These are the 10 best restaurants in Philadelphia, ranked by local expert – USA Today 10Best

Don’t forget that Philadelphia is about so much more than history. Visit a museum, dine at a good restaurant, explore the outdoor offerings and have a cup of La Colombe coffee.
BY Sharon Nolan
Philadelphia Local Expert
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. Of course there are favorites all over the city, but these offerings promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can’t miss. Interested in an out-of-the-ordinary Italian option? Check out Vetri. Looking for a vegetarian menu? You’ll want to reserve a place at Vedge. Want an upscale seafood option? Vernick Fish fills the bill and your belly. 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.
This Fishtown restaurant has rethought its menu offerings, and now hones in on seafood choices. Focusing on sustainable practices and environmental consciousness, this venue has reemerged as a stellar dining option. Choose from raw selections such as bigeye tuna crude, poached mussels, clams on the half shell, shrimp cocktail and oysters & roe. Fried options include swordfish katsu with cabbage slaw, tonkatsu, garlic mayo and pickled ginger. Pasta, wood-fired, and grilled selections are also available, as well as drinks, desserts and wine by the bottle.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Formerly known for being very meat-forward, the restaurant has emerged in a different direction and offers a seafood experience that deserves tasting.
Sharon’s expert tip: Go for the raw bar on a least on of your visits to see what the fuss is all about.
Read more about Kensington Quarters →
Seasonal, fresh ingredients abound at this Bella Vista gem. The menu changes frequently but you can catch up on the latest offerings via the updated chalkboard menu. Pair the seafood selection that most interests you with the BYOB option of your choice for a great meal that’s not a repeat of things you’ve tasted and dismissed before. Selections here include such options as Ora King Salmon with bbq mustard, corn, porcini and farro; Monkfish accompanied by maitake, yukon, fermented pepper, pork belly, and perilla will make your mouth water. Combine these with a starter or delicious dessert for a meal you’ll swear was delivered by little sea fairies.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A history of half a century doing seafood deliciously yet differently enough of the time, makes this tiny BYOB a sure bet for satisfaction.
Sharon’s expert tip: Don’t sweat the wine you bring. There’s a dish to compliment just about any choice you make at this pretty seafood spot.
Read more about Little Fish →
Fork is an Old City gem that has continually served up seasonal fine dining in a refined and contemporary setting for 25 years. 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 lunch and dinner along with a delicious Sunday brunch you won’t want to miss. The 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. Select from small plates, shared plates, delicious main courses, vegetable options, items for the table and delectable desserts. Stop in to see how this sleek eatery satisfies the palate in an incredibly 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.
Read more about Fork →
South Philly Barbacoa is a wonderful place to satisfy your hunger. Located in a venue that you’d never know was causing such a stir, the restaurant is home to Chef Martinez, an award-winning chef who is also an advocate in the city. She operates her business with a love for what she does, and proves it with the flavorful and filling options available here. Try the pancita, barbacoa or veggie tacos, comsome, or quesadillas, and see how Mexican cuisine is redefined at this little gem of a restaurant. Remember to bring your cash, as credit cards are not part of the simple vibe here.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Come here with friends and order the half kilo, relax and enjoy the results of Chef Martinez’ hard work. Delicious.
Sharon’s expert tip: Be sure to head to this venue early, as it’s quite popular and you’ll want to be sure to get a taste of the barbados you’ve heard so much about. It is also cash only, so come prepared.
Read more about South Philly Barbacoa →
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. 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 city standby that delivers on upscale atmosphere, knowledgeable and capable staff and a dining experience you won’t find anywhere else is a true treat.
Sharon’s expert tip: Don’t go to dinner here with preconceived notions of what you’ll eat. Relax and leave the food choices to the staff who deliver selections that are creative, attractive and delicious.
Read more about Vetri Cucina →
This pretty Rittenhouse Square restaurant elevates your American fare palate to the next level. Currently offering an indulgent eight-course tasting menu in their intimate upstairs dining room, this restaurant will leave you feeling like you’ve had an exquisite, private dining experience. Make reservations for one of their two seating a night and enjoy seasonally inspired dishes culled from locally-available produce, meats, seasonings, and other ingredients combined with loving creativity. Sip a cocktail or glass of wine from their bar and enjoy the upscale yet airy and relaxed environment.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: A restaurant that offers a quaint, attractive atmosphere, elevated dining experience upstairs as well as more relaxed bar downstairs covers all bases.
Sharon’s expert tip: Don’t forget about this restaurant’s downstairs bar, as well as the cocktails they put together here.
Read more about Friday Saturday Sunday →
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.
Read more about Zahav →
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.
Read more about Vedge →
When it comes to seafood options, a fresh take on ingredients, combinations and flavors is a welcomed change. Vernick Fish, located in an airy and open setting on the ground floor of the brand new Comcast building in Center City, delivers on all fronts. Visit this restaurant on your own or combine it with a stay at the Four Seasons located higher up in the building. Choose from raw options, small or large plates, sides, desserts and beverage pairings to complete your dining experience. A high end version of the American oyster bar helmed by chef Greg Vernick, this restaurant is creative, ingredient-driven, attractive and satisfying.
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: Having trouble deciding what to try or what wine to pair with your meal? be sure to ask the knowledgeable staff.
Read more about Vernick Fish →
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 continually works as hard as they do on the dishes included in their tasting menus, you’ll want to treat yourself.
Read more about Laurel →
Sharon is a native to the Philadelphia area, but loves to wander from its familiar borders. She has traveled to more than 30 countries, trekked five continents, ventured out with family,…  More About Sharon

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