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Recommendation for nice, but not too fancy?

My wife and I are coming down from Maine to Philadelphia in 2 weeks and staying two nights. We're looking for a recommendation for a restaurant that has great food and experience, but isn't a place that we'd be out of place if I didn't wear a tie or sportcoat. Many thanks!

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  1. Its summer ... its hot and humid .. and there are no places where jackets are required around here. Can you give us a bit more information as to what kind of food you like or are looking for? Do you have a budget in mind for dinner?

    2 Replies
    1. re: cwdonald

      Thanks for the early response. We'll be staying downtown without a car. Fairly open to types of food, but no French. Budget would be not unlimited, but $200 for the 2 of us wouldn't be out of the question. I suppose what we're mostly looking for is a relatively relaxed, not very stuffy atmosphere.

      1. re: justoneguy

        I like Fitler Dining Room very much. 22nd and Spruce. Relaxed yet very nice atmosphere and very good food.

    2. Philadelphia in the summer months can be quite hot and humid therefore most/many restaurants will not be concerned if one is not wearing a sportcoat and/or a tie. It is the tea shirt and sneakers which might garner negative attention at some of the non-bar spots. You may enjoy Amada for small plates, Zahav for Mediterranean (a national award winner) , the Rittenhouse Tavern with a lovely courtyard, the Oyster House for well you guessed it, Dandelion for British fare, Tria a wine bar with excellent small plates. A spot which gets little love here but my guest always tell me they enjoy is the historic City Tavern, probably best for lunch and/or drinks. Welcome to Philly!

      1 Reply
      1. You do not need a jacket or tie anywhere these days. Most places are very casual. In an upscale place, a shirt with a collar would be acceptable.

        Where will you be staying? Our recommendations vary depending on whether you need to stay in center city or will have a car and don't mind a short drive.

        There are many lovely restaurants with excellent food - give us a little more information.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sylviag

          I replied to cwdonald above, then tried to give the same response to you but it won't let me! So see above... :)

        2. I will mention two of my favorites.
          Greek seafood can be found at Estia across from the Academy of Music.
          A charming French restaurant that will make you feel you are dining in France is Bistrot la Minette.

          1 Reply
          1. Coming from Maine, I would avoid all the fish/seafood places and go for something you can't get there. As others have said, I don't think you will find anything to be too stuffy, and your budget should be ok for most anyplace.

            There are so many different kinds of places with different cuisines, so I'll throw out a bunch of places that have excellent food and a relaxed vibe: Zahav, Vernick, Vedge, Amis, Osteria, Amada, Barbuzzo, Jamonera.

            Some can be tough reservations, so I'd browse some menus and jump on opentable to see what's available during your trip.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

              To follow up on HungryintheBurbs great recommendations

              Zahav- is modern Israeli food. Outstanding lamb shoulder prix fix menu.

              Vedge one of the most upscale vegan restaurants in the country. Great place to visit in the summer when the produce is the freshest.

              Amada, Tinto, Jamonera and Bar Ferdinand are all tapas restaurants.

              Amis, Osteria are italian restaurants from Marc Vetri. The former is known for its pasta, the latter has outstanding wood fired pizza, vegetable ante pasta, and good pastas.

              1. I think the line right now isn't tie/no tie but "are shorts ok?"
                that one, i'll admit, is a bit tricky.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bob Loblaw

                  do you have a law blog too? Pants I am willing to do, it's just the whole tie thing I'm not..

                2. So i think you should go to Vernick or Zahav. Both are fun atmospheres with great cocktails and great food. Zahav has tons of small plates, and you can just sort of let them cook for you. Vernick has many small plates as well as whole birds/fishes/etc simply cooked in a wood burning oven to share. Vernick might be slightly more walkable from where you are staying, but i wouldn't let that stop you. Both are the type of place that if you ever go a second time, they will probably remember your face from the first time, and both are rather unique menus that you can't easily find elsewhere. Make a res soon!

                  1 Reply
                  1. We were visiting Philadelphia from NY a few weeks ago and had a wonderful, wonderful dinner at Devon Seafood Grill. Very lively place where I think anything would go fashion-wise -- and good for a special occasion (my birthday in this instance). We had lovely service, perfect drinks and some of the most skillfully prepared fish that we've had. It is right in Rittenhouse Square. Recommend highly! Also, I signed up for their email list before going and ended up with a $25 off coupon for my birthday -- they have frequent special offers.

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: justoneguy

                        Devon is a chain and nothing really unique to Philly. Also, coming from Maine I think you'd find the food there pretty...pedestrian (mind you, sometimes I like it for a drink at the nice bar and a small plate or two, but I'd definitely not recommend it as destination dining. I've had poorly shucked oysters there, for one.)

                        I would perhaps recommend trying one of our city's wonderful BYOB Italian places...right around Rittenhouse Square there are some excellent ones like Melograno, Branzino, Casta Diva...pick up a bottle at the Wine & Spirits shop at Chestnut & 20th and you can feast like a king for well under $200 for two.

                        Of Marc Vetri's places I am the oddball out that likes Amis better than Osteria...at either place the bill can quickly add up though once you start getting all those small plates and (expensive) wine.

                        There's also Vedge for high-end vegan food that's getting praise all over the place. I sent two out-of-town friends who are vegetarian there a while ago and they couldn't stop raving about it.

                        1. re: sockii

                          If you didn't know Devon has other locations, there's nothing about it that yells "chain". I eat out a couple of nights a week and since I'm a pescatarian, fish is usually on my plate. The guy at the next table over at Devon was having a 2lb lobster ($55) that made me swoon -- he said it was perfectly steamed. Our oysters were pristine. I was hot to try Vernick which really does sound like a unique Philadelphia experience (but no tables available) and certainly I can't profess to be an expert on dining in your city but we were very happy to have ended up where we did. However, I am making note of your recommendations (love BYOB Italian) for our next visit. Cheers!

                    1. If you like wine, then try a BYOB. Bibou is the best, but you didn't want French. Kanella, is Greek/Cypriot that is very casual and very good.

                      Check these out on Yelp for the location, type of food and price. I tend to ignore Yelp ratings.


                      1 Reply
                      1. Just because you are from Maine and a fine seafood center does not mean that you should not consider a true Greek seafood winner -- Estia -- right in the center of Philadelphia across from the famous Academy of Music.