The Philly Mag 50: The Best Restaurants Even We Can’t Get Into

We’d love to rank ‘em, but we couldn’t get a table.

What restaurant has plenty of tables, but not a single seat for you? That would be 1862 by Martin Hamann, the to-die-for restaurant in the Union League open only to the 3,200 members of the storied club and their guests. Here’s what you’re missing: exceptional dishes from former Fountain executive chef Hamann, like a melt-in-your-mouth scallop surrounded by dainty caviar-topped potatoes and finished with a tableside drizzle of cream brandade, poured from a hollowed-out eggshell. This is all served by a supremely gracious staff of pros, in a fine-dining, jackets-required atmosphere that’s livelier than the Four Seasons — thanks to a $6 million renovation that includes a brand-new glass-walled kitchen. And with apologies to Marx (Groucho, not Karl), this is one club we’d love to belong to if they’d have us as a member, if only to dine at 1862 again.

On the other end of the seating spectrum, the hardest-to-land reservation in the area may still be Talula’s Table, the Kennett Square spot with one lone table. It isn’t so much a restaurant as a private-dinner-party-slash-eating-adventure, where they whip up an eight-course tasting menu (think lardo-basted Berkshire pork with butternut terrine, sage crumbs and hazelnut brown butter) and you bring a minimum of eight diners for $100 per person. Said table, of course, still books out a year in advance. The good news: Owner Aimee Olexy is partnering with Stephen Starr to open a new restaurant in Washington Square. We don’t know much about what they’re planning, but we do know Starr will make sure it has more than one table.