The Best Restaurants In Center CityThe 20 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.
If you’re passionate about food and restaurants, there is almost no place in Philadelphia we can recommend more than Vetri–it’s one of our top-rated spots. Located in a historic townhouse, the intimate space still has original wood floors and is lit by Venetian chandeliers. At $165 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).
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.
The idea of a supper club, in theory, is simple: fantastic food in an atmosphere that feels more like a friend’s dining room than a restaurant. And although places like this have been trending in almost every city, few really nail it. 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 $90 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.
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).
Unlike their sister restaurant, Vernick Food & Drink, 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.
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 futuristic libraries, 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 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 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.
The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now
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, 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.
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 sexy 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.
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.
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.
For some, Harp and Crown is a casual-yet-pricey dinner spot where you can get $8 beers, $12 glasses of wine, and $30 entrees like a pork chop Milanese and a juicy dry-aged burger. At the same time, it’s also a place where you can head downstairs and get in a few games of bowling while you avoid running into your ex (since the bar upstairs is one of the more popular Happy Hour spots in town).
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.
If we're looking for an affordable, delicious weeknight dinner, we immediately think of Barbuzzo. The cozy, dimly-lit Midtown Village spot is usually packed, with couples having the "what are we?" conversation, families, and groups of friends passing around great pizza, pasta, and Mediterranean small plates. On nights when you're flying solo, head to their first come, first serve chef’s counter, have a glass of merlot, and get a front row seat to the plates of gnocchi whizzing by.