Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In Philly guide image

PHLGuide

Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In Philly

The best restaurants in Philadelphia for celebrating your big day.

Birthdays are wild. It’s the one day you can respond, “well, actually” to the people who say the world doesn’t revolve around you. And after keeping your friend groups separate for a whole year, they converge in the same place to create a massive crossover episode of your life. To ensure everyone will have a good time—especially you—you’ll need a few things: a fantastic atmosphere, good food, and the assurance that you won’t have to pay for anything. While we can’t predict the last bit, these 17 restaurants have you covered on the first two essentials. 

THE SPOTS

Laurel

You might know Laurel from its tasting-menu days, or as “the restaurant from that Top Chef dude.” But its actual draw is their exceptional food that works for every special occasion you can think of—including your birthday. The space is intimate and romantic while the menu blends French and American cuisine—think Parisian gnocchi with a chicken jus (which is the best in the city), juicy cod tossed with cherries, and a tender wagyu coulotte topped with apricot. The place only has a handful of tables and fills up fast, so plan ahead—thankfully, your birthday falls on the same day every year. 

Kalaya is the first place we think of when we want to eat somewhere exciting in Philly. Perfect for a birthday where you want to satisfy everyone (but mostly yourself), there’s a full bar, 14-foot palm trees, and music that you haven’t heard in years but you still know every word to. You'll see plates of tender peppercorn steak, flower-shaped dumplings, and curries of every color getting whipped up in the open kitchen. It's a buzzy, fun spot where you can sit back with people that have known you since grade school and share a lineup of incredible wok-fried dishes and mounds of shaved ice topped with banana cream.

This tasting-menu-only, two-story Rittenhouse spot has a party scene at their first-floor bar and a more formal dining space upstairs. For $155 per person, you’ll probably eat some type of crudo with caviar, crispy sweetbreads with tender plantain, and a juicy New York strip that we’ve seen come with cabbage and oxtail. Unlike most New American places in the city that have a similar menu, though, each dish at Friday Saturday Sunday is so perfectly executed that you’ll only want every tartare, pasta, or steak cooked their way from now on. Plus, when your meal ends, you can just head downstairs to their lively bar, have a few cocktails, and keep the celebrations going.

Butcher & Singer is one of the many steakhouses near Rittenhouse Square, but unlike all the others within a five-block radius that look more like sexy libraries from the future, Butcher & Singer offers an atmosphere straight out of The Great Gatsby. Before the bone-in filets and seafood towers, there was a bank here, and it still feels like you could walk in and ask for $100 in pennies without anyone batting an eye. The servers wear tuxedos and use phrases like “excite your palate” to describe the tuna tartare. It’s all a bit over-the-top, but it’s exactly what you want on your special day. 

Royal Sushi & Izakaya has two distinct moods—and they both work for any kind of birthday celebration you want to have. In the izakaya section, you can sit in a booth and watch anime, pay as little as $4 for a beer, and eat things like chili beets covered in miso or pan-seared pork gyoza. But when you want to have a night where you're catered to like Oprah’s favorite spaniel, try their 17-piece omakase. It includes things like Washington state kumamoto oysters and their chutoro caviar—a mix of fatty Spanish bluefin and Osetra caviar. Each option works for different occasions, but they’ll both give you a memorable experience.

This upscale Center City spot has some of the best seafood dishes in the city—and because of that, it’s pretty tough to score a reservation. But if you’re successful, make sure you spend your birthday with a tray of oysters, hamachi crudo with slivers of grapefruit on top, and any fish main that speaks to you (there’s not a bad one to be had). It's on the ground floor of the Comcast Tower and looks like it belongs in a Versace Home catalog, so all your friends will be wowed (and happy to treat you).

When deciding where to bring a group of friends for a birthday, picking a place where shareable dishes make up the entire menu is a good place to start. Plus, with views that make you feel like you’re on top of the city (or at least on The Iron Giant’s shoulder), this South Philly Sicilian spot is an easy choice for your birthday dinner. They have excellent handmade pastas, like a spaghetti alle vongole that coats clams in rich white wine sauce, citrusy agrodolce chicken (one of the best in the city), and plenty of other dishes just as good as the view.


Everyone knows the unwritten rule that you don't have to pay for your own birthday dinner. With that law in mind, there's no better place to celebrate than Jean-Georges. The upscale French restaurant is on the 59th floor of the Four Seasons. It has stunning panoramic views of the city, understated, elegant decor, and a staff that’s more attentive than J.Lo’s glam squad. Go for the six-course land and sea tasting menu (that can get pricier with add-ons like champagne and truffles). You can expect dishes like perfectly cooked wagyu beef tenderloin and beautifully seasoned black bass. Just know that you’ll leave a night here figuring out who you can convince your birthday is next week just to do it all over again.

Head to Tabachoy with a few friends when you want to have a casual birthday celebration at the best Filipino restaurant in town. The cozy BYOB’s dining room in Bella Vista is always packed, so don't show up without a reservation. And that’s because they have fried chicken (think Peking duck rather than breaded chicken), a pancit bihon noodle dish that balances spice and citrus perfectly, and a juicy pork belly that we can’t stop thinking about. They also happen to have an incredible ube sundae and community fridge—in case you forgot that bottle of champagne you wanted to celebrate with. 


Wm. Mulherin’s Sons looks like a house in the Catskills that Martha Stewart owns. The part-boutique hotel, part-restaurant in Fishtown has big wooden tables and a fireplace in the middle of the dining room. They also have some great outdoor seating for groups, whether you're sitting on the sidewalk or in the garden that feels straight out of a scene from a laid back version of Downton Abbey. On top of just looking really nice, the cocktails and Italian food are excellent. There are lots of things to choose from, but what they do best are pastas, like the braised beef cheek agnolotti, and Neapolitan pizzas—especially the double margarita, topped with both mozzarella and burrata.


We love Fishtown’s Middle Child Clubhouse for the great burger and fries and a game of pool. But when you want to take the fun up a few notches—like on your big day—head to the back for the Thousand Island Lounge. There’s a disco ball, TV with Nintendo 64, and a sound system where you can play DJ during your all-night hang in the private dining space. Inside you can share casual plates like burgers, chicken sandwiches, bottomless fries, or jumbo shrimp with a tangy bravas aioli and shishito peppers. It's a fun space to have some cocktails, wine on tap, and spend your birthday listening to your favorite songs and playing Super Mario. 

For some, Harp and Crown is a casual-yet-pricey dinner spot where you can get small plates like toast topped with crab and avocado, and generous mains, like a juicy dry-aged burger. For others, the downstairs is ideal for a wood-fired pizza birthday party complete with bowling. The Center City spot is a certified scene (and one of the more popular Happy Hour spots in town). Plus, with antique fixtures like old framed black-and-white photos and throwback leather booths, you could throw a prohibition-era theme party and the staff would already have the costumes for it. 


Fishtown's LMNO has it all: a neon-lit bar, black-and-white photography on the wall, and a crowded dining space that’s usually as full as the Parkway on Labor Day weekend. It’s basically a club that actually serves good food (aka a clubstaurant) and has better seating, all without you having to repeatedly say “what?” after mishearing the person next to you. The Mexican spot has two dishes we love: perfectly cooked, smoky oysters, and sweet pineapple and shrimp aguachile that has a slightly vinegary broth. Plus, for a livelier birthday dinner, you can hang out in the private listening room with a DJ-curated playlist.


Where To Have A Group Dinner In Philly guide image

PHL Guide

Where To Have A Group Dinner In Philly


Yakitori Boy doesn’t just make this list because you can belt out the latest Megan Thee Stallion song somewhere outside of your shower. The Chinatown pub with a second-floor karaoke lounge also has a selection of roasted skewers, sushi rolls, and sweets like mango cheesecake that we just can’t get enough of. Between the neon lighting, long cocktail menu, and multiple bars, it’s an exciting place to live out your main character moment with your adoring fans. 


The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night guide image

PHL Guide

The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night


For some birthdays, you want the dancing and the meal to happen under one roof. This is the Marrakesh specialty. The Moroccan restaurant in Society Hill has a prix-fixe menu with things like spicy cumin chicken, eggplant and carrot salads, and Moroccan pastries that are ideal for big groups. Come here to recline on low couches and pillows, admire the colorful tapestries and lanterns, and eat while a belly dancer performs. Also, it’s BYOB, so plan accordingly.


Mei Mei might offer a better show than the nearby Arden Theatre. The stunning space, full of draping cherry blossoms and cool neon backlighting, feels like a scene from one of Diddy’s parties—especially in their sofa-filled basement lounge with its own menu and bar. Plus, a night out at the Old City pan-Asian restaurant is pretty affordable. Entrees like sticky orange-glazed chicken, braised pork belly, and spicy kung pao shrimp all come in under $20. Plus, with a variety of sake flights, cocktails like the flower-topped Lavender Empress, and a long beer and wine list, you can easily have a table party of your own.


Between the burlesque shows, jazz performances, and fire dancers, a birthday at Fabrika in Fishtown can be a real showstopper. The large dining space has a wrap-around balcony with a great view of the stage, lounge chairs and long tables, crystal chandeliers, and glowing purple light beaming down from the ceiling. Order small plates like the citrusy shrimp and scallop ceviche, pastas like the rabbit ragu or squid ink linguine, and lamb shank for the table. And if you stay out all night and need reviving, you can just come back for the drag brunch. 


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photo credit: GAB BONGHI

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