Cheap Eats: Philly artists make their selections
There may be nothing more valuable in an artist’s life than knowing where to get a cheap yet completely satisfying and delicious as well as somehow aesthetically pleasing meal. A meal that lets you enjoy life without having to run up your credit card bills. Below are Philly performing artists who have generously shared their hard-fought, extensively researched recommendations of the city’s best cheap eats.
Name: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Company: Kosoko Performance Group
Fave cheap eats: Govinda’s Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: South and Broad
How it first won your heart: The guy who works there knows I like to add rice and bbq sauce to my sandwich. I don’t even have to ask for it anymore.
What you order most: The Chicken Cheesesteak (with rice and bbq)
Average expenditure: $7.50
Would you eat here pre-performance? When I was doing HDT’s [Headlong Dance Theater’s] more. a couple years ago at the Arts Bank, I basically lived there.
What you’re up to: My company is touring An American Chameleon to Pittsburgh in May, 2011. I’m currently working on a new piece Perhaps My Father was a Nigerian Butterfly? I also have a new book of poetry NOTES on AN URBAN KILL-FLOOR.
Photo by Mike Dell’Italia
Occupation: Independent dance/theater artist
Fave cheap eats: Viet Huong, Vietnamese spot right next to (north of) Nam Phuong, 11th and Washington, and Mayflower, a Chinatown bakery on Race between 10th and 11th Streets.
How they first won your heart: Viet Huong: One day (after having gone there regularly for six months) I ran in there in a hurry, sat down at 8pm, ordered at 8:01pm, had my big bowl of noodle soup in front of me by 8:05pm, done eating, paid, and walking out by 8:20pm. Mayflower: Back in ’03 I used to wait there for the next Chinatown bus going to NYC, with coffee and freshly baked bread/pastries, sitting in the back with 50-year-old Chinese men smoking cigarettes, it was all a very nice way to start the morning . . .
What you order most: Vietnamese: Pho.
Mayflower: Almond butter bread and/or steamed bbq pork bread.
Average expenditure: Vietnamese: $8 including tip.
Bakery: $3 (each roll/pastry is usually around $.70).
Would you eat here before a performance? Yes.
Favorite décor detail: I don’t think they do that there.
Do your friends find them as charming as you do? Vietnamese, yes. Bakery, dunno, haven’t taken any friends except Ben Camp there.
What you’re up to: AUTO with Kate Wawa/anonymous bodies in April (at PIFA), Miss Saigon at Walnut Street in May – July, Whale Optics with Thaddeus Phillips/LSI in Sept. (at Live Arts Festival). Also working on touring Boom Bap Tourism as well as starting phase of 1 of next “research” project in collaboration with Bethany Formica and Leah Franqui.
Photo by Bill Hebert
Name: Amy Smith
Company: Headlong Dance Theater
Fave cheap eats: Bitar’s
Location: 10th and Federal
How it first won your heart: When I first moved to Philly in the early 90s, walking around South Philly on the way to the ACME I discovered Bitar’s and I’ve been going there ever since.
What you order most: Lentil soup in cold months; falafel sandwich with tabouleh in the warmer months.
Average expenditure: $5 with a beverage.
Would you eat here before a performance? I usually wait until after the show to eat.
Favorite décor detail: The gem-like dessert pastries under glass.
Do your friends find them as charming as you do? Yes.
Another thing that we must know in order to understand your affection for this place: I also love buying unusual (for me) groceries at Bitar’s like zatar, sumac and halloumi.
What you’re up to: Headlong’s next endeavor is Red Rovers, a new piece about the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and the scientists who love them. And ‘drive’ them. (Premieres at 2011 Live Arts Fest!)
Photo © Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net
Name: Jennifer Summerfield
Company: Curio Theatre
Fave cheap eats: Qdoba
Location: 19th and Chestnut, 11th and Walnut, 40th and Locust
How it first won your heart: Convenience and speed. It’s the perfect place to go between engagements. I often go after an afternoon rehearsal and before an evening performance.
What you order most: Vegetarian Burrito
Average expenditure: $8.50
Would you eat here pre-performance? Absolutely. I would and have.
Favorite décor detail: The windows overlooking the street; the perfect place to people-watch, no matter which location you choose.
Do your friends find it as charming as you do? My mom said she would eat there every day if she lived in the city.
Another thing that we must know in order to understand your affection for this place: They don’t skimp on the ingredients, giving you absolutely the most bang for your buck. You watch them as they create your meal and are involved in the building process. Plus, they have a rewards card so you can earn a free burrito! What’s not to love?
What you’re up to: I’m playing Gertrude in Curio Theatre’s upcoming April production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (at The Sanctuary at The Calvary Center, 48th and Baltimore Ave).
Photo by Kyle Cassidy.
Name: Les Rivera
Occupation: Dance/theatre artist, musician, and man about town
Fave cheap eats: Nam Phoung
Location: Souf Fili (11th and Washington)
How it first won your heart: Pork! I’m Puerto Rican and pork is big in our diet.
What you order most: BBQ Pork Vermicelli Bowl
Average expenditure: $7.00
Would you eat here pre-performance? Yes, but would keep it light. Like a seafood vermicelli soup.
Favorite décor detail: A deer drinking from a pond, but the pond is a light, so it illuminates the deer.
Do your friends find it as charming as you do? More so.
Another thing that we must know in order to understand your affection for this place: They also serve whole fish; bones, face, fins, tails, etc, which is also something we boricuas get down with. Reminds me of going fishing with my grandfather and cousins, and my grandmother frying up the catch.
What you’re up to: I’m playing a full concert with back up dancers/singers at The Trocadero on April 20th(debuting my new single at this show as well). Also working on a solo dance/theater extravaganza about a good boy gone bad called Platypus.
Photo by LuzSelenia Salas
More recs after the jump.Name: Ed Miller
Fave cheap eats: Tampopo
Location: 21st St and Samson
How it first won your heart: Looking for a place to eat before rehearsals at the Adrienne, I tried a dish called bi-bim-bop and that began my love affair.
What you order most: Steak hoagie (no, of course, bi-bim-bop, but the spicy beef is a close second).
Average expenditure: $10 including a drink.
Would you eat here pre-performance? Yes, often.
Favorite décor detail: Japanese anime posters
Do your friends find it as charming as you do? Not sure, I often would eat there solo.
Another thing that we must know in order to understand your affection for this place: I like spicy food.
What you’re up to: PPA: The Musical, for the 2011 Philly Fringe.
Photo stolen from Ed’s facebook page.
Name: Frank Brückner
Fave cheap eats: Nam Phuong (Vietnamese); La Lupe (Mexican); Sakura (Chinese/Asian)
Locations: South Philly, 11th Str./Washington Ave; South Philly, 1201 S 9th Street; Chinatown, Btwn N 10th & N 11th St
How they first won your heart: I went there.
What you order most: Deluxe Pho; Barbacoa, Lengua and Chorizo Tacos; Grand Shanghai Noodle Soup.
Average expenditure: $8
Would you eat here pre-performance? Yes, definitely!
Favorite décor detail: Light, open spaces, clean, but most importantly: the food!!!
Do your friends find it as charming as you do? You bet!
Another thing that we must know in order to understand your affection for this place: The food in all those three place is delicious, fresh and very inexpensive, the waiting staff is friendly, people of all kind eat there, not only starving artists . . .
What you’re up to: Two short Films in the Spring, a feature in the Summer.
Photo by Emilie Delugeau.
Name: Annie Wilson
Company: Currently forming several companies, whose names and facebook group pages have yet to be firmed up.
Fave cheap eats: Pho Hoa
Location: South Philly, 11th and Washington
How it first won your heart: It has the best Pho in the city.
What you order most: Pho with brisket and flank.
Average expenditure: $8, including tip.
Would you eat here pre-performance? I would, but only if I get the Pho craving.
Favorite décor detail: Now, it’s difficult to be entirely sure if it’s Pho Hoa that features this decor, because there are several delicious Pho restaurants right in that area and it’s hard to tell all the Pho restaurants apart, but I’m pretty sure Pho Hoa features giant posters of bowls of Pho, with just the word underneath, in giant print: PHO.
Do your friends find it as charming as you do? I don’t think so, but I sense that they might find my particular love for Pho rather charming.
Another thing that we must know in order to understand your affection for this place: The servers are very unfriendly. I’ve never ordered anything other than Pho, so I don’t know if this is the case with all the food, but the Pho comes out in five minutes. And they are generous with their cilantro, which can’t be said of all Pho places in that complex.
What you’re up to: I’m working on a bunch of projects, solo and with others, in the studio and on the streets, for which I am very excited. This week and next week, March 24-26, 31, and April 1, 2 at 7pm I am performing in Curt Haworth’s piece Either/Or at the Performance Garage, as part of The Double Dance Feature. Tickets here.
Photo by Bill Hebert.
P.S. My favorite cheap eats? It’s impossible to say, I always end up ordering a couple of beers, and then it’s not so cheap anymore.