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Best Dinner in Philadelphia?

My boyfriend and I recently took a trip to New Orleans, and on Wednesday we went to lunch at Commander's Palace. If you're ever down there, it's FABULOUS. However, my boyfriend was sick. I thought he was just hung over, so I made him go, but he was really sick...and now I feel really bad, and want to take him out in Philly to make it up to him.

I was thinking Amada, as we've been there before and he really likes it, but I thought I'd play tourist and ask for recommendations here. I want somewhere delicious more than fancy, but I want it to be an experience...I am going to save up for this to go all out, so cost isn't even an issue! WOW. We like all kinds of food, though I would prefer a non-seafood restaurant.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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  1. Though it is quite fancy but the food is also quite delicious, XIX (Nineteen) is one of our favorite places to dine in Philadelphia for a special ocassion. The room is spectacular, the views are great (ask for a window table) and the food (which is heavy on seafood) is great. But it is quite expensive.

    Otherwise Amada is a very good choice and a very different vibe. If money truly is no object and you are willing to wait a while for a resy, there's always Vetri as well. Wherever you end up enjoy!

    1. Buddakan is definitely an experience with fantastic food.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Pepsichug

        Buddakan is nowhere near the same league as Commander's Palace for service or food.

        1. re: Philly Ray

          It's funny, to me, that Commander's Palace is so completely EXCELLENT yet relatively cheap when compared to menus I've been looking at in Philadelphia. Sigh.

          What is your opinion of Amada? What about Zahav?

          1. re: peachacid

            Amada is very good, Zahav is awesome, one of the best restaurants in the city. You won't need to spend all that much though, they have a great deal for $36 per person that basically gives you all the food you'd want to order. It's not BYO.

            I'd also recommend Ansill and Kanella, both are incredibly delicious and not terribly expensive.

      2. John's Roast Pork for the best food and the best ambiance by far.

        1 Reply
        1. Philly has so many wonderful casual mid-priced places now that we never go for fancy anymore. If I wanted to take someone out for a wow dinner I would go to Matyson for one of their fabulous mid-week $45 tasting menus. Alternatively, the regular menu there is a great choice too.

          For an "Amada style" experience go to Bar Ferdinand for tapas. It doesn't have the hype of an Amada but the food is just as good if not better than Amada.

          For great Italian go to Caffe Casta Diva or Modo Mio. Casta Diva is more upscale. Ask for the table for two in the corner.

          Distrito has great mexican tapas.

          Skip the Starr factories like Buddakan and go someplace where the chef makes a real difference by creating seasonal choices for innovative menus..

          4 Replies
          1. re: joluvscards

            I agree with the post above. You can have a great meal at a reasonably priced byobs. I recommend Matyson, Modo Mio, or Marigold Kitchen. Splurge and buy a great bottle of wine to go with dinner. I even like Lolita for upscale Mexican. Melograno is another great Italian restaurant.

            A friend who went to XIX recently was not blown away by the food. Maybe go for a cocktail before dinner.

            What about Zahav? Not a byob but keeps getting written up.

            1. re: joluvscards

              Seconding the Matyson rec -- it's definitely one of my favorite meals in Philly that doesn't completely destroy the bank balance.

              1. re: sockii

                really? I've never been that impressed by Matyson. Their desserts were great, but as far as food was concerned I have never been blown away. Maybe I'm not ordering the right dishes? My pick for great dinner experiences in Philadelphia have all pretty much been mentioned. Vetri for having the experience of great food and wine (pricey), Amada for the food, and environment, or Ansill for their creative and delicious menu. If you pick any of the above you will not be disappointed.

                1. re: hassan

                  Personal tastes, maybe? I've been to Matyson at least 3-4 times and always had a wonderful meal, and thought the weeknight tasting menus were an especially good deal.

            2. Mr. Martino's in s. philly. BYO. Best date place in the city. enjoy.

              1. Osteria -- great food, not as expensive as Vetri (but not cheap!), outstanding service, lively atmosphere....

                1. For a special occasion, I'd agree with the poster above who suggested XIX at the Bellevue. It's a very special room, the service is wonderful, the food was super...we went there for a family birthday recently and everyone loved it and wanted to go back. I actually think it might be less expensive overall than Amada considering Amada is small plates.

                  1. Wow, 15 replies, and Le Bec Fin is not even mentioned. Love Vetri, but Le Bec is great as well.

                    1. My favorite Philly dinner spots:

                      1) Horizons
                      2) Amada
                      3) Lolita's (BYO tequila; excellent margarita mixes)
                      4) Zahav
                      5) Audrey Claire (BYO)

                      I'll second the Osteria mention, too. None are cheap, but they won't break the bank, either.

                      1. Went to Le Bec Fin again last night on BYO night. Three courses for two people, fabulous food and service, the celeriac puree and creme brulee are worth the trip alone. Total tab with tax and tip for 2 was $145. Will keep going.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          As I think most places listed above are good bets, I'll give you my recs. (the numbers don't signify any rating order)

                          1) The "forgotten one" Meme. This place is period my favorite restaurant in Philly lately. The room, the food, the vibe is for sure different than what anybody else in Philly is doing. And value wise it's unbeatable. There are 2 $6 glasses of wine (one white, one red) and bottles start at $29 and they are great wines. You aren't finding value like that anywhere. Entrees topping out at $25. Most are under.

                          2) Vetri, of course a little more on the occasion side, but THE best restaurant in Philly bar none.

                          3) Zahav is awesome and just like Meme they are doing food no one else in the city is doing. Even more so than Meme actually with the different thing (Israeli) not easy to find Israeli in Philly that is that good.

                          4) Noble. I know they are only opening today, but I'd be confident that the James Beard finalist chef there will be putting out top flight food (I've had his food before) The place is straight up awesome inside too.

                          Good luck...

                          1. re: mlpkroffal

                            Did you have his food at blue in lbi? One of my favorite places which sadly I don't think will be open this summer. Sorry to get off track Good Luck Peachacid on finding an amazing place.

                            1. re: AC Captain

                              Although it has only been open for two weeks now, I have already eaten at Noble twice. Two great meals, one of which might have been the best I've had in Philadelphia so far. Bonus: the space Noble is in is just beautiful.

                        2. No one mentioned La Famiglia yet - unbelievable!!!


                          Look at the history page.

                          1. Amada is really good. 2nd best restaurant I've eaten at in Philly.
                            The best - by far - was Morimoto, but if you want non-seafood, that's out.
                            I ate at Zahav once - not on my own dime. I liked it, but woldn't put it in the same league.Others seem to like it a lot more than I do.

                            1. We had a fantastic meal at Tinto. I think tapas places are best with a crowd of at least 4 or 5. That said, the food is exquisite and worth every penny. It was interesting to see how my hometown has become a foodie heaven.. a bit late for me, but we had 3 great dinners.

                              1. Little Fish. Marigold is a pretty close second, and is southern, so may fit with the New Orleans thing.