Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >
Sep 24, 2013 03:02 AM

Two nights in Philly. Where to eat?

Hi all,

I'll be flying to the States for a quick business trip in early November. I have 2 nights in Philly. Where would you guys recommend I eat if I want to have some amazing, memorable, special but unpretentious food.

Many thanks,


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Vetri(Italian)
    Bibou/Bistro La Minette(French)
    Estia(Greek Seafood)

    6 Replies
    1. re: arepo

      Thank you so much for the suggestions.

      1. re: aunkoh

        I'd add Zahav and Vernick as possibilities.

      2. re: arepo

        While I certainly agree both Vetri, and Bibou make great food, I would hardly call them unpretentious ... In fact I would go so far as to say they perhaps are the definition of pretentious dining in Center City.

        1. re: cwdonald

          Bibou pretentious? REALLY??? Their rep is the complete opposite of pretentious.

          Just because it's French and Charlotte will kiss you on both cheeks doesn't make it pretentious! ;-)

          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

            Not to mention, compare to what goes for pretentious Italian in NYC or DC, Vetri is pretty non-pretentious too. Now that Le Bec Fin is no more, Philly doesn't really have any seriously pretentious restaurants (maybe The Fountain?, but I haven't been there for dinner).

            We're pretty much amateurs in this regard!

          2. re: cwdonald

            I, too, am surprised that anyone would call Bibou pretentious.

        2. A few additional choices most often considered good.
          Zahav - Israeli- highly touted, friendly, busy
          Dandelion - British- upscale pub
          Parc - French Bistro-on Rittenhouse Sq.-people watching
          Amada -Spanish small plates
          The Oyster House - (not Maine but just in case you need it)
          Osteria/Amis - Italian (popular now, CH's will note others)
          Tria-3locations-Wine,Beer, Small plates-European feel
          Distrito- Mexican in Universtiy City
          Village Whiskey - arguably -The best burger & frieds
          Barbazzo -assorted small plates -very busy place
          Vegg - you guessed it...great bar, nice venue, interesting food

          3 Replies
            1. re: bluehensfan

              Ahh, good point. Two current locations another coming as a Tap room in the near future. Good catch, sorry!

            2. re: Bacchus101

              Thank you so much for the list of recommendations. I really appreciate it.

            3. Can't go wrong with any of these:

              1) Vetri (some consider it the best Italian in the US)
              2) Bibou (tiny French BYOB)
              3) The Farm & Fisherman (farm-to-table BYOB, my vote for best restaurant in Philly)
              4) Zahav (modern Israeli, James Beard winning chef)
              5) Vedge (some consider it the best vegan restaurant in the US)
              6) Serpico (James Beard winning ex-chef at 2-star Momofuko Ko)

              All of these are popular and you'll want to make reservations in advance, but the only one that's actually a bit hard to get a good reservation for is Bibou, so email them a couple of months in advance.

              18 Replies
              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                Thanks. All of these sound just like what I'd love to try (well, maybe except Vedge). If you had to pick 2 from the 5, which would you pick?

                1. re: aunkoh

                  I know, "vegan" doesn't sound very interesting does it, but Vedge is remarkable. If I could eat there every day, I'd give up meat, no questions asked!

                  If money is no object, Vetri would be hard to pass up (tasting menu only, I think it is $155, plus ~$90 for wine pairings). If push came to shove, I'd choose Farm & Fisherman second, as long as you are OK bringing your own wine. Ask for Judy to serve your table.

                  But really it depends on what you like. Everyone on the board will have their own favorites among these. Probably the only one everyone will agree on is Zahav.

                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                    Thanks.Vetri and Zahav looked like winners when I looked at the websites.

                    1. re: aunkoh

                      The thing to get at Zahav is the lamb shoulder, but I think you need to order it in advance, and it's big, so you need some dining companions.

                      1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                        Yum. Hmmm... gonna have to find friends.

                      2. re: aunkoh

                        I would recommend against Vetri, its days as the city's best restaurant are long past, and it will cost you $155 per person (no wine, tax, or tip included). Based on my last visit, it wouldn't be worth it at half the price. If I were you I'd do Bibou and Vedge. Zahav is great too.

                        1. re: Buckethead

                          Thanks. I'm amazed at all the positive feedback on Vedge. Maybe I will have to try it.

                          1. re: aunkoh

                            I think a lot of people write it off because they have some preconceived notions of what vegan food must be, which is certainly understandable as most vegan food I've had in my life has been horrible. Vedge will destroy those notions. They do have a very nice bar area, if you don't want to commit to a full meal there you could make a res somewhere else, go to the bar at Vedge for a few snacks first, and if you like them, cancel your other res and just stay there.

                            If you do pick Zahav, I'd skip the lamb, it's very good but not my favorite thing there, and its immense size makes it impossible to taste more of the more interesting smaller plates.

                          2. re: Buckethead

                            Totally agree with your assessment of Vetri as a no go and your rec. on the other three with a qualification on Vedge.

                        2. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                          I know many people who would not agree on Zahav.
                          That's the one I would omit.
                          It would help to know where Aun is coming from.
                          For instance, if it's France, then Bibou wouldn't be anything special.
                          Tell us more!

                          1. re: sylviag

                            Hiya, I'm coming from Singapore. Grew up in NYC but live in Asia these days. Travel to Japan twice a year to eat. :-)

                            (I also run a food site as a hobby,, which will give you a sense of my tastes if you have the time and inclination to look at it.)

                            1. re: aunkoh

                              The mesibah tasting menu at Zahav comes with lamb. It's not only good food but also a good deal.

                        3. re: aunkoh

                          Of those five l would select

                          Farm & Fisherman, also my pick for best resto in Phila currently
                          Bibou-Not at all 'precious or pretentious'
                          While food not avant garde, hospitality is better than Danny Meyer places.
                          Both are BYOB

                          My issues with other and l am the curmudgeon
                          Zahav- often extremely high salt levels, if that does not bother you, the lamb mesibah is awesome and inexpensive.
                          Vetri- No fun anymore, fussy and way too much food
                          Vedge-While owners nice and space lovely but noisy, food was IMVHO not the least interesting, sort of Moosewood 2013.

                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                            That "Moosewood 2013" had me chuckling away. Thanks for your thoughts.

                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                              Not noticed the salt levels at Zahav, but then I am a salter. Same curmudgeon views on Vetri and Vedge with the exception of the interesting comment. I found some of the offerings amazing in that they were minus normal non-veg or vegan ingredients often with good results. However, many items are very bland in what this poster considers a highly overrated and over priced restaurant.

                              1. re: Bacchus101

                                Frankly I am surprised at no mentions of Bistrot la Minette -- a lovely small French restaurant that will make you feel you are in Paris -- with a talented chef in the kitchen. You can even BYOB with a small corkage fee even though they have a bar. What could be better?

                                1. re: arepo

                                  Excellent food would help. was there about a month ago for the first time, place looked great, service was fine, but three things eaten by my guest and me were tasted and tossed, especially the vaunted charlotte au morbier. My guests escargot were just fine.

                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                    If you are going to go to Zahav you must, must preorder the Mesibah so you get the lamb. It's a lot of food but absoluetly delicious and a steal price wise.

                        4. Aun, I love, love, love your website!

                          After spending time absorbed in it, I have some questions about your trip to Philly.

                          Where will you be staying?
                          Will you have a car?
                          Will your wife be with you?

                          Your website gives us more of a feel for what you would enjoy. I certainly would skip Asian food here, except for our favorite Japanese place.

                          To be continued . . . .

                          1. for lunch, forget the cheesesteaks -
                            have to visit reading terminal - many great selections. tommy dinics for roast pork and cheese, with spinich