Chef Kevin Sbraga, who gained notoriety after winning the seventh season of Bravo's Top Chef, has taken little time off since the finale aired in 2010. He spent the following years opening two restaurants in his hometown of Philadelphia, Sbraga Dining and The Fat Ham, and is in the process of opening a third—this time, in Jacksonville, Florida. With a tentative opening this coming November, Sbraga & Co. will be the chef's first venture down south.
While Sbraga sets his sights on the future, he hasn't forgotten about his favorite city, Philadelphia. Here are his suggestions for the best dishes in the "city that loves you back."
"It’s kind of cheesy, but my favorite place for breakfast is a place called Broad Street Diner. It closed for a while but opened again two years ago. It’s convenient and close. Get the hash browns, over-easy eggs, rye toast with fried onions; you can’t beat it. It's my go-to 9 times out of 10. Hash browns are one of those things that are either good or bad, and if they’re great then I could eat that all of the time."
"Parc by Steven Star has a great brunch, they do a really good job there. The bread there is fantastic. Start off with sourdough and lightly whipped butter. Then, try the smoked salmon and some oysters. Another dish that's great, but isn't on their brunch menu, is the tuna carpaccio. It's so damn good. It’s like a near perfect dish; just olive oil, salt and chives."
"Han Dynasty is a great spot for lunch. I grew up not liking Chinese food because I’d always get buffet or take out, and it was just never good. When I tried authentic dishes from talented chefs I started to really appreciate it. It’s not thick, syrupy sauces; it’s all very clean. The dan dan noodles are great. It’s a really good balance of spice and the noodles have a really good chew. It’s an awesome lunch spot."
"One of my favorites is Pizzeria Vetri. I can go there with other chefs, family or my dad, and they are creative with the pizza. They do a marinara pizza there that’s really simple with amazing sauce and shaved garlic. They do the crust right and the sauce has a great balance of acidity. I was never one of those kids that wanted extra cheese on my pizza. I could always do a tomato pie, and their pizza reminds me of that."
"Two places are tied. The first one is Pub & Kitchen. The drinks are executed perfectly and no matter what you’re having it’s always well done. They also have great food, French fries, burgers – two thin patties with special sauce, are both really good meals."
"The second one is called Ashton Cigar Bar and that’s my favorite place to go for a drink and have a cigar, I’ll go there after dining somewhere else. It’s a great environment to go and relax, it’s not loud or roudy. They have a great whisky program. At the fat ham we do one of the largest programs in the city and they rival us."