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Favorite places for 1

I planned to come from Chicago to a conference next weekend and just found out the conference was cancelled. I had a non-refundable air ticket so I decided just go anyway and enjoy the time away by myself. I'm staying downtown but willing to venture out within reason.

So where's a place that's happening but not too packed where I (a 33 year old city-living mom who used to be cool not all that long ago) can sit at the bar enjoying elevated food, craft beers or boutique wines in an interesting neighborhood?

Would love all suggestions as I've never been to Phily before-- also any recommendations for what to do on Saturday morning!


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  1. How many meals will you be here for?

    In Center City, I'd sit at the bar at Vedge for dinner, it's one of the city's best restaurants, the bar area is very nice, you can order the full menu there, and it's something unique to Philly. You should also pop in to a Capogiro for gelato at some point, there's one at 13th and Sansom (close to Vedge but I'd recommend getting dessert at Vedge), and one at 20th and Sansom. I like the flavors at the 20th St. location more. Avoid the Capogiro "scoop shop" on East Passyunk Ave.

    Almost every good restaurant in Philly that serves alchohol will have some decent beers on draft, Philly is a great beer town. Boutique wines, not so much. All wine sold in the state is sold by the state's cartel, the PA Liquor Control Board. There are definitely places in the city that have excellent wine lists but not like you're used to.

    If cocktails interest you at all, I'd recommend checking out Hop Sing Laundromat, it's near the convention center.

    1. I'd like to recommend the French BYOB bistro Bibou. A cozy space with great ambiance. Fantastic food. Very nice owner/host team. Take with you your favorite wine and settle down for a joyful meal.

      For Saturday morning, the Barnes Foundation opens at 9 AM. It's a must see.

      Hope you have fun during your stay in Philadelphia. It's a place I love and am proud to call home.

      2 Replies
      1. re: borntolovefood

        Bibou is great but it's booked next weekend (even the counter seats).

        1. re: Buckethead

          Keep trying. And follow them on Twitter. They often post mid-day when a table becomes available. The best.

      2. It's not Center City but a very short cab ride away would be South Philly Tap Room. Great craft beer selection and interesting and delicious food. Memphis Taproom is just as good for both as well. If there are certain beers you're interested in trying check out Phillytapfinder.com and guide yourself that way as well. Enjoy.

        1. All good recs so far. I'd add Zahav too, they have a bar area and an interesting list of Israeli and other mid-east wines. The food is fantastic, you could do dinner or just snacks as the menu is small plates.

          For beer, Buckethead is right that it's harder to find bars without good beers than those with. But even given that Khyber Pass Pub has one of the best tap and bottle lists in the city, and very good Cajun-style bar food to go with it. It's in Old City so easy to get to.

          The bar at Tria (two locations downtown) is worth a visit too, they have a small but well curated list of wine and beer, plus pretty decent small plates and very good desserts.

          Besides the Barnes, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is also a must see for anyone interested in art.

          1. In addition to the great recs already provided, I would also add Parc in Rittenhouse. Great neighborhood for people watching, nice big bustling bar, good French bistro food and a decent French wine list. There are always lots of solo diners at their huge bar.

            1. I second Parc for dinner or Sunday brunch. And definitely get to Capogiro for gelato! Across the street from Capogiro (13th & Sansom) is Zavino. Small place with awesome little brick oven pizzas and you can sit at the bar. Have fun!

              1. these recs mostly focus on dinner. granted, lunch for 1 is always easier, but for lunch definitely check out reading terminal market (see, pretty much any thread on this board).

                for dinner, i'd probably go with good dog, if i wanted casual. fancier, i'd go with the bar at Amada, or even the sushi bar at morimoto.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bob Loblaw

                  My two favorite places for dining alone are Amis and Osteria. Both places have a nice bar, and Amis also has a counter overlooking the kitchen. I actually find the service from the bartenders often better than the wait staff. Amis is roman oriented food, Osteria more norther italy. Big fan of the vegetable antipasti at Osteria, and the pastas at Amis.

                  1. re: cwdonald

                    I had a solo dining experience at Amis a few weeks ago and posted here on Chow about it under "Amis-An Honest Kitchen". Had a great experience and as you say, the Chef's table/bar overlooking the kitchen was a fun spot. Highly recommended for party of one.

                2. Let me just add Southwark for quality cocktails and good seasonal food - and usually quality conversation at the bar!

                  1. Consider Alla Spina and Route 6 right around the corner from Osteria, young, hip, and good food.
                    Nice and noisy just as a 33 YO would want.

                    1. this sounds like an amazing opportunity to fulfill some food fantasies. ex: 2 dozen oysters at the Sansom Oyster house washed down with a good martini. Regarding what to do in Philly... I would suggest wandering around either old city or the rittenhouse park area soaking up the atmosphere. Philadelphia feels very much like a european city in those areas and is extremely walkable.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: musugu

                        Ambergirl and Lulu said it for me. Parc, a people watching place of hip reknown (noisy however) and Capogiro for gelato. Both winners .
                        Make sure to see the Barnes Museum.

                      2. Thanks so much everyone! These look like exactly what I am looking for. If you need any Chicago recs, I'm your girl!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kellyinchi

                          On Saturday morning head to Reading Terminal Market http://www.readingterminalmarket.org for fabulous food. They are having their Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday which means warm donuts. Lots of food vendors to see along with fabulous food (such as the pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place and the best sandwich in America at DiNic's). No trip to Philly would be complete without a trip to the Market.

                          I'd second the Parc recommendation and would add Tria. It's a wine bar with excellent small plates. Also, Zavino is a good place with pizzas (thin crust mind you) where you can sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine and really piizas (the are not all that big) and small plates (get the short rib if they have it). Amis is also very good.