by Tara Nurin - 221 Reviews - 105 List
Let's say your friends want to throw a dinner party. But let's say these friends are too poor and lazy to cook for you themselves. So they invite you and a bunch of your besties to come over ... as long as you bring part of the meal yourself. And to make things "fun", they forbid you from bringing a slab of deli meats and mini gherkins. When you're in a pickle, here are some gourmet take-out options perfect for a potluck where you can order far more than just hoagies and kosher dills. (Photo courtesy of Di Bruno Brothers)
Updated: January 06, 2010
Alright, if you're not from out of town, this gourmet Italian grocer is an obvious choice. But sometimes places get famous for the very best reason: because they're awesome. Such is the case with DiBruno's, which has been selling hard-to-find cheeses, charcuterie and Italian oils since 1939. Over the years, they've added pastries, pasta and sauces and full-scale catering menus to their repertoire. Why not leave Center City and check out the original location for an adventurous morning picking out produce and fresh fish from other Italian Market vendors while you're at it?
Nestled into adorable Fitler Square is this corner market that caters to the Saab-and-bicycle driving clientele from the neighborhood. This friendly, cozy shop sells prepared foods to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers contemporary comfort food that relies on seasonal ingredients. Lamb stew, penne butternut squash casserole and greenbeans with cranberries, pecans and carmelized shallots are some standouts. Save time by simply ordering an entire holiday catering package.
Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney--the grand dining dames of the Gayborhood--run a gourmet grocery that samples from the flavors of their nearby restaurants without (usually) directly duplicating their offerings. Bring Indian soup, marinated brussel sprouts, an overstuffed salad or grilled veggie wraps to your party. Or let the ladies put together an elaborate tray of individual French Toast cups or a sampling of various salsas and chips from Lolita. Yes, Lolita-lovers, you'll still have to bring your own tequila.
You loved them at Pumpkin BYOB and they met your lunchtime needs at Pumpkin Cafe. Now, the boyfriend-girlfriend pair who own the Graduate Hospital trifecta are simplifying your potluck needs by selling sustainable and seasonal to-go items out of Pumpkin Market. Yes, they can order you a roasted Lancaster County chicken, yes they will sell you 10 pints of Bassett's ice cream, and yes, they will send you on your way with a steaming mug of house-roasted coffee for your troubles.
If you're serving a bunch of herbivores, you can do some one-stop shopping at Govinda's, which has a to-go lobby of sorts attached to the dining room. Whether you're buying vegan cheesecakes, mock pan-roasted duck, spinach lasagna or homemade hummus, every option is either vegan or vegetarian and comes from a menu that spans the continents. Your dairy-starved dessert freak friends will toast you every time.
Make your suburban friends and family envious of your big city ability to pick up deliciously handcrafted bakery treats from the windowsill of an offbeat pink hut squished between two urban parking lots. That's where you'll find Teresa Wall whipping up ornate mini-cakes, brownies, scones, cookies and her signature tarts. The ultimate-take out, this teensy gem doesn't have tables, seats or any public indoor space.
Run, do not walk from Capogiro to your party. As any Philadelphian knows, the dessert you are carrying is very valuable and it will melt. But as recent patrons Michelle Obama and her daughters know, once you eat this homemade, all-natural Italian-style gelato, it will be unforgettably delicious. Add even more kick to your pints of dessert cargo with funky flavors like tahini or pine nut, or just keep it simple with rosemary honey goat's milk. Don't trust yourself not to eat it on the way? Have it shipped right to your destination.