Philadelphia’s 51st Best Restaurant

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There’s something you have to understand about this year’s 50 Best Restaurants list. If a restaurant is on it at all–whether in the coveted first slot or the 50th–that restaurant is a great restaurant. It’s not like the place in the #2 spot did something wrong to wind up there that its neighbor did right. With one notable exception, you don’t really get to do anything wrong and still be on the list.

In this city, and at this time in the development of our culinary identity, the competition is so ferocious that I’d have to drop down to around the 70th or 80th position before I could name a place where something went significantly sideways during our meals. But we don’t do that. Every two years we name our fifty. We rank them, top to bottom, with a combination of science, subjectivity and debate, and put that list out there into the world to be argued over.

And then I name the city’s fifty-first-best restaurant which, this time around, is Bistrot La Minette.

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Best Restaurants of the Philadelphia Suburbs

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A recent dish at Conshohocken’s Blackfish | Photo via Blackfish

In years past, there always seemed to be a few suburban spots we could depend on to crack our list of the best restaurants in Philly—places that were worth the drive and the time it took to step outside the echo chamber of Philly’s urban restaurant scene.

This year, though, was tougher. We lost a couple places that were always solid, saw some brave, pioneering chefs looking outside the more traditional restaurant neighborhoods, and decided that while not really strong enough yet to deserve a full list of its own, the suburban scene was sufficiently interesting to stand slightly apart from the main catalog of the 50 Best Restaurants.

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50 Best Restaurants Poll: Bistrot La Minette

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This week, we’re running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

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50 Best Restaurants Poll: Volver

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This week, we’re running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

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50 Best Restaurants Poll: Stateside

Stateside-Jeff-Fusco-for-Visit-Philadelphia-940Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list will be released on Sunday, December 21st in the new digital property, Philadelphia Sunday.

This week, we’ll be running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

Vote now » 

50 Best Restaurants Poll: Vernick Food + Drink

Photo by Karrisa Olsen

Vernick Food + Drink | Photo by Karrisa Olsen

Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list will be released on Sunday, December 21st in the new digital property, Philadelphia Sunday.

This week, we’ll be running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

Vote now » 

The Gastronaut: The Next Exit

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High-profile chefs often leave the places they made famous. But few have caused the kind of  earthquake George Sabatino did when he announced he was leaving Philly’s best restaurant.

“When I opened this place, I was literally just trying to not run out of food.”

That’s George Sabatino, the now-former chef at Stateside on East Passyunk Avenue. He’s musing about his early days there as a young first-time exec—terrified and excited, exhausted, so busy he didn’t have time to blink. When owners Stephen Slaughter and William Bonforte brought him aboard, he’d never been in charge before. He wanted to make a restaurant that his chef friends would like. He wanted to focus on small plates, charcuterie and American whiskies. Most of all, he didn’t want to embarrass himself.

“Stateside was like this huge lucky break,” he says now. “I never knew it could get so big. I’m really surprised by it all, dude. I’m just a cook, you know?”

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The 50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia: 2013

The 50 Best Restaurants in PhiladelphiaThese are the restaurants we want to eat in right now. Not yesterday. Certainly not last year. Maybe not even tomorrow. But right now. 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.

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