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17 restaurants that define Philadelphia dining

A photo of Red logo
by Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme
Updated March 30, 2023

Philadelphia’s vibrant dining scene is right up there with historical landmarks on the list of reasons visitors come to town. The Philly food world just as important as the city’s renowned museums and concert halls, and chefs are some of our biggest celebrities.

A Top Chef winner in East Passyunk serves French American fare in a jewel box-like space. A group-friendly Chinatown favorite dishes up some of the city’s best—and spiciest—Sichuan fare. In Cedar Park, a soul food joint doubles as a beloved community hangout.

The city’s matrix of outstanding restaurants is as diverse as the people who live here, ranging from chef-driven, fine-dining spots to laid-back sports bars and cafes. Read on for a guide to 17 restaurants essential to Philadelphia.

A photo of Parc restaurant
4.8
4.8 (16530)
$31 to $50
French
Rittenhouse Square
About the restaurant
Prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr—known for hits such as Buddakan and Le Coucou around the country—got his start in Philadelphia. His flair for designing the full dining experience is best showcased at Parc, a Parisian restaurant literally built from pieces of restaurants imported from France. The atmosphere, both inside and outside, is spectacular: Parc’s bustling sidewalk tables sit across the street from Rittenhouse Square Park, and the restaurant takes full advantage of its lush setting. There’s no better place to enjoy a flawlessly cooked French omelet or steak frites while getting in some people-watching. Be sure to grab a baguette on the way out; Parc’s onsite bakery is one of the best in the city.
Top review
JosephKvip
Dined 3 days ago
Food was first rate Have never been to a place that looked and felt as much like a French bistro outside of France
A photo of Morimoto restaurant
4.8
4.8 (6574)
$50 and over
Japanese
Center City
About the restaurant
Philly doesn’t tolerate celebrity chef outposts unless they can back up their name with some serious game. Morimoto has impressed sushi connoisseurs from its early days when the Iron Chef himself sometimes appeared behind the Old City sushi bar. Thankfully, the kitchen is on point whether or not the headlining chef is in the house. That means Morimoto’s omakase—the chef’s choice menu, known to feature dishes such as whitefish carpaccio and black cod miso—is worth the splurge.
Top review
RachaelRvip
Dined 2 days ago
Great food and ambiance as always. Our server was a little stiff with us, but we had a great night nonetheless :)
A photo of Chickie's & Pete's - South Philadelphia restaurant
4.5
4.5 (643)
$30 and under
Seafood
South Philly
About the restaurant
Chickie’s and Pete’s is a classic pre-game and post-game stop for beers, cheesesteaks, and tomato pie in the shadow of South Philly’s sports stadiums. Its sprawling bar food menu offers something for everyone, but no visit here is complete without the restaurant’s famous crab fries. There’s no actual crab on these crinkle-cut fries. Instead, the irresistible cheese sauce on top is generously seasoned with Old Bay.
Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 4 days ago
Great food and service! Always a great time! Great atmosphere! So much fun!
A photo of SkyHigh restaurant
4.7
4.7 (2447)
$30 and under
Cocktail Bar
Center City
About the restaurant
JG SkyHigh, one of celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Philadelphia outposts, is among the city’s most dramatic restaurant spaces. Diners are whisked up from the street to the top of the Four Seasons Hotel in Center City in a glass elevator that offers panoramic city views. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide an unforgettable backdrop for celebratory cocktails or a special occasion meal. It’s a fitting atmosphere to splurge on Osetra caviar, or you could go for something more casual but equally good, such as spicy sausage, kale, and pecorino pizza.
Top review
antonios
Dined 7 days ago
So I decided to treat my partner to dinner here,for his retirement dinner.Booked dinner to watch the sunset,and was hoping to be seated by the a window,unfortunately those seats weren't available.Also was hoping to be seated below ,where the steps led to.Maybe I choose the incorrect option when booking,not sure. So anyway after ordering and receiving a bottle of water.It was taking so long for someone to arrive to take our drink/meal order.We had to flag down the maitre d,to get things rolling, we were very hungry. Looking at the menu,we were a little underwhelmed with our choices. We both ordered the cheesesteak, shared the truffle pizza,and we both ordered the salmon/mashed potatoes. Boy I tell you,we couldn't believe how delicious EVERYTHING was,exceeding our expectations . It was a beautiful evening, in spite of our seating situation, we will definitely return, but I think our next visit will be brunch, before our next dinner visit. Loved it!
A photo of Charlie was a sinner. restaurant
4.6
4.6 (2496)
$31 to $50
Tapas / Small Plates
Center City
About the restaurant
Charlie was a sinner. is the creation of plant-based chef and restaurateur Nicole Marquis. Her dark and cozy vegan cocktail lair serves up some of Philadelphia’s freshest drinks, thanks to ingredients such as hibiscus and mint, plus the city’s most inventive dishes. The zucchini “crab cake” sliders are a menu mainstay, along with a “ricotta” toast that could charm even the most ardent dairy lover. Enjoy it all against the backdrop of black-and-white movies, which flicker on the walls.
Top review
FranziskaR
Dined 3 days ago
We had an amazing experience last night. We were five and ordered 12 different small plates. All were outstanding.
A photo of White Dog Cafe - University City restaurant
4.6
4.6 (5290)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
University City
About the restaurant
The White Dog Cafe has been an icon of the local food movement in Philadelphia since opening its original West Philly location in 1983 as one of the first restaurants to celebrate seasonal ingredients from the region’s farms. When founder and farm-to-table pioneer Judy Wicks sold the business in 2009, she preserved the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. White Dog serves as an unofficial hub for the college campuses of University City and always attracts a diverse range of diners, from students to West Philly elders. Salads showcase the farm-fresh produce and local cheeses, and the mushroom soup, made with produce from nearby Kennett Square (the self-proclaimed mushroom capital of the world) is a must.
Top review
StacyM
Dined 3 days ago
I try to visit The White Dog every time I'm in Philadelphia. The food is always delicious and fresh and seasonal. I know it will be tasty and the price is competitive.
A photo of EMei restaurant
4.8
4.8 (220)
$30 and under
Chinese (Sichuan)
Chinatown
About the restaurant
With a dining room full of large round tables topped with rotating trays, Emei resembles other Chinatown restaurants. But its bold, regional flavors make it stand out from its neighbors. The restaurant has served some of the Philadelphia area’s spiciest and best Sichuan food since 2011. Chef Yongcheng Zhao has focused on the food of this Chinese province for his 40-year career. Whether your tastes run in the direction of pork intestine or Chongqing spicy chicken, a stir-fried dish spiked with dried Sichuan chile peppers, you’ll find appealing options on the large menu. Emei is at its most fun when you can order lots of dishes to share, so it’s great for groups.
Top review
JoshP
Dined 2 days ago
Exceptional food, very polite staff and incredibly reasonable pricing for the serving sizes.
A photo of Amada PHL restaurant
4.6
4.6 (8509)
$31 to $50
Spanish
Old City
About the restaurant
When James Beard Award winner Jose Garces left Stephen Starr’s nest in 2005 to launch his own splashy restaurant in Old City, it was a seismic event in the Philadelphia food world. For years, Amada was the buzziest, most sought-after reservation in town. And though newer, shinier restaurants have since arrived, the joy of a Spanish tapas night at Amada hasn’t faded. Start with a spread of charcuterie and cheeses before moving on to small plates such as garlic shrimp and albondigas (meatballs) that have been on the menu from the beginning. The Garces restaurant group has grown quite a bit since 2005, but Amada still holds up as its flagship.
Top review
Harlan
Dined 3 days ago
we were very nicely greeted and seated at our table. Our waiter was very energetic and helpful. We dined on assorted tapas and had some wonderful cocktails, overall a wonderful experience.
A photo of The Olde Bar restaurant
4.3
4.3 (1482)
$31 to $50
Seafood
Old City
About the restaurant
The Olde Bar melds flavors of the moment with longstanding tradition and is set in a space that once occupied a famous 19th-century fish house, Old Original Bookbinder’s. The Olde Bar’s drinks menu channels that past, focusing on classic cocktails such as penicillins, and reliably ranks on any list of best happy hours in town. The raw bar, especially oysters on the half shell, is a menu highlight. There’s also an entire section dedicated to lobster dishes. Bookbinder’s was said to have the largest indoor lobster tank in the world, so don’t miss the lobster pot pie.
Top review
AmandaM
Dined on Apr 6, 2024
Fabulous! Great to be in a historic place and enjoy a seafood menu honoring the tradition of the restaurant but with original and deliciously prepared food and cocktails.
A photo of Pumpkin BYOB restaurant
4.9
4.9 (2499)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
Rittenhouse Square
About the restaurant
Every neighborhood in Philadelphia has its long-treasured, mom-and-pop-run BYOB. Helmed by owners chef Ian Moroney and Hillary Bor, Pumpkin embodies the spirit of this quintessential Philly restaurant. The 26-seat dining room is small, but the addition of a covered and heated outdoor space has expanded options. Pumpkin serves a three-course menu based on local ingredients that changes daily. Expect fresh salads, housemade pastas, plenty of seafood, and homey desserts, such as goat cheesecake and chocolate torte with passion fruit.
Top review
AnnG
Dined on Apr 10, 2024
Excellent food. Probably the best meal we have had out since the pandemic. Fresh, innovative ingredients cooked to perfection, with a thoughtfulness in how one course relates to another. Bravo!
A photo of Bud & Marilyn's restaurant
4.7
4.7 (4956)
$30 and under
American
Center City
About the restaurant
Chef Marcie Turney descends from restaurant people; her grandparents (the titular Bud and Marilyn) owned a restaurant in Ripon, Wisconsin, where Turney grew up. This restaurant celebrates her family, Midwestern hospitality, and classic American comfort foods. Vinyl booths, vintage-inspired tableware, and retro TVs all add to the throwback theme. Crispy cheese curds made from Wisconsin cheddar and the housemade funfetti cake are the must-order menu items for a classic American experience.
Top review
Michaelvip
Dined 7 days ago
Great experience! Apps and dinner were great as were the cocktails
A photo of Fork - Philadelphia restaurant
4.7
4.7 (4905)
$31 to $50
Contemporary American
Old City
About the restaurant
For 25 years, Fork restaurant has set the standards in Philadelphia. Visionary restaurateur Ellen Yin has guided the restaurant through numerous incarnations, anticipating ever-shifting culinary moods and trends. One thing unites all of Fork’s eras: From the beginning, there’s been a focus on working with local farmers and doing sustainable business. The current menu offers a mix of creative and familiar plates. Look for Brussels sprouts topped with smoked grapes and sliced pistachios, as well as a leveled-up cheeseburger (topped with raclette and caramelized onions) with fries. It’s a chameleon of a place that’s somehow perfect for both celebrating a special occasion or grabbing a bite at the bar on a random weeknight.
Top review
DanB
Dined on Apr 10, 2024
Service was excellent! Very astute waiter that never interrupted when we were in focused business discussions, but right on the spot timing wise to keep things flowing. Food was excellent as well! Top notch experience for a great businees dinner. TY!
A photo of Tria Rittenhouse restaurant
4.7
4.7 (389)
$30 and under
Wine Bar
Rittenhouse Square
About the restaurant
This laidback wine bar was built as a place to celebrate all things fermented—especially the trio of wine, beer, and cheese. Tria has been the place to discover the most compelling vintages and unusual cheeses in town since its inception. Cheese boards are created by Tenaya Darlington, aka “Madame Fromage,” a local cheese expert, author, and educator. There are also ample soups, snacks, salads, and sandwiches. The bustling scene and people-watching opportunities—the restaurant and sidewalk seats are perched on one of the neighborhood’s liveliest corners—are almost as big of a draw as the food and drink.
Top review
MariaNvip
Dined 5 days ago
Delicious food and very attentive staff. We always eat at Tria when we’re in Philadelphia.
A photo of El Vez restaurant
4.7
4.7 (6818)
$30 and under
Mexican / Southwestern
Center City
About the restaurant
El Vez, another Stephen Starr stunner, has been a popular spot for happy hours that become nights out since opening in 2003. Large booths accommodate groups of friends and colleagues who gather over platters of nachos, bowls of guacamole, Mexican chopped salads, and taco plates. The real draw here, though, is the drinks menu, which includes a variety of margaritas, all balanced and strong. Don’t miss the large selection of agave spirits, including flights for those who’d like to sample a variety of options.
Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Good lunch! I had the manchego cheese appetizer and the salad. 
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