DON'T MISS PLACES
Place for the Whole Family
Ron’s Original Bar & Grille
74 E. Uwchlan Ave., Exton
610-594-9900 / RonsOriginal.com
If you’ve ever looked around your dinner table and asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” we’ve found the solution. For over 25 years, Ron Inverso and his staff at this casual Italian have set a place at the table for everyone from spaghetti and meatball-loving kids to gluten-free grandmas, from Paleo dads to vegetarian cousins. Like choosing a favorite child, diners struggle to name just one favorite dish but mussels, cheesesteaks, butternut squash ravioli consistently make the list. The popular Ovals—oval pizza dough, interesting topping combos—garner praise. So does Ron’s long-standing commitment to scratch cooking with clean ingredients. The school night value menu (lasagna, chicken parm and more) means eating out with family won’t break the bank.
Place to Feel Irish
Kildare’s Irish Pub
18 W. Gay St., West Chester
610-431-0770 / KildaresPubWC.com
The decor is thoroughly Irish, as it should be, given the expense Dave Magrogan went to importing it from the Emerald Isle. Under the new ownership since 2015 of an authentic Irishman, Dane Gray, and wife/chef Stephanie, the place feels true. Kildare’s continues to attract pub fans with Irish specialties on the menu, plenty of beer, and the conviviality that’s made pubs a community institution across the pond. Lots of classics fill the menu—boxty, shepherd’s pie, colcannon, corned beef and cabbage—plus Stephanie adds imaginative specials to please those looking for something different. You’ll find a mix of college students, locals and folks who enjoy a little bit of craic.
401 Birch St., Kennett Square
484-732-7040 / KennettCreamery.com
Cross a German biergarten with the best outdoor party and you get the feel of the pop-up community gathering in Kennett Square this past summer, Thursdays through Sundays. A former 1902 creamery and cannery site was transformed with upcycled furniture and fixtures (wood pallets, fan-vent lighting) into a place to enjoy beer (Yards, Sly Fox, Victory’s Summer Love, of course), wine and cocktails, sample the best of local food trucks (Cow and the Curd, Hoods BBQ) and meet neighbors for conversation and lawn games (corn hole, bocce, giant jenga). The Creamery reopened in December to host the Holiday Village Market and will be back Spring 2017. #bringbackthecreamery2017 worked!
308 Justison St., Wilmington
302-407-5192 / ConstitutionYards.com
If you build it, they will come … to the pop-up urban waterfront destination on Wilimington’s Riverwalk that ran from late June through October. Called Constitution Yards, with a nod to the former shipping yards, this eat-drink-relax outdoor space mixed food, drink and outdoor games to entertain all ages—sandboxes to whiffle ball. Choose from 10 draft beers, 15 others in cans, plus wine, frozen drinks and spirits, while eating salads, sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, ribs, burgers and more served from repurposed shipping containers under strings of lights. This pop-up was granted extended life for 2017, though it morphs into an ice skating rink in winter.
Pre- & Post-Theater
426 N. Market St., Wilmington
302-543-5574 / MerchantBarWilmington.com
The lively theater scene in Wilmington deserves a lively bar, and got one in Merchant Bar—an extension of Bryan Sikora’s La Fia across Market Street. With a hip lower Manhattan vibe and a mix of business suits and neighborhood regulars, the crowd is drawn by upscale cocktails and a chef-driven menu of creative small plates and boards. Tuna poke fills the trendy spot, while Korean BBQ buns fill the belly. We love the antipasto board with its assortment of delights. Whether you sip a Bullit-based old fashioned or a fashionable Negroni, you’ll feel a bit more sophisticated and satisfied as you head to the theater. Come back post-performance for an original cocktail creation.
Pairings Cigar Bar
12 W. State St., Media
610-565-1895 / PairingsCigarBar.com
We’ve seen wine pairing, beer pairing, and now in Media we have Pairings Cigar Bar, a full service spot for all things cigars—boxes or sticks (individual cigars), cutters, cases and humidors, though no Cubans ... yet. Sink into the comfy leather sofas with a view of the passing parade along State Street as you puff on your selection and sip a post-performance drink just a few blocks from The Media Theatre. Choose from creative cocktails, hard liquor, beer, coffee and espresso, too, plus nibbles. Or stop in, get some expert advice, and take your trophy home to enjoy on your deck—weather permitting. Great new addition!
The Couch Tomato
31 W. Gay St., West Chester
484-887-0241 / TheCouchTomato.com
There’s much to love at this source of things healthy and tasty—warming soups of the day (spicy butternut bisque), signature sandwiches (perky turkey), artisan pizzas or design you own. No surprise the salads are sensational. Small salads, large salads (wish they had Seinfeld’s Big Salad), salads in wraps. Choose your green (romaine, iceberg or organic spinach, arugula or kale), add the themed fixings—Southwestern, Food Pyramid (chicken, strawberry, cucumber, candied pecans, mozzarella), La Fiesta, Hail Caesar, Santorini, Fresh Pear-Fection, Where’s Waldorf. Or use the Craft Your Salad option to choose everything—from chicken to vegan cheese, toppings from apple to tortilla chips, and then add dressing. Even self-proclaimed non-saladarians are converts.
132 W. State St., Kennett Square
610-857-7600 / NomadicPies.com
Call her the Pie Maven or better yet the Pied Piper. Wherever owner Molly Johnston offers her savory pies, we follow, forks in hand. We buy them for dinner at local farmers’ markets. We sign up for pie and beer flight fun at Kennett Brewing Company. And every chance we get, we stop in for a slice at Molly’s cozy Kennett Square storefront. Why? Her chicken potpie and chicken curry pie warm even the coldest heart. Her steak, mushroom and cheese rivals that Philly icon. Her roasted winter veggie and cheesy potato pies … comfort between the crusts. Molly is always experimenting and welcomes suggestions. Ours? More pie, more pie, more pie.
Sips & Snacks
Bistro on Bridge
212 Bridge St., Phoenixville
610-935-7141 / BistroOnBridge.com
When the street scene presents an on-going parade, your job is to find the best seat—especially with 60+ degree days in November and December. To join Phoenixville’s lively crowd on Bridge Street, arrive early, select a sofa or table at Bistro on Bridge and order up drinks and great snacks. You’ll be in the middle of the action as you enjoy over 30 draft beers, 130 beers in bottles and a menu designed for sampling—small plates, apps, pizza, quesadillas, sandwiches and café specials. Happy hour, Monday through Friday, makes a great end to the workday.
Black Powder Tavern
1164 Valley Forge Rd., Wayne
610-293-9333 / BlackPowderTavern.com
When we want to snack in the footsteps of our forefathers, we snag a table at this historic tavern. George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette rendezvoused here during the American Revolution. Stagecoach travelers stopped on their way west. But the small plate menu is decidedly modern with influences from every part of the great American melting pot. Crowd favorites include goat cheese polenta fries accompanied by a spicy harissa sauce, cheesy devils on horseback (Medjool dates stuffed with gorgonzola, wrapped in bacon); calamari with sriracha aoli and sweet spicy tamarind dip; tavern Irish nachos; PEI mussels. A new addition we’re dying to try: spicy short rib tater tots. At happy hours and game days small plates are a real bargain.
Jaco Juice & Taco Bar
8 W. Gay St., West Chester
610-436-4177 / JacoJuiceAndTaco.com
International House of Smoothies Jamba Juice has nothing on local Jaco Taco, now expanded to Media and Washington, D.C. Their healthy elixirs include smoothies that far surpass what you can whip up at home. Names like Yolo (banana, strawberry, kale, peanut butter, milk, agave), Hipster (banana, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, Nutella, milk, graham) and Brooklyn (pineapple, kale, avocado, cardamom, almond milk, fresh lemon juice, agave) point to the prime demographic. But other options like Island in the Sun (banana, pineapple, mango, fresh OJ, agave), Blueberry Hill juice (blueberry, pineapple, kale, coconut water) and the cure-your-winter-cold C-Baby (coconut water, OJ, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, agave), show they share the love.
Hai Street Kitchen & Co.
KOP Mall, 160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia
610-290-8576 / HaiStreetKitchen.com
Fusion cuisine created the sushi burrito—think portable sushi to eat on the go. Or as Buzzfeed quipped—when a mommy sushi and daddy burrito love each other very much ... Hai Street’s concept lets you watch the assembly of locally sourced ingredients rolled into a ridiculously large roll. Choose white or brown rice, protein (chili citrus pork, chicken, shrimp tempura, Tatami salmon), add sauce (teriyaki, ginger miso, spicy mayo), toppings (fresh veggies, pickled jicama, papaya, cabbage), top with crunch. Deep fry it into a giant egg roll? Zagat anointed Hai Street to the top 10 hottest new restaurants in Philly. We can enjoy this nosh at the KOP Mall and Whole Foods.
La Baguette Magique
202 W. Market St., West Chester
610-620-4729 / MagicBaguette.com
It’s not just crusty loaves of bread that embody the magic conjured up in Catherine Session’s French bakery. In keeping with a tradition of creating jewels of sublime sweetness, Baguette Magique displays behind its glass showcases samples of transporting tastiness, aka the stuff that satisfies the sweet tooth and the soul with delicacy, not butter cream. Though some may consider the heavenly chocolate croissant dessert, we say try the mousse au chocolat for a taste of Paris. Or tarts, tarts, tarts—apple, lemon, pear, chocolate, nuts and caramel. Chou à la crème are better than American cream puffs, while the madeleines make you remember …
KOP Mall, 350 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia
610-312-0195 / sweetgreen.com
Few are the Venn diagrams where “mall” and “healthy vegetarian food” overlap. But we’ve found one! Open since last summer, this fast-casual offers made-before-your-eyes salads and bowls brimming with local, seasonal ingredients. Year-round salads include Spicy Sabzi (spinach, kale sesame tofu, quinoa in carrot chili vinaigrette) and a kale Caesar that comes with or without chicken. In summer, look for peach-goat cheese and in winter, apple, pear and cheddar salad. Warm bowls start with wild rice or quinoa and build from there. The Shroomami highlights a warm portobello mix, raw beets and kale tossed with miso sesame ginger dressing. Generous portions + healthy ingredients = energy to shop ‘til you drop.
Gangster Vegan Organics 2
6 Gay St., Phoenixville
610-616-0000 / GangsterVegan.com
Sprouted in Phoenixville during VegFest in September, the second location of Norristown’s Gangster Vegan Organics serves up serious vegan fare—no gluten, soy, dairy, meat, refined sugars. Yet former hip-hop t-shirt designer Vinny DePaul can turn out a mean orange creamsicle cheesecake and zucchini “crab” cakes. Pickup, delivery and eat-in from their selection of juices to cleanse, detox and enjoy (great names like Truth Juice and Flava in Ya Ear); shots, smoothies, raw food (Kalefornia Love Kale salad; do the right thing raw pizza with sunflower cheese, ODB Burger made of raw broccoli), desserts (superfood balls) and snacks (you guessed it, kale chips). Go vegan or go home!
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