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Philadelphia's hot list: 10Best 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 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.


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Noord Eetcafe


The buzz built for months before this teensy Northern European BYOB opened on East Passyunk, and Chicago chef/owner Joncarl Lachman's house-smoked fish and anise-based sauces certainly don't disappoint now that it's operating and working to please patrons night after night. Lachman adds warmth to his rustic cold-weather seaside dishes by personally greeting guests. Come in and sample this Dutch cuisine and enjoy the white-tableclothed experience, and frequently house-made selections along with your favorite bottle. Reservations are recommended, along with a rich Alsatian or Burgundian white wine to bring out the flavors of your entree best. 1046 Tasker St., 267-909-9704, noordphilly.com

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: For something a little different from the same old cuisine, this place pumps it up a notch with Dutch delights.

Sharon's expert tip: Though seafood dominates the menu, land-lubbers and vegetarians can find solace in dishes like a lamb burger and roasted acorn squash.

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This contemporary American corner spot 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. A 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.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The perfect combination of a stellar staff, superb entree and pastry presentations, excellent food and a full bar makes this a fantastic choice.

Sharon's expert tip: Fond does desserts as well as it does dinner, so save a little room for a true treat from this menu as well.

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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.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Perfect for when you're craving an intimate, upscale experience.

Sharon's expert tip: Arrive early for the chance to savor some of their on-menu bone marrow.

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Res Ipsa


Stop by this great little restaurant during the day and you'll love the simple yet authentic Italian breakfast and lunch options. For a true Italian, this is heaven. When dinnertime rolls around, the place turns into the amazing new place you tell your friends about, but secretly don't want them to go to because it's so good and you want it all to yourself. Try the mushroom caponata with beets, pine nuts and zabaglione, the octopus with cannellini beans, basil and potato or the fazzoletti with preserved citrus, oregano, chili, and bottarga. It's also a BYOB, so don't forget your favorite beverage.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Terrific, satisfying, refined dishes that will delight you no matter what meal you come in to enjoy.

Sharon's expert tip: Try the Chef's tasting menu for a sampling of great options you may not have thought to try, as well as their caviar delivery service.

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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 provide a welcoming setting for couples, families and friends.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Looking for something out of your comfort zone for dinner? This place fits the bill with delicious diversions.

Sharon's expert tip: Plates are sized to be shared; order several and let the tasting begin.

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Fork


Fork is an Old City gem that serves up seasonal fine dining in a refined and contemporary setting. The restaurant attracts a crowd looking for delicious yet edgy ingredient combinations and is especially popular among the millennial crowd. They proudly source many ingredients from local farmers in the surrounding area and serve up dinner seven nights a week along with a delicious Sunday brunch you won't want to miss. Chef Eli Kulp's staff continues to churn out creative, handmade dishes that combine unexpected flavors and ingredients. Many times the evening's entire menu will center around a specific ingredient or item and move creatively from there. Stop in to see how this sleek eatery satisfies the palate in an interesting and creative way.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A delicious New American eatery in Old City where dinner is more than just the same old flavor combinations and the service is impeccable.

Sharon's expert tip: Try something new when you're here, as they pride themselves in continually refining their menu.

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Vernick Food & Drink


Two floors of ingredient-driven cuisine are 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 the delicious meat portions roasted in the on-site wood-fired oven. The lovely open kitchen layout here gives patrons the opportunity to observe their food as it's being prepared.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Vernick consistently delivers creative dishes combined with excellent service and a staff willing to make your night special.

Sharon's expert tip: Make time to have a drink or two before dinner, or try the blueberry pie with gelato for dessert, as diners rave about it.

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Vetri Cucina
Photo courtesy of Vetri


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.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A restaurant run by Mark Vetri and booking months in advance is one you'll certainly want to put on your list to visit.

Sharon's expert tip: If you're not able to score a reservation for Vetri, visit Marc Vetri's more accessible restaurants, Osteria, Amis, Alla Spina and Pizzeria Vetri.

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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.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: When it comes to meatless, Vedge is an incredible place to dine. The food is not ho-hum, but innovative and tasty.

Sharon's expert tip: Be sure not to skip dessert, a Vedge delivers quality and tasty treats all the way to meal's end.

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Laurel


This BYO bistro serves up French-inspired cuisine to South Philadelphia diners looking for a fresh alternative to fine dining. Chef Nicholas Elmi, who has cooked at other top Philadelphia restaurants like Le Bec Fin, fills his menu with just fourteen choices, comprising four courses. Their carefully chosen, intriguing tasting menu is available 5 days a week. With room for just 22 in his eatery, the atmosphere and the experience is both intimate and personal. Whether you're starting out with the melon and yuzu potage, moving on to the arctic char, or digging into the roasted walu, your taste buds will awaken and thank you. End with chef-chosen cheeses and local honey.

Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A small BYOB with expertly-crafted French & American fare fits the bill for delicious dining in anyone's book.

Sharon's expert tip: When a restaurant works as hard as they do on the dishes included in their tasting menus, you'll want to treat yourself.

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