Although we checked into a motel on the south end of town, we decided to drive all the way through town and go to the Memphis Tap Room for dinner. The place was busy and we got a booth inside (they have a large outdoor patio, but it was packed and getting cool). The place was so busy, we were lucky that we didn’t have to wait for a table. The outdoor patio is called the Beer Garden, and you’ve just got to love the sound of that. This is the place where the chef made crazy stuff with tofu and watermelon (he wasn’t there). He seemed like a crazy character and probably a lot of fun to hang out with. I ordered the fish and chips and Anna ordered Pasties, which are little pocket pies with meat and cheese. The food was excellent, especially the fish, and the service was good.
The locals there have it good to have such a great place to tip a few beers and get some killer food by a kick-ass chef. They also have a nice bar. If I got the lay of the land right, the Memphis Taproom is a neighborhood joint. So beers to ya.
We managed to save a little room for dessert and headed over to The Dining Car Café. We ordered and shared a delicious slice of strawberry cake with jam filling. Good stuff. The service was good
too and our waitress was friendly. They have a full bakery right there on site, and it looked like they had people waiting in line right up to closing time (which I love to see). I’d rather see people buying their cookies, cakes, donuts and breads from a mom and pop business than the chain mega-marts. It’s convenient to buy all your stuff under one roof, but it comes at a significant cost in terms of quality and personal/social interaction.
We had to change up our meal plans to accommodate Philadelphia. Our next morning began with the famous showdown between Pat’s and Gino’s. Anna and I split. She liked Gino’s better and I liked Pat’s. So, we’re breaking up. Actually, it was our first time trying cheese whiz (on a philly) and although it might taste good, it’s probably just too salty. I suspect the main reason they use it is because it’s relatively quick, easy and cheap. They do offer other cheeses.
It was a long walk back to the car, in the rain, but we finally made it and headed into downtown proper. Sadly, we missed the 9th Street Italian Market. We first set out for Reading Terminal Market, where we sampled some ice cream at Bassett’s. Creamy and dreamy. We will visit the Italian Market on our next visit.
We later walked over to the Good Dog Bar, which I thought would be a big treat for Anna (since she’s such a dog lover). We decided to split a fried green tomato BLT sandwich, which was good. Unfortunately, our server wasn’t keen on DDD, and that put us off. The owner wasn’t around, so we didn’t get to meet her.
We hiked all the way out to the Museum of Art (pausing at the famous LOVE sculpture) and ran up the famous stairs from the Rocky movies. Fun times. They unveiled this statue near the beginning of Rocky III, and that’s significant for me because that was the Rocky movie I saw first. We walked back into town, picked up the car, and drove up to the Silk City Diner. The place was packed, and I promptly ordered a beer. We gave the menu a good reading, but we just weren’t ready to have dinner yet. The service was good. I finished my beer and we left. The tourists shops in Philadelphia sell Tee shirts quoting Ben Franklin, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I’ve seen the same quote attributed to wine. (I love them both.)
We checked out the next morning and drove up to Tony Luke’s for another philly cheesesteak sandwich for breakfast. I was hoping his would be the best, and I ordered it with provolone. Sadly, the first one was cold, and the cheese wasn’t melted. I asked them to warm up the wrapped sandwich for me, but they wanted to make it over from scratch. To make a long story short, the third time was a charm. It was my first time trying cherry peppers, and I loved them. It was kind of weird biting into something without knowing if it was going to set your mouth on fire or not (with the enjoyment of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich hanging in the balance).
I thought having philly cheesesteak sandwiches in Philadelphia was going to be like a glorious rite of passage. I was disappointed, but I learned something important. I’ve become quite finicky about what makes a great philly cheesesteak sandwich, and just like any great dish, it requires meticulous attention to all the details. In a word, it takes craftsmanship and the love of doing it right. Anything less is guaranteed to disappoint. Stay tuned for a special feature on philly cheesesteak sandwiches.
We drove back up to downtown and headed out for the Independence Hall area. Thankfully it was no longer raining, and we got around better. At some point in the afternoon we stopped at the Franklin Fountain for their Mount Vesuvius Chocolate Brownie Sundae. For ten bucks, and the name, we were expecting it to be bigger, but that’s what happens when you watch that other network. I’m not complaining, but we assumed it would be big enough for both of us. We only ordered one, and we should have ordered two. It was fabulous. I make them at home myself, but the kicker is the malt powder (and the fudge sauce).
We saw all the historic stuff, stopped for a beer at the City Tavern and had a recreation of one of Thomas Jefferson’s beer recipes from Monticello. History in a frosty mug. We walked down to Penn’s Landing and looked at all the ships, including the USS New Jersey across the river. We tend to walk a lot when we’re sight-seeing.
By the end of the afternoon, we’d seen everything we came for and were happy to get our car and drive up to Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat. The owner was not in, but our server, Josh, took excellent care of us. We sampled some asparagus and mushroom soup, which was accompanied with bread and a dipping sauce. I ordered the frito pie (from the show) and Anna ordered the Sloppy Joe on a pretzel bun. The food was very satisfying and we hated to leave. We felt like we were saving the best for last, and that’s the way it worked out. Honey’s was great, and it’s a BYOB (for future reference).
Next DDD destination: New Jersey (DDD count: 67)