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Casual Dinner in Downtown Philly?

I'm going to downtown Philly next week for some meetings - I'm planning to take the train to 16th and JFK (Suburban station) and walk from there. I'm new to the area and I haven't been downtown yet. I was hoping to have dinner nearby, before taking the train home to the 'burbs.

I checked the online yellow pages to see what was nearby, but there are so many restaurants in the area, I'm not sure where to start. I was hoping to find someplace fairly casual, where I could eat early (I don't know when I'll be done for the day, but probably about 5 pm, or perhaps even earlier) and where I can eat alone without being stuck at a noisy bar.

Any suggestions? I checked the archives, but all the neighborhood names are confusing for a newbie.


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  1. Bliss on Broad & Walnut is one possibility.
    Casta Diva for good Italian food at 220 S. 20th (at Locust St)
    Also Branzino.
    You can google menus.

    1 Reply
    1. re: idia

      Excellent suggestions. I love Caffe Casta Diva and Branzino and have heard good things about Bliss. The entrees there are around $15-25. Depending upon how casual you want to go there are some other great options that are much more casual and inexpensive - Good Dog, Devil's Alley, The Continental or Monk's.

    2. give mission grill at 19th and arch a shot...you'll be plesantly suprised

      5 Replies
          1. re: joluvscards

            No, it's not. The best thing about it is the view, they have a patio bar on the second floor that overlooks the park there. The food is below average. If someone lives in the city and loves Mexican, I probably still wouldn't recommend they try it, but I especially wouldn't recommend it to the OP, who is going to be in town for only one meal. There are too many excellent places nearby.

            1. re: Buckethead

              i think you are refering to Mexican Post, my friend...Mission grill doesn't have a patio that overlooks the park....get you facts straight before you bash a good restaurant

              1. re: EastCoastWineMan

                I may be mistaken about the patio, but not the food. Mexican Post is slightly better food-wise than the Mission Grill, but I wouldn't recommend either of them for dinner, especially not for someone like the OP who apparently doesn't live in Philly and doesn't get to eat here that often. There are too many great places nearby. Of course, that's just my opinion.

      1. If you look online (or in a bookstore, if you're in the area) at Philadelphia Magazine's restaurant listings for Center City, west of Broad, and perhaps more specifically the Rittenhouse Square area, you'll have a good selection from which to choose. You don't say in which direction from Suburban Station you'll be walking. Honestly, it's been several years since I supped in Center City, so I can't recommend anyplace off the top of my head.

        1. what's the name of that korean place on chestnut somewhere near 18th-20th? they are fun.

          i also like the felafel at mama's on 20th just below market

          and tria at 18th and sansom (upscale, but still casual enough) has great wines, cheeses, beers, and mini plates

          then you can get dessert (gelato) at capogiro, 20th and sansom. have fun!

          1 Reply
          1. re: rabidog

            Miran is the Korean place on Chestnut. I looove their dol sot bibimbap and the waitstaff is super friendly.

          2. Tria would be fine (the 12th/Spruce location is probably your best bet--5 +/- blocks from Suburban). You can sample several items without breaking the bank, and I've been there in jeans before with no issues.

            Branzino is a good choice.

            Wouldn't do Bliss--service and food can be spotty.

            Estia at Broad/Sansom? is a decent Greek choice, though service can be sometimes spotty, as well. Better than Bliss, though.

            You could also try the Brasserie Perrier...I've been there dressed casually several times.

            All of the above (and the rest of the suggestions) will be fine for solo casual dining.

            Oh--Good Dog has a great burger. It's at 15th and Locust-ish. Around that area is the Happy Rooster (fairly good food, nice atmosphere if you don't mind dark), too.

            1. For THE best burger in the city, I also support Good Dog. Order it med-rare, and savor the oozing roquefort as you bite into it. It is a dive bar, but that is the lure of it.

              Monk's is also terrific, but be sure to walk directly to the back of the restaurant and have beers and mussels in the small bar-room that is a belgian replica; it is really like you are drinking in an old taproom in Antwerp, with the various tapestries on the walls. Knowledgable barkeeps too and terrific beer options. Go for anything belgian, like the Duvel.

              I also support Caffe Casta Diva, which is what I think one of the BEST Italians in the city. A charming BYO, the owner Stephen Vassaluzzo is the most humble chef I ever met, perhaps b/c he is self-taught. The homemade pastas are terrific (try the gnochhi with seared tuna in a wasabi cream sauce if they are serving it), as is the veal chop (ask the chef to prepare it however he wants to off-menu) and the fish; the homemade gelatos and tiramisu are also terrific.

              The new Tinto is also casual but excellent cuisine from Jose Garces of Amada. Small space, but grab seats at the bar and talk and listen to the server behind the bar - they know what they are serving.

              After Tinto, hit Capogiro for terrific gelato, the best in the city and perhaps region.

              1. Philly has such great food. Like others on this board, I love Tria. It's a more casual place to go. If you're looking to eat at 5pm, the location on 18th and sansom should be fine. What are you in the mood to eat? Dmitri's (Greek) would be great for solo dining (and you could walk through Rittenhouse and shop around on Walnut en route to Dmitri's). My favorite burger place is Vintage (on 13th, btween Chestnut and Walnut) - great for solo eating (and has great wines). Good Dog has great burgers but the music can be really loud. DiBruno brothers also has some good food, if you're not looking for table service. They have very casual dining, on the second floor of their store on 18th and Chestnut. And as a bonus, you can sample cheeses downstairs. Hope this helps. Happy dining!

                2 Replies
                1. re: LilBigEater

                  wait, there's a second tria location?

                  1. re: rabidog

                    Yes. The original is on 18th and Sansom and there is a new one on 12th and Spruce.