a recent visit to the golden-hued Bala location, we enjoyed the fluffy-centered samosas, comforting yellow dal, tender bone-in tandoori chicken sizzling over onions on a steel platter, and the wafer-like curl of a masala dosa with funky sambar and coconut chutney dips for a convincing South Indian touch. The chana masala chickpea stew managed to be vividly flavored without being imposingly spicy. The typically spicy lamb vindaloo was one noticeably under-powered disappointment. But the specials are often rewarding, and that night's offering did not let me down, an unusual trio of minced chicken patties lit with Indian spice and a refreshing raita yogurt drizzle.
Sang Kee Asian Bistro
339 E. Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood, 610-658-0618, visit website
Price: $-$$
Michael Chow's family and their Chinatown Sang Kee noodle machine have gone through a robust suburban expansion, branching out on both sides of the river with polished takes on the Hong Kong-style duck house. Each one varies a little bit. But the large original suburban locale in Wynnewood remains my favorite, with an expansive modern dining room for authentic Cantonese dim-sum, big bowls of restorative soup, ginger-scallion noodles, roast pork and the Peking duck rolls that are an essential, easy-to-devour nod to the restaurant's signature specialty. I have also enjoyed the smaller Cherry Hill BYOB branch, which served a wide range of Sang Kee's specialties, including its distinctive shrimp dumpling noodle soup, watercress dumplings, braised beef noodles, and chicken stir-fried with chive blossoms and tangy, dark XO sauce.
Sly Fox Tastin' Room
Pottstown Airport Business Center, 331 Circle of Progress Dr., Pottstown, 484-300-4644, visit website
Wings, burgers, and fried stuff in buckets at this predictable sports-bar-style venue in Phoenixville don't really do justice to the excellence and character of the beers from one of the region's finest breweries. Best to keep it simple with pizzas and pork sliders at the "Tastin' Room" at the Pottstown brewery, where the Pikeland Pils, Royal Weisse, Saison VOS and O'Reilly's Stout are as fresh as they get.
Weinrich Bakery
55 Easton Rd., Willow Grove, 215-659-7062, visit website
There's nothing particularly flashy about this nearly old bakery, founded in 1919. But Weinrich's reliably produces the kind of baked sweets a Willow Grove kid can grow up on - an array of butter cookies in every shape and shade, and especially good classic cakes, including an off-the-shelf standard filled with impressively moist layers of vanilla and chocolate sponge, and custom orders you can watch from a little observation perch (we saw an elephant taking shape) limited only by the customer's imagination and budget.
Han Dynasty
70 Buckwalter Rd., Royersford, (610) 792-9600, visit website
Price: $-$$
Han Chiang gave Center City Philly a thrilling wake-up to true Sichuan spice at his original Old City spot-and helped spark the trend towards more authentic regional Chinese cooking in the region. Now that he's expanded to eight locations, including two in New York, it's easy to forget it all began in the Philly suburbs, in particular in Exton, where Han's mom still runs the show (and the Lions Head meatballs are always on the menu. The overall experiences vary a bit too much to universally maintain the original 3-bell rating. But with a menu that allows patrons to customize the proteins and spice levels for 14 classic styles, Han Dynasty remains the region's standard for exciting Sichuan flavors, from the ultimate dandan noodles to fiery wings and cumin lamb dialed up to a "10.
El Limon
451 W Ridge Pike, Royersford, 610-567-0120, visit website
Price: $
This fast-growing chain with roots in the Mexican state of Michoacan has appeared at the perfect moment in our region's Mexican education. The local taqueria scene has grown rapidly in Philly over the past 15 years, and enough mainstream audiences now crave the authentic flavors of an al pastor taco wrapped in the earthy softness of fresh corn tortillas, that the Americanized polish of, say, a Chipotle, is no longer required to win a devoted following. And that's exactly what El Limon delivers, a collection of pleasant but utilitarian dining rooms paired with consistent taqueria fare built on fresh ingredients, bold flavors and traditional ideas. These kitchens do an excellent job with all the classic meats-al pastor, carnitas and smoky chicken tinga. I've been especially impressed with the hand-pressed sopes, the simple freshness of the marinated shrimp tacos, the crackly crisp tostada rounds, and pretty much anything in the excellent tomatillo-tanged salsa verde.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
785 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, , visit website
Price: $$-$$$
With 13 locations in three states (including one in the works for Center City), America's seventh-largest brewpub chain has earned national kudos for its polished dark wood decor and ability to balance well-crafted core beers with creative specials from talented individual brewers. They're comfortable and accessible, with food that's generally better than at most chains, even if the huge menu sometimes panders to trends (pumpkin sriracha wings; dandan noodles) and falls back on too much sweetness (ahi tuna salad) for my taste. I've enjoyed the fish tacos and jaegerschnitzel. And service is reliably informative about the beers, which always offer edgier offerings to balance reliable classics like Pig Iron Porter.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
1460 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales, , visit website
Price: $$-$$$
With 13 locations in three states (including one in the works for Center City), America's seventh-largest brewpub chain has earned national kudos for its polished dark wood decor and ability to balance well-crafted core beers with creative specials from talented individual brewers. They're comfortable and accessible, with food that's generally better than at most chains, even if the huge menu sometimes panders to trends (pumpkin sriracha wings; dandan noodles) and falls back on too much sweetness (ahi tuna salad) for my taste. I've enjoyed the fish tacos and jaegerschnitzel. And service is reliably informative about the beers, which always offer edgier offerings to balance reliable classics like Pig Iron Porter.
Sabrina’s Cafe
50 Wynnewood Rd, Wynnewood, 484-412-8790, visit website
Philadelphia's fast-growing funky brunch chainlet has brought its updated diner fare and over-stuffed French toast to the historic tin roof bones of the former Woolworths store, which, if you can stand the noise, is a fun spot to bridge the breakfast-lunch divide. I generally resist Sabrina's fondness for goofy pile-it-on combo specials, and lean more towards reliable classics like the Mel's chicken cutlet sandwich, Islander grilled tuna sandwich, Southwest Buffalo chicken cobb salad, big omelets, and breakfast items with a Mexican twist, like the Barking Chihuahua and huevos Rancheros.
RESTAURANT CRITIC: CRAIG LABAN FOOD EDITOR: MAUREEN FITZGERALD PHOTOGRAPHY: DAVID SWANSON PRODUCTION & DESIGN: GARLAND POTTS VISUALS EDITOR: FRANK WIESE COPY CHIEF: ALISON SMITH INTERNS: ASHLEY GRAEF, THEA APPLEBAUM LICHT PHOTO EDITOR: MICHAEL MERCANTI
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