One meal in Philadelphia
Well actually 3 (only one dinner) but what would your one dinner be if you could have one in Philly or where would you tell me to go?
I've never been and price isn't really an object as long as it's an excellent meal. I like all kinds of food but I want something interesting/fun.
I also have two lunches and I guess one will have to be a Cheese-steak (I'm obligated right?) and the other one is wide open. Any input on that would be greatly appreciated as well.
Here are my two cents:
My single favorite meal when price is not option: vetri, vetri, vetri.
If, for whatever reason, that doesn't work out, Osteria is another solid option; it's Vetri light (you might call and see if they'll put a tasting menu together for you, if you're into that).
Among chef-focused BYOs, Bibou is probably the best; they will do a 7-course tasting menu for you, and their stemware is great if you'll be bring anything nice. A second pick in this category is Pumpkin; thoughtful, modern cooking at very reasonable prices. Good food and good wine can be had at Fork, and for even cheaper at Meme. Finally, though I haven't been, there's James: some foodies seem to consider it some of the best cooking in the city (it's certainly much lauded, James Beard and such), and they're closing soon, so now's the time to go.
Village Whiskey for lunch: good call.
By your interests, I would recommend Village Whiskey. And here's why...
1. Great (but pricey) whiskey menu, plus great cocktails.
2. Lively and always busy.
3. BEST BURGER I HAVE EVER HAD. Ok, so this isn't a multiple course kind of place, but if you like burgers, you'll get a fantastic one here. Plus, they make amazing pickled veg and the SLY FOX CHEESE SAUCE with the fries is sick.
Just realize that you can't make reservations and the place is tiny. It's better to go here at an odd time.
If I could only have one dinner in Philly, I would have it at Vetri. They recently moved from an a la carte menu to a fixed price menu ($135pp). Wine pairings are available, but not sure about the pricing on that. If you are going to order wine by the bottle there, it can be expensive due to PA liquor laws that require restaurants to pay the same price for wine as I would walking into a (state run) liquor store. The restaurants, in turn, mark up the price accordingly.
You can definitey save on wine costs if you do a BYOB restaurant, but to me, Vetri is one of the finest we have to offer.
There's been a number of open ended threads like this recently. We love helping visitors but our dining scene is large and diverse, and the answers to such questions don't change that much in a few weeks' time.
You'd be best served by checking out the threads below, and browsing the board in general, then coming back with more specific questions and requests:
Too open-ended. Any part of the city you'd like to be in? Any general type of food? There are at least dozens of terrific restaurants. Some of the best are BYOB (b/c of PA's arcane liquor laws). They are small, chef-driven, with excellent food. If cocktails and/or wine (that you don't bring) are important, any particular type of cuisine or atmosphere?
For lunch, a cheesesteak is not required. Instead, go to the Reading Terminal Market for one of Philly's less well-known but much better sandwiches--roast pork w/greens and sharp provolone from Dinic's. Or head to the Italian Market area and get a fantastic sandwich from Paesano's, or head to one of the taquerias down there.
re: Hungryin theBurbs
We will be staying downtown but are willing to take a cab. No general type of food; we are open for just about anything ( I know that makes it difficult but we just want something extraordinary).
I love chef-driven BYOB places. Went to one in Chicago a few weeks ago that was excellent. Cocktails don't really make a difference to us as I pretty much only drink scotch or wine but a good/reasonable wine list would be ideal since we will go through multiple bottles. Tasting menu paired with wine would be great.
Atmosphere: I would like something fun and loud, not stuffy. Cuisine: fine dining but interesting -- that being said if it is something traditional done to perfection I would love to hear about it, it doesn't have to be outside the box that is just usually my preference since I enjoy interesting cuts of meat and vegetables I won't normally have access to.
Thanks for the info on lunch. I have a feeling my wife will demand a cheese-steak but maybe I can work on her...