Food & Drink

The Best Restaurants in Philly Right Now

Published On 10/06/2017 Published On 10/06/2017
HEIDI'S BRIDGE
Courtesy of Wm Mulherin's Sons

Wm. Mulherin's Sons

Fishtown

The space housing Wm. Mulherin’s Sons was once a whiskey-blending and bottling facility in the 1890s, and its restored manifestation maintains the same ambiance with wood-framed arched windows and a company safe-turned-coat closet. Wood-fired pizzas and grilled-cheese entrees help fill out a menu heavy on pasta and crudo. The cocktail list comes from the same mastermind behind The Olde Bar and a.bar, offering a carefully curated wine list from smaller distributors. Plus, since Wm. Mulherin’s Sons’ four-room boutique hotel is now open for business, you can also book a room while you book your dinner reservation.

Wister BYOB

Wister BYOB

Old City

Lacroix’s former sous chef, Benjamin Moore, filled the vacancy left last year by short-lived 26 North and established the hyper-seasonal Wister BYOB. Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about the place is Moore’s mission to keep every entree under $30, including artichoke lamb chops and king salmon dishes. Though the menu may not be expansive, Moore intends to constantly update it to take advantage of the best produce and ingredients of the moment.

Courtesy of MJS Restaurants

Double Knot

Midtown Village

Double Knot is a dining destination for any time of day, opening at 7am to supply you with coffee, enduring the midday rush for build-your-own salad or rice bowls, and powering through into the evening to host a thriving bar scene. Walk past the bar, bookcases, and old mirrors, and enter the door in the back where you can enjoy an extravagant yet relatively affordable dinner menu ($55/person for a 10-course meal plus dessert ain’t bad). Sushi, robatayaki meats, and other Japanese izakaya fare are served in this hidden sushi bar with an underground feel.

Royal Sushi & Izakaya

Royal Sushi & Izakaya

Queen Village

This long-awaited sake concept finally came to Philly in 2016, offering a cozy atmosphere in which sip Japanese beers and whiskey. The back room will soon play host to a sushi counter, so chances are the clientele is about to swell even more, but in the meantime eager diners can enjoy the grilled, pan-fried, and raw dishes created by father-son duo Masaharu and Jesse Ito. Even better, the kitchen stays open late, giving you plenty of time to mull over yakimono options.

Karen Mendoza/Courtesy of Perla

Perla

East Passyunk

Perla is a new modern Filipino BYO that offers seasonal dishes in a small space -- seriously, the dining room seats just 30 total. Perla’s chef and owner, Lou Boquila, lets you opt for a four-course fixed-price menu during the week, and on Sundays you can come in with a larger group (six minimum, so make some friends) for a $40/person kamayan dinner, where you'll eat solely with your hands. Perla is one of the first modern Filipino restaurants in Philly, and the refreshing cuisine has been met quite happily by locals: snagging a coveted kamayan dinner is already becoming a challenge.

Cinder

Cinder

Rittenhouse

A vast collection of ciders and sour ales pour from 32 taps and 70+ bottles at this Rittenhouse gastropub, making it a perfect destination for hard-to-find beers. The food menu offers just the right amount of carbs and comfort food, like lamb sausage pizza and mussels. The industrial space seats about 50, and even if you’re more of a wine person, you’re not forgotten here: Cinder pours 10-12 wines by the glass, and 20 more by the bottle.

Gigi Italian Bistro

Gigi Italian Bistro

Manayunk

Chef Craig Wilson’s Gigi opened on Main St last summer, shortly after he opened another concept a few doors down (tapas joint MAYA.J). Well, turns out the folks of Manayunk prefer well-portioned Italian dishes over small plates, because now Gigi has taken over the bigger space of MAYA.J to offer more seating, a private event space, and a new lunch menu. The BYOB spot serves reinvented takes on classic dishes, like seafood puttanesca and garlic penne.

Panorama

Panorama

Old City

Long-running Italian restaurant Panorama recently did a style upheaval to modernize its dining rooms, and the accompanying refreshed menu makes today’s Panorama the greatest iteration yet. The Old City restaurant, part of the Penn’s View Hotel and home to one of the largest wine collections in the city (we’re talking 150 wines, and that doesn’t even include full bottles), refreshed its signature old-world setting with a lighter, airier dining room. The dishes are still phenomenal, of course: If you’re at a loss for what to order, you can’t go wrong with the burrata filled with San Marzano tomato sauce.

Dim Sum House

Dim Sum House

University City

Dim Sum House delivered it by opened its doors in early January, providing dim sum and dumplings for all. Though still very nascent in the Philly dining world, the restaurant easily ranks as one of the best dim sum spots in the city, with an economical price tag to boot. The spot offers two dim sum menus, Cantonese and Shanghai-style, and, true to its University City location, stays open late (like, 2am-on-weekends late).

Neal Santos

Harp & Crown

Rittenhouse

The gorgeous, expansive space of Harp & Crown features high ceilings, exposed brick, a wrap-around bar, tufted booths, and vintage portrait collages. The striking atmosphere is enough to lure you inside, but the selection of stiff drinks, small plates, and diverse entrees will keep you coming back for more. Charcuterie and cheese plates go great alongside Spanish octopus and lamb meatballs, while the hanger steak and the farro pasta with spinach pesto is one of the most satisfying meals in the neighborhood. You can also swing by for the full lunch menu and high-end bar fare, or head downstairs for a speakeasy vibe and double set of bowling lanes.

Banh Mi and Bottles

Bánh Mì & Bottles

South Street District

Vietnamese fare finds a new home in Philly thanks to Banh Mi & Bottles, where traditional Vietnamese street food -- made with locally sourced ingredients -- gets a touch of modernity. The menu includes pho and banh mi, and of course bottles, for a different sort of B&B.

Michael Persico

Rooster Soup Company

Rittenhouse Square

The wonderful people responsible for Federal Donuts can now take credit for Rooster Soup Company as well, which serves sandwiches and comfort food with 100% of the profits going to the Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative, which helps provide food and social services for Philadelphia’s people in need. Plus, to mitigate waste, unused leftovers from Federal Donuts’ fried chicken make their way into the chicken broth here.

Courtesy of Shoo Fry

Shoo Fry

Center City West

The long-awaited replacement to Underdogs finally opened late last year, and its offering of late-night poutine and sliders does an adequate job of alleviating our sense of loss. Shoo Fry is one of several poutineries popping up over the city, this one complete with a portrait of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help you feel as if you’re safely tucked away in Canada.

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1. Wm. Mulherin's Sons 1355 North Front Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

The Fishtown space housing Wm. Mulherin’s Sons was a whiskey blending and bottling facility in the 1890s, and the building still maintains many of the original elements, like wood-framed arched windows and the company safe, which is now a coat closet. The menu revolves around wood-fired Italian food and is predictably heavy on lightly charred pizzas, grilled meats, fish, and pasta. The cocktails come from the mastermind behind Olde Bar and a.bar, and the carefully curated wine list emphasizes smaller producers.

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2. Wister 26 N 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Chef Benjamin Moore, the former sous chef at Lacroix, planted his own flag in Old City with this seafood-focused BYOB. The changing, seasonal menu features delicate fusion starters like baby squid with tamarind, peanut, and bok choy alongside heavier larger plates like monkfish and tomatoes with bacon hushpuppies. Lovers of turf fare can expect cameos from Berkshire pork chops and chicken-for-two in lavender jus, while vegetarians will find comfort in the few pasta and vegetable dishes. Wister's dining room is simple American rustic, with exposed pipes and brick walls, green wooden floors, and worn leather banquettes that let the food speak for itself.

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3. Double Knot 120 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Double Knot is a dining destination for any time of day, opening early in the morning to supply you with coffee, enduring the midday rush for build-your-own salad or rice bowls, and powering into the evening with a thriving bar scene. Walk past the bar, bookcases, and old mirrors, and enter the door in the back where a hidden sushi bar awaits. The extravagant yet relatively affordable menu features sushi, robatayaki meats, and other Japanese izakaya fare.

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4. Royal Sushi & Izakaya 780 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

From Philly restaurateurs Stephen Simons and David Frank, Royal Sushi & Izakaya specializes in yakimono, or grilled and pan-fried dishes found in many a Japanese tavern. Expect small, shareable bites like pork and veggie dumplings, chicken gizzard yakitori, fried octopus balls, plus sushi and sashimi. A Japanese whiskey bar completes the space, where some 30 sake bottles are available.

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5. Perla 1535 S. 11th St., Philadelphia, PA 19147

This modern Filipino BYOB in East Passyunk has a chef with a story: Lou Boquila rose from dishwasher to executive chef at Audrey Claire’s, and he now helms the kitchen at his own place. He reimagines the recipes his mother cooked when he was a child and and honors her in the restaurant's name, Perla. A semi-open kitchen looks out to the 30-seat space outfitted with large street-facing windows, where diners get to learn about Boquila's mother's cooking through the meat and fish plates that dominate the menu.

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8. Panorama 14 N Front St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Home to the world's largest wine dispensary, Panorama is an upscale North-Italian eatery, tucked away in the heart of Philadelphia's Old City. The menu is stocked with handmade pastas, fresh vegetables, and thick cut local meats, most or which are served encased in cheese or alongside stacks of herb-dusted house focaccia bread. The whole place practically oozes old-school Italian charm with candle chandeliers dangling from the ceilings, large Tuscan doors, and vintage upholstery lining the seat cushions. Certified sommeliers guide patrons through the Restaurant's ridiculously extensive wine list while the hungry guests salivate over hand rolled ricotta gnocchi with broccoli rabe pesto, or braised leg of lamb with spicy salsa verde. Full of dark wood and low chatter over rich, sauce-coated plates, the whole place is a romantic ode to classic Italian dining.

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10. Harp & Crown 1525 Samson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Named after a colonial tavern that once stood in Old City, Harp & Crown is set in an antique-filled space with mismatched furniture, tufted leather sofas, and vintage chandeliers. The rustic look belies the contemporary menu: a smart mix of small plates, pizzas, and vegetable dishes that range from lamb meatballs and smoked octopus to Amish chicken and faro pasta. Don't just come for the food, though: the downstairs bar, Elbow Lane, offers a 'members club' feel and boasts a surprisingly stately two-lane bowling alley. Yes, a bowling alley. The take on the gin and tonic here, made with lavender gin and infused with botanicals, sure beats the hell out of whatever cheap beer you'd be sipping at a typical bowling alley.

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13. Shoo Fry , Philadelphia, PA

Poutine -- the Montreal-born, gravy-soaked, and cheese-covered improvement on French fires -- gets a home-away-from-home in Shoo Fry, serving the venerable and caloric dish late-night from the space formerly occupied by hot dog mecca Underdog. You can customize the type of fry you use as the base -- be it curly, classic or wedges -- select a sauce flavor, topping, and lay on the cheese. Because Philadelphia knows no other way, a cheesesteak poutine is on offer, as well as a fried scrapple-cheddar-egg version. Supplement your loaded fries with a side of sliders or a frothy milkshake made with local purveyor Little Baby's Ice Cream.