Ok, so I don’t have to travel far to get to Philadelphia anymore, but it is still one of my favorite places to wine and dine. Dare I say…I like it better than New York or Boston. The food is fabulous, the style is unique and the atmosphere is never pretentious. It is the city of the laid-back gourmet and I dig it. The best part is that simplicity wins out in most of the great Philly restaurants, so steal-worthy recipes are everywhere!!
The different neighborhoods are packed into neat little pockets of personality that make the city shine. Rittenhouse Square, Old City, Penn’s Landing, Midtown Village and much more house a vibrant and eclectic combination of shops, restaurants, performance art venues and residences. Philly is hoppin’!
The Loews Hotel: Right in the center of the action, the Loews is a great place to stay (comfy, classy and beautiful). With its own delicious eatery (Sole Food) that has steal-worthy recipes for summer seafood and a staff that is incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, Loews Philadelphia is perfect for the tourist or the local who doesn’t want to drive home. If you bring a car, get the Philly Overnight package…parking is a pain!
The Sofitel: This fancy pants spot is a little too much for Philly in my opinion, but it is a definite guilty pleasure. The hotel bar even has Chic in the name – as if we can’t form our own opinions. It is a good place to see a few sports stars in town for various events and when is that not fun? I don’t think people who stay here actually eat, but it is close to everything so you don’t have to go hungry. You can hit up Reading Terminal for a portfolio of treats from either hotel.
10 Arts by Eric Ripert: This restaurant is amazing for a special occasion. The bar area is also good place to start your night off. Executive Chef, Jennifer from Top Chef is a rock star and the food was amazing!!! All the elements of great dining came together: fresh food, portion size, menu variety and delish drink selection. Its a bit expensive, but for an impressive date or celebration, this Ritz Carlton restaurant will make you feel fancy!
Zavino: Zavino Wine Bar has delicious thin crust pizzas with steal-worthy topping combinations that will make you think you can definitely try this at home. The wine selection is delicious too, but the best part is the community table – a long table seating unrelated parties of various sizes. Bonus: sitting next to an awkward first date couple makes your meal taste better.
Barbuzzo: Part of what I refer to as the 13th Street Mafia, Barbuzzo is a delightful restaurant brought to you by the same people who own everything on 13th from restaurants to gourmet chocolate storefronts to markets in a centralized block. Try the Aspargo pizza topped with an egg – - which is now a favorite at home recipe – - and a delicious stuffed meatball, you won’t be sorry!
Alma de Cuba: Delicioso! I don’t know that the decor really speaks to the food…but I know that the food really speaks to my tummy. Modern Latin cuisine with bright flavors and little kicks of heat. A great place to test your palate and see if you can recreate the unique taste profiles that have been whipped up in this kitchen. I felt like I was in Havana for a few hours.
For those of you who choose liquid dinners, head to Bar! Just make sure to dine in before you go out. Not fancy (it’s a bar called Bar) and not even nice really, but you can get a delicious (and cheap) pickleback at this affordable, local watering hole. You won’t regret it…until the morning
Feeling Adventurous? Travel up to Pod (braving the undergrad crowds), a Steven Starr spot on UPenn’s campus in West Philadelphia. Make reservations on the weekend for a 10 person pod and create your own lighting mood. The sushi is fresh and the asian fusion menu will give you inspiration for your next 20 meals!