Philadelphia's Hot List: 10 Best Restaurants for Foodies

When you're wondering where to go for dinner in Philadelphia, you want expert advice from people who really know what's what. Fortunately, restaurant visitors are usually not shy about their experiences. Sorting through those reviews can be a lengthy task, however, so 10Best steps up to the plate to make finding a good place to satisfy your hunger easier than ever. 10Best narrows the options to those places in the city 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. Interested in an Italian option? Check out Vetri. Looking more towards a venue with a vegetarian menu? You'll want to reserve a place at Vedge. There are also superior steakhouse choices such as Fogo de Chao, as well as cuisine choices that may be a little off the beaten path for some, like the ones at Zahav. Treat yourself to an upscale evening out, or relax at a familiar venue with friends and coworkers. It's nice to have options, and such tasty ones at that.

10 Pumpkin
This quaint Philadelphia restaurant is really just part of a larger enterprise including a cafe and a market. The restaurant utilizes fresh local ingredients (resulting in a menu that changes daily) and manages to retain an elegant rusticity mirroring its fresh-from-the-farm dishes. While the menu is subject to frequent updates, diners can expect dishes including Maine scallops in a lemon sauce, sea bream with a cauliflower puree, and pan-roasted Lancaster chicken served with stir-fried greens among other delicious options. Located in Rittenhouse Square, this place is also close to shopping, luxury hotels and pleasant scenery, making your dinner choice perfect for an entire evening out. (215-545-4448)

9 Fond
This contemporary American corner spot on East Passyunk Avenue delivers selections done in top-notch style, like elegantly prepared sea scallops, pork belly, sweet potato green curry soup, seared foie gras and salmon among other choices. The seven course tasting menu is a fantastic option for those not sure what to pick, and offers diners some variety, so they know what to order the next few times they come in. The plentiful bar allows patrons to fulfill their drink preferences, whatever they may be. On weekends, however, they're also free to BYOB. Be sure and make a reservation if you're serious about coming in; Fond is hot. ((215) 551-5000)

8 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. Chef Lawlor has capitalized on the fact that his location is not far from the fish of the Atlantic Ocean, yet also nearby to the farms and fresh ingredients of places like Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Through his combinations of the finest local produce, meats, cheeses, fish, poultry and other staples, come some of the best dishes this city has to offer. Dinner has never tasted so good. (2676871555)

7 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. Cuisine choices include a variety of small plate options, raw choices, selections served on toast, as well as a host of exquisite vegetable options. Vernick also excels at its large plate choices, such as grilled black sea bass, pork blade steak and steamed halibut over pea leaves for seafood lovers. Also tempting are their delicious meat portions roasted in the on-site wood fire oven. The lovely open kitchen layout here gives patrons the opportunity to observe their food as it's being prepared. ((267) 639-6644)

6 Bibou
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. Bibou boasts the intimacy of eating in what feels like a friend's home, accompanied by top notch cuisine in a quiet setting fit for a truly special evening out. (215-965-8290)

5 Amada
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. It's food you'll be talking about or a long time coming. 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. Good food, superb beverage choices, enough for a group of you, and meal choices you'll rave over makes this place top notch. (215-625-2450)

4 Fogo De Chao
The story of Fogo de Ch�o� began in the mountainous countryside of Rio Grande do Sul in Southern Brazil, where its founders were born. Dining is a little different in a churrascaria but don't worry! The servers explain how everything works. You can choose from pecanha, a prime cut of sirloin or Beef Ancho which is a prime part of a ribeye. This has amazing flavor and is one of the most popular cuts at the restaurant. Side dishes include warm cheese bread and mashed potatoes. ((215) 636-9700)

3 Zahav
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)

2 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)

1 Vedge
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. Housed in a cute, old Victorian rowhome, this restaurant is attractive as well as convenient. Delicious, creatively-presented vegetarian food in a beautiful setting near Center City always puts Vedge at the top of our restaurant list. ((215) 320-7500)


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Maps and Directions

1
Pumpkin 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Neighborhood: SOUTH STREET
COST: $$
2
Fond 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Ethnic
Dining Options: Chef's Table, Non-Smoking
Neighborhood: South Philly
COST: $$$
3
The Farm and Fisherman 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
COST: $$$
4
Vernick Food & Drink 10Best List Arrow
Neighborhood: Rittenhouse Square
5
Bibou 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Chef's Table, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Cuisine: European, French
Neighborhood: South Philly
COST: $$
6
Amada 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Dancing, Delivery, Disabled Accessible, Group Friendly, Live Music, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Cuisine: European, Spanish
Neighborhood: Old City
COST: $$$
7
Fogo De Chao 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Brazilian, Latin
Dining Options: Group Friendly
Neighborhood: Center City
8
Zahav 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Chef's Table, Counter Seating, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Neighborhood: Old City
COST: $$$
9
Vetri Ristorante 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Center City
COST: $$$$
10
Vedge 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, French, Vegetarian
Neighborhood: Center City