Unique Philly Book Cover

Irene Levy Baker

Positively Philadelphia: A taste of 'Unique Eats and Eateries'

Irene Levy Baker has penned a new book.

Lauren Lipton
September 30, 2018 - 4:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Irene Levy Baker's last book was "100 things to do in Philadelphia before you die." 

Now, assuming you're still alive and you like to eat, her newest book is "Unique Eats and Eateries of Philadelphia."

Unique Eats and Eateries of Philadelphia
Irene Levy Baker

"It includes the stories behind them, romances, bungled mob hits, and restaurants that survived prohibition, fires, earthquakes, as well as tips, like where to get a free bowl of soup with lunch (McGillin's Olde Ale House at 1310 Drury Street) or how to get reservations at Philadelphia's hottest restaurants." 

This restaurant came to Philadelphia from across the world. 

"One of my favorite places is Gran Caffe L'Aquila on Chestnut Street near 17th [Street]," Baker said. "They were in the Abruzzo region of Italy when their town and the restaurant were destroyed in a earthquake. They then moved to Philadelphia and rebuilt here and they chose Philadelphia because we have the largest Abruzzese population in the United States." 

Irene Levy Baker
Photo by Rachel Baker

One of the tips: how not to get kicked out of a Chinatown speakeasy named as the best bar in the world. 

"There are secret speakeasys around the city," Baker explained. "Some of them have rules, like at Hop Sing Laundromat, if you wear flip flops you're not getting in. And if you pull out your phone once you're inside you're getting kicked out and added to the list of people who are banned for life. There are 1,600 people on that list last, I heard, and you do not want to be on it." 

Jeez, I thought this was supposed to be fun. 

"Friedas. It's on Walnut [Street] between 3rd and 4th Streets. And it's a place to bring together generations," Baker said. "Good food and a lot of social activities. At one recent communal dinner I was sitting in between a senior citizens sex therapist and some young lawyers who worked in the DA's office." 

Learn a new language, play cards, make friends and, of course, enjoy good food.  

Listen to the entire interview. Find out why one restaurant calls itself the Hungry Pigeon and learn about secret menu items that you have to ask for.