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PHLGuide

The Best Restaurants Near Rittenhouse Square

The 20 best places to eat around Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse Square is one of those parts of the city that always takes us back in time. The 17th century park, full of 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, 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 amazing burritos, here are 19 places you can stop by between trips to the farmers market, trying to get an appointment at the Apple Store, and evading the PPA on Walnut Street.

THE SPOTS

Her Place Supper Club

Her Place feels like the next generation of supper clubs: the food is better, you don’t need a membership, and even though you might struggle for a reservation, you'll feel like you’re eating a meal at a chef’s house rather than at a small Center City restaurant. They serve a four-course $75 tasting menu that changes every two weeks, and to get a reservation, you’ll need to be ready when they drop them on Sundays at 6pm. This is the only place in Philly where you can eat fine dining-quality food like lobster ravioli and brown butter profiteroles while harmonizing with the chef to a Destiny’s Child song—all while you watch her put the finishing touches on a gorgeous plate of pasta.

There are plenty of good date spots around Rittenhouse, but Friday Saturday Sunday is up there. 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.

When you want to impress a client or date, or you just want to get up, close, and personal with a $140 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.

Some restaurants take a few visits to become one of your go-tos. At Rittenhouse’s My Loup, it takes about five minutes. The French restaurant is an easy choice for an intimate date night, fun group dinner, or martini-fueled catch-up with friends.  We can’t stop thinking about the creamy crab toast, scallop crudo with sweet bits of apple, and tender, perfectly cooked lamb shoulder. Like its sister restaurant, Her Place Supper Club, it’s a near-impossible reservation to get. But for a go-to like this, it’s worth whatever tactic you have to pull to dine here (even if it means joining the staff). 

If you want to casually impress someone with your excellent taste, take them to Enswell. The all day café and bar from the Rival Bros. team is drop-dead gorgeous, and their refined cocktails and small plates are (almost) as showstopping. By day it’s a chic Rittenhouse spot to grab coffee and an almond croissant, but after 5pm it turns into a certified scene. The lights in the European-inspired space go dim, the pop and soul music goes up, and tall, tattooed people who look like extras in a movie swarm the bar and cozy banquettes. Pop in with a friend or two for a Haymaker and oysters, or settle in for a sexy dinner of small plates (be sure to get the dirty shrimp cocktail and jamon serrano).

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-ounce dry-aged steak is the right move.

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.

Sally is the kind of place you can go to impress some out-of-town friends who don’t think Philly is a pizza town, or show up solo on a Wednesday night and go through a few bowls of meatballs by yourself. The menu is filled with standout dishes like smoky and herb-butter-topped grilled shrimp, steak tartare with fermented spring onion, and zucchini tossed in miso pesto that’s a perfect light dish to go for before heading to the pizza. They have some of the best in the city, with a soft and chewy crust made from sourdough. Get the Green And Garlic that’s covered in fennel cream, melted mozzarella, mustard greens, and pesto—one slice will transport you to a warm and toasty happy place.

Some steakhouses have a running rotation of elevator music or what sounds like Bach’s greatest hits playlist. At Rittenhouse Grill, you'll find a jazz pianist serenading you while you dive into things like roast prime rib, oysters, and juicy sea bass filets topped with a miso glaze. On most nights, expect a dimly-lit atmosphere in a space full of deep black booths and a crowd that ranges from people celebrating their 50th anniversary to a group of friends sipping on merlot and arguing over if Jack could have fit on the door in Titanic. Before you chime in with the fact that he objectively could have, get at least one order of the lump crab cakes. 

You might not guess from the outside, but Harp & Crown is enormous, so feel free to come with your friends, intramural kickball team, or the 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.

Mission Taqueria is low-key enough that you can walk in for a casual weekday lunch without a wait, but it also gets a lot busier in the after-work hours. So much so, that you’ll start to wonder if they doing some sort of Eagles-themed giveaway. They make all their masa tortillas in-house, and if you don’t order their wild shrimp tacos, just know we’ll be disappointed in you. They’re topped with cabbage slaw, a peppery chipotle mayo, and get an extra kick from the serrano chilis that we can’t get enough of. Bring a group of friends here for a few rounds of shuffleboards, tequila and mezcal margaritas, and great tacos, all in a fun space that will make it feel like it’s your birthday, even when it isn’t.

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.

You’ll find a few Pizzeria Vetris scattered throughout the city, and they all serve great Neapolitan-style pies. The spot in Rittenhouse has a handful of outdoor seats that are ideal for people-watching when it’s nice out, and it’s usually filled with groups of friends and coworkers grabbing a quick meal. Thanks to their chewy crusts and rotolo—which is really just a perfect roll of pizza dough filled with ricotta and mortadella—it's one of those pizza places that you’ll start making plans to revisit as soon as you walk out the door.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Located inside The Rittenhouse Hotel, Lacroix is a little slice of old-school Philadelphia opulence. Their brunch buffet includes lobster macedoine, escargot and parmesan profiterole, Parisienne gnocchi with smoked pork belly and sauce mornay, along with other things you’ll never see served together at the same time again. It’s $95 per person, and great for anniversaries or visitors who are especially indecisive first thing in the morning.

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.

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.

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

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