‘Unique Eats’ book shares sweet, spicy sto­ries be­hind 90 area restau­rants.

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Binga­man bbinga­man@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @bri­an­binga­man on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA » There’s a new book for when you’re hun­gry for a good meal, and for a de­li­cious story to go along with it.

Reedy Press’ newly pub­lished “Unique Eats and Eater­ies of Philadel­phia” by Irene Levy Baker serves up sweet and spicy sto­ries be­hind 90 Philadel­phia area restau­rants (about a dozen of them are in Mont­gomery County), plus tips on how to get reser­va­tions at the re­gion’s trendi­est restau­rants, the best places for veg­e­tar­i­ans, where to spot celebri­ties and more.

“Unique Eats” is a pro­file of Philadel­phia’s his­tory and cul­ture via its din­ing scene. Dis­cover how two choco­latiers got en­gaged; how din­ners got in­ter­rupted by bun­gled mob hits; which restau­rants sur­vived an earth­quake, a fire and Pro­hi­bi­tion; a se­cret restau­rant that be­gan in a back­yard tent; and a dis­tillery that started in a base­ment.

The way “Unique Eats” is ar­ranged, Baker said, she men­tions 254 dif­fer­ent area restau­rants in all. And yes, she’s dined at all of them. “I have the gym mem­ber­ship to prove it,” Baker laughed. “I worked in the in­dus­try with restau­rants and chefs for 25 years.”

She shared a sam­ple of the se­crets to get­ting into im­pos­si­bly pop­u­lar eater­ies. “Restau­rants don’t put all their ta­bles on Open Ta­ble,” she said, not­ing that some save ta­bles just for walk-ins.

An­other tip is to be mind­ful that restau­rants are at their busiest at 7 p.m. on Satur­days. A din­ner strat­egy that Baker says is triedand-true is to have a backup plan by call­ing ahead a 7:00 reser­va­tion some­where else. If your firstchoice-for-din­ner is able to seat you at 6:30, you can call and can­cel the 7:00.

“Unique Eats and Eater­ies of Philadel­phia” is avail­able at www. uniqueeat­sphilly.com for $20.95, plus tax and ship­ping, as well as on Ama­zon, Barnes & Noble and in in­de­pen­dent book­stores. But it’s even more fun to in­ter­act with the au­thor (who also wrote a book called “100 Things to Do in Philadel­phia Be­fore You Die”), as well as oth­ers that are cu­ri­ous about the pre­vi­ously-un­known sto­ries of the restau­rants around the re­gion.

PHOTO BY RACHEL BAKER

Irene Levy Baker is the owner of Spot­light Pub­lic Re­la­tions, which spe­cial­izes in the restau­rant and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­tries.

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