2nd Course: Manayunk Bucket List

In an effort to make the most (or eat the most, rather) of my remaining time in Philadelphia, I’ve made it my mission to eat my way down Main Street, home to over 25 restaurants in Manayunk, PA. Much unlike the mediocre chain restaurants that surround St. Joseph’s University, the restaurants on Main are unique and chic. It’s a lively neighborhood bustling with Philadelphia college students, young professionals and growing families. Located just a few miles and a quick cab ride from St. Joe’s campus, Manayunk’s Main Street provides a world of delicious options to celebrate any occasion with friends or family. After all, a college girl can only eat so much Qdoba, Cosi’s, Chili’s, repeat…

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Main St. Philadelphia, PA

And so, in hopes of introducing my taste buds to as many different Philadelphia restaurants as possible, I have slowly but surely been crossing each Main Street eatery off of my Manayunk Bucket List one by one. Whether celebrating a friends birthday, entertaining mom and dad for the weekend or killing time with my boyfriend (who I owe many thanks to for being a good sport and taking me on far more ‘date nights, afternoons and mornings’ than your average couple), Manayunk has a restaurant for every occasion and everyone’s palate. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

With a Group of Friends, Han Dynasty:

Grab a few girls who barely know each other, a bottle of wine and a large order of Kung Pao style chicken, and you’ve got a recipe for instant friendship. The first time I went to Han Dynasty I was with 4 girls who are now my closest friends. At the time we had just recently met and were thrown into the then intimidating world of SJU’s Greek Life. We knew very little about each other but quickly found common ground in our love for chinese cuisine and good (ok, boxed) wine. At the big round table we enjoyed each others company, and a variety of authentic Chinese dishes made to share rotating around the turntable in the center. We left with full bellies and happy hearts.

For adventurous friends who aren’t afraid to try something new (something they may not know exactly how to pronounce), Han Dynasty is the perfect place! With plenty of options, both spicy and sweet, and helpful recommendations from the friendly staff, it’s no doubt you’ll find a dish or two that meets everyone’s preferences.

On a Date, Manayunk Brewing Company:

From burgers and pub favorites to stone-oven fired pizza and a full service sushi bar, Manayunk Brewing Co. offers a little something for everyone and a unique craft beer, like Schuylkill Punch or  Manayunk IPA, to go along with it for some added local flavor.

With a large outdoor deck overlooking the Schuylkill River and TV’s all around, it’s a great place to enjoy a low-key meal (and the game!) with your guy.

Celebrating a Birthday with Brunch, Derek’s Cafe and Lounge: 

Nothing beats a Sunday morning spent with friends, good food and a Mimosa in hand and when there’s something to celebrate, like a birthday or college reunion, it’s all the more merry.  Derek’s provides a place for all three and much more. With extravagant options like stuffed strawberry and brioche french toast, Southwestern turkey sausage wrap and classic steak and eggs, Derek’s offer’s a variety of options, all which go perfectly with Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, breakfast potatoes and good friends.

The lounge area and large windows (and of course, the food!) will make you want to stay all day long.

Party of 3, Dinner with Mom and Dad, Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar

If my parents are making the 5+ hour road trip from CT to Philly to see their favorite (ok, only) daughter, they are without doubt anticipating a good meal upon their arrival (and no, Qdoba and Olive Garden do not make the cut). As my parents are unfamiliar with the area, it’s often up to me (and Yelp! reviews) to pick a place and make a reservation. Of course, this works in my advantage as a number of the restaurants on the Manayunk Bucket List slightly exceed my college-student budget.

That’s why I save the pricer, slightly more sophisticated restaurants, like Jake’s and Cooper’s Wine Bar, for when mom and dad are in town (plus my mom and I have a little thing for wine). Some of my personal favorites? Portobello Mushroom Soup, Potato Gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce  and the Pan Seared Sea Scallops.

“Guaranteed satisfaction with every bite and sip.”

Best of Both Words, Lunch and Outdoor Dining, The Couch Tomato Cafe: 

During the final days of winter, as the ground begins to thaw and the sun shines a little brighter, spending even more time indoors seems ridiculous. Combining meal time with Vitamin D consumption is pretty much as good as it gets in my opinion, so I’m always on the look-out for outdoor seating. Which is why Couch Tomato Cafe is my number one choice for a casual, outdoor lunch during the spring and summer months. Located on the corner of Main Street and Rector Street the cafe features delicious homemade soups, wraps, salads and pizzas for lunch, sunshine and a great spot for people watching. My personal favorite is the “La Fiesta” Wrap which combines mixed greens, spicy chicken and a refreshing blend of Mango Salsa and pepper jack cheese to create a spicy and sweet meal perfect for awakening your taste buds after a cold winter.

Although I have yet to try it out for myself, above the casual cafe, you’ll find the Tomato Bistro.  Remaining consistent with the cafe’s relaxing atmosphere, the Bistro offers a menu full of cafe favorites with an additional variety of “small plate” entrees, an extensive wine list and an assortment of craft beers. Some favorites recommended by friends include the Fig pizza and Crispy Artichoke appetizer.

Stay tuned for more reviews and stories, from my plate to yours, as I make my way down Main Street in hopes of tasting the Manayunk Bucket List in it’s entirety.

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