All week long Metro will be highlighting our selections of the city's best -- from restaurants to salons to dance parties -- in 2012. Check back tomorrow for our picks in Nightlife and Culture.
Best sandwich and Anthony Bourdain sighting for under $10: Paesano's South Philly
Somewhere between the legendary Italian Market's raw meats and street vegetables lies this diamond of a sandwich shop, which also has a Northern Liberties outpost. But we're not talking Italian hoagies or cheesesteaks. We're talking gourmet creations such as fried lasagna and fried egg between two pieces of bread (Lipitor sold separately). Even Anthony Bourdain couldn't stay away on a recent taping in Philly.
1017 S. Ninth St., 215-440-0371
Best pizza for adventurous squares: Stogie Joe's
Think outside the (pizza) box. We don't have to be handcuffed by the normal crust, then sauce, then cheese order of life. By putting the cheese beneath the sauce, Stogie Joe's serves up square pies that cut down on the sloppy grease. 1801 E. Passyunk Ave.,
Best place to get drunk and watch 'Jeopardy!': Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
They'll put the Phillies game on, but only after Alex Trebek gives the green light. Nothing good happens in the first inning anyway.
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.
Best movable feast: Chinatown Night Market
Who needs a table, chairs, a waiter or even a kitchen? The food truck revolution has taken over and the thousands of hungry/fat people who flooded the streets of Chinatown in search of a delightful meal made on wheels weren't disappointed. There's something romantic about eating tacos cooked over a radiator while sitting on the curb, which is why we're looking forward to more from this late-night snack series presented by The Food Trust.
Best place to act pretentious without being pretentious: Hop Sing Laundromat
We wonder if Rocky Balboa would be allowed into this super-secret speakeasy? Fedora on, of course.
1029 Race St.
Best place to buy cases of beers you've never heard of: Bella Vista Beer Distributor
Grab a shopping cart and get your beer snob on. It's a massive wonderland of beers from all over the world, complete with grocery-style aisles organized by beer style. Just make sure to bring a beer-chugging meathead with you to carry the 24-packs. 755 S. 11th St.,
Best bar not called XFinity Live! to watch the Flyers: The Wishing Well
If the Barry Ashbee pennant isn't enough to convince you, then the strong pours definitely will.
767 S. Ninth St.,
Best spot for beer and carbs after a hike in the Wissahickon: McMenamin's Tavern
About a half-mile from the trailhead at Emlen Street and Cresheim Road, hardcore hikers will gladly plod through the leafy neighborhood to reach a Mount Airy staple. McMenamin's (try pronouncing that after four Victory Hop Devils) has been offering stellar-but-cheap pub grub for decades -- the grinders are a signature. Plus, its huge selection of draught beers will tie a perfect bow on an afternoon in the Wissahickon.
7170 Germantown Ave.
Best budget noodles (and fried chicken): Sky Cafe
Over the last year, this nondescript corner location in the heart of South Philly has developed a loyal following. And, once you've tried a Mie Komplit (the house egg noodle platter), you'll find Sky cravings sneaking up on you, too. With entree prices ranging from $5-$7, it's a wonder they stay in business, but we're not complaining. If you're not feeling adventurous, try one of the fried chicken dishes -- simple and tasty.
1540 Ritner St., 215-271-1983
Best bar and restaurant for someone who actually works in a bar and/or restaurant: The Industry
In case the name didn't tip you off, this pub from the owners of Good Dog caters to the working crowd, offering a 20 percent standing discount to all those in the biz and serving food until 1 a.m. Chef Pat Szoke dishes out oddities -- think potted trout and pork face nuggets -- that will impress even the most jaded gourmands, and a weekly "staff meal" is shared with customers for a steal. 1401 E. Moyamensing Ave., 215-271-9500
Best brunch for guys who don't do brunch:
Guys don't do brunch -- but breakfast nachos with a growler of Midas Touch? Yes, please. 738 S. 11th St., 215-627-3012, www.hawthornecafe.com
Best brewery that we sometimes forget about -- but shouldn't: Dock Street
Rosemarie Certo invented the Philly craft beer scene, then put all other breweries on notice. 701 S. 50th St., 215-726-2337,
Best bacon replacement:Vedge's happy hour
Considering they're vegans, the crew over at Vedge host a pretty solid happy hour. Stop by Monday-Friday (5-7 p.m.) for $4 snacks such as Korean seitan tacos and curry wedge fries, as well as $6 cocktails. Fries, vodka, tacos: Who knew the veggies had this much fun?
1221 Locust St., 215-320-7500
Best place to indulge your inner 6-year-old: Philly Sweettooth
If the candy-hued decor isn't enough to send you into sugar shock at this scoop-it-yourself sweets boutique, its by-the-pound selection of confections will do the trick. Walls of plastic bins are stocked with everything from chocolate-covered brownie batter to Pop Rocks. Your dentist will definitely not approve.
630 S. Fourth St., 215-923-8800
Bar that needs to re-open immediately: Dolphin Tavern
Word around town is there are plans to re-open this Philly institution. Good thing, since we all need more go-go divey goodness in our lives.
Best job living up to the hype: Pizza Brain
Considering the amount of buzz Pizza Brain’s “pizza museum” generated, the actual pies had a lot to live up to. But somehow, the inventive thin-crust slices are the actual stars at this charming Fishtown parlor whose phone greeting — “Congratulations! You’ve just called Pizza Brain!” — seems totally warranted.
2313 Frankford Ave.
Best place to consume liquids from morning ’till night: Ultimo Coffee Bar
Got a killer deadline looming? Just check yourself into Ultimo first thing in the morning and kick-start your cram session with a hand-poured drip coffee. The calming wood-laden cafe is the perfect place to break a procrastination streak. But the best part is, once you’ve e-mailed that assignment (free WiFi, of course), you can reward yourself with a microbrew — Ultimo doubles as a bottle shop!
1900 S. 15th St., 215-339-5177