If you’ve lived in Philly for more than a day, you’ve had a cheesesteak. In fact, if you’ve been here for any significant amount of time, you probably have a ranking in your head of the top 10, which one has the softest bread, and where you can find the best cheese wiz. So when a restaurant puts a $140 cheesesteak on their menu, you can’t help but roll your eyes and wonder how anyone could ever justify dropping so much money on a sandwich. But that’s exactly what Barclay Prime did, and it’s the only place in the city that could—and does—get away with it.
Barclay Prime is a steakhouse right on the edge of Rittenhouse Square Park, and it goes big. Like a reality TV star planning an amusement park-themed birthday party for their one-year-old big. Like the city of Philadelphia after winning a Super Bowl big (okay, maybe not that big). But everything they do at this loungey, chandelier-filled spot is like a high-end circus that makes you feel like you’re related to Logan Roy.
And nothing at Barclay Prime goes bigger than the food, which ranges from a raw bar (that includes an ounce of caviar for $250) to the cheesesteak and a special menu just for wagyu A5 steaks. While you might take one look at the menu and wonder how any piece of meat could be worth as much as a Sixers 100-level seats, one bite of the A5 wagyu filet that you can cut with just a spoon will change that. It’ll have you considering skipping a cable bill or two just to get the chance for one more meal here.
The cheesesteak is the other thing on the menu that’s non-negotiable because it’s the most quality cheesesteak you’ll ever have. It’s so good that you’ll wish you hadn’t even tried it because you probably spent the first half of dinner telling your friends how “there’s no way it lives up to the one at Ishkabibble’s,” especially after getting the speech about how the champagne brings out the flavor from the staff. Now you have to sit there silently and eat your words between sips. While you won’t be walking up to Barclay Prime and ordering a wiz wit on a Tuesday afternoon anytime soon, you’ll definitely be thinking about this sandwich the next time you’re in line at Jim’s for 30 minutes.
For all that is perfect and delicious at Barclay Prime, there is one huge downside: how expensive it is. You should be prepared to spend upwards of $200 per person for dinner here, but if you’re looking for the best steakhouse in Philadelphia, Barclay Prime is in a league of its own.
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
Sometimes people get the crabcake assignment completely wrong—it can get too breaded and there’s not enough meat. Here, they get it right because they let the chunks of crab do the work. It’s a perfectly juicy mound of shellfish that comes with a lemon aioli that will make you want to cover the whole thing with it like you do with sunblock to your torso on a summery day.
Truffle Mac & Cheese
We’ve been to a lot of steakhouses in the city, and eaten a lot of sides, but this truffle mac and cheese is the best one we’ve encountered. It’s full of thick cavatappi pasta that’s smothered in a velvety and creamy blend of mascarpone, asiago, and cheddar that has just the right amount of truffle oil in it.
All of the steaks here come simply prepared, sliced, and topped with a few flakes of sea salt. You can get them with a sauce (our go-to is the house steak sauce), but they’re so perfectly cooked and well-seasoned that they’re best eaten just how they come.
Barclay Prime Cheesesteak
It’s $140 and filled with wagyu ribeye, foie gras, onions, and truffled cheese whiz. Usually, an appetizer for the table, as it comes sliced into three cuts, it also comes with a mini bottle of champagne. From the Italian bread to the cut of meat, the sandwich is full of quality elements and really works. They say to order it as an appetizer here, since it comes with three cuts for the table, but you could just make a meal out of this and the bubbly.
Wild Dover Sole
If you’re more in the mood for seafood, the Dover sole is your best bet. It’s light and topped with a lemon caper brown butter sauce that you'll wonder who you have to petition to get a lifetime supply of it.