My husband and I are coming to Philly for a weekend late May. We'll be there from lunchtime Friday through lunchtime Sunday. First trip there.
Any suggestions of must-try dining experiences - looking for anything from cheese steaks to posh dinners.
Also, love to hear about any good happy hours.
Reading Terminal Market is always a must-see. http://www.readintermainlmarket.org Best bets are the pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place, the roast pork sandwiches with provolone and garlicky rabe at DiNic's, and the soft Amish pretzel's at Miller's Twist (all closed Sunday). The roast pork sandwich is the "local" version of the cheesesteak...a lot of people like it more.
Also, be sure to get gelato at one of the Capogiro locations. As far as dinners, what type of cuisine are you looking for...
10 Arts is nothing special, I wouldn't bother with it unless you are staying in that hotel and really, really don't want to walk anywhere. If you're staying in Center City, and don't mind spending the money, Vetri is there and your trip is still far enough in the future that you could probably get a reservation. It's expensive though, my wife and I spent over $300 on our recent (and only) visit.
My favorite restaurants in the city right now are Ansill, Zahav, Kanella, Cochon, and Osteria (Marc Vetri's other restaurant). All of them with the possible exception of Osteria are walkable from Center City or Old City.
There are tons of great places in Philly, but what constitutes "must eats" really depends on your tastes and what you're looking for.
Some might argue, for instance, that it's a "must" to go to one of the Steven Starr joints--even if the atmosphere generally trumps the food (though Barclay Prime may in fact be the best steak joint in town? Haven't been myself, but have heard as much). Morimoto's, El Vez, Tangerine (though personally I was not that overwhelmed there on my last visit)...worth considering though. Continental can be fun for interesting drinks and maybe a light bite.
Second the rec for a stop by Reading Terminal Market, if you're in the area and just in the mood to "graze" for a while.
Philly is also known for our BYOBs and there are a great many outstanding ones if you're into creative cooking and saving a bit on the bar bill. I'd put Matyson at the top of the list personally, though I also greatly enjoy Mercato and Melograno and there are a lot of great Italian BYOBs all over the place.
Brunch at LaCroix is supposed to be amazing. Never done it myself. I had a divine lunch at Le Bec Fin once and my fiance keeps promising me dinner there one of these nights--and I figure we should do it sooner rather than later if the talk that it may soon/eventually close due to the changing of the times in Philly are true.
Hey sockii, you may want to consider dinner at Le Bar Lyonnais (downstairs) rather than Le Bec-Fin (upstairs), the food comes out of the Le Bec kitchen but is much more reasonably priced. I recently tried Le Bar for the first time and was impressed for the price (though the wine list is still pricey and the atmosphere is kind of dated).
For Happy Hours I would suggest searching this board for Northern Liberties locations, esp if you are staying on the east side of center city (Old City). Some places are N. 3rd, Standard Tap, Bar ferdinand, etc. Many of these places are great for a low key dinner - Phila is very into the gastropub. In May with any luck you'd be able to walk around Northern Liberties and try a little of everything - it is basically a square 1/2 mile
While mentioned in this posting, the restaurants that define the best IMHO in Philadelphia are Vetri, perhaps the best Italian restaurant in the country and Le Bec Fin, go while George is still doing stuff. Yes expensive but if l were lucky enough for a 30th birthday again it would be to one of those two. For simple, reading terminal market really has a lot of first class stuff at very inexpensive prices. Also not mentioned Philadelphia has an excellent Chinatown, and Lee How Fook on 11th and Cherry would be representative as well. Many things keep opening and, of course, closing, but those l just listed have stood the test of time and are all excellent.
If you are staying in the historic district all of the following are within walking distance:
Romantic dinner spots:
Amada - Jose Garces first spot and still my favorite. Tapas bar, killer sangria.
Vetri - One of the best if not the best restaurant in the city. Very romantic, a pricey and worth it.
Ansill - Interesting small plates, great happy hour deals.
Southwark - Local/Seasonal - May would be a great time to go. Amazing bar program. Romantic patio, if it is warm enough to sit outside.
Chick's - Tiny bar, great bar tender, small plates, cheeses, charcuterie. Dark and romantic
Royal Tavern - Good example of a philly gastropub, interesting local beers, well executed bar food.
Eulogy - for 100's of beers and mussels. The beer and mussel thing is big in town.
Lunch and/or brunch
Sarcone's - A must - hole in the wall sandwich place and the beginning of the Italian Market.
Sabrina's - Very long lines, huge menu. Put your name in, walk around the Italian Market, grab a coffee, check out the offerings.
Reading Terminal Market - As some one mentioned before - great breakfast places, John's Roast Pork, Amish Pretzel and a great place to stock up for the drive, flight, train ride etc back.
Something a little different:
Horizon's - Vegan. Very, very good vegan.
There are also tons of great ethic stops around this area of town - mexican, vietnamese etc.
And of course - Capogiro!