10 Best Restaurants
By Tara Nurin
Out of all the restaurants in a city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer carefully vetted selections to let you explore Philadelphia dining on your own. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Philadelphia Best Restaurants list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss.
10 Will BYOB
Modern French-inspired fare by chef and owner Chris Kearse will have you licking your lips after each and every course. Each third Tuesday of the month offers an ingredient-driving tasting menu (pumpkin-focused in the fall, for instance). Make a reservation, if you'd like to be sure you've snagged one of the thirty seats at this East Passyunk BYOB. ((215) 271-7683)
9 Vernick Food & Drink
Two floors of ingredient-driven cuisine is what you'll find at Vernick Food & Drink. Recognized as a Rising Philadelphia Chef by Star Chefs, Greg Vernick and his wife Julie bring artful dishes to the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. ((267) 639-6644)
8 Noord Eetcafe
Noord Eetcafe is a BYOB Northern European inspired restaurant, think seared Norwegian salmon and duck confit. Chef-owned by Joncarl Lachman, be sure and make a reservation to enjoy his hospitality (he greets guests personally) and to-die-for food; the restaurant is a squeeze. ((267) 909-9704)
7 The Farm and Fisherman
Chef Josh Lawler was a forerunner in the locavore movement, and his practice and dedication shows in every bite at The Farm and Fisherman. This cozy 30-seat restaurant on Antique Row invites you to bring your own booze, while you enjoy one of the best farm-to-table experiences in Philly. (2676871555)
Don't skip dessert at this contemporary American corner spot on East Passyunk Avenue, you'll miss out on freshly-baked delicacies by the masterful Jessie Prawlucki. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't load up on elegantly prepared sea scallops or pork belly beforehand. Be sure and make a reservation, too; Fond is hot. ((215) 551-5000)
Anyone who thinks vegan food can't be flavorful hasn't eaten at Vedge. Not only is this friendly and inviting Center City restaurant the best vegan/vegetarian join in Philly and the entire United States (by leaps and bounds) it might very well be among the best restaurants. Period. The husband and wife team who run the kitchen at Vedge manage to produce amazingly flavorful French-inspired dishes that are so decadent, it's hard to believe they're not made with heaps of butter and cream. ((215) 320-7500)
Lauded as one of the nation's best French bistros, this quaint, cash-only BYOB is well deserving of the countless glowing reviews bestowed upon its warm, personalized service and exceptional cuisine. French-born chef Pierre Calmels performs magic magnifique in the kitchen, creating seasonal masterpieces like tarragon-flavored escargots, heavenly foie gras with saut�ed apricot, succulent hangar steak with green peppercorn sauce and savory bone marrow stuffing. Lovely cr�me brulee and buttery fruit pies provide a fantastic finale. (215-965-8290)
Owner-chef Jose Garces' tantalizing tapas -- Spanish octopus and garlic shrimp among them -- give his fabulous lobster paella, suckling pig and other main courses a true run for their money. If you're with a group, for a special treat let Garces hand-select the tapas for your table; at $55-65 per person (wine pairings optional), it's well worth the price. Flamenco dancing is featured every Wednesday, and their sinfully good signature sangrias are available throughout the week. (215-625-2450)
Before James Beard chef Michael Solomonov opened the only upscale Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia, he took his entire staff to Israel to give them a taste of the land, the spirit and the food. The result is a very modern experience that draws from recipes cooked since ancient times. Innovative drinks, a small-plates approach and one of the largest Israeli wine lists outside of the Middle East make Zahav an ideal place to go to learn about an unfamiliar cuisine or return again and again for old favorites. The restaurant Esquire rated a Top 20 Best New Restaurant in 2008 is romantic, intimate and lively enough to be provide a welcoming setting for couples, families and friends. (2156258800)
1 Vetri Ristorante
With only 35 seats, this nationally acclaimed restaurant is booked one to two months in advance, so call way ahead for reservations. Chef-owner Marc Vetri prepares elegant "new" Italian cuisine, served only as a prix fixe menu for $135. Seasonally rotating entrees include unusual meats like chestnut fettucini with boar and cocoa, baby goat with freshly stone milled polenta and Texas antelope with squash and amarone sauce. The signature dessert, chocolate polenta souffl�, sounds wacky, but it's quite good. Business dress appropriate. Vetri closes for one week in January and two weeks in August, so call ahead if you're thinking about dining here during those months. (215-732-3478)
About Tara Nurin
Tara Nurin is a veteran freelance journalist based just outside Philadelphia. The former TV reporter specializes in craft beer, dining and destination coverage and writes regularly about her three passions -- Philly, food, drink -- for local and national pubs. Tara, who grew up speaking Spanish and French, spent childhood holidays on a Puerto Rican beach and bummed around Paris for her junior year of college. She’s lived in more than a dozen American cities and still travels globally in search of a plate of local food, an artisanal beer and a hearty laugh with the countrymen.
Read more about Tara Nurin here.