50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia

50 Best Restaurants: Octopus carpaccio at Double Knot; Bar at Tredici; Laurel's Nick Elmi | Photography by Jason Varney

50 Best Restaurants: Octopus carpaccio at Double Knot; Bar at Tredici; Laurel’s Nick Elmi | Photography by Jason Varney

There was a time when we waited two years to update our list of the 50 Best Restaurants in Philly. But no more. Our restaurant scene moves too fast these days: It’s an ever-changing riot of famous names, top-shelf liquor, and weird things being done with vegetables. So from now on, we’re revising our big list every six months and noting who’s hot, who’s cooling, and who the new serious players are. In other words, here’s where you should be eating right this minute.

Last updated: June 24th, 2016

50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia

* New to the list.

  1. Laurel
    East Passyunk
  2. Vernick Food & Drink
    Rittenhouse
  3. Fork
    Old City
  4. Vedge
    Midtown Village
  5. Townsend
    East Passyunk
  6. Vetri
    Midtown Village
  7. Serpico
    Bella Vista
  8. Double Knot*
    Midtown Village
  9. Zahav
    Society Hill
  10. Sbraga
    Center City
  11. Helm
    Kensington
  12. Bing Bing Dim Sum
    East Passyunk
  13. V Street
    Rittenhouse
  14. Volver
    Center City
  15. Marigold Kitchen
    University City
  16. A Mano*
    Fairmount
  17. Cheu Noodle Bar
    Washington Square West
  18. Tredici Enoteca*
    Midtown Village
  19. Pumpkin
    Grad Hospital
  20. Will
    East Passyunk
  21. Bibou
    Bella Vista
  22. Bud & Marilyn’s
    Midtown Village
  23. Zeppoli
    Collingswood
  24. High Street on Market
    Old City
  25. Kensington Quarters
    Fishtown
  1. Fitler Dining Room
    Fitler Square
  2. Fond
    East Passyunk
  3. Le Virtu
    East Passyunk
  4. Hungry Pigeon*
    Queen Village
  5. Stargazy*
    East Passyunk
  6. Russet
    Center City
  7. Le Chéri
    Rittenhouse
  8. Brigantessa
    East Passyunk
  9. Ting Wong*
    Chinatown
  10. The Good King Tavern
    Bella Vista
  11. Amada
    Old City
  12. Amis
    Midtown Village
  13. Osteria
    Spring Garden
  14. Aldine
    Center City
  15. Heritage
    Northern Liberties
  16. Abe Fisher
    Rittenhouse
  17. Coeur*
    Bella Vista
  18. Pizzeria Beddia*
    Fishtown
  19. Talula’s Daily
    Washington Square West
  20. Opa
    Midtown Village
  21. Ela
    Queen Village
  22. Talula’s Garden
    Washington Square West
  23. Urban Farmer*
    Center City
  24. South
    Spring Garden
  25. La Peg*
    Old City

 


1. Laurel

Cocoa-cured foie gras at Laurel | Jason Varney

Cocoa-cured foie gras at Laurel | Jason Varney

East Passyunk | French
1617 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-8299

It takes a lot to make it to the top of a Best Restaurants list in a city like Philly. You’ve got to be a genius in the kitchen, for starters, because you’re in competition with some of the best chefs in the country. You’ve got to have good hands, an excellent crew, connections to the best product. You have to understand not just the back of the house, but the front, too—how to make every dinner an event and hospitality seem like second nature. But in order to maintain that spot for a second year, as Nick Elmi and Laurel have? More than anything else, that requires consistency. Elmi is a chef who knows who he is and what he wants, and he has never strayed from it. Every night, he serves a seven-course French-inflected New American tasting menu and nothing more, a board full of beautiful and innovative dishes like the braised pork cheek with squash, sweet pumpkin and the cutting bite of lemon that he served through the fall, or a counterintuitive Jersey scallop with ginger and crispy chicken. Every menu he puts out is a perfect expression of all the hardworking years behind him, and Laurel is a restaurant that has never aspired to be anything more than the greatest, most welcoming, most gracious neighborhood restaurant any city could ever hope to have.

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2. Vernick Food & Drink

Rittenhouse | American
2013 Walnut Street, 267-639-6644

Year after year, the experience of dining at Greg Vernick’s Rittenhouse restaurant feels easier, smoother, more charming, almost narcotic in its ability to calm the neurosis of today’s frantic gastronaut. Vernick and his crew aren’t playing with fireworks here. There’s no liquid nitrogen or tweezered garnishes. But in settling into a seat in the back room, feeling the heat of the stone oven, and looking through a menu that’s an ideal representation of modern, worldly American cuisine, you’re experiencing a different kind of excitement. From the grilled romaine to the lamb rack, the cod swimming in its bath of oxtail broth to the perfect roasted chicken with a simple lemon and herb jus, there’s nothing on the menu that isn’t a good choice, nothing that doesn’t leave you feeling happier and more comforted than when you walked in.

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3. Fork

Old City | American
306 Market Street, 215-625-9425

Though the menu feels as though it’s been simplified over the past year, it’s nevertheless a testament to chef Eli Kulp’s vision (and to his staff) that even after Kulp was injured in the Amtrak derailment last year, even though he’s still out recovering, Fork’s kitchen remains expert at walking an ever-shifting line between innovative flavor combinations (smoked beets with poached oysters) and deeply heartfelt cooking, like handmade chicken liver ravioli with pickled Swiss chard and ginger.

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4. Vedge

Midtown Village | Vegetarian
1221 Locust Street, 215-320-7500

There are a handful of restaurants here that we regularly use to show up any snooty foodies who come to town still thinking the cheesesteak is the height of Philly’s culinary achievement. Vedge is one of them. With its groundbreaking seasonal vegetable menu and unbelievable flavors coaxed from some of the most unlovely plants available (turnips, rutabaga, cabbage), it remains our favorite place to send anyone looking for a true taste of Philly talent in this edible moment.

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5. Townsend

Venison at Townsend

Venison at Townsend | Jason Varney

East Passyunk| French
1623 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-639-3203

Fine dining in Philly has never been an easy bet. So when Townsend Wentz gambled on opening an unabashedly French white-tablecloth restaurant at ground zero for the post-gastropub movement (East Passyunk Avenue), we wished him nothing but the best—while keeping a wary eye on the execution. Now, more than a year in, we can confidently say that his eponymous restaurant—with its grand bar, polished wood, easy formality, sweetbreads with olives and seared branzino over confit potatoes—remains proof that fine dining isn’t yet dead. It just requires a level of commitment, confidence and refinement that most other restaurateurs are too scared to even attempt.

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6. Vetri

Midtown Village | Italian
1312 Spruce Street, 215-732-3478

It sometimes seems as though nothing that happens in Philly, in food or in the world can touch Marc Vetri’s namesake restaurant. It’s an oasis—a sheltered space where nothing but the next plate or next glass of wine matters. And Vetri spares no expense here, doing everything from picking the chairs to approving menus, and packs his tastings with surprises (like antelope, or little crepes with truffle fondue). He knows pasta better than any chef in this city (no small accomplishment), and, most remarkably, even with all the changes to his empire lately, he’s never let his best, most personal restaurant slip even an inch from his command.

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7. Serpico

Bella Vista | American
604 South Street, 215-925-3001

Consistent menu changes are the norm these days, but no place in the city uses these regular churns of ideas as well as Serpico. The newest iteration is the best yet, offering a perfect balance of smart, modern plates rooted in a sense of comforting approachability. 604 South Street, Bella Vista.

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8. Double Knot *

From top: Pork scallion robatayaki at Double Knot

Pork scallion robatayaki at Double Knot | Photo by Jason Varney

Midtown Village | Japanese
120 South 13th Street, 215-631-3868

How unlikely is it that a new sushi bar that lives in the basement of a former porno theater would make our Top 10 list? Double Knot had everything working against it, and yet owner Michael Schulson went all-in on this one, creating a comfortable and casual all-day space with a coffee shop, bar and counter-service lunch spot upstairs (that serves consistently excellent rice and noodle bowls and banh mi) and an undeniably sexy and candlelit dinner spot below. What’s more, Schulson has set Chef Kevin Yanaga loose to create a sprawling menu that covers everything from beautifully updated sashimi to robatayaki pork jowl and duck scrapple bao. His plates are gorgeous, and the way in which he balances modern and traditional elements is unique among Philly’s small cadre of Japanese chefs.

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9. Zahav

Society Hill | Israeli
237 St. James Place, 215-625-8800

Despite a NYC expansion, a cookbook and a James Beard award, things at Michael Solomonov’s flagship are only getting better. But what really put Zahav back in the Top 10 (where it belongs) is that awesome prix fixe, special event dinners and a strong, dedicated staff that never seems to slip up when the boss is away. Zahav is back in the Top 10, where it belongs. 237 St. James Place, Society Hill.

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10. Sbraga

Center City | American
440 South Broad Street, 215-735-1913

There’s one thing that keeps Sbraga at the top of this list, and that’s Kevin Sbraga. He’s a great culinary mind, dedicated to experimentation, who runs competitions between his own cooks regularly and rarely seems to step away from his namesake restaurant. With his seasonal, global New American menu (as much Indonesian as Italian some nights, as French as it is Pennsylvanian), servers who always seem to be having almost as much fun as the customers, and the timelessly modern (never stuffy) space, Sbraga has helped to define the new landscape of dinner out.

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11. Helm

Root vegetables with duck heart ragu at Helm

Root vegetables with duck heart ragu at Helm | Jason Varney

Kensington | French
1305 North 5th Street, 215-309-2211

There’s always going to be a wild strain of DNA in Philly’s culinary makeup that’s all about the DIY spirit of the neighborhood BYO. And Helm, with its simple, ever-changing chalkboard menu, plain wood tables tucked into book-crowded nooks and welcoming neighborhood atmosphere, is a throwback to those days when the local BYO was a more seat-of-the-pants operation. Roast pork with cabbage, mussels with potatoes and shishito peppers, and a Basque gâteau for dessert—Helm is inconstant and small, but its impact in the neighborhood (the only thing a true BYOB should ever really concern itself with) has been huge.

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12. Bing Bing Dim Sum

East Passyunk | Asian
1648 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-279-7702

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Bing Bing Dim Sum | Jason Varney

A year ago, Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh finally opened the restaurant they’d been promising forever—a border-crossing, convention-defying fusion dim sum restaurant for the modern age. From the minute the lights went on, it was a good restaurant, but Puchowitz’s constant tinkering (he made thousands of bad soup dumplings before he got one he was satisfied with) and bonkers ideas about what fusion means (bagels-and-lox buns, roast pork bao, breakfast-y turnip cakes with matzo meal, fried egg and maple syrup) have pushed it beyond the level of anything else ever seen in Philly—and right into the top 10 of the best restaurants in town.

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 13. V Street

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V Street | Samuel Markey

Vegetarian | Rittenhouse
126 South 19th Street, 215-278-7943

Of course a city like Philly is going to have not only one of the best vegetable restaurants in the entire country, but a vegetable-focused bar as well, where inventive cocktails (bourbon and Turkish coffee; gin and mustard) pair with vegan versions of international street food. And because it’s the second restaurant from the team behind that aforementioned vegetable restaurant (Vedge), what’s most notable about V Street is that eating here doesn’t feel like eating at a vegan restaurant at all—it feels like dropping in on one of the coolest bars in town and ordering a few snacks (za’atar flatbread, Peruvian fries, dan dan noodles and Korean tacos) that just happen not to have any meat in them.

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14. Volvér

Center City | American
300 South Broad Street, 215-670-2303

Jose Garces’s workshop, laboratory and playground has gone through some massive changes (and a three-month vacation) since reopening. There’s a new pricing structure, an end to the complicated reservation process, and a new executive chef (Justin Bogle, snapped up from the ruins of Avance). Everything about it is easier now, more approachable. And there’s also a new menu that resets every single dish on the massive 12-course tasting with a fresh, occasionally challenging, often comforting and exceptionally conceived plate. Say what you will about Volvér (because everyone already does), but it shows Jose Garces at his smartest and most engaged. And if you get the chance to dine here, it’ll be a meal you remember for years to come.

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15. Marigold Kitchen

University City | American
501 South 45th Street, 215-222-3699

Dinner at Marigold is supposed to be a surprise. The expansive, wide-ranging tasting menus from the crew at this West Philly rowhouse-turned-temple-to-modernist-cuisine are kept (mostly) secret in order to preserve the shock of never quite knowing what the cooks are going to attempt next. Pumpkin slow-cooked in brandy, scored and seared and served in the style of foie gras? A salad dressed in a caramel apple vinaigrette? Sure, why not? Chef-owners Andrew Kochan and Tim Lanza call what they do “avant-garde” cuisine, and they try to live up to that heavily freighted designation every single night.

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16. A Mano *

Antipasti plate at A Mano | Photo by Jason Varney

Antipasti plate at A Mano | Photo by Jason Varney

Washington Square West | Italian
2244 Fairmount Avenue, 215-236-1114

It’s not like Philadelphia as a whole lacks high-end Italian restaurants, but Fairmounters are lucky that chef-owner Townsend Wentz decided to drop this new concept in their midst. Unlike the luxe and polished Townsend, A Mano is a BYO tucked inside a plain, unassuming box of a space, with a kitchen that’s doing high-gloss French-inflected Italian, like cavatelli with escargots in a marrow-mounted parsley sauce. Yes, the food can get a little fussy (the cap of pickled fennel worn by the pork shank must always sit just so), but with the shocking level of skill and restrained creativity that chef Michael Millon is showing, and the deep, rich flavors on offer, you’ll hardly notice once the plates start hitting the table. 2244 Fairmount Avenue, Fairmount.

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17. Cheu Noodle Bar

Washington Square West | Asian
255 South 10th Street, 267-639-4136

While many other noodle shops have vanished over the years, this fusion noodle bar has maintained its place at the top of the heap owing to the middle-finger-to-tradition attitude of a menu that sees brisket, matzo, cornbread and collards as perfectly reasonable things to put in a bowl of ramen (and dumplings as an excellent vehicle for pizza).

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The bar at Tredici Enoteca | Photo by Jason Varney

The bar at Tredici Enoteca | Photo by Jason Varney

18. Tredici Enoteca *

Midtown Village | Mediterranean
114 South 13th Street, 267-928-2092

Is it weird that the best dish at an Italian restaurant is a small plate of Israeli couscous studded with almonds and chunks of soft avocado? Not when that restaurant is Tredici. This bright, beautiful, welcoming (and crowded) Midtown Village eatery from the Zavino team is really a modern Mediterranean-American fusion restaurant, offering a little bit of everything (fried goat cheese, green lasagna, chicken meatballs in a ginger-spiked sauce) from a kitchen honestly capable of doing a little bit of everything—and doing it remarkably well.

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19. Pumpkin

Grad Hospital | American
1713 South Street, 215-545-4448

But no one talks about Pumpkin anymore … That’s what you’re thinking, right? And that’s exactly how Pumpkin’s fans and regulars want you to keep thinking. But 26 seats and a menu that changes according to the turn of the seasons and the whims of the chef—that’s every young cook’s dream. And Ian Moroney has been living it from behind the rail at Pumpkin, serving a short, beautifully conceived menu to those smart enough to seek out this tiny, cozy 11-year-old BYO.

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20. Will

East Passyunk | French
1911 East Passyunk Avenue, East Passyunk, 215-271-7683

Chris Kearse has long been one of the city’s most intellectual chefs. His modernist plates show off layered, complex seasonal flavors, and he has an artist’s eye for composition—his presentation always arriving like an explosion of color in the narrow, crowded gunmetal dining room. But now, with his weekly Sunday prix-fixe menus (full of maitake mushrooms with foie gras, and burgundy snails with bacon “cassoulet”) and monthly third-Tuesday tasting menus to keep things interesting for his regulars, Kearse seems to have added warmth and heart to his already formidable arsenal of skills.

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21. Bibou

Bella Vista | French
1009 South 8th Street, 215-965-8290

After a year of changes (a brief shutdown, a remodel, the loss of a few seats, and a refocusing of the menu into a multi-course prix fixe), Bibou has come back strong. Stronger, really. And the biggest reason for that? The return of chef Pierre Calmels, who has backed away from Le Chèri (his other restaurant) and gotten back behind the stoves here on a regular basis. The loss of a few seats (there’s now room for 20) has given Calmels a little breathing room, and the weekly set menu of rustic French dishes (lamb filet with persimmon; pig snout ballotine with burgundy truffle; the best foie gras in Philly) allows him to concentrate on perfecting just a handful of dishes each week.

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22. Bud & Marilyn’s

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Bud & Marilyn’s | Samuel Markey

Midtown Village | American
1234 Locust Street, 215-546-2220

Chef-owner Marcie Turney grew up in the Midwest, eating the meatloaf, fried chicken, bratwurst and cheese curds that dot her menu at Bud & Marilyn’s. The place is a love letter to the restaurant run by her grandparents, for whom it’s named, and there are great, reimagined American classics all over this menu—from chop suey with pork belly that’s like the greatest drunk food of all time to fried chicken with salted honey butter and house-made hot sauce. But what brings it all together is a space that feels a little like you’re eating dinner in your weird uncle’s rec room circa 1978. You know, in a good way.

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23. Zeppoli

MO-50-Best-Zeppoli-400

Sicilian Fisherman stew at Zeppoli | Jason Varney

Collingswood | Italian
618 Collings Avenue, 856-854-2670

Chef Joey Baldino is an unabashed classicist when it comes to his menu, offering those diners lucky enough to get a table at his 35-seat BYO deceptively simple dishes that might sound like those at every street-corner trattoria in town (antipasti, gamberetti e fagioli, spaghetti vongole, cannoli for dessert) but are prepared and served with such an understanding of tradition and attention to detail that they’ll show you why they became classics in the first place.

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24. High Street on Market

Old City | American
308 Market Street, 215-625-0988

There are moments at Fork (High Street’s more serious sibling) that can feel a little didactic. A little daunting. There’s a significance to dinner there that’s not always part of the experience you’re after. High Street, on the other hand, is lighter, bouncier and more engaging, and can be just plain weirder depending on the night, the crowd and how you order. Squid ink baguette with lamb tartare, tripe diavola, angry crab spaghetti and sourdough ravioli with smoked brook trout were all choices on a recent menu. But for those overwhelmed by having to choose between jerk-spiced parsnip and potato toast with potted shrimp (which is the better choice, BTW), there’s always the option of simply letting go of the reins and having the kitchen cook you a multi-course tasting menu of its own design.

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25. Kensington Quarters

Fishtown | American
1310 Frankford Avenue, 267-314-5086

In the big food cities of America, hipster butcher shops are totally a thing. Most of them are awful—more about the beards than the meat. But Kensington Quarters isn’t. Existing as a combination restaurant and butcher shop, KQ should stand as the model against which all modern butcher shops are judged—a place that exists to put customers in close contact with the proteins they’re having for dinner and the people who get them to the plate. Rather surprisingly, no one who has ever eaten here would call the place a steakhouse (the kitchen is far too good with vegetables for that, and there are no actual steaks on the menu); instead it features beautiful, wild and well-constructed dishes like parsnip ravioli, pork head cheese with fennel mayo, a crispy chicken leg over grits, and one of the most interesting charcuterie plates in town.

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26. Fitler Dining Room

Fitler Square | American
2201 Spruce Street, 215-732-3331

There’s something so reassuring about dinner at Fitler Dining Room. It’s the restaurant that fads forgot—a kitchen where seriousness trumps quirks, one that remembers what dining used to be like before small plates, share plates, tasting menus and grazing at the bar became the way we all approach dinner. Here, the starters (a couple salads, some oysters, a slab of apple-glazed pork belly) feel like proper appetizers, and the main courses manage to be solid and traditional without sacrificing modernity or a sense of adventure.

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27. Fond

East Passyunk | American
1537 South 11th Street, 215-551-5000

For its risottos alone, Fond might have made this list. Or for the kitchen’s pork rillette with pickles and truffled parmesan aioli—a nearly throwback dish these days, but so perfectly executed that it could stand as an object lesson in How To Do The Classics Right. But the fact that these are just two of the starters on chef Lee Styer’s menu should give you a clue to how much talent and finesse he brings to the game.

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28. Le Virtù

East Passyunk | Italian
1927 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-5626

After months of running the line at his new restaurant, Brigantessa, chef Joe Cicala decided to refocus his attention on Le Virtù, the restaurant where most of us got to know him in the first place. And that was good news, because Le Virtù seemed to have wandered a bit, losing some edge of awesomeness and excitement without his regular presence in the kitchen. Now it again stands as a destination restaurant in a city full of Italian food, remarkable in its single-minded dedication to Abruzzo cuisine and the depths to which Cicala is able to mine that rich vein of culinary tradition.

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29. Hungry Pigeon *

Queen Village | American
743 South 4th Street, 215-278-2736

Scott Schroeder’s all-day cafe and restaurant is a remarkable creation. During daylight hours, it’s a takeout and counter-service spot offering some of the best pastries in the city, plus the single best breakfast sandwich anywhere. At lunch, it becomes a comfortable place for a burger or snack, and maybe an early drink off the short but interesting beer list. Then, at dinner, it transforms into a full-service restaurant with an ever-changing menu of stuff Schroeder and his crew like to eat. The menu is anarchic and borderless and fails occasionally, but succeeds far more often by injecting personality and wicked talent into a restaurant scene that can sometimes feel grindingly repetitive.

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30. Stargazy *

Banoffee Tart at Stargazy | Photo by Jason Varney

Banoffee Tart at Stargazy | Photo by Jason Varney

East Passyunk | British
1838 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-309-2761

There’s no place in Philly quite like Stargazy. Sam Jacobson’s cramped, cluttered, awesome version of a British pie shop remains one of the best things to happen to East Passyunk Avenue this year (which is really saying something for a street that already has more than a half dozen restaurants on this list). Yes, it’s basically a takeout shop with just a couple little tables and free tea, and almost nothing on the menu is more than 10 bucks, but if you go there and have one of Jacobson’s sausage rolls, some traditional beef and onion pie with mash and parsley liquor, and a bite of banoffee tart and don’t spend the next week dreaming about them, you’re already dead inside.

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31. Russet

House-smoked pancetta at Russet

House-smoked pancetta at Russet | Jason Varney

Center City | American
1521 Spruce Street, 215-546-1521

There are restaurants that loudly announce their (alleged) genius to the world, and others that quietly go about the business of feeding people dinner without making a big goddamn fuss about it. Russet is one of the latter. And while it’s shameful how often we forget, in the glare of the new and the novel, how good Andrew Wood’s intensely seasonal, rustic farm-to-table cooking can be, Russet’s climb up this year’s list should be a reminder to everyone enamored of the new: Sometimes it’s at the quiet, capable, competent restaurants that the best food can be found.

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32. Le Chéri

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Le Cheri | Samuel Markey

Rittenhouse | French
251 South 18th Street, 215-546-7700

There’s good seating at the bar, a lovely garden, lunch service, and an à la carte menu of recognizable French classics. The pork rillon arrives with a simple whole-grain mustard. The escargots come as a ragout with fava beans and mushrooms. And the ravioli de champignons—a mere appetizer—are like a French declaration that pasta is what you eat when you can’t think of anything better to make. Everything about Le Chéri is bigger, louder, less intimate and more approachable for a casual night out than at its sister restaurant, Bibou, and both have carved out places for themselves in Philly’s newly (and highly) competitive French restaurant scene.

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33. Brigantessa

East Passyunk | Italian
1520 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-318-7341

Sorrentina pizza at Brigantessa

Sorrentina pizza at Brigantessa | Jason Varney

If for no other reason, come for the freaked-up list of mutant Neapolitan pies Joe Cicala’s crew is serving here—weirdly shaped things topped with chili oil, Meyer lemon, broccoli rabe and squash puree. If that doesn’t do it for you, come for the long, dreamy list of antipasti that an intemperate man could easily spend all night eating without ever tasting the same thing twice. Come for the handmade pastas, the sausages and goat all charred on the grill or run through the big oven. Come because Brigantessa, on its best nights, feels like what every Italian restaurant in this city ought to feel like—loud and happy and vital and alive.

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34. Ting Wong *

Chinatown | Chinese
138 North 10th Street, 215-928-1883

Yeah, the place with the ducks hanging in the window in Chinatown. Know why it’s on this list? Because it’s earned its place on this list. After closings, reopenings, management changes and near-constant threats of morphing into some kind of fancy-pants special-occasion restaurant, Ting Wong has become the go-to for simple, excellent, authentic Chinese food. It’s one of those places where every time you go, you find a new favorite thing ever (like maybe one of those ducks, the congee, or Hong Kong-style ginger and scallion noodles), and it has remained stubbornly, admirably scruffy in the best possible way even as Chinatown itself creeps closer and closer to respectability.

More about Ting Wong | Return to top

35. The Good King Tavern

Bella Vista | French
614 South 7th Street, 215-625-3700

Everything about the Good King Tavern speaks to our current obsessions. It’s a neighborhood pub, sure—casual and welcoming and squarely in the middle of the zeitgeist—but the menu is French (filled with escargots, bowls of mussels, steak frites, trout moutarde, and French radishes with butter and sea salt), the beers are well chosen, and the wines by the glass are organized by “good,” “better” and “best” (which is awesome).

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36. Amada

Old City | Spanish
217 Chestnut Street, 215-625-2450

It’s remarkable, after all the years and all the restaurants, that Jose Garces’s first Philadelphia location still holds up so well. The menu is unabashedly Spanish, offering tasting menus, wine pairings, and an à la carte selection of tapas that’s like a greatest-hits mixtape of everything you ever loved about the small-plates craze. Plus, the place has one of the best (forgotten) happy hours in town, with a long list of $5 snacks and bargain glasses of wine that’ll make even the longest day a blurry memory by the time you go reeling off for home.

More about Amada |Return to top

37. Amis

Midtown Village | Italian
412 South 13th Street, 215-732-2647

With so many restaurants in town, you’d think Marc Vetri and his crew would run out of things to say about Italian food—would begin repeating themselves or poaching their own ideas. But Amis, with its classy-comfortable vibe, its trattoria feel and Roman flavors, is completely its own creature. The mortadella with hazelnut honey is an exemplar of the kitchen’s style, and the sweet-potato ravioli with pancetta shows the reach of its comfort. Having a couple plates at the bar with an Italian cocktail remains the best way to experience the best of Amis.

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38. Osteria

Spring Garden | Italian
640 North Broad Street, 215-763-0920

One of the best, most indulgent lunches in Philly remains two glasses of wine, the Parma pizza from Osteria, with its freight of arugula and prosciutto, and a snack from the antipasti menu—grilled octopus with lemon and potatoes, maybe, or an olive-oil-poached pear with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and capers. Give yourself a couple hours to enjoy it, of course. Or, hell, maybe just call it a day, go home, and take a nap, because there’s no way your afternoon gets any better than this.

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39. Aldine

Center City | American
1901 Chestnut Street, 215-454-6529

It took some time, but with beautiful plates, modernist tendencies, and a knack for pairing unlikely flavors (quail with caramel sauce?), chef George Sabatino’s first solo restaurant continues to improve.

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40. Heritage

Heritage

Heritage | Samuel Markey

Northern Liberties | American
914 North 2nd Street, 215-627-7500

Chef Sean Magee’s menu at this new NoLibs jazz bar is rich. The black walnut bar runs a full 40 feet, decorated with 36 taps pouring craft beers, cider and session sours. The space is open and warm and sky-lit. In other words, Heritage isn’t your standard-issue dank and smoky juke joint. And the food is precisely not what you’d expect, either. No soul food, no generic pub grub. Instead there’s a solid menu of rustic, meat-heavy and locally sourced dishes like steak tartare, French beans, smoked cabbage and bacalao.

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41. Abe Fisher

Rittenhouse | Jewish
1623 Sansom Street, 215-867-0088

There was a moment when Abe Fisher felt like the most exciting restaurant to hit Philly in forever—a return to sit-down dining for Michael Solomonov after Federal Donuts and Dizengoff, and a brilliant intellectual experiment in the powers (and flavors) of Diaspora cuisine. More than that, the kitchen was knocking out killer veal schnitzel tacos, goat cheese blintzes and chopped liver with pastrami-onion jam. And while some of the shock of newness has rubbed off of Abe, it remains an undeniably cool place for eating at the bar, for entertaining out-of-town foodies looking for a thrill, or for a group looking to dig into the now-legendary Montreal short ribs for four.

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42. Coeur *

Bella Vista | French Canadian
824 South 8th Street, 215-922-6387.

Because the world needs more Montreal-style gastropubs, that’s why. Because Coeur’s menu is such a simple, approachable document full of things that everyone wants to eat, all the time (steak frites, a plate of gnocchi, a burger, housemade sausages, wings) plus a surprising amount of vegetables and bowls of poutine and a long bar full of good beers and solid cocktails. There’s just something about Coeur that makes it a great place to curl up for a few hours with friends—a comforting sense of being just the right place at just the right time, no matter when you show up.

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Pizzeria Beddia chef/owner Joe Beddia | Photo by Jason Varney

Pizzeria Beddia chef/owner Joe Beddia | Photo by Jason Varney

43. Pizzeria Beddia *

Fishtown | Pizza
115 East Girard Avenue

Philadelphia is awash in great pizza. No matter what it is you like—street-corner style, New York slices, Neapolitan craft pies, cracker-crust Californians—there’s a place out there for you. But Pizzeria Beddia is different. There’s nothing easy about this place, and very little that’s accommodating. Joe Beddia does the pizzas he wants to do, doesn’t offer slices, keeps strange hours, has no phone, and has little in the way of seating. But the lines that form are a testament to the fact that you can get away with all of this when your pizzas are as consistently good as his—made with a 36-hour dough and the best ingredients (handmade sausage, aged mozzarella, New Jersey tomatoes)—

and you have an absolute passion for doing one thing and doing it better than anyone else. Notice how his is the only pizza joint on this entire list? Yeah, there’s a reason for that.

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44. Talula’s Daily

Washington Square West | American
208 West Washington Square, 215-592-6555

Of the two Aimee Olexy restaurants that made the list this year, Talula’s Daily speaks more to the changeable, quixotic age in which we’re eating. It’s a simple cafe by day, with pastry cases, coffee, little tables and all the other hallmarks. But come the evening, it sheds this skin and transforms into a kind of quasi-supper club, with variable seating and a monthly set menu. More often than not, it’s a menu made not to impress but to comfort, with plates of spaghetti, fresh breads, salads, roasted meats, beautiful seafood and expertly paired wines, all executed with museum-quality precision in an environment that’s both worshipful and fleeting.

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45. Opa

Midtown Village | Greek
1311 Sansom Street, 215-545-0170

When chef Bobby Saritsoglou took over the kitchen at Opa, dinner became more interesting, the menu got a jolt of originality, and the whole place just felt revitalized. His first menu rollout has delivered in a big way: It’s a fresh look at traditional Greek cuisine that goes far beyond pitas and meat-on-sticks.

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46. Ela

Queen Village | American
627 South 3rd Street, 267-687-8512

Say what you will about Jason Cichonski, but the man knows how to write a menu. He’s fearless, shameless and borderless when it comes to designing plates, and while that sometimes causes a bit of overreach, the current menu at Ela (full of sarsaparilla foie gras and gnocchi with BBQ potato skins) is a wild trip that’s absolutely worth taking.

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47. Talula’s Garden

Washington Square West | American
210 West Washington Square, 215-592-7787

Aimee Olexy owns New American cuisine at Talula’s Garden. What with the autumn parsnip soup with Oregon hazelnuts, the Chesapeake crab salad, the Berkshire pork belly with pan-roasted apples and the Southern-inflected blackened chicken with peanuts and pickled mustard greens, there is simply no restaurant in town more New American than Talula’s Garden is right now. Olexy and her crew own it. No one else should even bother trying.

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48. Urban Farmer *

Center City | Steakhouse
1850 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-963-1500

Yes, the service can be a mess, dinner is crazy-expensive, and the tone and design of the place are … odd. But the main reason it makes this list? Despite all that, there’s simply no other place treating steaks the way they do at Urban Farmer. They’re offered by cut, by region and by producer, and the vertical steak tasting—three different New York cuts, showcasing the differences that feed and finishing can make—is the most interesting way to eat meat that has come along since fire was invented.

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49. South

Spring Garden | Southern
600 North Broad Street, 215-600-0220

Chef Paul Martin is a Louisiana native who knows the canon he’s working with at this combination restaurant and jazz lounge. And he hits all the right notes with Carolina shrimp laid over a perfect white cloud of lobster-infused grits, unbelievably good pickles, crab toasts sitting plainly on bare white plates, and crawfish fritters that walk the line between the New South trend and straight-up American fusion.

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50. La Peg *

Old City | American
140 North Columbus Boulevard, 215-375-7744

Chef Peter Woolsey turned what was once a second stage for his hearty, traditional French cuisine into an unapologetically American restaurant this year, dumping escargot for fried cheese curds and coq au vin for Yankee pot roast. But the thing is, he does all of it so well that, from inside La Peg, the change looked (and tasted) more like an advance than a retreat. His clam chowder is one of the best in the city. His fast food cheeseburger is a smart take on an American classic. And a simple plate of roast chicken over mashed potatoes with peas and carrots exists like an arrogant proof that there are no boring meals, only boring chefs.

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* New to the list

50 Best Restaurants Map

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Published in the July 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine.