The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night

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The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night image

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Even after you ask someone out and find a day that works for both of you, the hard part of planning a date is far from over. Now you've got to pick a restaurant that reflects how stunning, flexible, and interesting you are (or at least how stunning, flexible, and interesting you want this person to think you are). That could mean choriqueso and warm tortillas in the Italian Market or a really good vegan meal at a datey BYOB in Northern Liberties. Or maybe it's a fancy place that's romantic but won't make you feel like you're in a terrible '80s movie. Whatever path you choose, you need a restaurant to set the mood. These 16 date night spots will do the trick.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI


East Passyunk

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerDate NightDining SoloVegetarians
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Eating at Mish Mish in East Passyunk is going to make you want to fornicate when you get home. We don't make the rules. There's just something effortlessly sexy about the East Passyunk corner spot's natural light, golden hues, easy-drinking wine, and light Mediterranean food. Get the grilled baby octopus with a peppery muhammara, marinated mussels with lobster-buttered bread, and a perfectly charred pomegranate-lacquered chicken.

photo credit: Rachel Lerro


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To some, Vernick seems like a special occasion restaurant. And it is special—reservations typically book up weeks in advance. But if you work or live nearby, you might already know that it’s easy to get a table—just how up close to 6pm—and that the most romantic seat in the house is at the candle-lit bar area up front. You can watch the bartenders work their magic, say something kind of embarrassing in a lounge seat, and order the blue crab toast.

We know couples who plan their Amalfi Coast vacation two years in advance. We also know couples who can’t decide what they're doing this Thursday. If you’re in the latter camp, go eat Turkish food at this useful and quaint BYOB in Northern Liberties. It’s fun to watch the smoky fish, chicken kebap, and juicy grilled lamb action go down in the kitchen, plus the people who work here are always friendly and knowledgeable. Even the most indecisive duo will agree that Pera’s flaky baklava is great. Because it is.

Sure, this East Passyunk restaurant feels upscale enough for a destination date and the kitchen uses cream sauces so religiously that we assume the cooks owe the French money, but you won't be bored to tears by the food. The Laurel Effect, a phrase we're coining, does just the opposite. The dishes are inventive and playful, always building out a savory-acid-crunch balance—like buttery crab with persimmons and pumpkin, or squash with pops of fingerlime beads and just a little licorice dust. You can order a la carte or go for the $98 tasting menu, in case you used all of your decision-making powers while choosing your outfit (corduroy was a good move, well done).

You can find al pastor and ceviche on lots of menus in Philly, but Blue Corn in the Italian Market does the basics better than almost anyone else. It's a good place to suss someone out to see if they’re chill and have good taste in food—namely margaritas and tacos. Almost everything at this tiny, casual restaurant is made on-site—from the two salsas that appear on every table, to the corn tortillas used for their tacos, quesadillas, and huaraches. Bring cash or plan on using the ATM inside.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

A fourth date might still have some awkward silence and nervous laughter. But, if you go to My Loup in Rittenhouse, the pauses will be filled with great French-leaning food and Bruno Mars playing in the background. Bring someone you're excited about here for dishes like fried soft-shell crab with a creamy hollandaise and a juicy strip loin with fava beans and potatoes. Plus, their dining room feels like an exclusive party inside of an old library (including the books). And the decor will always be a better conversation starter than the weather.  

Some date nights call for violins and views. Others call for something humble and slurpy—that's when you go to Nan Zhou in Chinatown and eat some very good spicy beef soup. Each order comes with a salty, funk-heavy broth topped with pickled greens. Split a bowl (they're big) and then order a stir-fry dish to supplement. The restaurant only accepts cash, but there's an ATM out front. For a two-part date idea: get soup here and then go directly next door for dumplings at Dim Sum Garden.

photo credit: GAB BONGHI



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This Northern Liberties vegan BYOB makes complex and satisfying plant-based dishes without any fake meat necessary. It has a relaxed feel–thanks to the candles, earth-toned walls, and lots of indoor plants. In terms of the menu, the kitchen team rotates things based on seasonal availability, but you can generally expect dishes like a crunchy, sweet and tangy fried lion’s mane mushrooms, sweet potatoes with spicy grilled peppers, or gnocchi with something from the ground. Come on a date with your favorite bottle in tow, and make sure to discuss how brave the first humans to forage mushrooms must have been.

Friday Saturday Sunday in Rittenhouse has a sophisticated second-floor dining room and a perpetually busy bar on the first floor. Save the upstairs experience for blow-out dates—their $130 eight-course tasting menu is one of our favorites in the city, usually incorporating sweetbreads, creamy agnolotti, and a juicy New York strip. For something more casual (but still with exceptional cocktails and a la carte snacks), sit downstairs at the bar.

If you hear your spouse complaining about being bored of their date night routine in Philly, take them this to BYOB Cambodian noodle house and watch when their eyes get big. Mawn serves unforgettable Southeast Asian dishes, including soft-shell shrimp, khao soi with punchy pickled greens, juicy whole fish, and marinated, citrusy ribeye skewers—all in a casual room with chicken paintings and rugs on the walls. This is the kind of place you can gloat about getting dinner right while wearing a Tupac shirt. Be warned: there are only 10 or so tables inside, so while you can walk in without a reservation, we wouldn’t recommend it.

Say through some twist of fate, you and your date happen to share a free lunch hour in Center City. This never happens, but if it does and you want to eat something a little more special than another $15 salad, Barbuzzo is where you should go. Sit towards the back, order the charcuterie board and some pasta, and start devising a plan where neither of you goes back to work.

Kalaya is the first place we think of when we want to impress a date with fantastic Thai food and loungey, sexy energy. The Fishtown restaurant has a full bar, low-ish lighting, and a giant dining room with palm trees. And the tender peppercorn steak, curries, and flower-shaped dumplings are all just as perfect as hearing "Let's do this again" at the end of the night.

Rex at The Royal works well for a nice date, especially if you come when there's live music. With a menu full of Low Country favorites like chicken and dumplings, shrimp and grits, and crawfish pot pie, you can always order a big entree if you're not at the point of sharing everything yet. (We don't abide by this policy but maybe you do.) And if the date goes well and you want a nightcap to-go, they have a bottle shop inside.

Osteria is a spacious Italian spot on North Broad that has a beautiful covered greenhouse. It's flowing with flowers, which people seem to like in the context of romance. Also, the cocktails, pizzas, and handmade pastas are all good, especially their earthy francobolli ravioli filled with robiola cheese and topped with trumpet mushrooms. Try to keep it together while you eat and not mention your UFO theories.

Maybe you're not totally sure about this person. Maybe they wore a “Been There, Did Her” t-shirt on the first date. And for some reason, you've agreed to see them again. This Mexican restaurant is the kind of casual, giant place that can remedy any questionable dining situation. They make some of our favorite tacos and margaritas in the city, as well as tostadas and enchiladas that are just as good. The "wet burritos" are good, too. They combine homemade masa tortillas and rojo or salsa verde, in case the personality lives up to their first date shirt and you give up on all decorum.  

This Center City sushi bar and izakaya works for any stage of dating. If you've only had light talks with a date about why Lincoln Drive is the worst, head upstairs for a yuzu, honey, and shio cocktail. And if you're at the point where Hulu passwords are being exchanged like SEPTA Key cards between friends, go downstairs for some drinks and an order of scallops topped with an onion ponzu sauce.

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The Best BYOBs For Date Night

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