- Lauren Gruber
Vetri is considered to be one of the best restaurants not just in Philadelphia, but across the country. Offering their Italian tasting menu priced at $155+ per person, guests may choose from a handful of antipastis, pastas, meat dishes and desserts. Service is impeccable here, with staff making you feel friendly in their rustic wood accents and homey (but elegant) dining room feel. The staff is very accommodating to tastes and food allergies. Otherwise, what comes out is a surprise. Rustic and refined, the menu has included spinach gnocchi with brown butter and antelope and pistachio flan with milk chocolate gelato. Wine connoisseurs will also find a list of more than 2,500 bottles from almost every region of Italy (a rarity in the US) and 500 varietals. It’s also one of the first fine-dining establishment to offer craft and artisanal beers. Chef Mark Vetri has won numerous awards for his work and this restaurant is his masterpiece. Diners should make their reservation in advance. It may take about two months to reserve as they sit only 30 in their main dining room.
1312 Spruce St Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-732-3478
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse
Proper and elegant, the restaurant inside the Rittenhouse will remind guests of a refined British tea room. But then, you might as well be in Britain since you’ll be treated like royalty by the five-star wait staff. Brunch is a must-try here. Once you’re seated you’ll be given a tour of the many brunch stations including a Bloody Mary station and raw bar (oysters, sushi, etc.). In the kitchen you’ll find the chocolate fountain and crepes area, a carving station and Belgian waffle section—and that’s only naming a few. For dinner, diners will have the option of the chef’s menu for $125 or the four-course menu for $79. For the service and selection, it’s worth the price.
210 W Rittenhouse, 2nd Fl Philadelphia, PA 19103 215-790-2533
Described as a global culinary exploration, chef Jose Garces offers eight- and 12-course tasting menus at this modernly elegant gem. Modern and sophisticated inside with sleek leather seating and exotic high-end lamps, Volvér is perfect for dining after the theater (after all, it is located in the Kimmel Center). Wine pairings here are thought of as unusual, but perfectly matched. Small plates include tartares, tartines, charcuterie, cheeses and an array of petit fours. Out-of-towners as well as locals are sure to enjoy and experience worldly tastes here.
300 S Broad St Philadelphia, PA 19102 215-670-2303
Located on Rittenhouse Square, this steakhouse is a carnivore’s dream. The wooden panels, checkered floor and antique mirrors make diners feel like they’re in another time, albeit with modern design like leather chairs and tiger print throw rugs. Their dry-aged steaks such as the NY strip and porterhouse are hailed as some of the best in the city. Equally impressive are their sides, including the truffle mac and cheese. With main course dishes being quite pricey, it’s best to go here for a special occasion.
237 S 18th St Philadelphia, PA 19103 215-732-7560
This modern Isralei gem sits in an unassuming spot just above the Ritz movie theaters in Old City. Chef Michael Solomonov has created an inventive and vivid display that has diners arriving by the boatload. Adventurous eaters should try the roasted duck hearts or minted raw lamb kibbe. Zahav, Hebrew for “gold”, is by far a gold-standard restaurant with some of the best tastes in town.
237 St James Pl Philadelphia, PA 19106 215-625-8800
Chef Pierre Calmels creates a rustic tribute to his native French bistro tradition with pig parts and wild game on the menu. In an intimate experience, patrons may watch the chef cook while they taste the adventurous menu filled with specialties from long marrowbones stuffed with Scottish partridge to foie gras stuffed meats. The highlight is the chef’s seven-course tasting menu. Try desserts like pyramid-shaped meringues with almond nougatine floating over goat milk crème anglaise. The richness of France is not pretentious here and the staff is courteous and congenial, making the atmosphere warm and cozy. If you’re new to French traditions, this is a perfectly authentic way to start.
1009 S 8th St Philadelphia, PA 19147 215-965-8290
Listed as Philadelphia Magazine’s best local restaurant of 2015, Laurel is the creation of Top Chef winner Nick Elmi. This restaurant is a must for foodies. Presentation, flavor and service are all hallmarks of the five-star experience and the menu has New American fare with some major French flare. Diners tend to love just about everything on the menu, especially the gnocchi layered with flavors of rhubarb, salty flowers and cocoa. The desserts are also stand outs. Fish and seafood are also highly featured here. The menu is also prix-fixe, but the staff are accommodating to any food preferences. Laurel has a more than two-month waiting list, so be patient. However, that’s what is to be expected from what many consider the best restaurant in town.
1617 East Passyunk Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19148 215-271-8299
Sbraga offers up a delicious array of New American cuisine mixed with innovative takes on classic international fare (French, Greek, Spanish, Mexican). This has made this restaurant one of the top food destinations in the city. With a definite posh feel, the restaurant has a four-course tasting menu only. Portions may seem small, but their richness is filling. With so many flavors, patrons might seem overloaded, but everything in the dishes complement each other. The chef and staff are extremely friendly here. If you make reservations for a special occasion, they go out of their way to offer a personal touch.
440 S Broad St Philadelphia, PA 19146 215-735-1913
A fine-dining vegan restaurant doesn’t just have to be for vegans—to some people’s pleasant surprise. Vedge is what put Philadelphia on the map as a vegan destination. Chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby have been winning acclaim nationwide for what they can do to a pair of vegetables and ingredients—case-in-point, making Rutabaga taste like cheese. The menu here has seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The cocktails are some of the best in the city, with house-made syrups. This is a top restaurant on the east coast and you’ll almost be surprised at how healthy actually tastes incredible.
1221 Locust St Philadelphia, PA 19107 215-320-7500