PHLGuide

The Best Restaurants In Center City

The 20 best restaurants in Rittenhouse, Midtown Village, Logan Square, and beyond.
The Best Restaurants In Center City image

photo credit: RACHEL LERRO

There are only a few reasons we all make the trek to Center City—to act out scenes from Trading Places, use our Mitchell & Ness gift card, and grab some really good food at the nearly endless restaurants. While we don’t have a code that gets you $25 off a Jalen Hurts jersey, we do have a list of the 20 best places in Rittenhouse, Midtown Village, Chinatown, Logan Square, and beyond. The lineup includes an amazing sandwich shop, a few Philebrity-filled steakhouses, and places for incredible pasta.

THE SPOTS

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American

Rittenhouse

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDining SoloDrinking Good CocktailsDrinks & A Light BiteEating At The BarFine Dining
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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, $165 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.

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Her Place feels like the next generation of supper clubs: the food is better, you don’t need a membership, and 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. To get a reservation, you’ll need to be ready when they drop them every other Sunday 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 Blink-182 song—all while you watch her put the finishing touches on a gorgeous plate of pasta.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

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). 

photo credit: RACHEL LERRO

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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.

If you’re passionate about food and restaurants, there are few places 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 ($215 if you go for the forchetta menu), 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).

Bottom line: if you’re looking for the city’s best steakhouse (or a shot at seeing Jalen Hurts eating tater tots), head to Barclay Prime in Rittenhouse. It’s not the most classic, but it’s definitely our favorite. It’s a long-running staple, but it still feels sexy and trendy, and the steak here is some of the best you’ll have in your life (especially the wagyu ribeye). There’s also a signature $140 cheesesteak that’s dripping with truffle cheese and foie gras and comes with a half-bottle of champagne. It’s ridiculous, decadent, and worth every penny. The best part about Barclay, though, is that you can easily come, not order meat, and still have a great time—no matter what you get, the service will make you feel as pampered as Oprah’s dogs.

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

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 cafe to dine-in or pick up, the scent of the pistachio sticky bun is so unforgettable that we’d probably circle around 10 times just to get our hands on a few orders.

Vietnam is essentially a one-two punch. The bottom floor is a Vietnamese restaurant with incredible dishes like vermicelli rice noodle bowls, papaya salad, and lime chicken. Once you and your friends have finished arguing over who gets the last spring roll, head upstairs to Bar Saigon. The second-floor space is basically a tiki bar, with flaming punch bowls and Mai Tais in colorful glasses. Hitting both in one night is one of our favorite birthday party moves, but each place is also great on its own.

Most steakhouses fall into one of two camps: traditional, white tableclothed chophouses with tufted leather booths and servers in tuxedos, and sleeker, trendier places with unconventional menu options and TikTokers going live over ribeyes. Alpen Rose, the Schulson steakhouse in Midtown Village, sits smack dab in the middle of the Venn diagram—it offers the top-tier service, quality, and portion sizes of a classic steakhouse, with the broader menu, casual vibes, and better soundtrack of the new school. It’s small, almost cozy, and the smoky, well-seasoned tomahawk is the single best piece of meat in the city. Be sure to get an order of the bone marrow toast and potato pavé, and forget about the chaos awaiting you on 13th Street.

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 prawns, flat iron steak with a ramp soubise, and fluke crudo 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 potato and leek that’s covered in roasted potato, melted leek, and cornichon—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.

This daytime Chinatown spot serves deep-fried curry chicken dumplings and steamed pork-and-leek dumplings that are just as memorable as their specialty tea and siphon coffee. Come starting at 8am to eat chewy, thick-skinned dumplings for breakfast instead of that granola that's been haunting your pantry since the Trump presidency. The small shop also makes Taiwanese beef noodle soup and crisp spring rolls filled with napa cabbage, carrots, and shrimp—both of which will get snatched up by anyone you bring.

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.

High Street has baked some of the best bread in the city for over a decade. So it’s no surprise that their revamped all-day restaurant has good sourdough pizza during dinner as well as all the usual daytime pastries and sandwiches. You could come to their marble-heavy space at night and easily take down one of High Street's airy, thin-crust pies by yourself without feeling Thanksgiving levels of stuffed. So dominate the table with pizza, salad, and drinks, and the restaurant will be a great choice for a post-work situation or maybe dinner before a show.

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