Two meals, skip the pretense
Hi all! What a great group of commentators on this board.
My wife and I will be in Philly for two dinners in what is essentially a birthday getaway for my better half. I'd love to get your take on where we should go.
We're staying in Society Hill but have a car and don't mind a bit of an adventure, although there does seem to be many good places right downtown.
We both love good food, with particular hankerings for high-quality ingredients inventively prepared. We tend to go the fish and veggie route but neither of us say no to red meat on occasion. We generally veer toward lighter, New American and Asian preparations as opposed to heavy, classically European dishes.
The one thing that we don't like is stuffy, overly formal atmospheres and we certainly aren't interested in paying extra for exclusivity. We prefer livelier places where the emphasis is on the food and not on the pomp. We'd also prefer something that is either unique to Philly or originated in Philly.
A few places mentioned on this board already have caught my eye. But I think I'll hold off on mention those and just see what people offer.
You would probably like Littlefish in Bella Vista. Excellent fish preparation in tiny byob. It's only slightly fancier than when it was at its original place (a block away).
Based on what you say, I'd put Zahav in the number one spot. It's right in Society Hill, has the exact atmosphere you describe, great drinks and inventive, delicious food. It's Israeli-influenced but really takes it to a higher level. While there are heavier things on the menu, it is perfectly easy to make it light, with lots of fish and veggie options (it's my go-to when dining w/vegetarians). The Tayim tasting menu is perfect.
You are a perfect candidate for our chef-driven BYOBs. Little Fish is good, check out Kanella (Cypriot/Greek food), Russet and Meme too. Meme has as liquor license but is still a cozy one room chef-owned restaurant with a relaxed vibe. On the richer side of BYOB are Bibou and Fond.
Zahav is excellent too.
BTW some of these places might be a little far to walk from your hotel but take a cab, don't drive.
These all sound wonderful! The Googling and discussion has begun. BTW, hope I didn't come across in anyway as judgmental with the "no pomp" request. I'm certainly not against nice and not against spending some money, but, yes, I am definitely more interested in the chef-driven experience. Thanks so much again. Open to more if others have them.