Fried oysters with chicken salad
What: The odd pairing of fried oyster and chicken salad is a classic Philadelphia lunch tradition with roots in the city’s 18th-century taverns. It’s not very common on menus today, but you can still find it in the heart of Center City.
Where: The newly renovated Oyster House (1516 Sansom St., map) is a modern update of a 34-year-old seafood restaurant, the Sansom Street Oyster House, which in itself was a throwback to the oyster bars of yore. The menu revolves around (mostly) locally sourced oysters, as does the bright, open restaurant itself—the shuckers work right in the middle of it.
When: Mon-Thurs, 11:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-11pm
Order: The Southern-fried oysters and chicken salad ($13)—which are not mixed together, for the record. During our visit, we requested our oysters cooked two different ways: Southern fried, which entails smaller oysters fried in cornmeal, and traditional fried, which are plumper, softer oysters fried in cracker meal. They are no longer explicitly offered both ways on the menu, but you can ask your server, if you are interested in the cracker-meal fry. The homemade chicken salad, incidentally, is excellent: flecked with chives, smooth and creamy, not too heavy on the mayo. Try some oysters on the half shell here too, with a Pennsylvania beer.