Friday, April 18, 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.

The region's recent brewery boom has sent waves of pale ale and wit lapping up against the Jersey Shore, too, with a bright pair of microbreweries that have debuted there within the last year. There are some striking similarities between the Cape May and Tuckahoe Brewing Companies: two groups of former home-brewers living the dream (though Tuckahoe's high school teacher-partners still have their day jobs), brewing out of garage bays in obscure industrial parks with limited distribution in local bars, and Saturday-afternoon visiting hours to fill growlers fresh (at $10 a pour, plus the reusable jug) for the thirsty public. The Cape May IPA is notable, as is Tuckahoe's smoke-tinged Steelmantown Porter. But both are also brewing some wonderfully refreshing wheats for summer — the Marshallville wit, a cloudy Belgian-style spiced with orange from Tuckahoe, and from Cape May, a creamier wheat tarted up with reduced cranberries or beach-plum fruit. Now those are truly some beers for the beach with fresh local flavor. Cape May Brewing Co., 1288 Hornet Road, Rio Grande, 609-849-9933,; Tuckahoe Brewing Co., 9 Stoney Court, Ocean View, 609-827-5375;
Craig LaBan checks out the star-chef eateries and ambitious cuisine. Here’s some advice on where to place your bets.
Video: Shore Food Guide - Part 1
Gallery: Shore Food Guide
Shore dining: What's new to see by the sea

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