Silk City Diner

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 15 | Posted Dec. 5, 2013

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The Silk City Diner has long enjoyed adoration from customers seeking a wide range of delicious options and features an award-winning beer garden every spring.

Several years ago, I received a book called “Save the Deli.” The focus was on the dwindling number of authentic delis in the country, which made me long for the days when real Jewish delis dotted the American culinary landscape.

I think someone should write a book called “Save the Diner.” Top-rate comforting diner foods count among my favorites but, alas, many cosmopolitan diners have fallen by the wayside. The menus are too large, and some of the dishes they serve are prepared with frozen so-so ingredients.

I have good news to report. Silk City Diner, located on Spring Garden Street, has renewed my faith in diner fare. I have not been to Silk City in a number of years, and I heard it serves a first-rate brunch.

There was a line of people waiting for a table or counter seat on a cold Sunday morning. Edward and I slid onto comfortable stools at the long Formica counter and immediately warmed up with mugs of rich strong La Colombe coffee ($2.50).

Silk City looks like the diners of yore. It is red and silver on the sleek outside yet has a friendly funkiness inside, and the counter also serves as a bar. Booths run along the windows facing Spring Garden Street, and there is a television if anyone wants to watch the Eagles win.

One might think it is easy to make pancakes and omelettes, but it is not. Many diners present patrons with sweet malt-like flavored pancakes or a flat egg dish doubling as an omelette. It is sometimes dry, brown and a little rubbery.

Edward ordered Silk pancakes ($9), and I was curious to see if Silk City could rustle up a perfect cheddar cheese omelette.

It was obvious from the first bite that the chefs who make griddle cakes prepare the batter in house and know when to flip them. As soon as bubbles form around the edges and they appear a bit golden, they are flipped over and served. Edward received three large pancakes that were made special by adding strips of smoky bacon to the batter. They were light and fluffy, and thank goodness Silk City offers real maple syrup! No Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth’s in sight. Scrapple is a Pennsylvania Dutch creation. When it is bad, boy, is it bad. It tastes like bland mush. The scrapple here ($4) is nicely seasoned and seared just right.

I ordered a cheddar cheese omelette with grits instead of roasted potatoes. It was plump and golden-filled with first-rate white cheddar cheese that oozed when I took a bite. Nobody serves flat, brown, rubbery omelettes at Silk City.

Grits take me back to Southern cafes and diners that I have visited. Silk City uses Anson Mills grits milled in the South. They are stone-ground and absolutely heavenly when they arrive piping hot. I topped them with butter and a little salt and pepper and immediately felt if an award were given for grits, Silk City would win hands down. Texture is important; they were smooth and creamy. Seeded marble rye toast was a treat. I’m pretty sure it came from a local bakery and not from a plastic sleeve.

A number of years ago, I enjoyed breakfast at a family-owned diner in western Pennsylvania. The family made its own sausage patties. Silk City does not make its own sausage patties. It serves Fiorella’s.

Any diner that offers me sausages from Fiorella Brothers Sausage, which has been in the Italian Market for more than 100 years, has earned a new fan. It was crisp, well-seasoned and hit the spot. It makes me smile when a restaurant supports local merchants.

Service was first-rate even though the place was packed. The Sunday brunch menu features lunch options as well. The woman sitting next to me at the counter was tucking into freshly-made hash topped with poached eggs while two women in a nearby booth tucked into burgers and fries.

Now that the cold weather has arrived, Silk City is offering hot chocolate made from scratch. I wondered if it uses Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder.

Three-and-a-half tips of the toque to Silk City Diner. ■

Silk City Diner

425 Spring Garden Street


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Comments 1 - 15 of 15
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1. Marty Medals said... on Dec 5, 2013 at 12:43PM

“What a pip this reviewer is.
With several fine diners in South Philly ( like the Broad Street Diner) this person has go North to Spring Garden street.
I am officially canceling my free subscription to this paper until they hire someone to write reviews of South Philly restaurants.”

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2. Tony said... on Dec 5, 2013 at 03:10PM

“Look, Marty Medals, this review was an interesting worthwhile description that a resident of South Philadelphia can use to COMPARE to the Oregon, Melrose and Broad Street diners. And if you like what you read, how big a deal is it to jump on the subway or drive your car to Spring Garden, for heaven's sake. I plan to. I really tire of the "white, wheat or rye" toast options and the tasteless grits, and, yes, the rubbery omlettes served in South Philly eateries. Get out of your cocoon, man, and learn to appreciate upscale food. This reviewer is doing both of us a favor. She's EDUCATING us. Get used to it and tone down the complaints.”

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3. Bruno said... on Dec 5, 2013 at 04:02PM

“Good luck canceling your free subscription to this paper. I tried doing that by certified letter and got nowhere. Finally went to see the guy in charge, named Joe I think, who claimed the deliverers are really low-wage and not attuned to the subtleties of who wants and doesn't want the paper.

I have an alternate suggestion. Use the paper to pick up dog poop in front of your house or get your windows squeaky clean. Oh, and don't read the food reviews in the process. Then you won't have to come here and whine. You too, MS.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Dec 5, 2013 at 05:35PM

“I have eaten at Silk city many times and have always had a really good meal. My husband is still hoping the chef will make his short rib special again. Service is good and you can really taste the liquor in the mixed drinks (no small feat.) There is always parking. Could happily eat there several times a week .”

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5. Anonymous said... on Dec 6, 2013 at 02:31AM

“The south philly diner scene is atrocious. almost as bad as Geno's”

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6. Marty Medals said... on Dec 6, 2013 at 08:57AM

“Now I know why you are anonymous. You know nothing.
Sam's Morning Glory Diner at 10th and Fitzwater is as fine a place to eat as any in the area and much better that the Silk City Diner!

So, stupid, take a look at the web site:

As far as my cancelation of my free subscription to the SPR well, I will use Bruno's advice and cut out the restaurant review each week to pick uo dog poop.I hope I don't insult any dogs by doing that.”

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7. MS said... on Dec 6, 2013 at 02:01PM

“Good Friday. Let me clarify a few things:

1) I like the SPR.
2) Restaurant reviews of places outside of SP are ok - as long as their in the area - a short walk or ride is OK in my opinion. Hopscotching to West Philly or Kensington when there are places closer to SP and the targeted readership seems a bit silly. Again; just my opinion.
3) I find the reviews written by PSN to be pretentious and affected.
4) Why did she decide on this diner when there are others closer to home - I read about the sausage manufacturer, the oatmeal folks and the coffee. Again; why not the Penrose - too pedestrian for her?
5) Again and again - just my opinion but maybe she's a failed writer for the NY Times or the Inquirer - who knows and frankly who cares. At the end of the day she writes for a neighborhood newspaper and maybe that's the best she can do so she continues to pretend that she's something she is not.”

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8. Bruno said... on Dec 6, 2013 at 02:20PM

“MS, you are a failed commenter. Worse than Phyllis' alleged pretension is your snobbery. If you have inside knowledge about Silk City's or Penrose's food, please share that with us. Otherwise, what's the point of repeating every week that you love reading the SPR and Phyllis is writing like this was the New York Times. That helps nobody and is really getting boring.”

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9. MS said... on Dec 6, 2013 at 02:50PM


This is a restaurant review from the NYT - check it out if you can read Bruno.

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10. Bruno said... on Dec 6, 2013 at 07:35PM


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11. Anonymous said... on Dec 8, 2013 at 01:03PM

“Not sure I get the drift of the critics. These reviews should be dumbed down? Uh, OK. Maybe when you vote Franny Rizzo into office he'll clean house here and put in a more insular and myopic food critic. Of course he (you know it will be a HE) will not be pretentious. Just plenty of attitude. Like there's a difference.”

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12. Candice said... on Dec 9, 2013 at 07:25AM

“I live in central Ohio and enjoy diners and diner reviews. And I'm actually happy to travel hours to visit a particularly good one, though - for me - it's as much about the people and the decor as the food (I particularly love a nicely preserved, small vintage diner with friendly staff and patrons). No doubt there is such a place in South Philly, but when I find it and visit, I certainly hope the patrons are not typical of the several of the commentators here... rude, and grousing about nothing of import.”

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13. Anonymous said... on Dec 9, 2013 at 12:53PM

“Candice, when you come to visit you must try a cheesesteak at Geno's or Pat's. Don't prepare your order, just go there and figure out what you want after you get to the front of the line. LOL.

What you will get while you hem and haw is uncalled for rudeness and arrogance. Pardon my bias, but that is typical of the city and the ethnic group that dominates South Philly. You see it in the beer-spilling at Eagles games, you see it in the sidewalk urination at the New Year's Mummers parade. So on second thought, skip the cheesesteak and go directly to Silk's Diner. Fortunately a lot of polite expats eat there.”

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14. MS said... on Dec 10, 2013 at 01:21PM

“Poor review/poor reviewer/poor quality folks (not including Marty).

Thin skinned readers and an crappy reviewer who is only limited to a neighborhood paper.

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15. Bruno said... on Dec 10, 2013 at 02:24PM

“Double yawn...”


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