School is back in session. Students big and small have returned to the classroom, and a slew of new college students have arrived in Philadelphia.
We asked food critic Craig LaBan to recommend places for college students to visit to best get to know the dining scene of their new city, though the student-friendly prices will appeal to local diners, too.
Craig LaBan: These undergrads have no idea how lucky they are. They’re not just arriving in one of America’s best eating cities, they’ve arrived in one that specializes in serving serious flavors at stellar values. They can get a satisfying first taste of some of our star chefs at student-friendly prices with entry-level concepts like Michael Solomonov’s Dizengoff and Federal Donuts (book Zahav well ahead for the parents), Pizzeria Vetri, and the international vegan creativity of V Street before stepping up to its sophisticated sibling Vedge. But there are also great neighborhoods beyond University City and Temple that these new Philadelphians should know. For a budget-friendly taste of lively East Passyunk Avenue, try the British meat pies at Stargazy, or the authentic Malaysian skewers at Sate Kampar. Explore the old-school flavors of the historic Italian Market at Villa di Roma and the original Di Bruno Bros., where you can sample cheese and olives. Also, don’t miss the neighborhood’s growing community of taquerias – Mole Poblano’s mole tamales and El Compadre’s barbacoa are among my favorites. And then there’s Fishtown, where every indie music lover should catch a show upstairs at Johnny Brenda’s (stellar local beer for those of age), or head up to La Colombe’s Frankford Avenue grand cafe to feel the caffeinated hipster pulse of this burgeoning neighborhood and savor anything on Philly’s best baguettes. For late-night options and adventure eats, our excellent Chinatown delivers both. I have got dozens of favorites in my guide, but the Shanghai dumpling temple of Dim Sum Garden is the neighborhood’s new-generation signature hit. And, of course, every newcomer needs to try Philly’s famous cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches. They’ll undoubtedly try the well-known names, no matter what I say. College kids. But, eventually, take my advice and grab an Uber to deep South Philly and let John’s Roast Pork hook them up with the best of both. Philly Eats 101 is in session!