The Philly Mag 50: Methodology

How did we do it?

For the third time in four years, we’ve assembled our definitive list of the 50 best restaurants. As with previous rankings, we adhered to one guiding principle: Does this restaurant fulfill its promise to diners? 

How do we come up with our rankings? First, we quantify. Each restaurant we consider is given a numerical score based on its performance during an anonymous visit — was the food executed properly? Did the staff perform its duties capably? Is the atmosphere inviting? Does the quality fall in line with the cost?  We research. We crunch numbers. We revisit. We reflect. And then we consider what’s harder to calculate: How does the restaurant feel? Is it of the moment? 

Dining is inescapably subjective. For some, a sublime meal is one with white linens on the table and classic French fare on the plate. For others, it’s a storefront BYOB run by an ambitious young chef eager to make his mark, while some find their bliss in a brilliantly nostalgic steakhouse. All these experiences are represented on the list. 

Nowadays, it’s easy to slap together a ranking on the Internet. But how many actually do the leg- (and stomach-) work? We’ve researched the current dining landscape, and we’ve measured it as scientifically as possible when determining something that’s so personal. This is what distinguishes our list and, we believe, what makes it worth doing.

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  • Sarah

    I am surprised that R2L does not make your list. It is a top notch dining experience where the views and ambience alone make it a “must-visit” in the city. Add to that the delicious food, generous portions, reasonable pricing and good service, and you have an excellent dining atmosphere that your magazine seems to have overlooked. I love the vibe of R2L, and judging from the various celebrity sightings of late, it is THE place to be seen these days.

  • Annie

    I can’t take this list seriously without James on it. Chef Jim Burke was one of a handful of chefs invited to compete for the US Team going to the Bocuse d’Or last year and the year prior, named one of Food & Wine’s top 10 chef’s in the country! I’m a regular at James and it will remain in my top 10 – in the nation.

  • Tom

    Hard to take any list seriously that doesn’t include James. Clearly one of the top 5 restaurants over the past several years.