Saturday, December 20, 2014

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.

'Orange" wines made from white grapes that spend extended contact time with their skins (as red wines do) have become a controversial dividing line within the wine world. On one side of this resurgent ancient method popularized in northeastern Italy
The fried cow at Rosa Blanca was deliciously familiar. This twice-cooked strip of tender skirt steak - a.k.a. vaca frita - was buttery-soft from a garlicky braise, but also crispy from a pan-fried finish that crystallized all those spices (cinnamon, allspice, star anise) into the flesh. With lime-tanged onions to perk its savor, followed by an earthy forkful of black bean moros rice, it was irresistible.
Video: Rosa Blanca
Gallery: Rosa Blanca
Curtain goes up on Garces pay-in-advance restaurant

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