Meat – hated by PETA advocates, health gurus, vegetarians, and vegans worldwide -- loved by many Philadelphians.
For a true meat-lover there are few things more frustrating than a menu that is abundant in fresh fish and veggie choices, but lacking in options worth really sinking your teeth into. While vegetarian groups do have a growing presence in this city (and a string of restaurants to show for it) let’s not forget the population of carnivores who find it impossible to say no to a perfectly cooked porterhouse; who revel in the thought of a juicy burger; who, of course, take the utmost pride in Philly’s claim to fame – the cheesesteak.
Philadelphia has so famously perfected the ingredients of the cheesesteak that you can find a menu in any other US city that takes a go at it. They’re so popular, in fact, that one may be required to venture away from the intoxicating buzz at Ninth and Passayunk (the apex of the long time Pat’s versus Geno’s cheesesteak rivalry) to find some of the meatiest dishes in this city.
Trends like Brazilian steakhouses - where meat is served rodizio-style – and more traditional staples such as your typical barbecue or burger joint have helped draw attention to this classic ingredient that lends itself to so many memorable meals. As a result, meat has managed to become a mainstay, if not the main attraction, in some of Philadelphia’s most acclaimed restaurants. To be sure your journey for the meatiest selections around is headed in the right direction; here are some of the premier places in Philadelphia to indulge carnivorous cravings.
Every town needs a signature steakhouse; and while Philadelphia has several viable contenders, Barclay Prime is arguably our top spot. Here the famed Stephen Starr takes a successful crack at revamping the traditional steakhouse, resulting in food and atmosphere that exudes chic sophistication. The restaurant is housed in a Rittenhouse Square locale that was originally a luxury hotel of the 1920’s. Barclay Prime pairs the Old World opulence of sweeping ceilings, black and white checkered marble floors, and dark wood with modern details like sleek lime green accents, white leather furniture, and walls lined with library books.
The steaks are the flavor-rich cornerstone of a menu that also includes raw bar and seafood cocktail selections, traditional appetizers with contemporary twists, and seafood and game entree selections. Sip on an eclectic selection of wines, beers, and signature cocktails that reflect the essence of worldly luxury as you enjoy a signature selection like the 28-day dry aged 16 oz New York Strip Steak -- a flavor-soaked select chop, seared to perfection with a tender center. Pair a premier 24-oz Dry Aged Porterhouse with sides like whipped potatoes or mac-and-cheese that are classed-up with a hint of truffle. Diners will pay a bit more for the most select cuts such as the 8 oz. Tajima Kobe Filet. End your meal with any one of Barclay Prime’s indulgent desserts. The warm Chocolate Cobbler is made with chocolate, cinnamon streusel, and salted toffee caramel ice cream; the sumptuous Toasted Peanut Butter S’mores boasts soft graham crackers, peanut butter ice cream, and flourless chocolate torte with homemade marshmallows. While the spotlight here is on the steak, a complete lineup of foolproof and crowd-pleasing fare makes Barclay Prime - like most things Starr touches - a success.
Fogo De Chao
This Center City East eatery is one of several outposts for the authentic Brazillian steakhouse that prides itself on all-you-can-eat meat served rodizio-style. The spice of Sao Paulo descends upon Philadelphia in the historic Caldwell’s Jewelry Building. Vibrant colors and sweeping 20 foot ceilings allow for massive walls lined with an awe-inspiring selection of worldly wines from South America to Napa Valley. Diners feel the heat of Brazil when flavored cuts of meat are grilled over an open flame and carved tableside by chefs.
For a reasonable price, diners are allowed the opportunity to sample an unlimited amount of 15 different cuts of meat, as well as anything from the colorful salad bar and a limitless selection of traditional Brazilian side dishes. Try Picanha, Fogo De Chao’s signature steak -- a juicy prime cut of top sirloin that comes either lightly seasoned or with a more robust taste of garlic. Complement any cut of meat with your choice of sides like crispy hot polenta, garlic mashed potatoes, or caramelized bananas. Selections also include the tender Filet Mignon, which Fogo wraps in rotisserie-grilled bacon and Lombo (pork loin). It is then sliced into filets and coated with rich Parmesan cheese before roasting. An irresistible selection of traditional Brazilian desserts is available to end your meal. Indulge in Fogo De Chao’s signature dessert: the sweet and fluffy Papaya Cream. You may also enjoy the savory and creamy South American Flan. When meat is all-you-can-eat at Fogo De Chao, you’ll start to reconsider your definition of a gourmet steakhouse.
Southern-style barbeque is another delicious way to enjoy meat and there are several places in Philadelphia to do so. However, there is one fairly new establishment that has gotten quite a buzz from its Italian Market location – Bebe’s Barbecue. Carolina-born, Mississippi-bred co-owner Mark Coates mastered the art of barbecue while growing up in his grandmother Bebe’s kitchen. With business partner and Co-chef Tamara Van Winkle, Coates prepares succulent selections like the Memphis-Style, dry rubbed, smoked ribs. Another favorite is the tender Pulled Pork Sandwich made from dry-rubbbed, smoked pork shoulder, and mixed with either a vinegar-based “East Carolina” sauce or a tangier tomato-based “Lexington” sauce. The meat is laid out on a toasted sesame seed roll. Bebe’s also features a whole dry-rubbed, hickory smoked rotisserie chicken and a selection of vegetarian side dishes including savory mac-n-cheese and spicy collard greens. For dessert, enjoy the taste of home-cooked banana pudding or any of Bebe’s fresh baked pies .Wash it all down with complimentary sweet tea and grab a hot, fresh biscuit (only available Sunday mornings). With Bebe’s in town, your next trip to the Italian Market won’t just be about fresh prosciutto.
Northern Liberties is raving about the newest burger joint to enter the neighborhood: P.Y.T. No, it’s not a reference to the late King of Pop; instead, the restaurant’s initials stand for “Pick Your own Topping.” Any of P.Y.T’s burgers can be customized with an assortment of fixings including bacon, avocado, fried egg, and a crispy onion ring. The P.Y.T Burger features cheddar, bacon, lettuce, and tomato, and is unforgettable when served on a potato roll and topped with kettle chips. The burger patties are meaty and delectable, so why not have two? The Fat Boy Monster has two patties, cheddar cheese, bacon, and an onion ring on a potato roll.
Aside from an extensive list of cleverly named burgers, the menu at P.Y.T includes classics like hot dogs, grilled cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Pair any sandwich at P.Y.T with crisp hand-cut French fries or onion rings and wash it down with a sweet milkshake or refreshing ice cream float. And you thought Michael Jackson had a hit.
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