The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Philadelphia guide image


The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Philadelphia

A night out at one of these restaurants will never be boring.

Those seeking a polite meal, click away now. This guide is reserved for anyone who’s wondering, “Where’s the place to be?” and might have a penchant for mid-dinner photoshoots and post-dinner bar hopping. Chairs aren’t just for sitting in some of these restaurants and, while food is important, a good time takes priority. They range from new spots flooding your feeds to classics where successful meals are determined by how many martinis you drink with your server. These places may not all be the best new restaurants in town, but you'll always walk out with a story or two. And if you happen to be looking for some fun bars in Philly, we know just the ones to prioritize.


My Loup

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). 

Illata is about to become your new favorite BYOB. This modern American spot in Filter Square is cozy, but they make the most of their 20 seats and open kitchen (there’s also a six-seat bar they save for walk-ins only). The small menu of seasonal seafood and produce is full of surprises—get here ASAP for the marinated mussels in miso chili oil and crispy fried clams, along with the rhubarb brown butter tart we’ll forever be fantasizing about. Our fingers are crossed that the sweet and spicy rigatoni amatriciana stays on the menu permanently. Every dish is under $30, so it’s a reasonable choice for a romantic night for two, but if you go with a few others you can (and should) order the entire menu.

This Cambodian restaurant, housed in the same space as the former Kalaya in Bella Vista, is like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly being followed up by DAMN: one hit after another. The cozy BYOB has a small open kitchen and minimalist decor, like gold-rimmed mirrors, rugs, and a sketch of the Italian Market on the walls. There are only 10 or so tables inside, so while you can walk in without a reservation, we wouldn’t recommend it. The menu is heavily influenced by the chef/owner’s childhood in Cambodia, but you’ll find dishes from all over Southeast Asia. Head there for a cozy date night or catch up with friends and pass around fragrant bowls of crispy soft-shell shrimp, braised chicken curry, and any noodle dish on the menu.  

Some openings feel like a long-anticipated album release. From a food cart to a pop-up to the current brick-and-mortar location, Bella Vista’s Tabachoy has the buzz of that Frank Ocean record we all still hope will come out. Inside the cozy Filipino restaurant, there are a handful of tables and walls that glow from the neon yellow pig sign, while old T-Pain tracks play overhead. There are no bad choices on the menu here, but we love the fried chicken (think Peking duck rather than breaded chicken) and the pancit bihon noodle dish that balances spice and citrus perfectly. Everything here feels like it's made for comfort, but you won’t leave feeling heavy. If you keep a must-try restaurant list, add this to the top of it.

This Fishtown restaurant is in our Best Burgers, Best Brunch, and Last Meal In Philly guides. Ok, the last one was made up, but that’s how much we love Middle Child Clubhouse. The casual spot is an all-day hangout where you can have unforgettable food and creative cocktails while staring at pictures of Princess Diana in Eagles gear. When it comes to the menu, they have a lineup of fluffy pancakes, pastrami burritos, housemade pasta, stacked deli sandwiches, and shareable mains like a peppery brick chicken, and each one is probably good enough to replace the logo in the state flag. It’s that rare fun place that works for everything from a lowkey morning to an exciting night out. And that’s why we (and most of the city) keep coming back.

Before they closed, Bella Vista’s Kalaya was the first place we thought of when we wanted some fantastic Thai food or to impress out-of-towners. And based on the crowds since they’ve reopened, the entire city felt exactly the same. The former BYOB got a Fishtown makeover that includes a full bar, a large dining room with 14-foot palm trees, and an open kitchen where plates of tender peppercorn steak, flower-shaped dumplings, and curries (like the sweet and peppery massaman nua) are made to perfection. The lively restaurant is a place where you can sit back in a booth with friends, order a lineup of wok-fried dishes and mounds of shaved ice topped with banana cream, and end your night reloading the reservations page to secure your next meal here.

With massive picture windows and bright green signage, it’s hard to miss this Kensington pasta bar and wine shop. But even if you don’t notice the couples sharing bottles of merlot as you walk by, the unmistakable scent of lamb ragu will draw you in. From perfectly blended cocktails and unique, affordable wines to pastas so good that you’ll consider proposing to the chef, this intimate corner restaurant should be your go-to for date nights, small group dinners, and every occasion in between. Tulip serves up modern takes on Italian classics, like cacio e peperoncini, Thai-inspired linguine and mussels, and our favorite, the Chesapeake Bay crab ravioli–perfectly doughy pouches stuffed with a creamy sweet-savory blend of crab and honeynut squash, finished with an irresistible crab butter.

The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night guide image

PHL Guide

The Best Philly Restaurants For Date Night

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.

The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now guide image

PHL Guide

The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now

With several hanging chandeliers, long booths, tall windows that open up to South Street, and a velvet rope at the door, Saweetie’s iconic tweet might’ve been referencing Rex PHL. Inside the former Royal Theater is now a restaurant with Low Country-inspired dishes like shrimp and grits and frogmore stew. We love this place for date nights where we break out a New Year’s Eve fit we never got to wear, but it’s also useful for when we want to eat their $20 burger or drink some bourbon on a Tuesday at the bar. Each week there’s live music, and they have an upstairs lounge filled with couches and TVs that can be reserved for a special night out with friends. Whichever night we go, we never leave without an order of their skillet mac and cheese that blends cooper sharp cheese, smoked provolone, and gruyere—it’s so cheesy and rich that it deserves its own headline show on the dining room stage.

Housed in an old Jiffy Lube, this Spring Garden retro cantina has both Chinese options like cold crab noodles tossed in a soy vinaigrette and Mexican staples like tacos, carne asada fries, and elote—all on the same menu.  While the quesabirria tacos, Tijuana street dogs, and chilaquiles are tempting, go for the fish tacos or stick to the Chinese dishes (our favorite is the pork belly bao bun). Bring a group of friends to Happy Hour for a round of wonton chips, tacos, and a few perfectly blended tequila-based cocktails on their bright pink patio bar. 

The Bar Hit List: The 15 Best Bars In Philly  guide image

PHL Guide

The Bar Hit List: The 15 Best Bars In Philly

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Philadelphia guide image