New York's First Japanese Speakeasy Restaurant is a Hidden Gem
Best place for a first date
26 NorthAddress and Info
We're big fans of Chef Mike Stollenwerk’s new Old City restaurant, and we think it's the perfect place to impress a first date. The food is great, the atmosphere is lively, and the prices are reasonable. It’s also BYOB, giving you the perfect opportunity to show off those sommelier skills (i.e., the label looked cool).
U-BahnAddress and Info
Located directly below its sister bar Brü, U-Bahn is a subterranean hangar. We still can't pinpoint the theme -- arcade games and bottle service aren't often paired together. When it's packed on the weekends, the place resembles a Tokyo subway station. That said, U-Bahn is a ton of fun with liquid courage in the mix.
HelmAddress and Info
What’s not to like about Helm? The newly-opened Kensington BYOB has quickly become one of the city's best restaurants with its bold, refreshingly simple (this is 'real food'), and constantly-changing new American menu. Kensington might be a little out of the way for some, but it’s worth the trip for a meal at Helm.
Best bar food
SouthgateAddress and Info
While there are more than a few items at Southgate that we dream about, there’s one thing at this Korean brewpub that keeps us up at night: their addictive, should-be-classified-as-a-Schedule-II-drug Korean fried chicken wings. Tossed in soy garlic or spicy gochujang sauce, the chicken is crispy, spicy, and one of the best things we’ve eaten all year. Don’t be surprised if you end up ordering a second or third round.
Best happy hour
The Olde BarAddress and Info
After Bookbinders historically shuttered in 2009, the building housing the 100-plus-year-old restaurant was empty until this year. James Beard award-winning chef Jose Garces stepped in and opened The Olde Bar with a reimagined throwback to the original space. Of all the things that the new Olde Bar does well, happy hour is at the top of our list: $1 oysters, $5 appetizers, beer and wine specials, and their surprisingly strong $6 Fish House punch (a bunch of rum, brandy and peach cordial will do that).
Best place to grab a glass of wine
Tredici EnotecaAddress and Info
It’s only been a few weeks since this Midtown Village wine bar opened, but it quickly became one of the best places to go when you're looking to get a glass of red, white, or bubbly. Tredici Enoteca serves generous half and full pours of more than 20 wines, and food from the team behind Zavino, in case you aren’t coming here solely for a liquid meal.
Best place to eat something spicy
DanDanAddress and Info
When you’re in the mood for something spicy, Rittenhouse newcomer DanDan is there to hit all the right hot notes. Inspired by the food you’ll get at Philly OG Han Dynasty (the owner, Han Chiang, is DanDan co-owner Cat Huang's brother), the restaurant's obvious staple is its namesake dan dan noodles. The dishes' (unofficial) spice scale ranges from medium to “worry about going to the bathroom the next day” hot, so don't forget the Pepto.
Best sports bar
Founding FathersAddress and Info
Given the dearth of decent sports bars in Philly, the opening of Founding Fathers last December was a pleasant surprise. It’s not the cheapest place, but if you want to watch the game in a slightly more adult atmosphere, drink good beer, and eat solid bar food, Founding Fathers is your spot.
Tired Hands FermentariaAddress and Info
Both beer snobs and Bud-drinking folk rejoiced when Tired Hands Fermenteria, the recent expansion from the Ardmore brewing alchemists, opened back in April. While you could always get some crazy good beers from Tired Hands, the extra space expanded the brewery's production significantly and created a perfect space to enjoy the beers. It’s also right next to the train station in Ardmore, making for an easy trip back into the city.
Whetstone TavernAddress and Info
When it comes to getting a good burger in Philly, there are tons of options. And while that list is filled with old favorites, there’s one that you couldn’t get back when “Uptown Funk” was the song of the summer: Dad’s burger at Whetstone Tavern. Available as a single or double, the burger is made with a custom blend of LaFrieda beef and is topped with cheese, lettuce slaw, onion, and pickles on a Martin’s potato roll. It’s a great burger at regular menu price, and a steal if you can grab it during Whetstone’s late night happy hour.
Best cheap eats
StargazyAddress and Info
This East Passyunk pie shop gets the award for best place to grab a cheap bite. If you haven’t already had one of the British meat pies from Chef Sam Jacobson, run, don't walk, there -- the pies routinely sell out.
South Philly BarbacoaAddress and Info
For Philly taco fans, 2015 was a high point with the openings of Heffe, Buena Onda, Los Jimenez, and a half-dozen other taquerias serving up handheld deliciousness. Of all the openings, South Philly Barbacoa's new brick-and-mortar location was the highlight of our taco-filled year. At SPB, you can still get the barbacoa or pancita tacos, along with those homemade agua frescas and salsas, that you used to grab streetside. Except now you can sit while you eat. Gamechanger.
SpuntinoAddress and Info
Good pizza isn’t exactly hard to come by in Philly, as much as former New Yorkers would like you to believe otherwise. The opening of Spuntino in Northern Libs put in a strong showing for the best wood-fired pizza in the city. To be fair, this is the second pizzeria from the Carollo family (the first is in Doylestown) but this Philly outpost nails it.
Best ice cream
Big Gay Ice CreamAddress and Info
Big Gay Ice Cream opened a Philly outpost this year, and it was a big deal -- like, people lost it. The hype report after being open for a few months? Worth it? Since it's on list list, we think you know the answer to that.