Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Craig LaBan

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I joined the Inquirer as its restaurant critic in 1998, after a stint covering the food beat for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Having eaten about 500 restaurant meals a year here ever since, I never cease to be amazed by the diversity and sophistication of Philadelphia's kitchens. To travel from its many authentic ethnic neighborhoods to the gastronomic temples of Walnut Street to its beery gastropubs, cozy BYOBs and multitude of greasy-but-great steak joints, is to know this town delivers satisfaction at every level of the food chain. Including online dish.

Live chat: Join Craig at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays in the chatroom.

Book: The Philadelphia Inquirer Restaurant Guide is available through our online store.

4 Bells: According to Craig, the best restaurants in the Philadelphia area.

Ten years in the life of a restaurant is one of the best ways to mark the evolution of a city. But few places illuminate so many changing aspects of our dining world as Lolita, where the spinning "trompo" spit stacked high with a cone of chile-spiced pork is only one of many fresh new details that intrigue me about its renovation.
Video: Lolita
Gallery: Lolita
LaBan review: The Lucky Well in Ambler
Full-service Ambler BBQ smokehouse boasts 150 whiskeys.
"Hi, I'm your server, and I'll be right back!" Well, that was quick. Our blur of a waiter was frazzled, but nice enough. And he did pause again at the table several minutes later, visibly perspiring on this bustling weekend night at the Lucky Well in Ambler. He wasn't ready yet to talk food but reassured us that a special order had been placed: At any moment, we should expect ice for our lukewarm, somewhat funky water.
Video: The Lucky Well
Gallery: The Lucky Well
Philly chef comes clean about his drug addiction

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