Where to Eat and Drink in Philadelphia
Cheesesteaks will always be entrenched in the food culture here. But in recent years, the City of Brotherly Love has become a hotbed for game-changing American cuisine and craft beer. Here’s where to go.
The best seat in the house at Il Pittore, set on a hushed side street off Rittenhouse Square, is the intimate dining counter, where you can sip Sangiovese while watching Chef Chris Painter turn out Nebbiolo-braised short ribs or chili oil-brightened corzetti with braised goat and mint.
Vernick Food & Drink, from Chef Greg Vernick and his wife, Julie, is another convivial Rittenhouse Square hideaway. A mélange of crispy potatoes and shishito peppers complements a homey, organic, wood-fired roasted chicken. Start your night with Vernick’s The New-Groni, a twist on the classic, made with gin, Aperol, grapefruit juice and egg white.
While teeming with tourist traps, Philly’s Old City neighborhood is home to the must-visit Fork, where Eli Kulp turns out farm-to-table Italian-flecked fare like chickpeas with lamb ragu and black-eyed peas, and a fennel pappardelle with local Country Time Farm pork tenderlion. The wine list, which boasts several eye-catching half-bottles (to wit: a 2011 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico) divides its offerings into categories built for pairing—Crisp, Aromatic, and Full & Rich for the whites, and Bold & Spicy, Fruit Forward, and Earthy for the reds.
The Greek-Cypriot-driven brunch is the star at understated Kanela, in Washington Square West. Its interpretation of classic shakshuka features poached eggs swimming in cumin-scented, tomato-pepper stew, while labneh and za’atar flatbread amp up baked eggs. Wash it down with authentic Greek coffee and a glass of the almond-juice drink soumada.
While Zahav, Michael Solomonov’s shrine to elevated Israeli cuisine, has long been a Philly institution, his lower-key Dizengoff (pictured) in Rittenhouse Square has become a favorite among locals—thanks in large part to its hummus. Seriously. Solomonov treats this ubiquitous spread with as much reverence as his tasting menus at Zahav, with ever-changing seasonal flavors like beet-walnut and hominy, all served with fluffy house-made pita that is downright heavenly when eaten all by itself. The drink: the frozen mint lemonade.
Locals chill out at the Cheers-like American Sardine Bar (pictured) in residential Point Breeze. Its well-curated craft beer list features the best local breweries, like Tröegs, along with next-big-thing suds makers from across the country, like Destihl in Illinois. The menu is a dizzying hodgepodge of comfort food. Your best bet: The sweet bologna sliders and a bowl of salt-and-pepper fries served with pickle dip.
The funky Northern Liberties neighborhood is home to Emmanuelle, an industrial space with cocktails that have made a serious splash in the mixology world with drinks like the sweet and tannic Frogs in a Dynamite Pond, a mix of Bourbon, Pimm’s No. 1, homemade agave-chipotle syrup, orange Pekoe tea, fresh grapefruit juice and Angostura bitters.
For the ultimate place-to-be-seen scene, head to Chinatown’s haute cocktail hotspot Hop Sing Laundromat, where happy hour is packed with hipsters sipping inventive Yamazaki whisky drinks.
The boisterous, brick-walled biergarten, Frankford Hall, is the place for day drinking—especially on gray, rainy spring days. Here you can score a host of local German-inspired beers and a Bavarian-gourmet take on Philly’s other famous food: the soft pretzel.