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Mac’s Tavern – Philadelphia, PA

Mac’s Tavern – Philadelphia, PA

Having visited Skinner’s Tavern many NYE’s parties throughout the years as one of the closest locations to catch the fireworks on the Delaware River, I was a little saddened when they closed. In their place Mac’s Tavern (MT) opened and brought with it a dou, namely Rob and Kaitlin McElhenney of one of my all-time favorite shows “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. The design of the interior of MT stayed pretty true to Skinner’s but a thorough cleaning and update of the place was certainly had when MT took over as the old Skinner’s was not known as one of Philadelphia’s cleanest establishments. On my stop at MT I would go with their pulled pork sandwich.

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The sandwich consisted of slow roasted Italian style pulled pork with garlic sautéed broccoli rabe, and aged provolone cheese on a ciabatta roll with a side of gravy and hand cut fries. I must admit that I was a little skeptical at first with MT being run partly by comedians and not well known restaurateurs, but they certainly have put in the right staff to handle MT’s daily duties as the meal was very nice and tasty. Now I am not proclaiming greatest at MT, but I will admit it was much better than just your standard variety of sandwich and I was certainly pleased with my experience at MT. So whether you are a fan of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or you are just looking for a decent bite in Old City Philadelphia, it is safe to say that MT should have you covered on both fronts.

Overall

Three and Three-Fourth Stars out of Five

 

Jim’s Steaks – South Street – Philadelphia, PA

Jim’s Steaks – South Street – Philadelphia, PA

One of Philadelphia’s hottest tourist areas is the South Street area for better or worse. I find I have a love/hate relationship with this street. You have some of the most tasteless stores and flavorless eateries, but you also have some of the best shopping and amazing eats all right next to each other while trying to avoid the throngs of helpless and wondering visitors from out of town. It is horrible and great all at the same time. One of the most poplar places is Jim’s Steaks (JS) which at times has a line around the block just to put an order in. I passed by JS one day with a light crowd and decided to give them a shot. I would order a mushroom cheese steak with American cheese and fried onions.

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The sandwich itself was slightly above average. The steak was of nice quality, but chopped up way to much as it fell out of the roll, the mushrooms even though generous in portion size came directly out of a can, but I must admit the fried onions were delicious and some of the best around. If you are a tourist it is not a bad one to try and maybe slightly better than the other two well-known tourist cheesesteak destinations while provided somewhere indoors to eat your fare and having some neat pictures to browse around the place.

What really got me at JS had nothing to do with how my sandwich tasted. After my order was when things got a little dicey. The patron in front of me did not have cash so they went over to the atm in JS and tried to get money out of that machine. After a few minutes trying to no avail, they told the cashier that it was not working and that they would be right back as they were going to use the atm around the corner. One would think the cashier would move on to the next customer. NOT!!! The cashier said she already entered their meal into the register and she could not cancel it. I had to wait five to ten more minutes for the individuals to reappear while the line behind me grew exponentially as well with all of our sandwiches going cold on the counter waiting for them. Once that issue was cleared I thought I could move on, but boy was I wrong. Once I handed over my money, the cashier advised me that she did not have any more quarters or dimes at the moment even though it was only 1pm and she just stared at me for fifteen minutes waiting for the other people to find an atm instead of finding some money for herself as well in that timeframe. She asked if it was ok to just give me pennies and nickels. I agreed and was handed some coins. I looked down at noticed she did not give me the proper change in pennies as I was given eight pennies and three nickels for change of seventy-seven cents. I advised her of the mistake, and she said she gave me the correct change and she would have to check register count to refund anything else. With many other customers behind me and having a much longer wait than it needed to be already, I decided to let JS keep my extra change and move on, but I was not happy.

With all said and done I will give JS two ratings, which is the first time ever on this website, but I could not give JS just one score on the basis of one of the employees being completely incompetent.

Three and half out of five stars for the meal and atmosphere in and around JS

and

One star overall for the meal and quality of service JS provided to me

 

*********** UPDATE 01-26-2016 ********************

Talked to the president of Jim’s Steaks over the phone and then he sent a follow up email (shown below). They apologized for my experience and stated he will take corrective actions on the things I mentioned and he strives everyday for every customer to have nothing but an outstanding experience and sandwich. I will have to give them another chance. Kudos Jim’s Steaks for being professional.

 

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Derek:
Thanks for your time on the phone this afternoon. It is not often that I get to speak personally to a reviewer, especially a negative one. I apologize for your wait you had in line at our restaurant and the unprofessional way in which your change was tendered. Most of our staff has been with us for many years and would never have handled you in such a manner. The cashier that day was in her second week of training and, as you might imagine, didn’t make it to week three. We pride ourselves on our service as well as our cheesesteaks and the wait you had to endure was completely outside our normal operating procedures. We handle the situation you described multiple times a day and simply move the patron ahead of you to the side if there is a problem. When busy we serve up to 3000 guests a day through a single cash register, so we have to have policies in place that address folks who don’t have cash.
We hope that the next time you have a chance to visit the South St. area you give us another try. I can assure you in no uncertain terms that your experience will be one that will leave you with a much more positive impression of Jim’s Steaks South St.
Sincerely,
K## S##### – President
Jim’s Steaks South St.
400 South St.
Phila., PA 19147

 

 

Grace Tavern – Philadelphia, PA

Grace Tavern – Philadelphia, PA

So many areas of Philadelphia have been gentrified that what was old is hip again, and what was hip is now just too expensive to even hang around there anymore. The area around Grace Tavern (GT) is such a place, but thankfully the minute you step inside GT you are warmly welcomed and able to enjoy yourself without emptying your wallet. On my visit I would go with a tavern favorite of mine, burger and fries.

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My order was for the Kennett Square burger with sharp cheddar and sautéed Kennett Square mushrooms and it did not disappoint. I am not saying that they have one of the best burgers in Philly, but what GT does have is a decent incarnation of one and one heck of a tasty order of fries that went along with my meal at a very affordable price and service with a smile. GT is not as new or fancy as some places, but they got the job done and my belly was much happier when I was done.

Overall

Three and half stars out of Five

 

Revolution Taco

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(The following is a special series on Bluejeanfoodcritic.com written by guest contributing writer William Knowles. He highlights his passions of of trying something new whenever the opportunity presents itself, or possibly something old, but new again since it has been a while. I hope you enjoy his very special perspective that I am sure many of you can relate to. Follow him on his exciting journey “Around Town”)

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Last week marked the official grand opening of Revolution Taco, a new eatery at 2015 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, in the shadow of Rittenhouse Square.  Our friends at Aversa PR & Events invited us along for a sampling of the unique offerings that the eatery will have in store.

Specializing in tacos, empanadas and burritos, the restaurant is the result of a partnership between three food truck entrepreneurs uniting their product and brands.  Mike Sultan, operator of Street Food Philly;  Alan Krawitz, who runs Say Cheese; and Carolyn Nguyen, proprietor of Taco Mondo, all share in the creation of Revolution Taco.  The offerings were impressive, and there is much to choose from the menu.  The beef, brisket and chicken tacos were delicious.  For vegetarians, there are mushroom and tofu tacos; as well as roast duck.  The empanada we sampled was out of this world…the chips and guac fresh with flavor.

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The food truck industry has seen a surge in recent years, particularly in our area.  The success that led to the formation of Revolution Taco comes on the heels of this boom, and it’s interesting to see those with different visions unite their talents.  It’s also refreshing to see more and more smaller eateries opening, and thriving, in the city.  Competition with chain restaurants and their popularity can be a difficult thing to encounter, but most will find the quality at a local neighborhood joint to be above those of said chains.  If you presently frequent a well known taco or Mexican theme restaurant, you may find this new option to be superior to them, in many ways…

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Revolution Taco celebrated its grand opening this week, and you should visit soon to enjoy a nice atmosphere and great food. Happy New Year, and see you around town…

Lazaro’s Pizzeria and Grill – Philadelphia, PA

Lazaro’s Pizzeria and Grill – Philadelphia, PA

They may be known around Philadelphia for their jumbo twenty-six inch pizzas, but on the day I stopped by Lazaro’s Pizzeria and Grill (LPG) I would go with a chicken parmigiana sandwich. LPG has your standard pizza joint menu and dated pizzeria décor that could use a little bit of a freshening up. The staff was very busy as the place was packed on a weekday lunch rush and this created a very impersonal feeling to service.

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The sandwich was of your standard variety. Frozen chicken cutlet deep fried, with prepackaged sauce and cheese with a roll that was over toasted and burnt. LPG is an affordable destination for something to eat around an area that there are not many budget options available. They will not surprise you with their menu or what you served, but sometimes the saying of “you get you pay for” rings true here.

Overall

Two out of Five Stars

 

Antonietta Bistro – Runnemede, NJ

Antonietta Bistro – Runnemede, NJ – NOW CLOSED

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Every now and again you want to have something good to eat, but do not want to cook, go out to eat, or have the normal delivery food options. I was feeling this way when I decided to give Antonietta Bistro (AB) a try and decided to go with take-out. Walking inside AB has an odd setup and there was a slight confusion when I said I ordered take-out, but the man behind the bar finally stated he knew about my order and delivered it.

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My order would be Chicken Saltimbocca which was chicken breast with mushrooms sautéed with marsala wine, and topped with prosciutto and melted provolone cheese and a side or fried zucchini. AB put in a nice little treat of garlic bread topped with long-hots which was a great surprise and even tastier. The fried zucchini was absolutely delicious, fresh and one of the better ones I have had in quite some time. The main course, chicken saltimbocca was over salted and the flavor profile was lacking slightly. All in all though, I was happy with my meal from AB and will most certainly visit again.

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Overall

Three and Three-fourth stars out of Five

Cafe Mai Vy – Philadelphia, PA

Cafe Mai Vy – Philadelphia, PA – NOW CLOSED –

With all of the Banh Mi options around Washington Ave in South Philly it can be overwhelming, especially with half of them not even having things to read in English. I decided to give Café Mai Vy (CMV) a try and it was a worthwhile trip.

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I ordered the spicy bbq pork banh mi and it was not only one of cheaper ones around, it was one of the better ones as well. The freshness of the roll, carrots, cilantro and nice fatty pieces of barbequed pork in every bite were wonderful. The service was very minimal as the language barrier made things a bit difficult, but they were friendly and gracious. The décor is very dated and a little mish mash of trinkets and do-dads, but for the quality and price CMV will be seeing much more of me.

Overall

Four out of Five Stars

 

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