Friday, February 12, 2016

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.

Among the esoteric sips available at Jet Wine Bar, one can drink Macedonian zilavka or golden Portuguese vinho branco. But owner Jill Weber's most surprising pours are coming from the under-loved-but-rising vineyards of Pennsylvania. Featured in the clever "Summer of I-76," round-robin flights of three local wines for $10, I came across a green-apple-crisp chardonnay that reaffirmed my faith, for example, in the whites of Penns Woods.
In few Philadelphia neighborhoods is the natural tension of gentrification between blue-collar old-timers and craft beer-obsessed hipsters as palpable as it is in dynamic Fishtown.

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