The Pillow Fort Guide: The Coziest Restaurants In Philadelphia
15 restaurants that feel like a hug from Gritty.
A cozy restaurant can mean different things to different people, but generally speaking, you want an intimate place with comforting food that gives you the warm and fuzzies. And since we live in a frantic city where traffic jams and random drumlines are almost a daily occurrence, having a few casual hideaways is essential. If you’re looking for the restaurant equivalent of your go-to comfort blanket, head to one of these 15 spots.
East Passyunk’s Townsend is as comfortable as wearing your favorite sweater. The place is dark and intimate, there’s a vintage fireplace, and it has more candles than a love scene in Bridgerton. It’s also one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, so beyond the feel-good factor, you can expect incredible drinks and food. Pass around plates of crispy broiled oysters, potato gnocchi, and ribeye coated in a red wine jus on a comfortable date night—setting the right mood is 90% of the battle, anyway.
Most steakhouses are huge, cavernous halls with two-story ceilings and tons of oversized tables. Midtown Village’s Alpen Rose is not that. It’s dark, intimate, and has a wood-paneled room that looks like the inside of a treasure chest. Whether you order a tomahawk ribeye, seafood tower, or tender prime rib roast that’s just right for two, you’ll feel as relaxed as being on your couch (assuming your place also has expensive-looking paintings in elaborate frames).
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photo credit: RACHEL LERRO
Wm. Mulherin's Sons
Wm. Mulherin's Sons feels like a lodge in the Catskills was picked up by a tornado and landed in Fishtown. There are cozy brown leather booths in every corner, a huge wooden bar that’s perfect for pre-date drinks, and a fireplace that looks like it’s from the set of the “most interesting man in the world” commercials. Essentially, a meal at the Italian restaurant feels like you’ve been wrapped in a velvet robe while being fed wood-fired pizzas, char-grilled calamari, and creamy ricotta cavatelli.
photo credit: GAB BONGHI
Between the consistently excellent Mediterranean food and dimly-lit, low key atmosphere, everything about Mish Mish has the subtle smoothness of a slow jazz song. The East Passyunk spot has a small dining room so we don’t recommend bringing a massive group. But if you come with a friend or two, go for plates like the grilled shrimp and tender pomegranate-glazed grilled chicken, all served in a space that feels like a charming house party.
photo credit: GAB BONGHI
At Midtown Village’s Double Knot, you can hang at the intimate first floor cocktail lounge and sushi bar, or head downstairs to the candle lit izakaya that looks like it was designed by Dracula. You’ll need to make a reservation to dine in the chatty vampire’s lair (walk-ins are confined to the first floor). For a little taste of everything, get the $65 Chef’s Tasting Menu, which includes dishes like creamy edamame dumplings, crispy Japanese fried chicken, and Japanese scallops in an onion ponzu.
photo credit: RACHEL LERRO
If you’ve lived in Philly for more than 10 minutes, you probably know about Vedge. You should also know that besides being vegan and in a refurbished townhome—complete with wood paneling and a brick fireplace—it feels as relaxing as listening to Billie Eilish’s ballads. That makes the Midtown Village restaurant the perfect place to go when you want a rutabaga fondue, eggplant braciole, and lion's mane mushroom bolognese.
Mr. Martino's Trattoria
Located in an old hardware store in South Philly, Mr. Martino’s Trattoria is exactly the kind of old-school Italian BYOB that tourists expect to see as soon as they step out of Philadelphia International. It checks all the boxes: homemade pastas cooked in a small kitchen, antique decor that’s probably been there since they opened 31 years ago, and a staff that feels more like a family. The one problem is that it’s a cash-only monthly pop-up, so you’ll be in a reservation battle every time you crave warming bowls of tortellini with pesto that will make you feel as snug as a hammock made out of clouds.
Barbuzzo Mediterranean Kitchen & Bar
If you’re looking for an affordable, delicious weeknight dinner, we immediately think of Barbuzzo in Midtown Village. The cozy, dimly-lit Mediterranean spot is usually packed, and plates of fluffy pan seared gnocchi and Uovo pizza with truffled egg is our constant go-to when we want comfort food. Come with a couple of friends or get a front row seat at the first come, first serve chef’s counter.
There’s a perpetual coziness to Pumpkin near South Street—which is the opposite feeling that the chaotic neighborhood is known for. The dining room is always low-lit, filled with quiet two-tops, and has a mix of jazz and indie music playing on the speakers. The small BYOB has been around for ages, and while the tasting menu changes often, the food is so consistently great that you could close your eyes, point to anything on the menu, and be thrilled with what shows up. If there’s a crudo or strip steak on the menu, don’t miss it, and be prepared to drift off to a food version of a guided meditation.
photo credit: KERRY MCINTYRE
You know when you wake up in the middle of the night, remember it’s your day off, and fall reassuringly back into your pillow? That’s how relaxing and satisfying having dinner at A Mano in Fairmount feels. The candlelit BYOB is upscale but still feels casual, and the plates of pasta look just as good as they taste. You would expect a place like this to have a long expensive wine list, but they don’t have a wine list at all. Instead, bring your own $15 bottle to pair with a plate of gnocchi that costs about the same, and have an effortless, delicious night.
photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO
The Good King Tavern
Most of the seating in this low-lit Bella Vista restaurant is leather booths or small bistro tables. It almost feels like a cozy Parisian antique shop that happens to serve really good food. The frequently-changing French menu features dishes like chickpea socca, buttery escargot, and steak frites. Plus, they have a long wine list (after all, they own the wine bar upstairs) that could take your night to an even buzzier comfort zone.
With tartan bar seats, leather booths, and old paintings of hounds, The Dandelion feels like a cozy pub in the English countryside. The Rittenhouse restaurant serves some of the best British bar food in the area for brunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. Grab a pint and hearty mains like rabbit pie or fish and chips, and relax in a space that resembles Prince Harry’s childhood treehouse.
Zorba’s Tavern in Fairmount has an array of cozy things, like a small dining room with white tablecloths and enough Greek paintings and candles to make you think you’re in the third installment of Mamma Mia. Like the hoodie everyone in the house shares, there are a few universal crowd-pleasers on the menu. Go for the silky hummus, charcoal chicken pita, and other dishes that like the hoodie, you’ll never tire of.
photo credit: La Roma
If you can’t decide between excellent chicken empanadas or crispy arancini, but know you want a cute space with lots of plants, exposed brick, and warm lighting, La Roma should be on your radar. Inspired by a neighborhood in Mexico City, the candlelit Port Richmond restaurant has a menu that’s a mashup of Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and other cuisines. It’s both casual and affordable, with lots of Spanish guitar coming through the speakers, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner with good tequila or mezcal.
photo credit: Fiorino
Plenty of plants, massive windows, and romantic parlor furniture all add to the appeal of this tiny Italian BYOB in East Falls. Tables are close, so you’ll get a sneak peek of the grilled calamari, spaghetti and clams, and veal saltimbocca that glides by before you order. The best part about this place is that it works for so many occasions: a family dinner, a solo meal with a good rosé, and a date night that mirrors the coziness of a snow day (minus the frigid temperature).