I once drove 60 miles for a Nathan’s hot dog . I had a craving. And anyone who is bedeviled by cravings for favorite nibbles knows, nothing is too extreme to have it satisfied. But how about closer to home in the Philly suburbs? Here are just a few of my top go-to spots for very specific palate pleasers. – Jay Lloyd
CHICKIE'S AND PETE'S (MUSSELS)
Put your fingers into a bowl of Chickie’s and Pete’s mussels (red for me) and then lick. You’re hooked. The craving will strike again and again. The bowl is packed. The garlic is visible and you need nothing more for ultimate satisfaction than a robust brew. If you manage to finish the bowl, there’s bread at hand for dipping in leftover sauce. Mary and I couldn’t finish. Took home the sauce and 8 mussels, added a few shrimp, tossed in some live and chopped clams for an incredible bonus meal.
LEMON TREE (EGG ROLLS)
As a kid in New York with neon “Chop Suey” signs blazing in every neighborhood, I had frequent cravings for egg rolls. The closest I’ve come to those flavor fantasies is at the Lemon Tree, a small but elegant Chinese eatery in Chester Springs. The skins are golden crisp, the ingredients fresh and the flavor brings 1940’s New York to the Philly suburbs. But save room for dishes, to tantalize both traditional American tastes and introduce unique regional dishes of China.
DA VINCI'S (FLATBREAD)
Ever get a craving for a pizza with a rich red sauce and some homemade mozzarella? But it’s late and you don’t want a whole pizza or a heat lamp slice. That’s when I head to DaVinci’s Pub for a flatbread that’s a letter perfect imitation of a classic pie. Fine for one, or to share with a brew or two. Craving satisfied, no bulky box to schlep home. And often a bit of live music on the bandstand or a game on the telly.
PETER PIPER'S PICKLE PALACE (PICKLES)
One of the most frequent cravings is the absolute need for a pickle – sour, garlic dill, half sour – you name it. Peter Piper’s, occupying a prominent stall at the bustling Zern’s Market has some of suburbia’s best. They compare favorably to the fabled barrels of Brooklyn. Pickle purveyor Philip Dolgan told KYW listeners that the largest number of cravings revolve around his garlic dills. You’ll find him at Zern’s on Fridays and Saturdays. There’s a quart of the pickled cukes in my fridge now, to last till the next Gilbertsville getaway.