Chef Kristol Bryant may not have been born in Philadelphia, but she’s been here long enough to be considered a native. Originally from Edison, NJ, Bryant moved with her family to Philadelphia in 1983. She began her culinary career in 1999 after being accepted into the Opportunities Inn Program (OIC), a non-profit that helps people get better jobs through education. She stayed local, sharpening her cooking skills at restaurants like Phillipe and XIX at the Bellevue. Today, she serves as the Executive Chef at the Sonesta Hotel. Bryant gives us the scoop on where to get the best fish tacos and, believe it or not, bone marrow.
Best meal under $10?
Four Seasons Diner (2811 Cottman Ave.) in the Northeast has the best cream chipped beef over biscuits I’ve ever had. It’s only been there for the last five years but the warmth and friendliness of the staff makes it seem like it was a part of the neighborhood from the beginning.
Best hidden foodie gem?
Marrakesh ( 517 S Leithgow St.) is as authenticate as you can get with their Moroccan cuisine. Everything is family style and the ambiance and décor truly takes you to another place. Now they offer utensils but you can just share and eat amongst your friend with your hands, and the baklava is just as it supposed to be with sweet honey, crispy layers of filo and nuts.
Best place to dine alone?
My best place to dine alone is El Vez (121 S 13th St). The people are always so friendly and even when you are by yourself it feels like you’re amongst friends. It is very hard for me to pass up on the fish tacos and margaritas.
Place you always take or recommend for out-of-towners?
Pennsylvania 6 (114 S 12th St.) is one of my favorite restaurants. The chef there is always coming up with new and inventive dishes, like the bone marrow, which he serves with grilled breads. After you finish eating all your marrow, you use the bone to take a shot of whiskey with it.
Go-to date spot, hands down?
Buddakan (325 Chestnut St.) has a great ambiance — the service is impeccable and the food speaks for itself. I cannot say enough good things about the tempura king crab with the sweet and sour sauce and the bento box of desserts.
Best place to catch up with friends?
The views from XIX (200 S Broad St.) are incredible — especially in the spring and summer when their balconies are open. It is a great place to hang out and catch up with friends. I love their jumbo lump crabcakes with tomato pepper jam.
Most Instagrammable restaurant?
Blackfish (119 Fayette St.) in Conshohocken. This BYOB restaurant has some of the most amazing dishes you will ever eat or see. The menu changes daily but I have never been disappointed by their crudo. It is like art on a plate.