The 2009 Philly Mag 50

Our second annual ranking of the best restaurants in the region


Dining out is a big deal. And in this town, restaurants are as obsessed-over as our sports teams. Which is why, for the second straight year, we put our waistlines to the sidelines and pulled together a list that showcases the best that our ever-expanding food scene has to offer.

Why rank our city’s restaurants again, just 15 months after we did it the first time? For starters, a lot has happened. Some of the places on last year’s list are no longer with us (R.I.P., Striped Bass); happily, though, even more great restaurants have opened to fill the void. We also know that in a food scene as lively as ours, restaurants themselves change from year to year — trends emerge, chefs innovate, menus evolve.

One of the questions we heard after last year’s Philly Mag 50 was, “How can you compare such a variety of eateries? How can a gritty gastropub go head-to-head with first-class French?” We’ve included a detailed description of how we generated our rankings, but the short answer is this: We believe that all great restaurants have one thing in common — they deliver on their promise. Which means that to be on this list, a restaurant has to do more than just serve great food: All of its working parts (vibe, service and great food) must be moving in harmony. And doing that well is a noteworthy accomplishment. After all, ranking as one of our 50 best — out of the 8,000 dining spots in the area — proves a restaurant is truly at the top of its game.

Part of the fun of putting together a list like this is the endless discussions that ensue. And while you may not agree with all of our calls, it’s the bigger picture that’s most important: Because when taken as a whole, this list is a snapshot in time of a burgeoning restaurant scene that deserves to be celebrated.