[ neighborhood faves ]
Neighborhood-iness is a trait that Philly has in spades, and that means plenty of quality, close-to-home eats. We’re going to be chiming in every few weeks with a look at the best restaurants by zip. First up: 19145.
1 Circles | There is a Siam Palace or Lemongrass Grill in virtually every neighborhood, transforming pad thai into the nouveau lo mein. Circles sets itself apart with bright dishes that are not shy on heat, leaning towards the sour-spicy side, avoiding the all-too-familiar cloying sweetness of Thai takeout. And those cheesesteak spring rolls? Pure genius. 1514 Tasker St., 267-687-1778, circlesnewbold.com.
2 Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef | Nick’s is virtually identical to every other neighborhood watering hole, but it’s the carving station that sky rockets this place into sandwich stardom. The menu is tight: roast beef, pork and turkey, available straight up or in combo form with provolone and broccoli rabe. Gravy fries with little nuggets of roast beef are a must. 2149 S. 20th St., 215-463-4114, nicksroastbeef.com.
3 The South Philadelphia Tap Room | Every neighborhood should have a SPTR. Burgers and wings cozy up to oysters and tacos, never-an-afterthought vegetarian options, loads of locally sourced produce and a can’t-be-beat beer list. Serving until 1 a.m. daily, a menu of no-way-this-is-bar-food specials rolls out after 5 p.m. 1509 Mifflin St., 215-271-7787, southphiladelphiataproom.com.
4 Hardena/Waroeng Surabaya | A cool $7 gets you a loaded plate with your choice of three dishes, rice and a side of fiery sambal at this unassuming Indonesian spot. Always-on-hand are long-stewed beef rendang and coconut-milk-braised collards, plus a rotating selection of curries. 1754 S. Hicks St., 215-271-9442.
5 Cacia’s Bakery |This 50-plus-year-old by-the-slice, bakery-style pizza can’t be beat. Served at room temperature, tomato pie is finished with a sweetly caramelized sauce and the only-in-Philly Pizzaz is topped off with American cheese, banana peppers and slices of tomato. 1526 Ritner St., 215-334-1340, caciabakery.com.