HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >


One night in Philly - serious foodies, medium budget

The title says it all - can anyone help? I'll be staying in some downtown convention hotel or other but I am willing to grab a taxi somewhere to eat well. My buddy and I are die-hard foodies and don't need to stay on a shoestring budget but can't go for a blowout meal. Last time we were both in Philly for a conference we ate at Bec Fin and it was spectacular but there is no way we can afford to do that this time.

On a related note ... What are the prices like at Bar Lyonnaise?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Please define 'medium budget'. Without knowing exactly what your budget is, my favorite place in the city is Ansill and we usually spend around $100-$110 there for two people (before tip).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      On a side note, Ansill also serves lunch. There is a $15 prix fixe option- 2 courses and a drink or dessert. Menu options outside of the prix fixe hover around the $10 range.

      1. re: jerseytomato

        Thanks - I should have been more specific than 'less than Bec Fin'. I guess I think that something like up to $100 for two, including tax and tip but NOT including the wine (since that depends way more on what and how much you drink than where you drink it), counts as medium budget, roughly. So Ansill looks just about right, price-wise, and thanks for the tip.

    2. Melograno - 20th and Sansom - elegant Italian fare; just re-opened after relocating, but a friend's early report suggests that they've kept their touch.

      Branzino - 17th just north of Spruce - good, if slightly uninspired, Itailan. I'd probably head to Melograno over this.

      Tinto - 20th and Sansom - authentic Spanish tapas, largely Catalonian-inspired. Pricey, so you'd have to eat light. Must have: the squid in its own ink with crab bomba rice.

      Matyson - 19th north of Chestnut - very skillful and pretty creative New American.

      Skip: Buddakan, Parc

      1 Reply
      1. re: coookie

        Little Fish, L'Angolo, Marigold Kitchen.

      2. Oh, I almost forgot: wherever you go, after you're done with dinner head to one of the city's two Capogiro locations for gelato. There's one at 13th and Sansom and one at 20th and Sansom (directly across the street from Tinto).

        1. I'm grateful for all these suggestions so far and will definitely look into them. I'm also interested that no one ran with the Bar Lyonnaise question. Is it out of my price range? Is it not so good?

          10 Replies
          1. re: rebecca.kukla

            Skip Bar Lyonnaise, cramped and there is lots better food for less money. Are you going out on a weeknight or weekend? If weeknight there are lots of special tasting menus at good places. Matyson, has a great Monday - Thursday tasting menu for $45. You can have a great meal at Modo Mio, Loca and Radicchio for peanuts and all are BYO. Go to Apamate or Bar Ferdinand for great tapas. Bar Ferdinand has paella on weeknights. We had a great meal at Distrito which has simply brilliant mexi tapas and real deal margaritas. For great center city Italian try Branzino or Caffe Casta Diva.

            Have a great chow time.

            1. re: rebecca.kukla

              I guess it depends on what you are looking for. Bar Lyonnaise is wonderful. I expected Mr Pickles to respond to your request. He is the Le Bec Fin "expert" on the board (Check out his post about kidneys at Le Bec). Also, Le Bec Fin has gone more casual and given up its Michelin stars so prices are reduced there and the food remains excellent by most reviews (I haven't been yet)

              1. re: Bigley9

                I'm going on a Sunday - i.e. the worst of both worlds - no special weekday deals and often the best chef's night off.

                But that's great info about the weekday tasting menu. I'm actually in Philly for 3 nights so will be able to use more than one of these recs - it's just that Sunday night is the dinner with my foodie friend.

                I didn't know that about LBF giving up the stars and going casual ... interesting!

                1. re: rebecca.kukla

                  Ansill for sure, rock shrimp and another appetizer or two at Morimoto's upstairs lounge, Vetri's Osteria for a pizza or two, octopus, maybe a pasta dish to share...

                  1. re: rebecca.kukla

                    Sunday isn't so bad. Bar Ferdinand, Modo Mio and Loca are all open on Sunday. Osteria is very highly though of by the chows and you actually might be able to get in on a Sunday. Same for tough reservations like Amada.

                    Little Fish has a great special on Sunday. A lot of place not normally byo offer byo on sunday evening.

                    1. re: joluvscards

                      I didn't think Modo Mio was open on Sundays. Is this something new?

                      1. re: JanR

                        i thought it was closed sun & mon.

                    2. re: rebecca.kukla

                      Sunday is Pif night at Ansill (David Ansill's old restaurant Pif, a bow to his loyalists) and you can BYO if you do the "Sunday Supper" menu. Great night to go to Little Fish for thier oh-so cheap fixed price night. Pack your own wine, PA state store system is sad if you are used to a free state

                      1. re: rebecca.kukla

                        I believe I read he will be closing in early November for two weeks to make the decor more modern.

                    3. re: rebecca.kukla

                      Nothing wrong with it, but if you've already been to Le Bec-Fin, then going to Le Bar would be kind of redundant.

                    4. Check out Ariana for something a bit different - it's a great little Afghan restaurant on Chestnut St, entrees in the $12-$15 range.

                      1. They actually now have small plate versions of Le Bec-Fin entrees at Le Bar Lyonnais for about $8 to $12 each, depending on what you get. I find that 2 to 3 small plates with a couple of glasses of wine are plenty. That would get you in your price range of $100 to $110 for two people. Alternatively, there are some outstanding items that are very reasonably priced, like the quenelle de brochet (pike dumplings in lobster sherry cream sauce) for $17, steak tartare for $18, mussels with saffron cream sauce and chorizo for $11 (there are enough mussels to make a meal out of it), and Salade Lyonnais for $14.

                        That being said, if you're looking for a typical 3 or 4 course meal with full portion sizes and 3 glasses of wine, you will not be able to stay within your desired budget at Le Bar Lyonnais.

                        Furthermore, as someone else has mentioned, if you've been to Le Bec-Fin, Le Bar Lyonnais is a redundant experience. The food is prepared in the same kitchen by the same chefs so you won't experience anything different from what you have had before.

                        By the way, I heard from Chef Perrier that the renovations are most likely going to be pushed back to January 2009 because demand for reservations is extremely high through New Year's.

                        Le Bec was required to give up its stars because whenever a change in restaurant concept is made after the reviews have been completed, the restaurant can't keep the stars. The simple act of changing from prix fixe only to a la carte necessitated giving up the stars.

                        But I digress. If you're looking for a BYOB, I'd suggest Cochon, Lolita, Matyson, or Caffe Casta Diva. Cochon's location is sort of irritating due to lack of parking, but the food is quite good. For non-BYOBs, I'd suggest Zahav and Ansill.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Mr_Pickles

                          In the face of this overwhelming list of recommendations I could clearly eat well for at least two weeks ... However, for the curious, after reading messages and looking at online menus and reviews, it looks like we will eat dinner at Osteria, and also sneak in the $15 lunch at Ansill. I'll try to hit as many of these other places as I can during my trip...

                          1. re: rebecca.kukla

                            I would submit that you might want to consider Horizons- amazing vegan cuisine in a comfortable, slightly upscale setting. There's really nothing else like it- not in SF, not in NYC, and as foodies, take note.