There are several things I love in this world that fall into the “food and drink” category: Guacamole, fish and chips, Walt Wit, pancakes, Sailor Jerry Rum, and mint chocolate chip ice cream, among others.
But, at the very tippy top of my list are two things: Sweet potato fries and Strongbow Cider.
Growing up, my father had a distaste for cooked orange food (don’t ask), so sweet potatoes were never on the menu. I didn’t even really see a sweet potato until college, when my roommate (who was very Pennsylvania Dutch) introduced me to them, along with other delicacies like shoofly pie and pirogies, but that’s for another post. When I moved to Pennsylvania a few years ago, the concept of “sweet potato fries” was still fairly foreign, but after I had my first taste at some hole in the wall diner in Allentown, I was hooked.
Philly doesn’t share the love of the sweet potato fry that the Lehigh Valley does, but you can still find some good ones around here. Most notably, at the Good Dog Bar (224 S 15th Street).
I fell in love with Good Dog when I was working at a place I hated in Center City. I would go there during my lunch break and order the Grilled 3 Cheese Sandwich, made with slices of fontina, asiago, and gruyere, sliced apples and bacon served on brioche. And, of course, served with a generous nest of both regular and sweet potato fries.
The Grilled Cheese is my Good Dog staple, but they offer some other amazing dishes, including a quiche of the day, baked mac and cheese, duck pot pie, mussels, and a Rice Krispy Treat sampler for dessert. It’s not the cheapest pub food, but it’s damn tasty.
Their beer menu seems to have changed recently, but the tap and bottle selection is up to par. Everything from PBR to Chimay is available at reasonable prices, no more or less than you’ll pay anywhere else in the city
Oh, you didn’t think I had forgotten about my other list-topper, did you? Good Dog is one of the few places in the city I’ve found that serves Strongbow Cider in cans, the way it needs to be properly enjoyed.
You can find Strongbow on tap in some of the Irish Pubs around town, and even in bottle cases at some of the beer distributors. But Strongbow really is best served in cans.
If you’ve never had Strongbow, don’t be fooled by the “cider” label. This is no Woodchuck. It’s dry, it’s refreshing, it’s 5.0% ABV. It’s an excellent alternative to beer without making you feel like a 19 year old girl at her first frat party.
The long and short of it is that Good Dog would be a place I would frequent even if it didn’t serve two of my all time favorite ingestibles. The staff is friendly and attentive, the atmosphere is dive-y without the irony, and the upstairs has a pool table, darts and a ms. pac-man machine. It seems to get a bit crowded on the weekend nights, but what bar in center city doesn’t?
My vote is to go there on a lunch break (even if you don’t hate your job), or an early happy hour. My personal preference is to sit at the bar on a lazy Saturday afternoon, with a Strongbow in one hand, a sweet potato fry in the other, and a half naked Michael Phelps on the TV. But that’s just me