Best of Philly 2005: Restaurants & Food

Our cheat sheet on where to eat

Warm-weather private party spot: Twenty21 On a pleasant evening in the summer or early fall, no place in Center City seems cooler or more contemporary than Twenty21’s Commerce Square courtyard, where you and your guests can casually sip cocktails and chatter away without interruption. (The owners will let you take over the entire place.) The interior isn’t a letdown, either, with its stunning floor-to-ceiling bar and a delightful American-Continental menu (Commerce Square, 2005 Market Street; 215-851-6262).

Best Advice: How to Sound Like a Regular
When even the specials aren’t special enough, order something that isn’t on the menu. Here’s what regulars ask for at … *Alison at Blue Bell: The chef’s cheese course, culled from the goodies Alison Barshak discovers at Fairway, near her New York City home (721 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell; 215-641-2660). *L’Angolo: Bracing homemade limoncello. There’s always a bottle on hand, and though the Italian BYOB can’t sell it, the kitchen’s happy to offer a complimentary digestif (1415 Porter Street; 215-389-4252). *Striped Bass: The “cheese skate.” The skate-and-short-rib entrée made a splash as a special du jour, and chef Christopher Lee never turns down a request for a rendition (1500 Walnut Street; 215-732-4444).