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The Water Works Restaurant & Lounge
There may be some water works when you get the bill for things like foie gras pâté and Grand Marnier duck breast & lobster ravioli, but the views of the Schuylkill River and the museum from Boathouse Row make this place totally worth it.
Laxmi’s Indian Grille
Inside, Laxmi's is small, cozy, and dimly lit, but the food is bright and spicy (feeling adventurous? Try the fiery palak paneer), plus it's BYOB, so you can just bring a bottle of wine instead of doing what you usually do: ordering the second cheapest one on the menu.
Valley Green Inn
If you've already got a girlfriend, there's no reason for you to go jogging/biking/whatever on the trails in Wissahickon Valley Park, so you may have missed this charmingly rustic country-style eatery. But, after taking said girlfriend to dinner and stuffing yourself with things like crab cake soup w/ sweet potato broth, and grilled cheese w/ brie, Gruyère & bacon, guess what you'll need to start doing on the trails in Wissahickon Valley Park...
Bistrot La Minette
Designed to feel just like a Parisian bistro (right down to the outdoor cafe-style seating), this place is serving classics like beef bourguignon, butternut squash soup, a foie gras terrine, and an endive, pear & walnut salad that you won't even want to eat -- and not just because it's a... ugh, salad, but because it looks like a piece of art.
If your girl is adventurous, we've got
one word for you: handcuffs! two words for you: Israeli food. Try the salatim & lamb shoulder (order it when you make your reservation) for two, or the tasting menu with a pitcher of Lemonna, from a place whose very existence is romantic -- the chef opened it in honor of a brother who was killed while serving in Israel's army.
Washington Square West
This places specializes in down-home eats like honey-brined pork chops w/ kuri squash, charred Honeycrisp apples & sage cider jus, seafood sausage and/or pan-roasted chicken with puffy Swiss chard dumplings, etc., and is awash in what you really should remember to buy your date (no matter what restaurant you go to) if you don't want V-day to suck: flowers.
The Pickled Heron
This oft-overlooked French BYOB slings perfectly executed scallops; suckling pig w/ red wine stewed cherries; hearty duck & venison w/ tart raspberry sauce; and, for dessert, a creme brulee made with duck eggs -- to make it the opposite of how your date'll be worried she's looking: lighter.
You know what they say about sharing, it
ain't no fun if the homies can't have none means you care, so hit Iron Chef Jose Garces's dimly lit small platery for two-person tastes like crab-stuffed peppers, lamb meatballs, lobster paella, and lemon ricotta pancakes.
1. Bistrot La Minette623 S 6th St, Philadelphia
2. Water Works Restaurant & Lounge640 Water Works Dr, Philadelphia
3. Laxmi's Indian Grille4425 Main St, Philadelphia
4. Valley Green InnValley Green Rd., Philadelphia
5. Zahav237 St. James Pl, Philadelphia
6. The Pickled Heron2218 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia
7. Amada217 Chestnut St, Philadelphia
8. Talula's Garden210 W Washington Sq, Philadelphia
Bistrot La Minette is just about the closest thing to Paris one can find in the heart of Philly. The authentic French bistro is filled with red plush seating, lengthy rows of tables, each just inches from the next, and handsome unobtrusive waiters in button-up vests balancing trays of fois gras and red wine. The menu is built around fresh local ingredients, and traditional French flavors, offering everything from mustard-braised rabbit and white wine-roasted chicken to escargot in herb butter and tarte tatin (ridiculously delicious upside-down caramelized apple cake). The wine, beer, and spirits lists are curated with the same Francophile dedication, because a French meal is never complete without a glass of French wine.
With stunning views of the Schuylkill River, Water Works serves up fresh seafood and more out of Philadelphia’s first municipal water delivery system.
Small, cozy, dimly lit and with exotic music playing, the BYOB Laxmi's (with other outposts in East Falls and Ardmore) offers traditional Indian cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.
Smack dab in the middle of the Fairmount Park, Valley Green Inn offers classic American fair like overstuffed crab cakes, grilled cheese with brie, gruyere & bacon, along with a meaty selection of steak, chicken and fish.
The interior of this modern Israeli restaurant is designed to resemble Jerusalem's network of hidden courtyards, with floors and walls built of gold limestone and tables hand-carved in dark wood. Zahav's food is equally reminiscent of the promised land: fresh laffa bread is baked to order in a wood-fired oven and lamb skewers are roasted over hardwood charcoal. The menu's true star is its hummus, a silky spread in which the key ingredients, chickpeas and tahini, share the flavor spotlight equally and aren't overshadowed by garlic, lemon, or olive oil -- though those three ingredients are surely present. The lengthy wine list includes a full section for wines with Israeli or Palestinian origins, and house cocktails incorporate Mediterranean notes like za'atar and pumpernickel-infused whiskey.
From a dating duo of chefs who originally met while working a pre-Ripert Ritz-Carlton, three-years-in-the-making Heron’s a BYO with French bistro charm thanks to warm, pumpkin-hued walls and restored antiques.
Garces' granddaddy of restaurants, Amada has a huge cocktail list with favorites like the custom Matador (ginger, bourbon, elderflower), plus some tasty, thrifty tapas, including Serrano ham croquettes and spicy potatoes.
Tucked between two commercial buildings, Talula's Garden is an oasis of greenery with a latticework of potted plants climbing the patio walls. The greenhouse-inspired interior is brimming with flowers, nature-themed cylindrical lamps, and pressed leaf artwork in light wooden frames. Decor aside, Talula’s main event is weekend brunch. The right way to brunch here is to order the Little Ricotta Doughnuts when you're seated and snack on them as you await more substantial dishes like an omelet with whipped goat cheese and roasted broccoli, and French toast stuffed with maple cream cheese and pears. Your meal will leave you irrevocably full, but we guarantee you won't regret a single bite.