The Best Restaurants In Center City guide image


The Best Restaurants In Center City

All the best restaurants in Rittenhouse, Midtown Village, Logan Square, and beyond.

There are only a few reasons we all make the trek to Center City—to act out some scenes from Trading Places, use our Mitchell & Ness gift card, and grab some really good food at the nearly endless amount of restaurants. While we don’t have a code that gets you $25 off a Jalen Hurts jersey, we have put together a list of the best places in Rittenhouse, Midtown Village, Logan Square, and beyond. The lineup includes an amazing sandwich shop, a few steakhouses with wine lists longer than Broad St., and places where you can get incredible bowls of pasta. These 25 spots have you covered for every occasion, whether you’re just looking for a quick BEC or want to spend the amount of Wells Fargo floor seats on a dry-aged steak for your birthday.


photo credit: Rachel Lerro

Vetri Cucina review image

Vetri Cucina


1312 Spruce St, Philadelphia
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If you’re passionate about food and restaurants, there is almost no place in Philadelphia we can recommend more than Vetri–it’s our top-rated spot. Located in a historic townhouse, the intimate space still has original wood floors and is lit by Venetian chandeliers. At $150 per person (plus more for wine pairings), the tasting menu can range from corzetti with pistachio tarragon pesto and briny clam conservato to spinach gnocchi or a juicy steak. Definitely save it for a landmark birthday or the anniversary of the Eagles’ Super Bowl win. The service is unparalleled, the menu a choose-your-own-adventure of decadence, and you’ll be totally satisfied paying that $800 bill (just close your eyes and sign).




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While restaurants that feel like dinner parties are thriving in other cities, Philly has a history of places like Palizzi and Messina. Her Place feels like the next generation of those supper clubs: the food is better, you don’t need a membership, and even though you might have to 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 $85 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.

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

This two-story Rittenhouse spot has a first-floor bar and a more formal dining space upstairs that's filled with candles, leather booths, and stained glass windows surrounded by worn-down shutters. It’s an atmosphere that’s somehow both relaxing and uber-sophisticated, and no matter where you sit you’ll have an unforgettable meal. They serve an eight-course, $150 tasting menu, and you can expect things like perfectly executed beef tartare, charred octopus, crudo with caviar, and New York Strip with cinnamon-y yams. When your meal is over, you can just head downstairs to their lively bar, have a few cocktails, and keep the night 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 dining rooms at expensive retirement homes than anything else, Butcher & Singer feels like a clubhouse 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 into Butcher & Singer 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 what makes Butcher & Singer one of the more special restaurants in the city.

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 $25, and the small plates are actually pretty substantial.

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Unlike their sister Rittenhouse restaurant, Vernick Fish would never be described as “cozy” or “quaint.” It’s on the ground floor of the newest Comcast Tower and the dining room looks like it belongs in a Versace Home catalog. Regardless, you could just as easily show up wearing jeans and a sweatshirt as you could in a full tuxedo and you wouldn’t feel out of place. If you’re down to eat a lot of seafood, Vernick Fish is the most enjoyable fancy restaurant in the city. It might not seem like the kind of place you can have a relaxing meal with a few friends, but that’s exactly what makes Vernick Fish so great. You could save it for an anniversary, treat it like an oyster bar where you can meet a few colleagues after work, or use it as the common ground for a double date with your in-laws.

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.

Double Knot is a Japanese spot in Midtown Village, and it’s really two restaurants in one. There’s an all-day cafe on the main floor that you could watch on a time-lapse and never catch a moment when it’s not busy. And while it’s usually packed with people eating rice and noodle bowls and working on laptops, at 5pm the lights go down and it turns into more of a bar scene, but with a slightly different menu than what you’ll find at the izakaya below, which is really where you want to be.

Surrounded by places that all require reservations or hour-plus waits, Huda is something that Rittenhouse needed: somewhere to run in and grab a sandwich between saving the world at the office or window shopping on Walnut Street. But the location isn’t the only reason we keep telling everyone about this place—all eight sandwiches, served on homemade milk buns, have us murmuring “Hoo-dah” in our sleep. We typically go for the grilled swordfish topped with a spicy kimchi tartar sauce, and we always pair it with an order of fries that comes with a choice of southwest, dijonaise, sour cream and onion sauce, and that same kimchi tartar.

Middle Child has some of the best breakfast sandwiches around, and you’ll probably wait at least 30 minutes on the weekend if you come here. It’s also a popular spot for Jefferson doctors and med students during the week, so if you want to grab a phoagie (an eggplant sandwich with avocado, bean sprouts, and something called pho sauce that we’d eat on anything), you’re going to need to time your visit for right before their shift change.

Sang Kee has been serving its crispy-skinned Peking duck in Chinatown since 1980—it’s no surprise, since it’s the best in the city. The two-story, bare-bones restaurant is packed with seemingly endless rows of tables filled with couples, families, and groups of friends. Of course, they're sharing platters of the glistening duck with scallions and hoisin sauce, but the understudies here are just as impressive as the star of the show. Sang Kee also specializes in Hong Kong-style BBQ, noodle soups, and traditional Cantonese stir fry. Other must-orders include (but are definitely not limited to) the honey-coated BBQ roast pork, steamed Sang Kee-style pork dumplings, loaded Hong Kong-style wonton soup, and beef in black bean sauce.

Pearl & Mary is a Midtown Village oyster bar that joins the fleet of Schulson Collective restaurants in the area (like Sampan and Double Knot). The intimate space feels like it's straight out of New Orleans—it has the ambiance of a craft cocktail bar, complete with an oyster shucking station and floor to ceiling windows that connect the indoor and outdoor dining areas. The menu has a great raw bar selection, inventive small plates—including an octopus al pastor and hamachi crudo topped with potato crisps—and larger dishes like a buttery lobster roll. You’ll find couples and groups of friends sharing orders of clams casino, but the best spot in the house is at the bar, sampling snow crab, shrimp cocktail, and oysters from the Royal Tower.

Sampan is a Pan-Asian restaurant in Midtown Village, and while the large, loungey, and very purple space may feel a little outdated, the food here is still good. We’re especially into the small plates, like the chicken katsu bao and kobe hot dog, which are all $6 or less during Happy Hour. And if you’re not into the vibe inside, you can get the whole Happy Hour menu out back at the Graffiti Bar, which is a lot less purple.

Vedge is a restaurant in Midtown Village that does things with vegetables you’ve definitely never seen before. Things that will make you question everything you think you know about carrots, tomatoes, and mushrooms. It’s a creative powerhouse that has been topping “best restaurant” lists around the country since it opened in 2011, and everything it makes is entirely vegan. But being vegan isn’t what sets Vedge apart. What sets Vedge apart is the fact that they use being vegan as a fun little challenge for themselves to make things more interesting. Kind of like when you were little and got too good at jumping rope so you decided to add a second rope into the mix—just to see if you could do it. And, let us tell you, Vedge can double dutch better than any other place around.

Talula’s Garden in Washington Square West is the kind of restaurant that serves delicious food and has a great patio, but it’s nothing revolutionary. And yet we find ourselves here often, especially sitting outside. They have a large, split-level brick patio covered in vines and string lights, and it’s the biggest reason that Talula’s is always more crowded in the summer. On any night over 65 degrees, it’s tough to get a table out here—but if you call ahead, you can make it happen.

Parc is a special place, partially because we think it’s slowly fused into Rittenhouse Square’s permanent architecture, and also because you can pull it out of your back pocket for pretty much any situation. It’s a classic French bistro with a classic French bistro menu (think steak tartare and beef bourguignon), and while none of their food comes with table-side magic tricks, everything is fresh and delicious. They also have some of the best sidewalk seating in the city, so if you’re in the mood to watch people walking their dogs who look just like them, this is the place to be. is the companion bar to, and it serves similar food as, but in a less formal space. On any given night, it’s filled with a combination of first dates and people who work in the area stopping by for a quick meal with a couple of coworkers, but we also like it for a solo meal on the weekend after a long day of shopping in Rittenhouse. The menu is pretty solid all around, but the oysters are a standout.

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. And the bar has snacks like deviled eggs and cheese curds, an entire section of the menu dedicated to pickles, and Nutella milkshakes, so we’re all in.

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PHL Guide

The Best Restaurants In Chinatown

Veda is an upscale spot in Rittenhouse that serves some of our favorite Indian food in the city. The Calcutta pork ribs are thick, grilled, and juicy with a chutney glaze, and the lamb roganjosh is meaty and rich, though it’s worth asking for a little extra heat (the default is a lot tamer than you’d expect). But their goat cheese-stuffed naan is truly special and should be the first thing you order when you come here.

If you’ve ever seen Mad Men and wished your work life was all drinking and smoking cigarettes and having “creative meetings” that are really just more drinking, you should be hanging out at Bud & Marilyn’s. It’s perfectly retro, with wood-paneled walls and black-and-white dial TVs, and you can eat all of the buttery comfort food you want—like crispy cheese curds and fried chicken—without any of the obvious cons of living in the 1960s. Plus, their weekend brunch includes some of the best breakfast cocktails we’ve found in Center City, and the caramelized apple french toast is exactly what your Sunday needs to distract you from the impending workweek.

Even though it just looks like another fancy Rittenhouse spot reserved for a rich aunt’s birthday, Spice Finch is actually the kind of place you can go for a casual weeknight dinner when you’re okay with spending a little extra money, drinking a $15 cocktail, and eating some really good Mediterranean food. The food here might surprise you as well. It’s just as expensive as any other special occasion spot in Rittenhouse, which is another reason we initially put it in the “only use in case of emergencies” box, but it’s mostly very good and gets better with every course. 

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—like multiple pasta dishes and big fish entrees—is why you’re here.

Grandma’s Philly is a casual BYOB in Midtown Village serving an extensive menu of Northern Thai food like papaya salad, Kad Prao basil chicken, and Pad Kee Mao drunken noodles. The most notable dishes, though, are inspired by the restaurant’s namesake, the chef’s grandmother. Everything is meant to be shared, from the perfectly spicy, deliciously creamy panang curry to the mountain of pineapple fried rice, but you’ll want to keep Grandma’s Meatballs to yourself. The tender beef meatballs covered in a slurpable sweet-savory sauce are unforgettable (and worth fighting over).   

DanDan is a good weekday lunch or post-work spot if you happen to work nearby in Rittenhouse, and they also have a reasonably priced Happy Hour (which unfortunately ends at 6pm). But if you’re able to get a seat at the bar before then and don’t mind rubbing elbows (literally) with other Center City diners, we’d advise ordering one of each of the dan dan noodles, the dry-seasoned chicken wings, and the spicy crispy cucumbers.

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