by Kristin Detterline-Munro
Lobster Cobb salad with sweet potato shoestrings, corn nuts, applewood-smoked bacon and tarragon dressing at Devon Seafood Grill
BOBBY FLAY STEAK | STEAKHOUSE
The gracious Throwdown loser and Iron Chef America master scores points with his chic and swanky Bobby Flay Steak. Its dimly lit lounge is the perfect spot from which to people-watch, glass of wine in hand, and though many come in the hope of glimpsing the celebrity chef, the food is a draw in its own right. The lobster, asparagus and chanterelle salad topped off by a warm bacon dressing is so indulgent you won’t even need a steak, but splurge anyway on the spice-rubbed American Kobe strip and Flay’s down-home Brooklyn hash browns. You might feel too full for dessert, but go ahead, split an order of the caramel pecan and bitter-chocolate baked Alaska for a luxurious new twist on an iconic indulgence. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, One Borgata Way, Atlantic City, 609-317-1000; theborgata.com
COOPER’S BRICK OVEN WINE BAR | AMERICAN
Since 1987 Bruce Cooper has been feeding appreciative patrons at Jake’s Restaurant, his white-tablecloth spot on Main Street in Manayunk. By 2008 he’d added Cooper’s Brick Oven Wine Bar next door. The menu is—naturally— pizza-centric, offering thin-crust pies with toppings like short ribs, Parmesan cheese, onion and horseradish cream and delivered piping hot from the brick oven in the rear of the restaurant. But Cooper’s has an impressive salad selection, something most pizza joints, no matter how highend, can’t claim. Try the chopped chicken Cobb with bacon, romaine, tomato, croutons, egg, avocado, Roquefort cheese and a red wine-Dijon dressing, or the arugula topped with a delicious, inventive mix of fresh mangoes, feta cheese and candied sunflower seeds in a tangy grapefruit dressing. Don’t miss the regional cheeses that complement Cooper’s respectable wine and craft beer selection. 4367 Main St., Manayunk, 215-483-0444; jakesrestaurant.com
DEVON SEAFOOD GRILL | SEAFOOD
Despite being sandwiched between two of Rittenhouse Square’s most notorious restaurant adversaries, Parisian-inspired joints Parc and Rouge, Devon Seafood Grill sticks to what works: a solid menu, catering to its loyal customers and sidewalk seating that feels genuinely casual. Seafood rules here, from the eight-ounce South African lobster tail to prosciutto-crusted Georges Bank scallops, but there are also steaks galore, which makes a surf-and-turf splurge all the more justified. Entrée salads like the broiled Atlantic salmon salad sprinkled with Montrachet goat cheese over a bed of spinach are light but filling lunch options for working meetings. Happy hour draws a sizable crowd, which likely drops by for one of Devon’s excellent and affordable wine flights.
225 S. 18th St., 215-546-5940; devonseafood.com
EL VEZ | MEXICAN
El Vez is crowded and bustling even on a Wednesday night, with guests spilling out onto the sidewalk. The Stephen Starr Mexican joint is famous for its guacamole (flavors range from original to a goat cheese, pistachio, chili and roasted tomato version), but for a second starter order the queso fundido de hongos; this mouthwatering dish is served as a gooey serving of truffled wild mushrooms and cheese that can be spooned onto warm flour tortillas. Tacos, enchiladas and meaty entreés fill the dinner menu, but for a lighter bite we recommend the tasty Mexican chopped salad, served with your choice of chipotle ranch or cumin-lime vinaigrette. For dessert order the warm Mexican chocolate cake layered with Madagascar vanilla crème anglaise.
121 S. 13th St., 215-928-9800; elvezrestaurant.com