Sis's birthday & I have tix for Girls Night at the Kimmel 5/18. Where to go for dinner or heavy apps & drinks? I'm already in town & Sis will be coming into Market East on the train. She's certainly up for something different, but also likes really great traditional (steaks, Italian....) No BYOB this time -- don't feel like schlepping anything. We'll probably be able to meet up at around 5, 4:30 at the earliest; show time is 7.
I'd go to the Oyster House, some other options include XIX at the Bellevue (they don't open till 530 though) and Le Bar Lyonnais (I think they also open at 530).
There's also the cluster of places in Midtown Village: Sampan, El Vez, Time, Zavino and Vintage. Of all those, I'd pick Zavino (get pasta, their pastas are better than the pizzas) or Time (upscale bar food, much better than I thought it would be). Sampan is decent but there are some stinkers on the menu.
I'd suggest Amis. We did an early reservation for a show at the suzanne roberts theater and it worked out really well. You can get as many or as few small plates to share as you'd like.
Fish at 17th and Lombard has a great happy hour with oysters and apps. You would have to sit at the bar.
I second the Tria rec. Great fun.
One of our favorites near the Kimmel Center is Valanni, on Spruce Street between 12th and 13th.
We were there recently and the food was terrific. They have appetizers, small plates, and regular sized plates. Drinks are always good, and they have a vibrant bar scene.
You are only a block and a half from Kimmel, so it's very convenient. Attractive place.
You can see the menu online.
I wouldn't choose the Oyster House unless you just want to have oysters at the bar.
I thought it was rushed and very noisy, though maybe that early it is okay.
I know you don't want a BYOB but we went to Bindi ('modern Indian') last week before a concert at the Kimmel. It was AMAZING! There were four of us and we shared 4 appetizers and 4 entrees and EVERYTHING was delicious. I think the scallops appetizer was our favorite. If you like lamb, that entree was fabulous and the hanger steak just melted in your mouth. Bindi is about 13th and Chestnut and I'm 90% sure there is a PA Wine store on Chestnut st around 12th so you wouldn't have to schlep the liquor far. Bindi has some mixers on their drinks list intended to be mixed with maybe rum or vodka but we brought wine. I believe we were the only table NOT drinking their mixers. You might want to consider this if you're looking for something different, as you said. I can't wait to go back!