When I was a kid, I was an animal fanatic, so I was pretty upset when we had to dissect a baby pig in the fifth grade. In the midst of some tears (Frank Ocean was wrong, boys DO cry) I made a proclamation to the class that I was going vegetarian.

Of course, I never went past pork, but I survived until I decided to go abroad to Cuba and rationalized that pork–eating would be an essential part of my cultural immersion. It totally was—the pork there is awesome—but for those of you not ready to hop on a plane to Havana, go to Lou Bird’s and make sure you start with the pork belly ($8) like I did.

Served on toast with a delicious sorghum glaze, I devoured it along with an order of the pierogies. The latter, a twist on the Polish classic with a savory helping of duck confit added to the traditional potato stuffing and topped off with a creamy horseradish buttermilk, was an absolute hit.

Our next course was the rainbow trout. The fish was fresh and flavorful, though the star of the meal was the creamy mushroom sauce in which the fish swam. But with a name like Lou Bird’s and a bird on the restaurant’s logo, I was expecting the duck breast ($24) to be the pièce–de–résistance, and I was not disappointed. The duck, combined with a chestnut purée and blueberries, ignited every taste bud in my mouth.

I haven’t even mentioned the atmosphere yet—the indoor area is quaint and complete with a bar for the 21+ crowd. We ate outside, and the location at 20th and Lombard streets is pretty and somewhat quiet given that it's just a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square. It’s still a solid place to people–watch, though, and an even better place to dog–watch.

All in all, Lou Bird’s is a hit. Close enough to campus to make the trip reasonable, but far enough to feel like you accomplished something, this spot should be on your bucket list for the semester. 

TL;DR: A new bistro near Rittenhouse with something for everyone.

DON'T MISS: The duck breast and the pork belly.

SKIP: Nothing.

WHEN TO GO: Any day for dinner, and brunch on the weekends.

LOCATION: 500 S. 20th St.

PRICE: $$$