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12 Restaurants That Define Philadelphia Dining

It’s no secret that Philadelphia is a city that loves to eat. The vibrant restaurant scene is right up there with historical sites on the list of qualities that draw visitors to town — food is a strand of culture just as important as the museums and concert halls, and chefs are the city’s big celebrities. These are the restaurants that make Philly great.

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OpenTable
12 Restaurants
Updated April 06, 2022
Restaurants:Parc, White Dog Cafe - University City, Booker's Restaurant and Bar
Price Range:$$ - $$
Cuisines:French, Contemporary American, American
Neighborhoods:Rittenhouse Square, University City
A photo of Parc restaurant

Parc

$$$$
French
Rittenhouse Square
4.8
14298 reviews
Prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr — known for hits such as Buddakan, Serpico, and Le Coucou around the country — got his start in Philadelphia. His flair for designing the full dining experience might be best showcased at Parc, a French restaurant literally built from pieces of restaurants (and, originally, a chef) 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 Parc takes full advantage of its setting. There’s no better place to enjoy a flawlessly cooked French omelette or steak frites while getting in some people watching. Be sure to grab a baguette on the way out; Parc’s bakery is one of the best in the city.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Takeout available
View Takeout Menu
A photo of White Dog Cafe - University City restaurant

White Dog Cafe - University City

$$$$
Contemporary American
University City
4.6
4636 reviews
Since opening the doors to the original West Philly location in 1983, the White Dog Cafe has been an icon of the local food movement in Philadelphia. Founded by farm-to-table pioneer Judy Wicks (who sold the business in 2009 in such a way that it preserved the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability), White Dog was among the first restaurants to celebrate seasonal ingredients from the region’s farms. An unofficial hub for the college campuses of University City, it’s always attracted a diverse range of diners, from students to West Philly elders. Salads really showcase the farm-fresh produce and local cheeses, and the mushroom soup, made with mushrooms from nearby Kennett Square, is a must.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Booker's Restaurant and Bar restaurant

Booker's Restaurant and Bar

$$$$
American
University City
4.4
931 reviews
A restaurant, hangout, and community hub, Booker’s is more than just a place for great soul food. It’s a true third place that both reflects its West Philly neighborhood and contributes to its strong sense of place. It’s the ideal place to relax with friends over a craft beer, signature cocktail, or thoughtful nonalcoholic libation. The community vibes are just as enticing as the locally famous fried chicken and blackened catfish.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Morimoto restaurant

Morimoto

$$$$
Japanese
Center City
4.7
5992 reviews
Philly doesn’t tolerate celebrity chef outposts unless they can back up their name with serious game, and Morimoto has been impressing sushi connoisseurs from its early days, when the Iron Chef himself sometimes made an appearance behind the sushi bar in Old City. Thankfully, like other great restaurants, the kitchen is on point whether or not the headlining chef is in the house.That means Morimoto’s omakase — when diners luxuriate in a multi-course tasting that represents the best the kitchen has to offer — is worth the splurge.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Takeout available
View Takeout Menu
A photo of Moshulu restaurant

Moshulu

$$$$
Contemporary American
Penn's Landing
4.3
7431 reviews
The Moshulu is, in addition to being an iconic restaurant, the “world’s oldest and largest square rigged sailing vessel still afloat,” according to its website. Acting as a floating restaurant since 1975, it’s also been the site of countless big dates, parties, proposals, and birthdays for multiple generations of Philadelphians. While many flock here for the boat atmosphere and waterfront views, Moshulu chef Anthony Bonett brings years of fine dining experience to bear on the menu. As you might expect, there’s an emphasis on seafood. Order the crab cakes or the swordfish surf and turf.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?


Takeout available
View Takeout Menu
A photo of Estia - Philadelphia restaurant

Estia - Philadelphia

$$$$
Greek
Center City
4.8
7498 reviews
It can be hard to pick a restaurant for dinner before a show on the Avenue of the Arts, but you cannot go wrong with Estia. There’s a homey, Mediterraean feel to the place, and Estia specializes in Greek cuisine, especially grilled whole fish, many of which are flown in from the Greek islands. To start, try the avgolemono, a Greek chicken and rice soup bright with fresh lemon, and some of the spreads served with grilled pita. (The htipiti, with roasted red peppers and feta, is a fan favorite.) Or, after the pandemic, when you do have tickets to a show, order the prix fixe especially for theater-goers so you can taste a little bit of everything without missing your curtain.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Amada PHL restaurant

Amada PHL

$$$$
Spanish
Old City
4.7
7816 reviews
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 difficult-to-get reservation in town, a must for visitors and locals alike. And though newer, shinier restaurants have come after it, the fun of a night of Spanish tapas at Amada hasn’t faded; the restaurant still offers excellent food and a great time. Start with a spread of charcuterie and cheeses before moving on to small plates like garlic shrimp, albondigas (meatballs), and “Amada’s empanadas,” which are inspired by Garces’s grandmother’s recipe and 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 his flagship.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Chickie's & Pete's South Philadelphia restaurant

Chickie's & Pete's South Philadelphia

$$$$
Seafood
South Philly
4.3
553 reviews
In the shadow of South Philly’s sports stadiums, Chickie’s and Pete’s is a classic pre- or post- game stop for beers, cheesesteaks, mozzarella sticks, and tomato pie. The sprawling menu of classic bar food offers something for everyone, but no visit here can be considered complete with the restaurant’s famous crab fries. Counterintuitively, there’s no actual crab on these crinkle-cut cheese fries; rather, the irresistible American cheese-based sauce on top is seasoned generously with Old Bay. For another quirky Chickie’s and Pete’s classic, try the meatball salad, a Caesar topped with — you guessed it — two meatballs in red sauce.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Le Virtu restaurant

Le Virtu

$$$$
Italian
East Passyunk Avenue
4.7
1761 reviews
Co-owners Francis Cratil-Cretarola and Cathy Lee bring the traditional dishes of Abruzzo, Italy to a neighborhood once known for its Italian-American red gravy restaurants. Platters of antipasto, handmade pasta, and rustic braised ragus have been hallmarks of the menu through several chef changes over the years. Warm colors and wood tables make both the dining room and bar comfortable places to linger over a meal.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Laurel restaurant

Laurel

$$$$
French
East Passyunk Avenue
4.8
1193 reviews
Philly has seen more than its fair share of Top Chef talent, with both winners and fan-favorite cheftestants from the Bravo reality series making their restaurant home here over the years. But season 11 winner Nick Elmi’s jewel box, Laurel, is extraordinarily special. The small dining room is comfortable and intimate, with Elmi himself often circulating among the tables. The modern French-American menu set high expectations for Laurel immediately upon opening, and the restaurant continues to set the standard for fine dining on East Passyunk’s restaurant row and beyond. The six-course tasting menu (there are no a la carte options) changes seasonally and is always full of surprises.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of JG SkyHigh All Day Dining & Lounge restaurant

JG SkyHigh All Day Dining & Lounge

$$$$
Contemporary French
Center City
4.8
1344 reviews
JG SkyHigh, one of celebrity chef Jean-Georges’s Philadelphia outposts, is among the most dramatic restaurant spaces to open in Philadelphia in years. Diners are whisked up from the street to the top of the new Four Seasons Hotel in Center City in a glass elevator that offers a panoramic view of the city. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide an unforgettable backdrop for celebratory cocktails or a meal. It’s a fitting atmosphere to splurge on Osetra caviar, or you could go for something more casual but equally good, such as broccoli rabe and pepperoni pizza.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

A photo of Charlie was a sinner. restaurant

Charlie was a sinner.

$$$$
Tapas / Small Plates
Center City
4.7
2145 reviews
Charlie Was A Sinner is the creation of plant-based chef and restaurateur Nicole Marquis. Her dark and cozy vegan cocktail lounge serves up some of the freshest drinks and most inventive dishes in Philadelphia. Through the winter months, Charlie’s carpeted and heated chalets have been an especially appealing place to sip hot cocktails served in thermoses and with blankets to ensure maximum winter coziness. The zucchini “crab cake” sliders are a menu mainstay, along with a “ricotta” toast that could charm even the most ardent dairy lover.

At the moment, there's no online availability within 2.5 hours of your request. Do you have another time in mind?

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