Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back, a random walk solo from downtown Philadelphia to North Liberties without research was not a good idea. Sometimes in my search for culinary excellence I pull a Scooby-Doo. I ignore zombies, monsters and ogres to pursue a wafting scent in a effort to fulfill my internal hunger.
This is not to say that the neighbourhood of North Liberties is bad. It’s just the fact I didn’t do my homework. After all, it was Will Smith who warned me of the perils of West Philadelphia, so I felt that North Liberties was safe. I was quite relieved to reach my destination. More so, I was happy to see that a couple was skipping the same conference I was to order to indulge in Philly’s local cuisine.
The 20-minute wait seemed palatable, especially when sitting among locals and tourists alike. When I finally had my name called, I maneuvered between kids, the elderly and the locals alike to get to my seat at the bar. I was promptly served a great coffee, given a menu and had the specials explained to me in great detail by a friendly dude behind the counter.
In the end, I stared at the blackboard and opted for their version of Toad in the Hole. There was no yorkie and no sausage. It was grilled bread with a fried egg as a centrepiece and mildly seasoned with truffle oil. Despite the deceit, it was prepared perfectly. It came with a potato latke and applesauce to create a bit of a carbohydrate overload. The latke was a bit chewy but the applesauce was terrific. At the suggestion of a regular patron, I also ordered a side of blueberry jam which was delicious even from the perspective of a Northern Ontarian who grew up sucking on frozen blueberries instead of a teething ring.
Highlighted by great food, this place just works. Just shy of pretentious but with enough muscle flexing, you can order everything from Jewish-inspired dishes to reasonably priced kid’s meals. You feel cool (ie. Will Smith as opposed Carlton) and like you belong, even when you are in line. There are few places that give you that feeling so easily and for that reason…
As mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The closest I have come to meeting Guy Fieri was through a window during a recent filming in Toronto. I also managed to meet his signature red Camaro in a parking lot across the street.
In my quest for great food, I have managed to hit a number of DDDs in a number of different cities over the past couple of years. My favorites are listed in order below. Each will be reviewed under its respective city in the not too distant future. In general, I have thoroughly enjoyed each experience and encourage everybody to support the locally owned establishments which exist along the path in your journey for love and passion on a plate.