I recently returned from a low-key weekend excursion to nearby Philadelphia—a city near and dear to me, as the site of my first on-my-own apartment—to visit friends. Since I somehow managed to let nearly a year lapse between visits, I had the urge to wander around my first morning. My friend/host Rob and I (with his short-haired lhasa apso, Rufus, in tow), strayed from his Rittenhouse Square abode east into Center City, where we stumbled upon Garces Trading Company.
GTC—both a shop and restaurant—opened mid-February this year by recently crowned Iron Chef Jose Garces, in a partnership with the PA Liquor Control Board. The store portion stocks various charcuteries, cheeses, oils, baked goods (made on-site), coffee, and it even has a wine boutique (hence the PLCB partnership). The restaurant portion seats about 75 people and serves lunch and dinner seven days a week, plus brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
The newness, available outdoor seating, and eye-catching $25 three-course-plus-a-mocktail (the restaurant is BYOB) brunch were enough to sell me. Rob and I opted to share our appetizers. He ordered the chef’s cheese selection, which came with the creamiest brie I’ve ever tasted and a truffle honey I could have eaten alone with a spoon. I ordered the country paté—because when have I ever turned down anything wrapped in bacon?—which also did not disappoint.
My main course was sliced hangar steak served with an egg, béarnaise (I ordered mine on the side), and a crispy potato pancake bigger than my face. It was amazing, and not as heavy as you might think, though I did have to save my dessert—a lovely and surprisingly light dome of chocolate mousse—for later that day.
The restaurant also offers a chef’s tasting menu for lunch and dinner at $25 and $40 per person, respectively. (And rumor has it, the deep dish pizza is out of this world.) Guess where I’ll be eating next time I visit.
1111 Locust St. (at 11th St.), Philadelphia, PA; 215/574-1099
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.