Chifa, Philadelphia Makes Great Food for a Great Deal

Erica C., University of Delaware

I wrote a few weeks ago about how I never venture into Philly— like I promised at the end of that column, I’ve begun to do it more often. Case and point—my trip on Monday took me to not one but two eateries I’ve been dying to try.  Chifa, the Latin/ Asian fusion restaurant in the Jose Garces family of restaurants, and then the simple but delicious Sugar Philly food truck.

We knew we had to pick Chifa when we saw their weekday lunch prefix: $14 for two courses. That price can usually get me a sandwich and drink but not two courses at a Philly food landmark. What’s even better is that the restaurant serves you a ton of great food for that price, too.

When we first walked in, we were immediately impressed by the elegant Asian-inspired decor. Even during a Monday lunch, the place was crowded with hungry couples. We sat down and got to work deciding on our next bite. We settled on the pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup served with tons of cilantro and tender beef. The dish was huge and completely filling on its own. The cuts of beef and noodles were deliciously saturated by the beef broth, but there may have been a bit of cilantro overload, even for an admirer like me.

Next came my Thai sausage sandwich, which may not sound like anything special but has been elevated to my all time favorite sandwich. Picked cabbage, papaya and carrots topped lean slices of cilantro-basil sausage, avocado and a warm toasted baguette. The crunch of the pickled vegetables and crackle of fresh bread made this irresistible, and gone in about five minutes. My friend got the pork belly banh mi, which came in a close second with pickled carrots, cilantro and spicy mayo on the same tasty baguette.

We were definitely full by this point, but not full enough to keep us from trying the Sugar Philly dessert truck, which was conveniently located at Love Park. While the truck was out of a lot of classic favorites, we were able to pick a few signature items like their cup of creme brulee (with perfectly crispy caramelized crunch) and two kinds of french macaroons- milk and honey and chocolate hazelnut. The chocolate hazelnut was of course wonderful, with a creamy cocoa center and the perfect meringue, but the real surprise was the milk and honey, which managed to have a custardy textured center that actually tasted exactly like milk—no sweeter.

So overall another successful day in Philly, with some everyday student friendly prices. Next on our Philly hit list? Jose Garces’ Village Whiskey American Bar- they have a burger with foie gras on it that sounds right up my alley. I’ll report back soon, and until next time, brave the ride to the city, I assure you, it doesn’t have to cost a lot.

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Filed under Dining Suggestions, Erica C., Philadelphia, Restaurants

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