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Philadelphia Restaurants

217–219 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 625 2450

Reinterpreting authentic Spanish tapas is the specialty of chef/owner Jose Garces, who used to work with Douglas Rodriguez (the "godfather" of Nuevo Latino cuisine). Traditional dishes like salt-cod croquette, clams and chorizo, and crab-stuffed piquillo peppers coexist with Garces's inventive cocas, Spanish flatbreads topped with vibrant combinations like duck, figs, and Cabrales cheese. The chef's counter—with a view of the kitchen—and the community tables in the bar are a good place to perch if you're dining alone, awaiting cut-to-order Serrano ham and aged Manchego with truffle-lavender honey. Spanish wines dominate the 40-bottle list, and house-made sangria—like the signature Blanco, a crisp white wine spiked with quince, pear, and lemon—steeps in oak barrels along the wall. Go on a Wednesday or Friday night to catch a flamenco performance.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm and 5 pm to midnight, Sundays 4 to 10 pm.

Capogiro Gelato Artisans
119 S. 13th Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 351 0900

Following yet another trip to Italy, Stephanie and John Reitano decided to remedy the lack of gelato in their lives by producing small batches of their own, using Pennsylvania produce and milk from grass-fed, hormone-free cows. The results have garnered national raves. Flavors rotate but pineapple mint, Turkish coffee, pistachio siciliano, and ginger sesame are always available. The cafés—one in the up-and-coming area east of Broad Street, and the other off Rittenhouse Square (117 S. 20th St.; 215-636-9250)—also stock an array of artisanal confections such as taffy-like caramels, vanilla and cinnamon marshmallows, and sugar-dusted Italian gelatine.

795 S. 3rd Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 625 0556

The grandfather of Philadelphia's B.Y.O.B. movement was born in 1990, when Dmitri Chimes decided to abandon the kitchen and prepare all meals from the counter of this old soda fountain. By limiting his cooking techniques (mostly to grilling), he made simplicity his signature—to wit, the grilled octopus and fresh whole fish finished with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of herbs. The limited seating (and the typical 45-minute wait) create a convivial community with the New Wave, a bar across the street where you can have a drink until a waitress fetches you.

Open daily 5:30 to 10 pm; cash only.

Honey's Sit 'n' Eat
800 N. 4th Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 925 1150

When Honey's opened in March 2005, the kitchen closed down at 4 pm each day, but fans demanded the restaurant's Southern-Jewish comfort food after brunch hours and owners Ellen Mogell and Jeb Woody acquiesced. Now, tattooed Northern Liberties hipsters and a handful of Old City dwellers file in from 8 am to 10 pm on weekdays (sadly, weekend hours haven't changed) to fill up on chicken-fried steak and house-made biscuits, latkes with applesauce and sour cream, challah French toast, and plate-sized pancakes. The best way to pick your meal is to ogle what the waiters are trotting across the dining room's pine floor (the wood was salvaged from an old barn, the countertops came from a sewing factory). Just choose quickly, especially on weekends: The hungry folks on the line snaking out the door all want a piece of the rollicking, high-calorie action too.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 10 pm, Sundays 8 am to 4 pm.

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John's Roast Pork
14 E. Snyder Avenue
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 463 1951

The South Philly corner of South 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue is the neon-heavy carnival setting of the Philly cheesesteak wars—and the destination of many a college road trip. The main contenders are Pat's King of Steaks (1237 E. Passyunk Ave.; 215-468-1546; and Geno's (1219 S. 9th St.; 215-389-0659;, but true connoisseurs wind up at John's, a sandwich shack squeezed between big-box stores just off the Delaware Expressway. It may look like a good place to dump a body, but this family business (since 1930) makes the real deal, folding cheese and onions into seasoned meat while it's still on the grill, then bundling it all into a seeded crusty roll from South Philly's Carangi bakery. The only drawback? John's hours are geared toward the working man, so while the joint opens at 6:45 a.m., the grill shuts down at 2:30. For those hankering for a nighttime fix, Pat's and Geno's are open 24 hours a day.

Open Mondays through Fridays 6:45 am to 2:30 pm.

700 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 223 5663

Taking its design cues from The Brady Bunch, this Stephen Starr enterprise has a see-through fireplace, fieldstone walls, and swivel chairs—and an equally familiar menu. Work on an order of monkey bread while deciding between American classics such as fried chicken and waffles and traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The no-reservations policy and location just west of Independence Park guarantees lines of impatient locals and map-toting tourists on the weekends. But the BMW pancakes (caramelized banana, maple syrup, and toasted walnut) and protein plates (ham, turkey sausage, and applewood bacon with cheddar scrambled eggs) are worth the wait.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30 am to midnight, Sundays 10 am to 3 pm.

Le Bec-Fin
1523 Walnut Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 567 1000

Since 1970, chef and owner Georges Perrier has reigned supreme at this Philadelphia landmark near Rittenhouse Square. It was redesigned in 2002—"everything but the chandeliers," says Perrier—to convey the elegance of a 19th-century Parisian dining salon. The chef maintains his reputation with consistently top-drawer service, constant menu development, and immaculate execution. The crab cake with haricots verts is a signature dish (he's been making it for 37 years), and poached salmon served over blanched cucumber and fava beans with a strawberry sauce, demonstrates Perrier's deft ability to mix styles and ingredients. It's prix fixe-only and very pricey, but there's a less costly and equally worthwhile spin-off: Le Bar Lyonnais, a bistro on the first floor.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 2 pm and 5 to 10 pm.

Lee How Fook
219 N. 11th Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 925 7266

The boisterous families and groups of friends that gather at this Cantonese institution (in the heart of Philly's small, yet rewarding, Chinatown) hardly noticed when a 2003 renovation elevated the decor from grubby to no-frills. They were too busy crunching on salt-baked squid coated in gossamer breading as cracking and delicate as spun sugar and stuffing crisp-skinned Peking duck into fluffy, hoisin-slathered steamed buns. (When ordering, keep in mind that most dishes come portioned to feed the whole table.) The service is as utilitarian as the decor unless you order the whole sea bass in black-bean sauce; the fish is deftly filleted tableside with a welcome touch of ceremony.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 11:30 am to 10 pm.

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Marigold Kitchen
501 S. 45th Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 222 3699

Philly's crowded field of BYOBs can be monotonous: Most of the genre's better examples are stuck in the Mediterranean, and one menu often blends into the next. Marigold Kitchen is an exception: When planning his season's menus, Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov looks to the Middle East as often as to Italy and France. To the delight of twittering couples celebrating special occasions and jovial groups of regulars, he might fill cannelloni with tangy feta (instead of the more obvious ricotta) and pair it with a complex, verdant pea- and fava bean–sauce perked up by bits of preserved lemon. The richness of sweetbreads wrapped in crispy, salty chicken skin is set off by a silken, nutty tahini. The dining room, in a stately early 20th-century row house in University City with big bay windows, has been refreshed with lime-green walls and deep-blue tables, making the setting is as quirky and loveable as the menu.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 5:30 to 10 pm from September through mid-August.

640 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 763 0920

Since opening Vetri in 1998 (1312 Spruce St.; 215-732-3478;, chef Marc Vetri's kitchen has been supplying Philadelphia with brilliant Italian cuisine as well as talented protégés, like Mark Solomonov, who have gone on to put their own tasty stamp on the city's culinary landscape. At last, Vetri himself has branched out, trading the intimacy of his first venture for a larger, more casual, space in a converted garment factory, and a tightly edited menu for one with more breadth. Befitting the chef's reputation, expectations (and prices) are high, but Vetri delivers. He creatively laces crispy wood-fired pizza crust with sweet figs, punchy gorgonzola, and salty wisps of speck, and tucks preternaturally sweet eggplant into ravioli, then sauces the delicate pockets simply—spectacularly—with anchovies melted in olive oil. The only unexpected element is the North Broad neighborhood, which is far enough from up-and-coming that you can still park on the street.

Open Mondays through Wednesdays and Saturdays 5 to 11 pm; Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5 to 11 pm; Sundays 5 to 10 pm.

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Reading Terminal Market
12th and Arch streets
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 922 2317

This 75,000-square-foot collection of food, craft, and houseware stalls opened in 1892 as a covered market on the street level of the great Reading Terminal. Today, it's part of the Philadelphia Convention Center complex, where locals shop the butchers and fishmongers, office workers stand in line for lunch, and conventioneers stare at tomatoes as though they've never seen produce before. (Pennsylvania Dutch farmers sell their harvest—plump strawberries, sweet peas, and shaggy bunches of wildflowers—Wednesday through Saturday from late spring to mid-fall.) There are also Philadelphia signature foods: warm-from-the-oven Fisher's soft pretzels, salted and slathered with melted butter; vanilla ice cream, distinguished by dark specks of ground vanilla bean, from Bassetts, America's oldest continuously operating ice cream company (you can sit at the original marble counter); and yet another city sandwich, Dinic's roast pork topped with sharp provolone and dipped in natural juices.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 8 am to 6 pm, Sundays 9 am to 5 pm.

Shank & Evelyn's Luncheonette
932 S. 10th Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 629 1093

You can get a mean eggs-over-easy breakfast and robust homemade soups at this idiosyncratic luncheonette, but sandwiches are the main attraction: Try a mound of thinly sliced roast beef dipped in cooking juices, or a spicy chicken cutlet topped with long hots (peppers) or garlicky broccoli rabe. The walls are decorated with pictures of notables (former mayor Frank Rizzo, Frank Sinatra, Bugs Bunny), and it's worth noting that the place slows down to the point of unofficially closing between the hours of 3:00 and 4:00, so the staff can watch General Hospital.

Open Mondays through Fridays 9 am to 4 pm.

Standard Tap
901 N. Second Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 238 0630

Unlike much of the country's recent crop of "gastropubs"—which are often just casual restaurants with an ambitious chef, Standard Tap is the genuine article. This new Philly classic has unsightly wood paneling and a jukebox—but also a noteworthy list of local beers and a kitchen that happens to turn out exceptional food. The menu's stripped-down dish descriptions, like "squid" and "short ribs" suggests a lack of pretense. But instead of greasy popcorn shrimp or iceberg-lettuce salad, there might be steamed head-on prawns piled with sweet corn kernels and smoky chorizo, or a cylindrical stack of diced beets crowned with microgreens. If not for the giant-sized portions and diners sporting Phillies caps and cargo shorts, everything on the menu would suit a restaurant with starched linens and crystal stemware.

Open Mondays through Fridays 4 pm to 2 am; Saturdays and Sundays 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and 4 pm to 2 am.

White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom Street
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Tel: 215 386 9224

Squeezed into three adjacent Victorian row houses on one of the most enduringly charming streets in University City, the White Dog is an institution. Owner Judy Wicks is a champion of social causes—she's been supporting local farmers, organic food, and sustainable agriculture since she opened this place as a coffee shop in 1983. Now she runs a nonprofit foundation out of the cafe, organizing tours and roundtables that cover all the enviro-friendly bases you can imagine. The vibe is activist but laid-back, and tables of mismatched chairs and quirky lamps are filled with Penn profs and locals, college students and their grandparents. The food? Consistently good, occasionally great, and always organic (for example, baked St. Peter's fish crusted with crab, shrimp, and toasted almonds in a creamy tomato-dill sauce). The sandwich-centric bar menu is just as satisfying, and the bar itself is a great perch for checking out the local scene.

Open daily 11 am to 2:30 pm, 5:30 to 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.