Chef Townsend Wentz of East Passyunk’s acclaimed French Bistro, Townsend, didn’t always have his sights set on a career in restaurants. He initially studied Chemistry and Biology at Rutgers University and cooked to support himself in school.
Over the years, the South Jersey native fell in love with the industry and has since opened two other restaurants in addition to Townsend: A Mano in Fairmount and more recently, Oloroso in Center City.
“There’s always something more to learn [in the restaurant industry,” he says. “There are so many aspects to the business, you’re always challenged.”
Wentz filled us in on his favorite places to eat in Philly when he’s not working, which include a quite a few spots that have never been mentioned in “Eat Like an Insider.”
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Best late night meal?
Shiao Lan Kung (930 Race St.), hands down.
Best meal under $10?
The burger and fries at Fountain Porter (1601 S. 10th St.).
Best hidden foodie gem?
Current favorite is Jesse Ito’s Omakase at Royal Izakaya (780 S. 2nd St.).
Best place to dine alone?
Vietnam Restaurant (221 N. 11th St.). I’ve been going here for over 18 years, since before they remodeled and expanded. You can get a crispy spring roll and pho, have a hot coffee with condensed milk and be comfortable as a single diner.
Place you always take or recommend for out-of-towners?
Vernick (2031 Walnut St.). It’s consistently great.
Go-to date spot hands down?
Townsend (1623 E. Passyunk). We’ve seen many people get engaged and celebrate the most important moments of their lives here.
Best place to catch up with friends?
ITV (1615 E. Passyunk Ave.). Great drinks and no TV.
Most Instagrammable restaurant?
I’m not big on instagramming what I’m eating. Unless you want to see a ton of photos of Shiao’s hot and sour soup, we should stick with that.