Chef and restaurant owner Jezabel Careaga has been in love with cooking since she was a child — inspired by her grandmother, mother and aunt in Argentina. At the age of 5, she began baking alfajores (a delicious Argentine cookie with a dulce de leche center) and hasn’t stopped. In 2010, she opened Jezabel’s in Philly’s Fitler Square neighborhood, where she infuses her Argentinean culinary foundation with European elements. On Sept. 29, she will be participating in Feastival 2016, showcasing her much-raved-about empanadas.
Before the big day, however, she gave us the lowdown on where to find the best falafel — and the one dish that makes her mouth water.
Best late-night meal?
Sorry, I don’t do late-night meals. Got to get up early for my workout!
Best meal under $10?
Mama’s Vegetarian (18 S. 20th St). I love falafel and these ones are among the best I’ve had. Lunch always calls for a falafel sandwich. $7? What a deal!
Best hidden foodie gem?
Local 44 (4333 Spruce St.) is bar food as good as it gets with a great beer selection. My fave dish is the lamb burger — medium-rare for me. It’s tasty and succulent — such a treat.
Best place to dine alone?
Dmitri’s in Queen Village (795 S. 3rd St). Sitting at the bar and seeing the magic happen in such a small space is inspiring. Nothing beats my love for their grilled octopus. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water.
Place you always take or recommend for out-of-towners?
Zahav! Zahav (237 St. James Pl.) brings something different to Philadelphia with their tapas style.The service is impeccable and the food surprises me every single time I dine here — and I’m here every other week. I love the haloumi, and the Persian rice is to die for — simple yet full of flavor. It’s also special to me because it reminds me of the rice my Grandma Julia used to make.
Go-to date spot?
Wm. Mulherin’s Sons (1355 N. Front St.) is the best date place by far. The building is beautiful, the architecture and design of the space is romantic with the blend of materials old and new — it all just works together. The drinks and wine selection are strong and their food is delicious, hearty and fresh.
Best place to catch up with friends?
Audrey Claire (276 S. 20th St.) is such a classic when living in the city. I love the variety of fresh dishes, and outdoor seating on such a lively corner in Rittenhouse. My favorite dish is antipasto for two; it has a little bit of everything — asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, grilled mushrooms and olives.
Most Instagrammable restaurant?
Bing Bing Dim Sum (1648 E. Passyunk Ave.) The food is tasty, the atmosphere is fun and the service is on point. I love the lamb roll with mint chimichurri.