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Coming to Philly for one night from NYC and want to eat something/somewhere awesome

I am coming into Philly with my sisters and brother in-laws. We all love good cocktails, good wine, and good food. We aren't looking for something super pricey, just somewhere to have a great dinner for 5 people. We love pretty much all cuisines and are open to anything - just don't want tourist trap or swanky. Somewhere that you shouldn't leave Philly without trying.

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  1. I would recommend Amada. It is Spanish tapas by Jose Garces (an Iron Chef on Food Network). If you really want to do something special, pre order the roasted suckling pig.

    http://www.amadarestaurant.com/

    21 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      I love Amada. I'd also suggest Zahav and Tinto. They are all a bit "swanky" I would say, but not in a trendy, style-over-substance way. At all three I highly recommend the tasting menus.

      If you go to Tinto, I'd drink wine there but get cocktails at the nearby Ranstead Room or Franklin Mortgage & Investment.

      1. re: barryg

        thanks for the suggestions! they all look great. anything more casual that you would recommend?

        1. re: annick

          Modo Mio. BYOB $10 cab from CC. Sicilian or Peter McAndrews' other restaurant Monsu again, a $10 cab from CC. Casual , fun, great food, inexpensive. Not a Garces fan as his food is quite salty and that is a dealbreaker for me, Zahav's famed lamb shoulder was very salty the last time as well.

          1. re: annick

            Zahav is the most casual of that bunch and also my favorite restaurant in the city, I'd recommend you go there and get the "Taste of Zahav" prix-fixe. Especially because you say you want "somewhere that you shouldn't leave Philly without trying", and while Amada and Tinto are excellent, you have places serving similar food in NYC. But I'm pretty sure you don't have anything like Zahav.

            I wouldn't call any of the three "swanky".

            1. re: annick

              Great suggestions from barryg and bhead. I guess "swanky" is a definition/opinion thing. Based on dress I would consider all those mentioned as nice casual and often times just casual! Great food, friendly attentive staffs, nice venues and good food fun. Also the thought of a stop for cocktails at the two premier cocktails spots in the city would be fun. Taste of Zahav is an excellent selection per bhead. If choosing Zahav the two cocktail places mentioned would probably required a cab one way or the other: the good news is the cocktails at Zahav are excellent and the bar is fun prior to being seated. Enjoy eating Philly!

              1. re: Bacchus101

                For cocktails, Southwark and even Chick's are not too far from Zahav, walking distance for the able bodied on a nice day. Zahav has an interesting wine list, with the Israeli selections.

                The restaurants mentioned are casual, but definitely have put a lot of thought into design, presentation, service and PR--that's what I meant by "swanky."

                Modo Mio is a fantastic place to go with 5 people if BYOB is ok, possibly the best value in the city and tons of fun.

                Deluca, surprised you would be turned off by the salt at the Garces places and Zahav but be ok with Modo Mio. I find them to be heavy on the salt as well (which doesn't bother me).

                1. re: barryg

                  Never bothers me there, maybe Peter knows me and lowers my salt

                  1. re: barryg

                    No surprise that I have heard nothing regarding Southwark previous to your post, barryg. Is there a cocktail which you find special or do they have some special mixing, fresh fruit, high quality ingredients and/or large portions of potions? tks.

                    1. re: Bacchus101

                      I get a Manhattan or Old Fashioned there. They have other specialty cocktails but lean towards the classics done well. Don't think they do much with fresh fruit but the portions tend be large; they serve the up drinks with the shaker so it feels like drinking closer to 1.5 drinks.

                    2. re: barryg

                      From Zahav I'd just as soon walk to Kennett for drinks - closer than Chick's (although Chick's is wonderful). Kennett has a deep wine and local beer list, plus an extensive cocktail lineup. Lovely place with tasty food too, but it's worth a stop just for the bar.

                      1. re: malkazanie

                        I have GOT to get to Kennett - I live 2 blocks away and can't seem to get there!

                        1. re: Bigley9

                          The food is great there. I loved the porchetta pizza and burger. Now it sounds like I need to try the cocktails.

                          1. re: barryg

                            My cocktail was not out of this world at Kennett, but the special pizza of the night with ramps, dandelion greens, and lamb meatballs was absolutely incredible.

                            1. re: urbanfabric

                              Wow... might be time to call an audible on tonight's dinner plans :D

                  2. re: annick

                    I would suggest the Oyster House. In my opinion they are pouring some of the best cocktails in the city, and the fresh oysters are really good. To me this is as close to an "institution" restauirant with roots in the city that we have today. The other place to have fantastic fish is... Fish. Lots of praise for their skate with truffled spaetzel.

                    You might also consider Noble (new american), Village Whiskey (expect a long wait, casual bar great burgers,) and Dandelion for an english like pub experience. All of these are a little more casual than Amada and Tinto.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      Had dinner at Noble on Saturday night. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't good enough to go back with all the great choices we have in Philly. Am having lunch at Dandelion tomorrow for the second time. Can highly recommend it for the food, service and atmosphere.

                      1. re: asmith

                        What did you eat at Noble. I have eaten there a few times and thought it was ok. Star at Noble are the cocktails. Also, I think Noble may be a place that does better when there are fresh local ingredients available.

                        I am very surprised at all the buzz Dandelion is getting. Mind you I have only been twice, but the roast wasnt as good as my mothers, the yorkshire pudding was more like a popover. The beer selection is nice, but thats not enough of a reason to go there.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          I'd agree - I loved the cocktails I had at Noble but was much less than overwhelmed by the food. Except for one of my sides. I'd go to drink at the bar and maybe eat a light snack there but would not go back for dinner.

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            I haven't done the Sunday roast dinner at The Dandelion. Just had lunch. Burger and fries were amazing, as was the Sticky Toffee Pudding. I love the look and feel too.

                            At Noble I had the hanger steak and my husband had the pork chop special. Just average.

                2. I think Adsum is a slightly more casual choice than Amada or Zahav. Good cocktails and interesting, tasty food.

                  Also, Amis, Vetri's newest and most casual spot. Cocktails, wine, and fantastic food.

                  1. I'll add Kanella - BYO though

                    1. I think there's something to be said for BYO--it's the quintessential Philly restaurant experience. You save a phenomenal amount of money by bringing your own wine in this city (liquor licenses are extortionate), which allows you to spend relatively more on food. And you can't go wrong bringing your favorite bottles.

                      For my money, the most unmissable BYO--perhaps the city's favorite restaurant, currently--is Bibou, a cute little French joint run by a husband and wife duo (as many in the city are) serving serious bistro fare at very reasonable prices. But reservations can be hard to come by.

                      1. How do all of these recs stack up against Matysons?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: lmcsherr

                          i like matyson a lot- i always forget about it but would recommend over adsum, kanella and bibou (which is excellent but located in a less convenient area and hard to get reservations)

                          1. re: lmcsherr

                            I would prefer Matyson to many of the places mentioned.
                            First of all, not everyone enjoys tapas/small plates.
                            Also, some places have a limited menu. Bibou, which we love, definitely has a limited menu and is not for everyone.
                            But it sounds like this poster doesn't want byob, so Matyson wouldn't be the answer.

                            1. re: sylviag

                              Second the Matyson recommendation. There is always Meritage and Melagrano too. The 3 M's, though BYO wasn't preferred.

                            2. re: lmcsherr

                              I LOVE Matyson. Great BYOB, Philadelphia experience. Good whether you order one of their weeknight tasting menus or regular and their is a wine store very close by.

                              For BYOB Italian Salento knocked my socks off and it's a bit off the radar...but just about the closest I've had to Italian food really from Italy in the city. Melograno is awesome as well.

                              1. re: lmcsherr

                                I wasn't a huge Matyson fan after my one visit--nothing wowed us, though nothing was bad (I should mention, though, that I developed the flu that night and threw up in the dining room; my judgment is not to be trusted).

                                On another note--has Meme come up yet? It seems to offer the perfect compromise: very solid, simple food and a cosy BYO vibe, but also a killer little wine list.