Dining in Philadelphia: A Complete Guide
I have had the opportunity to spend countless weekends in Philadelphia, PA - the City of Brotherly Love is so different than the Big Apple - but not in a bad way. Philadelphia is much smaller than NYC, but that does not mean that there is a shortage of fabulous spots for the foodie in us! When dining in Philadelphia, there are so many options from trendy chains to one of a kind favorites - you will never be bored when in Philadelphia. In addition to the wine bar that I am sure to visit every time I am in Philadelphia to spots with views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, there is something for everyone! I have had the pleasure of dining all over Philadelphia - from center city to old city - I have experienced so many different ambiances. Through my experiences, I put together a list of my favorite restaurants for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between.
Dining in Philadelphia: Breakfast & Brunch
- The Continental - This spot is perfect for both breakfast and brunch! The vibes here can be described as retro, and here is why. The exterior of the restaurant has a huge olive adorned to the building with a stick going through it, just as if it were in your favorite Dirty Martini. When you walk in, you will feel like you entered straight into the Jetsons - there are '60's style hanging decor coming down from the ceiling and the tables and seating resembles an old school diner. My absolute fav part of the decor are the hanging basket chairs - yes, they have chars that are shaped as baskets and hanging from the ceiling! If you end up trying this spot out, I definitely recommend trying out the basket chairs. Now, to the food - this may not be your typical farm-to-table Philadelphia experience, but they offer organic options, egg whites, and whole wheat grains!
- Bank & Bourbon - This spot is located in the Lowes Hotel and is perfect for brunch. I highly recommend their french toast as it is divine. The real estate that this spot holds may not be huge, but you can certainly feel the rustic vibes within it. As you look around the space, you will notice the subtle pieces of decor that look as though they belong in a bank from two decades ago. Grab a girlfriend, order a mimosa, and enjoy this quaint spot!
- XIX (Nineteen) - Located at the Hyatt, this is probably the most expensive restaurant that I recommend for breakfast & brunch, but it is 100% worth it!!! If you have the option of when you go, I definitely recommend that you experience this restaurant during the warmer months - as there is a fabulous rooftop with stunning views of the city of Philadelphia. The interior of this space can be described as classy with a touch of modern. The one downside was that the service wasn't the best, so just be sure to order your drinks the first time your server comes - otherwise you may end up waiting a good twenty minutes for him/her to come back.
- Midtown III Restaurant - This is certainly the most casual breakfast & brunch option! It is basically a typical diner from the 1950's. It is an extremely small place and you can certainly tell that it gets its fair share of regulars - the wait staff knows them right away. The food is excellent and if you have never had the chance to experience an old school diner, I definitely recommend heading here. You will witness the servers yelling across the restaurant to each other, "Sara, table 10 needs salt", but that only adds to the ambiance. It is also good to note that I literally wore yoga clothes to eat here - super casual!
Dining in Philadelphia: Lunch & Dinner
- Chima Brazilian Grill - This was actually my first experience at a Brazilian restaurant & I instantly fell in love with the idea of a Brazilian steakhouse. This spot is certainly not meant for you if you aren't a lover of meat, but if do, then I definitely recommend trying it out! It's location is a little bit off the beaten track, but it is certainly worth grabbing an Uber to head here. The interior is not super fancy, but I definitely recommend putting on a pair of heels for dinner here - as the idea is high end. The service is impeccable and when we went for my sister's birthday, the celebration was top notch.
- Serafina - Since there are so many cities that have at least one outpost of Serafina, you might be wondering why I included this spot on this list. I have been to multiple locations within Manhattan, but its location in Philadelphia surpases them service wise. Our waitor in Philly was extremely attentive & made our dining experience unforgettable. Just like any other Serafina, the food melts in your mouth & you will leave wanting more.
- Scarpetta - There are also multiple locations throughout the U.S. of Scarpetta, but not as many as Serafina has. I have never been to the Scarpetta in the Meatpacking District in NYC, so my first experience was in Philly. The best part about dining here was that this location opened months earlier, so it was brand new. It had sweeping views of the park in Rittenhouse Square & the interior was absolutely beautiful. The clientele was definitely a little older (50's was probably the median age), but that wouldn't stop me from going back there. The only downside to this spot is that its portions are extremely small - they are basically stereotypical to the "large price, small portion" idea that most have of high end restaurants. Don't worry, though, just because the portions were small, did not mean that they weren't amazing.
- Opa - Since we are The Sophisticato, I had to include a Greek spot on this list - and I am happy that Opa is the spot I am highlighting. It is definitely on the smaller side, with a huge bar being the centerpiece, so I recommend making a reservation ahead of time. This spot is tapas style, so if you are there with just one other person I recommend ordering 3-4 dishes, depending on which ones catch your eye. Luckily the waitstaff is extremely helpful when it comes to what each dish is and their size, so there will be no surprises. If you aren't familiar with Greek cuisine, I recommend starting with the Pastitsio and Saganaki. Oh, and the blue and white interior will definitely give you the feels of Mykonos.
Dining in Philadelphia: Snacks & Markets
- Reading Terminal Market - This market is HUGE! The idea behind Reading Terminal Market is similar to Chelsea Market, except Reading Terminal Market's shops & food is located within aisles & you can see everything at once - as opposed to Chelsea Market, where mostly everything is within separate shops (similar to how a mall is set up). This market is the perfect spot to get goods from Amish Country, different farms in the area, as well as handmade pieces straight from the Pennsylvania countryside. You can get anything from a Philly Cheesesteak to Crepes and beyond. I generally visit this market to grab a midday snack, but you can certainly have a meal here as well. It is good to remember that it closes around 6PM everyday.
- Sweet Ending - If you are shopping in Center City (possibly around Walnut or Chestnut Streets?) and are looking for a sweet pick me up, definitely head here for some refreshing frozen yogurt. The yogurt is tasty, toppings are fresh, and the interior is clean - all things I look for in a frozen yogurt jaunt, since it is a DIY spot. Sweet Ending is actually located right across from The Continental, so if you are looking for something sweet after brunch, head here!