In a city seemingly devoid of real Southern fare, Warmdaddy's offers an oasis of soul food, with an authentic blues atmosphere. Through Warmdaddy's, Robert and Benjamin Bynum, Jr., of Zanzibar Blue fame, have created a sensual celebration of soul and culture through taste and sonic delight.

An aura of excitement pervades Warmdaddy's upon entrance, as smoke wafts through dimly lit expanses of dark wood and blues chords from a steel guitar resonate on stage. Local Philadelphians and music aficionados crowd the bar and tables, cheering when music renders conversation difficult. Tones of red and black -- offset by abstract paintings of vibrant musical scenes -- create an ambience of heat and visceral emotion in the open dining area. Warmdaddy's seems somehow out of place in Old City, as though it should instead be located somewhere on a bayou, distinguishable only by bright lights and music in the otherwise silent night.

Our taste buds rejoice as we delve into immense portions of spicy, Creole mussels ($8.50), exquisite pan-seared turkey served with apple gravy ($14.50), and sip Warmdaddy's signature Daddy Longlegg's Lemonade ($6). Although entrees and drinks are pricey (ranging from $13 to $18, and $3 to $9), the menu includes a variety of delicious alcoholic concoctions, and the blends of soul food with Creole cooking create unique flavors, well worth the expense.

At Warmdaddy's, which usually attracts a full house on weekends, reservations are suggested, though not required. In accordance with the immensity of its crowd, service sometimes lags, though the waitstaff are extremely polite and apologetic for delays. The venue attracts local talent and renowned blues musicians alike -- upcoming acts include Magic Slim, Keisa Brown and Duke Robillard -- though non-dining audience members must pay a $10 cover on weekends.

Warmdaddy's presents an unrivaled experience to anyone yearning for an authentic Southern blues experience. In the words of the famed blues disciple, Sonny Rhodes, who performed this past weekend, "There's the greatest food here in the house tonight. There's the greatest drinks here in the house tonight... There's no better place to eat in Philadelphia than Warmdaddy's"


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