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Where should we go for a GREAT dinner to impress someone on their first Philly visit?

Hi! So my boyfriend and I are coming to Philly in a couple weeks. I grew up there, but my family moved away when I was in college so I feel out of the loop on the restaurant scene. I want my bf to understand how awesome and cool and sophisticated the restaurant scene is there--any suggestions for a special, cute, not super fancy/stuffy Philly dinner? We're happy to spend money on a great meal, expensive isn't a problem, but we're probably more interested in a cool funky interesting place than like something old and very stiff. Only thing we don't really eat are steakhouses or seafood.

We love walking and will be in Center City so we'll go anywhere. Thank you in advance for any suggestions! I know this is kind of a common question so I really appreciate it.

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  1. Zahav, Bibou, Vernick, Fork come to mind.

    2 Replies
    1. re: barryg

      That's a good list, I'd add Vedge to it. If you're coming in a couple weeks, Bibou may not be an option, it's very small and books up quick. If you're into cocktails at all, I'd also try to get pre- or post-dinner drinks at Hop Sing Laundromat.

      1. re: Buckethead

        Mesibah at Zahav. Casual, unpretentious, but great food.

    2. I suggest Vernick, but reserve NOW. I think it has the vibe you want, and the food is terrific.

      If you weren't in Center City, I would also suggest Fond, but that's a drive away.

      1. Many really great suggestion from which to choose. I would add a word of caution regarding Vedge, lovely place, friendly service, the food is vegan and relatively pricey for small plates. For cocktails in addition to Hop Sing Laundromat you may also enjoy Franklin Mortgage or the speak easy atmosphere of Ranstead Room. My choices for dinner would be Zahav, Bibou, Vernick in that order or Amada which is quite lively with interesting small plates and a popular bar.

        1. I'd also go with Amada. I know a lot of people love Zahave but I find their food to be uneven. Amada has always been consistently good and the variety also appeals.

          1. Can't go wrong with:

            Fork:
            306 Market St
            Philadelphia, PA 19106
            Neighborhood: Old City
            (215) 625-9425
            http://www.forkrestaurant.com

            The Farm & Fisherman (this is BYOB):
            1120 Pine St
            Philadelphia, PA 19107
            Neighborhood: Washington Square West
            (267) 687-1555
            http://www.thefarmandfisherman.com

            4 Replies
              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                While I adore Fork, I must say, F&F was one of the most disappointing meals I've had since moving to Philadelphia a year ago. While the flavour of the food was mediocre to good, the service was quite poor, including cold food, water spilt on my head with a cursory apology, and clearing our half finished wine glasses without apology.

                1. re: sueyee

                  I'm sorry to hear that, but you should really give them a second chance. Everyone I know thinks it is one of the 2 or 3 best restaurants in Philly.

                  Ask for Judy, she's a doll (wife of the sous chef).

                  1. re: sueyee

                    wow! details on the water spill? i've seen spills on people's clothing - but head? how did that happen? i hope it wasn't a whole pitcher of ice water.