Top Books About Philly: Food & Dining

November 7, 2012 7:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Iron Chefs. Nationally-renowned restaurants. And yes, whether you love him or hate him, Stephen Starr. If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that Philadelphia has come a long way from greasy cheesesteaks topped with glow-in-the-dark “cheese.” Check out these books on the city’s edible landscape, and you’ll see why Philly is quickly gaining recognition as a foodie paradise. – Chelsea Karnash

Food Lovers’ Guide to Philadelphia
By Iris McCarthy

This square, softcover tome is pretty much the ultimate guide to the food scene in Philadelphia. In addition to recipes from some of the city’s top foodie gems, McCarthy (herself a food writer and blogger in the City of BroLo) also includes info on specialty food shops, farmers’ markets, food festivals, pick-your-own produce, wineries, brewpubs and of course, restaurants for every palate, price point and occasion – handily organized by neighborhood.

Philadelphia Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the City of Brotherly Love
By April White and Jason Varney

From Garces to Starr and Vetri, this cookbook/yearbook celebrates the “cool kids” of the Philly gastro world and includes some of their favorite recipes. Learn about the geniuses behind Capogiro gelateria (the #1 spot for ice cream in the world according to Nat Geo), or try your hand at recreating Good Dog’s famous burger. Penned by local food writer April White, Philadelphia Chef’s Table is the perfect gift for tourists and residents alike.

Georges Perrier: Le Bec-Fin Recipes
By Georges Perrier and Aliza Green

Chef Perrier is a true revolutionary in Philadelphia, and his famed restaurant, Le Bec-Fin, is still considered a pinnacle of fine dining – despite recent renos, menu revamps and new management. For the hardcore at-home chef, this book of 120 French recipes from Perrier himself is an absolutely must. If nothing else, you’ll want to buy it for the gorgeous, droolworthy photographs. Merci, Georges – merci.

White Dog Café Cookbook: Multicultural Recipes and Tales of Adventure From Philadelphia’s Revolutionary Restaurant
By Judy Wicks, Kevin Von Klause, Elizabeth Fitzgerald and Mardee Haidin Regan

The local food movement is so en vogue these days that it’s hard to remember the era when you couldn’t trace that hubbard squash on your plate back to the farm that grew it. In Philadelphia, you can thank Judy Wicks for that. Her UCity café, White Dog, has been focusing on sustainability for more than 15 years, and inside this volume, you’ll find more than 250 recipes and anecdotes that reflect the “eating well while doing good” mantra. As for the recipes? They’re pretty darn good too – from Sweet Potato and Lemongrass Soup to Apple Cranberry Deep-dish Streusel Pie, the White Dog Café Cookbook is chock-full of fresh, produce-heavy eats that are impressive but not too difficult for inexperienced cooks to whip up at home.

The Reading Terminal Market Cookbook
By By Ann Hazan and Irina Smith

Reading Terminal is a beloved Philadelphia landmark, and that’s evident from the crowds that descend on the place each day (Tommy DiNic’s, anyone?). For those who want to feast on the Terminal’s goodies without standing in line, this cookbook is a must-have. Not only will you learn the history of the place and get a peek at snapshots of it from back in the day, you can also recreate that banana pudding from Delilah’s or the fried oysters from Pearl’s on your own.

The Brown Betty Cookbook
By Linda Hinton Brown and Norrinda Brown Hayat

Opened by three generations of African American women back in 2002, Brown Betty Dessert Boutique has become a city fav for its buttery biscuits, perfect pies and chewy cookies – among other offerings. Now, the ladies of the Brown family have teamed up again to put together this cookbook, which features the bakery’s secret recipes and the personal stories behind them. Just be warned: the huge, full-color photos of so many scrumptious desserts might have you drooling directly onto the page. Better get a napkin, STAT.

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