Chef Caitlin Rorer has little time for sleep these days as co-owner of the newly opened Keen with her husband Chris Rorer. The New Jersey native has been living in Philly for the past 10 years, where she studied at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.
“Restaurant life is in my blood,” she says. “I came up in the biz. What I love about it is the joy of creating lasting memories through ambiance, delicious food and fun — being apart of the special moments in life.”
Rorer took the time to share with us some of her places to dine in Philadelphia and her picks include everything from vegetarian to Pan-Asian fare.
Best late night meal?
I love the Pancakes at South Street Diner (140 South St.) — they’re always open and it’s the perfect place to stop by after we close down Keen. If I am splurging (or extra hungry after a long shift) I will order the Hungry Man, which is the pancakes, two eggs, home fries, toast and crispy bacon.
Best meal under $10?
Mama’s Vegetarian (18 S. 20th St.) in Graduate Hospital is cheap, fresh and delicious. Their falafel is a complete meal of goodness. We ordered it a lot while we were under construction. It’s also our go-to staff meal for lunch as they deliver.
Best hidden foodie gem?
Marrakesh at 5th and Ludlow. My husband and I have been going here for years— I love this style of cuisine and the spicy chicken is to die for. It’s perfect for large groups and it’s cozy and intimate enough for date night. Saturday nights are a guaranteed good time because of the belly dancers.
Best place to dine alone?
The Good King Tavern (614 S. 7th St.) is a solid spot to post up at the bar solo and order the steak frites. Chris and I love the hand-crafted cocktails and will usually order a sazerac from their well-trained and knowledgeable bar team.
Place you always take or recommend for out-of-towners?
Sampan (124 S. 13th St.) is a go-to recommendation for out-of-towners. They’re consistent, the food is perfect for sharing and the ticket times are quick — ideal for guests who might have a packed schedule or are trying to catch a show. The edamame dumplings and korean short rib are must orders.
Go-to date spot hands down?
Vernick (2031 Walnut St.). In fact Chris’ parents actually celebrated their 44th anniversary there last month. The staff are incredible and you can’t go wrong with the toasts which are perfect to share on a date. It’s my favorite tuna tartare in the city.
Best place to catch up with friends?
We love the back bar at El Camino Real (1040 N. 2nd St.) in Northern Liberties. It’s intimate yet large enough to get rowdy with friends. Their menu has something for everyone and it’s fun to throw back a couple of pitchers of margaritas and nachos on a night out with friends.
Most Instagrammable restaurant?
I have to say Keen (1708 Lombard St.). It’s been incredible to see the instagram posts rolling in from our guests. Especially of the bathrooms. Outside of Keen, I find myself snapping pics at Tattooed Moms on South Street. There’s so much going on that I am always discovering something new each visit.