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Looking for a foodie's restaurant in Philly to celebrate my 50th

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We're coming in from MA to meet up with family and celebrate my 50th b-day. There are 13 of us and we're going out on a Friday (seems that our first couple of choices won't take large parties on a Friday night!). Half of us are foodies, one is a chef, and the others just like "American food." We're staying at The Independent. Does anyone have a suggestion?

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  1. Well, not knowing what your first choices were, I'd say maybe Amada, Osteria, or James. None are "american food" per se, but I think they'll accommodate a range in palates. I suspect Lacroix could accommodate you as well. They do lovely group meals.

    Do you have a price range?

    1 Reply
    1. re: urbanfabric

      James has a lovely small room off the main dining room that they do not charge for, it is just first come first serve.

    2. I would go with a Steven Starr restaurant. They are good enough to make the foodies happy, but are very approachable. Since it is a large organization, they are good at handling large parties. I would recommend Continental Mid-Town (tho it gets pretty busy in there at all hours), Alma de Cuba is very good, possibly Jones - El Vez is good on size and approachability, but I wasn't very happy with the food I've had there. He's got tons more...oh and there's a big table at Buddakhan.

      I also think Osteria might be a good choice. The pizzas are delicious - just expect slightly smaller portions with a slightly higher pricetag. Otherwise, that's not a bad idea. I haven't been to Distrito, but that could work too if you look into it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: BelgianBeerMistress

        I agree that upscale Italian, like Osteria, is a good idea as there should be enough options to please the foodies as well as everyone else. Osteria is good for groups, but gets pricey. If South Philly is ok, consider Le Virtu as well.

        The better Starr restaurants might work, but I'd drop Jones and El Vez off the list immediately--the food quality and creativity are not there. I think the foodies would be disappointed. Distrito is great, but small plates restaurants can be a challenge with a mixed group because it's awkward for diners that are used to ordering an entree and are not interested in sharing the more interesting dishes.

        1. re: barryg

          Agree on Jones and El Vez being off the list. Take a look at Starr's Butcher & Singer--great atmosphere and food that should satisfy foodies & non-foodies alike. It should be able to accomodate a group of 13 as well.

          1. re: barryg

            Agreed on all fronts. I would also remove Continental - I find it just as uninteresting as Jones/El Vez.

            Lacroix if price is not an issue.

        2. Avoid Steven Starr places unless you bring ear plugs. I highly recommend Bistro 7 in Old City on 2nd just north of Market. It's not too far from your hotel and it has cutting edge new american by chef/owner. The restaurant is relatively quiet, byo and the service is excellent. It's small so reserve asap.

          1. Roast suckling pig at Amada. It is perfect for a group.

            4 Replies
            1. re: brightman

              I would definitely give consideration to brightman's suggestion. Just know that you ought to call in advance to reserve.

              1. re: ramenbound

                Sorry - I should have mentioned that a reservation is required so they know what size pig to cook.

                1. re: brightman

                  Roast suckling pig? On many (really 3, but I can dream) a trip to Amada we haven't even seen the roast suckling pig. Best for groups you say? I think if I get the left side of the suckling pig and my wife takes the right, we'll be fine. Sounds too good to pass up just cause we don't have a group!

                  1. re: andrewlee

                    You need 4 to order it. Funny thing - I think that Amada Roast Suckling Pig meetups are the most common event posted on this board...