Go to Continental Midtown in Philadelphia, PA and sit up stairs in the swinging basket chairs. Trust me.
At Continental, the retro-fifties diner concept is executed perfectly. The decor, the menu, the drinks–everything works together for a very diesel experience. The restaurant specializes in what they call “global tapas,” but really it’s just a wide range familiar favorites with outstanding execution. Salads, sandwiches, upscale comfort food. They offer a sizable brunch menu on the weekend with a similar lunch/dinner options throughout the week.
Two recommendations: Lobster Mac & Cheese and the french fries. The Mac & Cheese, made with orzo and Gruyere is rich and buttery without relying on a heavy cheese sauce. I could have used a little more pepper seasoning, but the sweetness of the lobster need not be overpowered. The best part? The melted cheese-encrusted edges, obviously. As for the fries, I was totally feelin’ them. Short cut, very crispy and hot. Lightly salted. I kept going back for more long after full. Get a side even if they don’t come with your dish.
Now I went to Continental Midtown, but there’s also the original location in Old City Philadelphia and one in Atlantic City. Aside from the great food and service, the best achievement has to be the vibe. Hip, Rat Pack, cool. I mentioned the swinging chairs, but the sunken in center booths looked equally as comfy. Go for the food, but stay for the atmosphere. When it comes to dining in Philadelphia it’s hard to argue against Stephen Starr. Head to 18th & Chestnut. Look for the giant olive.