The Totally Unofficial, Official Guide to Philly’s Complimentary Bread Baskets

The increased rarity of the complimentary bread basket makes it that much more special the moment it hits the table. These are the best spots in Philadelphia that still offer great ones.

Parc’s divine bread basket / Photograph courtesy of Parc

Restaurants that give free bread with dinner are a dying breed. Great bread takes time, expertise, and a ton of work, so it’s not surprising that a growing number of restaurants charge for the slices you’ll need to dip in sauce and scrape through bowls at the end of a meal. But the increased rarity of the complimentary bread basket makes it that much more special the moment it hits the table. These are the spots in Philadelphia that still offer a bountiful, exceptional bread basket.


Center City
There is no more iconic bread basket in the city of Philadelphia than Parc. Debate is hot regarding the best inclusion: Some people are very fond of the cranberry-walnut bread, while others are staunchly baguette people. There’s also a crusty sourdough slice in every basket, along with plenty of cold, salted butter. It comes if you order drinks as well as dinner, and they’ll refill it for you if you ask nicely.

Palizzi Social Club

East Passyunk
I often find myself three drinks deep at the bar at Palizzi realizing that I need to eat something if I don’t want the following day to be completely ruined. In a state of desperation, I usually order crab pasta and a chicken cutlet, but the real relief comes when the basket of bread hits the bar. Palizzi’s selection comes with skinny, crispy breadsticks, a house-made semolina bread, and the real star: mini anchovy and mozzarella panzorotti, mini Italian turnovers dangerous in their ability to make another Negroni seem like a very good idea.

bread basket butter

Bread at Vernick Fish / Photograph courtesy of Vernick Fish

Vernick Fish

Center City
Upon being seated, guests at Vernick Fish are presented with a basket of sourdough bread (made in house) and a small ramekin of butter. It might be more accurate to call their bread service a butter service, because the flavored butter is the thing that will keep you coming back. The current butter is folded with preserved lemon for a bright zing, but recent versions included a briny, savory nori butter.


Dinner at Cicala is a celebration of excess, Italian style. The clearest example of this excess is the overwhelming bounty of their antipasto misto, a spread of Italian cheeses, house-cured meats, plus things like stuffed and fried olives, arancini, pickled vegetables, fried peppers — the list goes on and on. It is paired with their bread basket, which includes focaccia, slices of a rustic Italian loaf, and a striking black pane di grane arso made from burnt wheat. The result is slightly smoky bite that pairs well with soft cheese and spicy salami.

free bread basket

Biscuits at Butcher and Singer / Photograph courtesy of Starr Restaurants

Butcher and Singer

Center City
To go along with Butcher and Singer’s over-the-top Americana vibe, their bread basket is stacked with all-butter buttermilk biscuits. It’s a dangerous basket. Too many biscuits, and you’ll find yourself struggling to enjoy your shrimp cocktail, wedge salad and New York Strip (the only correct order, IMHO).

Le Virtù

East Passyunk
Le Virtù’s bread basket is generous and traditional. You’ll get a couple of slices of crusty country loaf and a handful of focaccia chunks, good for both dipping in the ramekin of oil with which they arrive and for dragging through the dregs at the bottom of your bowl of hand-made pasta with ragu you’re about to enjoy.

Giuseppe & Sons

Center City
At Giueseppe & Sons, there’s distinct winner of the bread basket, and it’s their tomato pie, which serves as a nice way to introduce out-of-towners to the distinctly Philly pizza-focaccia hybrid. The basket also includes a sesame baguette and Pugliese loaf. It’s all baked in house daily, and comes with olive oil for dipping.

free bread basket

Popovers at Barclay Prime / Photograph courtesy of Starr Restaurants

Barclay Prime

Center City
Instead of a more traditional bread service, Barclay Prime offers hot popovers, which have several benefits. First, they’re delicious and slightly garlicky. But they’re also incredibly airy and light, which is good because, if you’re eating them, you’re probably also about to eat a lot of red meat, so you’ll need the stomach space.


Old City
After you place your order at Olea, servers bring out a small plate with stack of grilled pita, a dollop of hummus and a few green olives. It’s a small gesture, but it’s indicative of the hospitality in the dining room, like you’re sitting at your friend’s counter and they’re scrounging a few simple (but delicious) snacks to tide you over before dinner.