Philadelphia, at this moment, is in a state of flux that mirrors (and in some cases heralds) the changes happening in the restaurant industry at large—a movement toward a new casualness, where the best meal you’ll ever have is one you eat in blue jeans while sitting at a rough wood table in a neighborhood you wouldn’t even have driven through a decade ago. In this brave new world of cuisine, the restaurants our parents and grandparents knew—those temples of white-tablecloth haute cuisine—are struggling to find or recapture relevance. And in many cases, the cooks who trained at them are now the chefs who are taking their trade away.
In order to put together this year’s list of Philly’s 50 best, we started with a total of 170 restaurants, then spent three months eating and arguing and researching and arguing and revisiting and arguing over who belonged where. The question was not only who seared the best foie gras, but which restaurants in town had the most weight. The heaviest gravity. We wanted to suss out which mattered most at this contentious moment in time, and then to figure out why.
This list is our answer to those questions, compiled with a total disregard for history or nostalgia or debts owed. It’s a snapshot—a frozen instant that, we hope, serves as a window into a changing world of cuisine.
Join the conversation about the 50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia with the hashtag #50BestPHL.