Rittenhouse Square is one of those parts of the city that always takes us back in time. The 17-century park - full of ancient Greek statues, old-fashioned lamps, and an open plaza - really makes us think we’re walking through the set of the Pride And Prejudice remake, but in a fun way. Unlike Old City though, which goes full Benjamin Franklin with all its cobblestone streets, the flashback feeling doesn’t extend everywhere in the neighborhood - especially when it comes to nearby restaurants. From Roman-style pizza to some amazing burritos, here are 25 places you can stop by between trips to the farmers’ market, trying to get an appointment at the Apple Store, and evading PPA on Walnut Street.
If you’re heading to Helium or the Prince for a show, stop by Abe Fisher beforehand for dinner. You can grab a drink at the bar and eat things like salmon roasted with pastrami spice and veal schnitzel tacos. Or if you come with a group, go for the tasting menu with the Montreal-style smoked short rib. And if you have don’t mind falling asleep during the movie or open mic, make sure to get the bacon egg cream for dessert.
Melograno is a great Italian restaurant with stone archways, antique fixtures hanging on the walls, and an open kitchen. It’s the type of relaxed spot that we’d never shy away from uncorking a bottle of wine or two at (it’s BYOB), and the menu is full of hand-stretched Roman-style pizzas that are crunchy on the outside and airy on the inside. They also have hearty pastas like a spicy tonnarelli packed with crab and tortellini topped with smooth whipped ricotta, but make sure to try the Fazzoletti Al Ragú d’anatra too. The duck is so beautifully tender and sweet that you might consider writing it a thank you note once you get home.
Going for what you want, especially at breakfast time, can make all the difference between starting your day with another bowl of dry granola or a stack of something fluffy and buttery. And for us, an order of brown sugar ricotta Kubaneh toast from K’Far is more satisfying than finding a parking spot on Chestnut Street during our first trip around the block. Whether we’re stopping by the Israeli bakery and breakfast/lunch spot to dine-in or pick up, the scent of the sweet ricotta and warm blueberries is so unforgettable that we’d probably circle around 10 times just to get our hands on a few orders.
Technically Trattoria Carina is in Fitler Square, and you’ll feel the shift as soon as you cross 20th street. It’s a little quieter and less flashy than most places around Rittenhouse, but the food and cocktails are both great, and they have a lot of outdoor seating. It’s a good option for a weeknight date, or really any time you want to spend the night drinking Negronis and eating spaghetti with clams.
For many people, Vernick is a special occasion restaurant. Reservations typically book up weeks in advance and getting in sometimes feels like the plot from a future Mission Impossible sequel. But if you work or live nearby, you’ll know that it’s actually pretty easy to get a table if you show up early enough. Plus, most dishes on the menu are under $20. Start with the crab toast, and know that the small plates are actually pretty substantial. But if you really want to go all-in, the 28-oz dry-aged steak is the right move.
While a bunch of billionaires compete to see who can travel furthest into space, we can enjoy staying on Earth - where tacos and burritos are acceptable for every meal of the day. And there’s no better place to grab one, after sweating it out at the yoga studio across the street or catching a show at Helium, than this quick-order taqueria. Open daily until 9pm, their roasted duck tacos served on a scallion pancake are our favorite thing here. Topped with a homemade plum barbecue sauce, their juiciness and surprising kick from the ginger slaw are all we typically think about between warrior poses.
If the weather is even somewhat nice, there will likely be a line for the coveted outdoor seating at Harper’s Garden. But even if you’re stuck inside, or it happens to be January, the food, which is mostly snacks, small plates, and sandwiches/toasts, is consistently delicious. They also have a late-night Happy Hour from 10pm-12am for when you want to hold on to your table outside for as long as possible.
When you want to impress a client or date, or you just want to get up, close, and personal with the a $120 cheesesteak, make a reservation at Barclay Prime. There’s no better place to eat steak in Philadelphia, and if you’re hoping to spot someone from Creed 3 or Rocky 8, this is definitely the place to do it.
If you don’t want to drop half your rent at Barclay Prime, but you’re still craving some quality meat, Butcher Bar is the place to go. It’s more casual than most of the nearby steakhouses, but you can still get some excellent steak and seafood here. If you end up roping up the entire tech team from your office, get “The Trough.” It’s a wooden slab piled high with chicken, sausage, ribs, burgers, bacon, fries, and pita perfect for those nights when you need to remember what it’s like to be at the top of the food chain.
There are a lot of different ways to satisfy a sweet tooth. Some of us just grab an order of cinnamon sugar soft pretzels and others want Gritty to throw a sheet cake at our faces. But if you’re near 17th and Walnut and don’t have the patience to get vanilla frosting out of your favorite t-shirt, we’ve got a detergent-free option for you. This French cafe has everything from sugary rose tea macarons to a light chocolate mousse cake that makes us feel fancier than that time we replied “it’s fine” to the checkout person saying “guac is extra.”
Working in finance, law, or tech means long hours, lots of elevator rides, and probably more $14 salads than you can count. When you need a break from your routine, close your computer and walk over to DanDan. They have great lunch specials and their mapo tofu will be a big upgrade from kale salad you’ve already had twice this week. They’ve got a full bar and $5 Happy Hour food and drink specials, just in case you get out of the office before the sun goes down.
There are plenty of good date spots around Rittenhouse, but Friday Saturday Sunday might be our favorite. Most of the menu is sharable - make sure to get the carrot confit and dry-aged duck - and it’s always just the right amount of dark inside, which makes it feel a little special, especially if you end up here on a weeknight. Without a reservation, you might wait an hour or two for a table, but just grab a few drinks at the bar in the meantime.
Offering both indoor and outdoor dining, and more sake options than the game piece count on the municipal building courtyard, the menu at this Japanese spot really gets creative with things like a grilled avocado stuffed with salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. But they also do more straightforward dishes well too, like the spicy and crunchy yellowtail with jalapeno mango roll, plus the tempura shrimp rolls. With lunch deals running through 5pm, we can see ourselves dropping in here between conference calls or sneaking out of work a little early for a drink and a few snacks.
When you’ve been put in charge of the next office outing, suggest The Love. If it’s your anniversary, suggest The Love. When your second cousins who you just started sending holiday cards to are in town, you get the idea. There’s a small cocktail bar upstairs overlooking the street if you show up early for your reservation, but the food is why you’re here. We really like the lobster spaghetti and Carolina trout, but the whole menu is worth a try.
Pub & Kitchen is the kind of spot you’ll want to stick around long after your plates have been cleared. Yes, they’ve got a short menu of consistently delicious entrees and snacks. But the always cool soundtrack, ample opportunities to people watch, and the built-in ice breaker of their mascot (it’s a Pabbit - partp ig, part rabbit) make P&K the go-to for first dates and catching up with buddies in Rittenhouse.
While South Philly and South Street often have the headliners when it comes to the city’s best pizza, the Roman-style pies at this Rittenhouse Square shop can go up against anywhere else around. When you walk in, you’ll see big trays of pizza more beautiful than any recent A24 trailer. One of our favorites is the Prosciutto Crudo, and like choosing between Midsommar and Hereditary for a Halloween watch party, we can’t decide if it’s the sweetness of the burrata or the cloud-like crust that sets this pizza apart. But we do know it’s one that we could eat for dinner every night, and probably breakfast too.
Parc is about as close as you can get to eating at a bistro in Paris without leaving the city. This place overlooks the east side of Rittenhouse Square and on a nice day, there’s nowhere better to spend a lazy afternoon enjoying some steak tartare and a bottle of rose. Their outdoor seating is dog-friendly, so grab your pup and a friend, order the warm shrimp salad, and pretend you’re on vacation for a few hours.
There’s nothing wrong with routine. But after six consecutive weeks of ordering the same chicken tikka masala from your favorite take-out place,we need to mix things up. The prices might be a little higher at Veda, but when you see the lamb shank and wild mushroom korma approach your table, you’ll be glad you’re not eating out of to-go containers. They also do great tropical cocktails during Happy Hour, if you want to stop by for a drink and some goat cheese naan after work.
Just like how many generations will never know the pain of a scratched CD, or blowing in an old game cartridge, people passing through 17th and Locust will never know what it’s like to be without a go-to Irish pub. And if walking into this bar makes you feel at home, it’s because it used to be a three-level townhouse. It’s a great place for a laid-back pint, a round of darts, and sharing a few orders of their crispy fish and chips.
You might not guess from the outside, but Harp & Crown is enormous, so feel free to come with your friends, intramural kickball team, or entire office. The cocktails are strong, and we always love a place where you can bowl, eat good pizza, and finish things off with a whoopie pie.
When it comes to dining out as a group, everyone’s got an opinion. We get it, and have a full guide for such occasions. If you want to keep things simple though, Tinto is a solid option with plenty of different tapas to choose from, along with over 100 different wines. Head over during Happy Hour for $5 sangria and selected tapas at the bar on the main floor, or you can sit down for a full meal in the downstairs dining room.
Located inside The Rittenhouse Hotel, Lacroix is a little slice of old school Philadelphia opulence. Their brunch buffet includes oysters, foie gras s’mores, hand-carved salmon, and sausage bao buns, along with 20 other things you’ll never see served together at the same time again. It’s $75 per person, and great for anniversaries or visitors who are especially indecisive first thing in the morning.
The good: it’s your turn to plan date night. The less good: you completely forgot about this until the morning of. Luckily, you’re not too far from Southgate. They’ve got our favorite bibimbap in the neighborhood, and if you’ve reached the point in your relationship where you’re comfortable making a mess, order the bulgogi burger.
When the snow starts falling, an encyclopedic knowledge of the local bars that have fireplaces is pretty much invaluable. But The Dandelion really works any time of year. They’ve totally committed to the theme, and you’ll see this not only in design elements like tartan stools and silver trays brought out for tea service, but in a lengthy menu full of English staples like Sunday roast and rabbit pie. Bring your work friends, bring a date, or just bring yourself for a pint during Happy Hour.
The core concepts of Village Whiskey are fairly simple: great bourbon and great burgers. If they excelled in these areas alone, we’d be happy. But when you add in bar snacks like deviled eggs and cheese curds, an entire section of the menu dedicated to pickles, and Nutella milkshakes, we’re all in. It’s small, so expect to wait, and don’t be surprised when the male:female ratio is 2:1.