Food on a Stick: 12 Killer Skewers

By Danya Henninger  |  November 12, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

Generally speaking, food on a stick is a genius proposition. You don’t have to worry about silverware or even a plate - the skewer takes care of both holding the food and transporting it to your mouth. While not everything is suited to the serving method, most foods can be adapted to it, even a burrito (really, check out this 1983 patent filing). We found 12 delicious skewers available right now in Philly, so put down the fork and click through to see the tastefully impaled goods.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Paella Skewer at R2L

    At Daniel Stern’s restaurant on the 37th floor of Liberty II, you can get a pair of skewers as a bar snack, but it’s more decadent to go for the entree that includes a spear, even if you'll need to pick up a fork. Roasted lobster sits next to a bed of saffron risotto on which the grilled skewer rests, loaded with everything you’d find in a paella - think chorizo, shrimp, shishito pepper, chicken roulade, onion and more ($38; 215-564-5337).

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    Pork Belly PB&J Skewers at Supper

    We’d happily play pick-up sticks if the prize for winning was one of these tasty nuggets found on South Street. Chef-owner Mitch Prensky coats pork belly cubes with peanut-butter BBQ sauce and toasted peanuts then serves a trio of them with spicy root pepper jelly and fried green onions on the side ($12; 215-592-8180).

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    Manchego Frito at Bar Ferdinand

    Of several pintxos plates chef David Ansill inherited when he took over the kitchen at this Northern Liberties tapas bar, this is the sole remaining option on a stick, and it’s too popular to disappear. Cubes of Manchego are quick-fried into semi-molten bites and spiked next to squares of frozen apple foam over walnut purée ($7; 215-923-1313).

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    S’mores at Max Brenner

    It turns out you can get real, honest-to-goodness s’mores any day of the year at the Center City outpost of this chocolate haven. Spear your marshmallow and hold it over the semi-open flame on your own personal grill till it’s melting, then dip it in one of four sauces and sandwich it between graham crackers. Or just do like when you were a kid and pull off the toasty outer shell, then head back to the fire for another round ($20.25, serves two; 215-344-8150).

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    Cheesesteak Dumplings at Del Frisco's

    At this Chestnut Street steakhouse, filet mignon is shaved onto a wonton shell with cubes of fontina cheese. The whole purse is twisted up along a stick and then deep fried before being served eight to a plate with spicy ketchup. Similar flavor and a lot less mess than a traditional cheesesteak ($16.50; 215-246-0533).

  • Salmon at Bistro St. Tropez

    The French have a fancy term for skewers - brochettes - and Patrice Rames makes good use of one in the grilled salmon dish at his bistro with a Schuylkill river view. The brochette is an actual stalk of fennel, infusing flavor into the fennel-dusted fish, which is served beside fresh vegetables with a generous smear of dipping sauce ($24; 215-569-9269).

  • Lamb Heart Skewers at Taqueria Feliz

    Chef Lucio Palazzo slides wooden stakes through marinated hearts of lamb at this Manayunk cantina, then grills them and serves them atop refried beans with pickled onion, cucumber and chimichurri sauce ($7; 267-331-5874).

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    Thai Chicken Skewers at The Continental Mid-town

    One of the most-ordered dishes at Stephen Starr’s tri-level Rittenhouse lounge is this trio of marinated and grilled chicken. The breast meat is tender and juicy, but it’s really just a vehicle for eating the peanut sauce, which hits that perfect chord of sweet and spicy notes ($12.50).

  • Escargot Skewers at The Mildred

    To make this appetizer at his Bella Vista restaurant, chef-partner Michael Santoro first braises fresh snails in burgundy, then shells and threads them on a pick with a cube of braised and seared housemade bacon. Pickled watermelon radishes complete the lineup, and the whole arrangement is topped with salsa verde ($7 for two; 267-687-1600).

  • Breakfast Pancake Dog at Caesars Cafe Roma

    You have probably heard of a corn dog, but you may never have considered one for breakfast. At this Atlantic City casino cafe, chef Keith Mitchell has other ideas. He spears morning sausage links then wraps them in pancake batter before a quick fry. The skewers are sprinkled with bacon bits and powdered sugar and served with a maple-syrup-butter sauce ($14; 609-348-4411).

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    Pork Satays With Peanut Sauce at Circles

    You can choose pork, chicken or seitan for the satays at Alex Boonphaya’s Thai BYOs in Northern Liberties and South Philly, and it’s not critical which one you opt for, because it’s the sauce you’re really after. Toss a piece of housemade cucumber relish across the just-dipped edge of your skewer and enjoy ($8; 267-687-1309 for Northern Liberties, 267-687-1778 for South Philly).

  • Lamb Souvlaki at South Street Souvlaki

    The namesake skewer of marinated lamb meat is the best thing on the menu at this South Street Greek joint, though there are also plenty of other great choices. Get the souvlaki either on a platter with Mediterranean vegetables, potatoes and rice, or have the grill master slide the meat off onto a warm piece of pita and drizzle it with tzatziki sauce for a quick and easy lunch ($12; 215-925-3026).