If there is one thing Philadelphians love to do it is eat, well that and we love our sports teams, connection to history, and on occasion we like to drink. The restaurant scene in City of Brotherly love has something for everyone. Sure you should probably try a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone (yes you should) and have a pretzel, but there is so much more to explore. And of course you will find chain restaurants like Cheesecake Factory and the Hard Rock Cafe, but you will want to get out and feast on the culinary magic.
We know, we know the first thing you will want to know is where to find the java. Never fear VRAers plenty of coffee to be had. Local roaster La Colombe now has a kiosk in the lobby of the hotel and another shop to the west on the southwest corner of Dilworth Plaza. Their brew is divine! In Reading Terminal Market you can find two Old City Coffee locations (see the Reading Terminal map linked below). And for more familiar brews there is a Starbucks and a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from the hotel.
Short walking distance from the hotel
Catty-corner from the hotel is the Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest and largest public markets in the US. Here you can find everything from produce, locally sourced meats, seafood, baked goods, and a number of restaurants. You can also find cookbooks, soap, kitchenware, Philly souvenirs, etc. Maps of vendors are available at each entrance and there is an interactive map online.
Cuisine from 15 regions of France and great cocktails (they make a mean sazerac) in a great Parisian bistro setting. Try the Flammenkùche with smoked salmon and arugula or a wild mushroom crêpe with Parisian ham and Mornay sauce.
Modern and traditional Indian cuisine under the direction of a chef trained in Mumbai. Feast on Goan paella with boondi raita, chicken tikka chipotle as well as traditional favourites. Gluten free and vegetarian options abound.
Bar/restaurant featuring BBQ & homestyle comfort food. It won’t be the same BBQ as we had last year in Louisville, but Smokin’ Betty’s is a Center City destination. Great happy hour to go with your burgers, BBQ, and Sandwiches.
Vietnam Restaurant (in Chinatown)
This gem opened in 1984 and is run by the Lai family who fled Vietnam in 1978 and made their home in Philadelphia. Located on the edge of Chinatown, Vietnam offers not only excellent Vietnamese fare, but also a great lounge upstairs, Bar Saigon.
This little second floor cantina will fill you up without emptying your wallet. The make their fresh ground masa tortillas in house and with specials like TACO TUESDAY, you must check it out.
Mexican street food inspired menu, which isn’t big, but it doesn’t need to be. Chips, salsa, guacamole, tacos, taquizas and enchiladas – it’s all you could want. Vegetarian options upon request.
Vegetables command the spotlight at this restaurant in the Tiger Building on Locust Street. Locally sourced veggies are the base for Vedge’s seasonal menu. No critters involved at any point in the creation of your dish. Cocktails feature house-made syrups and bitters. “Vedge prides itself on being a ‘foodie’s’ restaurant – for omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike.” Reservations highly recommended!
Bud and Marilyn’s
Named for Chef Marcie Blaine Turney’s grandparents, this spot is modeled in the restaurant she grew up in in Rippon, WI, called ‘The Spot.’ They serve up simple American comfort food.
And if grocery items are on your list try MOM’s Organic Market.
Independence Hall/Washington Square area
The Red Owl Tavern
Attached to the Kimpton Hotel, this American fare restaurant provide breakfast, lunch and dinner. They offer gluten-free options, and the wait staff are attentive. There are two floors—the lower level large bar area has more energy, while the upstairs is quiet for conversation. It’s within close proximity to Independence Hall, Old City Hall, The Liberty Bell and the Benjamin Franklin Museum.
Rittenhouse Square/French Quarter area
Love this bar and the burgers and fries are killer. It’s a quaint Prohibition style era bar flanked with white subway tile, leather couches, and marble tables. It’s sleek and modern, but not stuffy. Great for late night carousing, but also have brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner. They specialize in whiskey drinks and have 200 types for you to dabble your taste buds. Outside seating available when the weather is warmer. Menu and Whiskey Menu. Ask for Gluten-free options.
Situated across from the Curtis School of Music on Rittenhouse Square, Parc Brasserie “pays tribute to French café culture, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. It is one of the more expensive restaurants on this list, but if you are going to splurge – this is a great place to do it!
“The Soul of Belgium in the Heart of Philadelphia.” The food menu is modest, but excellent. Mussels and pommes frites are stand-outs. The star of Monk’s is the beer menu which features, as you might expect, a great number of Belgian brews on tap and in the bottle.
Fancy donuts and crispy fried chicken – a match made in heaven. Open 7am-7pm. Also located in University City area.
London inspired gastropub, with delicious brunch and afternoon tea options.
“Vegan riffs on global street food” (you won’t miss the meat!). From the same family as Vedge but more casual.
Multiple Bars and restaurants in and around Fairmount
Sabrina’s brunch and generous menu invite long lines and long waits on the weekends. Breakfast is served all day. The food and hospitality are amazing, and the quirky ambiance and décor provide conversation starters. If you have the pleasure of going during a weekday it will be well worth the visit. Gluten-free options are available.
Art Museum BYOB
1804 Callowhill St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
227 N 34th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Black Taxi, Brigids, London Grill or McCrossen’s Tavern are great for lunch, dinner and/or Happy Hour. They are pub style and sports pubs, and relegated to American Fare. All of them are tasty with a wide variety of food menu items and the bar areas are quite large and can fit groups, especially London Grill and McCrossen’s. Outdoor seating is available in warmer weather at all locations and gluten-free options are available at London Grill and McCrossen’s.
A great spot for lunch, this small Japanese restaurant is in very close proximity to the Perelman building and across the street from the PMA. Quiet and delicious—food is prepared when ordered. They offer sushi, noodles and bulgogi. Ask for the Tamari, if gluten-free.
White Dog Café
A University City staple, it was farm to table before farm to table was a thing. The menu is seasonal and focuses on local, sustainable, and organic ingredients. It is tucked into three renovated brownstones near the University of Pennsylvania campus. Vegetarian/vegan menu available on request.
“Embracing healthy bodies, a healthy planet, and compassion for all living things we bring delicious vegan food to people everywhere.” This is one of three locations in the city, focusing on casual vegetarian and vegan options. Known for their Green Smoothies!
You want noodles – they have them. Located on both the Penn and Drexel campuses. Affordable ramen (with vegetarian options) and sushi in a casual dining room that includes a bar.
Green Line Cafe
“West Philly’s living room” serves up organic and fair-trade coffee as well as a selection of sandwiches, pastries, and snacks, including vegan options. Several locations in West Philly with one in Center City at 17th and Arch just south of the Ben Franklin Parkway.
“A neighborhood beer joint” serving a variety of food options and craft beer.
As you might imagine the possibilities are endless when it comes to eating in Philly. Center City is designed for walking, but of course public transportation, taxi, Lyft, and Uber can take you further afield to find more GASTRO-TREASURE. West Philly (Desi Village, Renata’s Kitchen, lots of Ethiopian options), South Philly (9th Street Italian Market, Creperie Beau Monde), North Philly (Saint Benjamin Brewing Company), all have something to offer.