Visiting Philadelphia - Recommendations for Dining Alone, Great Food and Drink?
I will be visiting Philadelphia for the first time in late April. I am traveling with my boyfriend who is there for work, and he will have work dinners every night, so I'll be on my own. I am looking for places where I will feel comfortable on my own, can get a great cocktail or maybe wine flights, small plates preferably so I can try a few different things. I'm in my early 30s and like a lively atmosphere. Nothing fancy, but nice. I don't necessarily want ethnic food (no Asian, Mexican, Indian), but something French or American Continental or Italian would be good. I am also looking for the best place to get a philly cheesesteak for lunch (I can do a search of these boards, so don't worry so much about this). We are staying at the Sheraton City Center hotel, and preferably I'd like something within walking distance, but taking a cab would be fine too.
How many nights will you be here? You can eat alone comfortably at the bar at a number of nice places within walking distance:
Village Whiskey and/or Tinto: next door to each other 20th and Sansom, they're both Iron Chef Jose Garces' places. Tinto is a wine bar and is bigger, you'll have better luck sitting at the bar there than at VW, which is smaller, newer, and hotter right now than Tinto and hard to get into. If you're alone though, it's obviously much easier to squeeze into a bar seat than if you're with a group. No matter which one you choose (both would be fine!), skip dessert there and cross the street to Capogiro for the best gelato in the city (or many other cities).
Sansom Street Oyster House: They have a nice big bar and one of the best bartenders in the city, Katie Loeb. If you like oysters, obviously that's a big bonus but the rest of the menu is pretty good too. It's more of a beer and cocktail place than a wine place.
Le Bar Lyonnais: Downstairs from Le Bec-Fin, the food comes out of the same kitchen but costs a fraction of the price in a more comfortable (if a bit dated) atmosphere. May still be a little too fancy.
A little further away, but still walkable, are Fish, Pub and Kitchen, and Meritage, all good, all with bars at which you can order the full menu.
If you don't mind taking a cab, I'd add Zahav to the list, the bar there is not as comfortable a space as some of the others but the food is fantastic. Maybe Southwark too, they make great cocktails and the food is very good New American.
Buckethead gave you a great start. Another place you might think about is Tria on 18th and Sansom. It is a beer and wine bar, always fun and lively. For food, they have a wide selection of cheeses and small plates you could easily make a meal of.
By the way, everything we are suggesting is a bit far away. There is nothing too good in the immediate vicinity of your hotel. You pretty much have to head south of Market to get to the good stuff. It's a longish walk or a very short cab ride.
Might want to check out Cichetteria 19 just off Rittenhouse Square; they do a happy hour wine flight and small plate sampling for $19, and I could see dining at the bar or front bar-type tables fine for a single diner.
Second many of Buckethead's recommendations as well. 20th Street is turning into a nice foodie strip from Chestnut Street down towards Lombard, so it could be worth a stroll for various drinks and light bites in a number of venues that can work for single diners.
Amis is a bit farther a way but has great small plates of Roman-style Italian and a nice bar area for enjoying them.