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One weekend in Philly, Center City: Where to dine?

I'll be in Philadelphia at the beginning of October. Won't have a car. Staying in Center City.

My beau and I are lunching at Reading Terminal on Saturday. Need dinner recommendation for Saturday evening and a brunch option for Sunday morning. We love spicy, ethnic food, but something a bit luxurious and romantic would be nice on Saturday. Help! Friends have raved about Little Nonna's, but we're from Boston and have plenty of delicious Italian spots up here. Want something "only in Philly." Thanks!

Aug 17, 2014
Swankalicious in Philadelphia

Retirement party for 50 near Government Center

A distinguished Swank relative is retiring in November. We are trying to come up with a place for a retirement party. The bill is being covered by corporate, which is nice, but it also means we can't splurge too much.
Not looking for high-end, adventurous elegance. Basically seeking:
1. A comfortable private room
2. Quality food that appeals to a broad range of people of various ages and tastes
3. Excellent service (good with groups, possibly offers group menus)
4. Easy walking distance from the Faneuil Hall/Government Center area (North End is fine).

It's a bit of a puzzler. Ideas?

The Best of the Best: An Ongoing Thread

Please describe this tube meat?!

Craving jalepeno poppers

Would be much obliged if someone could point me in the direction of a sinful, gooey, cream-cheese filled popper, preferably with some kind of funky dipping sauce.

The Best of the Best: An Ongoing Thread

I was thinking it'd be nice to have an ongoing thread devoted to the superlative version of any dish you choose. Simply name a dish and name the local restaurant that does it best, in your humble and well-chowed opinion. I shall begin:

Crabmeat pie: Grassfields, Andover

Mussels in spicy marinara: Daily Catch, No. End

Greasy drunk Mexican hangover food: Border Cafe, Cambridge

Beef with tomato sauce over rice: Winsor Dim Sum

Breakfast sandwich of any stripe: Sofra

On the prowl for saltenas

Where can I procure a delicious, flaky, stewy, savory saltena?

Moving to Medford . . . What are the local haunts?

Tenoch for beauteous burritos.

Chili Garden for scrumptious coconut shrimp.

Massimo's Malden for heaps of red sauce and pasta.

Elegant Woburn-area lunch?

Mr. Swank and I are on the prowl for a special-occasion lunch place to take friends, preferably in the Woburn/Burlington area. I usually dine casually in that neck of the woods. Any ideas?

Ethnic brunch buffet on Sunday morning?

Thanks to all for the lovely recommendations. Ended up at Bamboo in Westford as a meeting place for the many Swanks. Massively crowded, but the sushi is high-quality and the selection was vast and, for the most part, fresh.

Ethnic brunch buffet on Sunday morning?

Well, Sunday is Mother's Day (ahem, buy those cards now, Hounds!) and Mr. Swank and the Young Swanks will take me to a brunch of my choosing. I do not want a fusty brunch; I want an Indian buffet, maybe, or maybe a fun Mexican breakfast. Any ideas? Does anyone know if Ritu Ki Rasoi does brunch?

Which Boston-Cambridge restaurants have been around since the 1980s?

Bailey's sure did have some delicious hot fudge.
Anyone remember dining at Joyce Chen's in the early 1980s?

Which Boston-Cambridge restaurants have been around since the 1980s?

This is the thread I was hoping for! Thanks, aged Hounds!

You Are My Gyro: Mindblowing sandy at Ma Magoo's

Glad you enjoyed it, Newhound. Where's Esperia?

Which Boston-Cambridge restaurants have been around since the 1980s?

In my Swanky experience, they did, Hotoynoodles!

New Yorker friends moving to Boston

Petey's is fantastic!! Best lobster rolls (sandwiches, really) in town.

Which Boston-Cambridge restaurants have been around since the 1980s?

I'm thinking more like Cheers-era Boston. Combat Zone-era Boston. Boston-the-band-era Boston. Doesn't have to be Bright Lights, Big City. Just a different time and place. The days of Chet and Nat, Baybank, and the "Spirit of America" jingle. Boston moves to the Herald!

New Yorker friends moving to Boston

Too bad. I love Bob's!! Used to stop there all the time as a teen. I haven't been back in a couple years, however.

Which Boston-Cambridge restaurants have been around since the 1980s?

If I wanted to take a trip in the wayback machine and revisit Boston in the 1980s, where should I dine? I'm not talking OLD like the Union Oyster House, just kind of go-go, stockbroker 1980s.

You Are My Gyro: Mindblowing sandy at Ma Magoo's

Tonight, weary, I indulged at the Fresh Pond Rotary. I always thought MamaGoo's looked a bit old and cheesy, but my oh my: I had the best gyro of my life! Warm, doughy pita; a thick smattering of luscious yogurt; fresh cukes and tomatoes; and some truly excellent thick-cut fries (complimentary). YUM!!

New Yorker friends moving to Boston

In the big complex -- forget address -- where A4 Pizzeria and Catalyst is.

Not enough flavors at Rancatore's! GRR!

On Friday night, Mr. Swank and I made pigs of ourselves at Rancatore's, Belmont. I love the service and the pleasant atmosphere, but I find their flavors SERIOUSLY LACKING. Hydrox? Cake batter? Grapenut? OK, fine, but how about a lil' PB-fudge swirl? Or mocha chip? C'mon! I was also dismayed to see that they were out of peanut butter sauce.
When it comes to flavor selection, I find Christina's (Inman) to be much better.

El Centro: Awful. Boston, terrible food city.

Taqueria el Amigo's pork chili tacos are something to behold.

New Yorker friends moving to Boston

Two food-snoot friends are relocating from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn to Newton.
Both friends enjoy good-naturedly ribbing me about how much better NYC is, in terms of culinary excitement. I'm compiling a "Welcome to Boston!" itinerary to showcase our very best, most tantalizing meals. Money is no object to them (although they favor cheap finds). She will be working in Kendall Square; he will be working in Newton.
On my list:
Drinks and a meat platter at Sycamore
Lobster rolls at Neptune Oyster
Beer and oysters at Row 34
A moody, romantic dinner at Erbaluce
Dim Sum at Winsor Cafe
Apps at Fairsted Kitchen, dinner at Ribelle
A fancy-pants meal at Menton
Drinks at the Hawthorne
Eggplant subs at White Sport
Burn-your-face-off wings at State Park
Summery drinks, empanadas and sorbets at Gustazo
Tapas at Taberno de Haro (and gin at their new gin bar)
Day trip for clam rolls at Bob's in Kittery
Portsmouth day trip, dinner at Moxy's

What else, Hounds? I want them to be WOWED.

Ain't nothin' but a ghee thing, baby!

What are your favorite area Indian restaurants? We savored a luxe meal at the Maharaja in Harvard Square recently. I've also enjoyed good meals at the roadside shack in Inman (Punjabi Dhaba) and at Punjab in Arlington Center. You?

What is a traditionally odd, spicy and delicious thing to order at a Sichuan restaurant?

Thank you all for the helpful suggestions.
We were in Arlington, so we ended up at Szechuan's Dumpling (our other go-to is Taipei Gourmet).
I started with the oyster pancake, which was delicious. We also got steamed shrimp dumplings -- juicy little vessels and quite good. Next, Young Swank and I shared pork with spicy shredded potatoes -- tangy, numbing, excellent texture. Mr. Swank ordered spicy mango shrimp. This was a massive disappointment. We were greeted with a heaping platter piled high with slivered mango, red pepper, green pepper, some kind of gloppy gluey pink sauce that seemed to congeal before our very eyes ... and four chewy shrimp. Ech! I asked for dan dan noodles, but the waitress didn't know what they were...she kept suggesting chow fun. This was fine; we ended up with a perfectly nice rendition of chicken chow fun. However, I would've preferred a spicy, garlicky, tangy noodle dish. A nearby table was enjoying the house special, fish fillet in a cauldron of spicy sauce (topped with scallions). Wish we'd ordered that!

Dinner in Lowell?

I'm glad to hear that they have upped their game!

What is a traditionally odd, spicy and delicious thing to order at a Sichuan restaurant?

Going in a bit. Want to try something fiery and new -- maybe something off-menu. I am in a rut: I always order Ma Po tofu. I love those flavors but want something different. Please advise.

Dinner in Lowell?

The best restaurant in Lowell, hands down, is Good Thymes. La Boniche is also excellent and closer to downtown. Cobblestones is "meh" but serviceable.

Dignified Indian Dining

At last! Enjoyed a meal at the stately Maharaja on JFK Street. Service was regal, the atmosphere ornate, and the food superb. Excellent, potent lamb vindaloo, savory onion kulcha, and a silky saffron scallops. Highly recommend.

Waterlogged sushi at Sono Sushi

Three strikes and they're banned from the Swank household! (Even if the wait is an hour at Toraya.) We ordered takeout from Sono for the third time. Menu reads really well; tons of sushi selections, teriyaki, and so forth. However: Their sushi tastes--watery! Like tuna from a can wedged into rice! I don't understand it. Ordered two spicy scallop rolls and a tuna roll, and each piece of fish tasted like wet wadded-up Kleenex. Flavorless and drippy. I'm so sad. Their menu LOOKS terrific. And it's quite convenient to our Lexington-Belmont-Arlington corner of the world. But alas, it's back to Toraya for us, even if it means planning takeout at least two hours in advance! Boo-hoo!!