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One night in Philly, best non-Italian restaurant

I'm coming into Philly to go to the Mutter Museum and will be staying overnight. I want to have dinner at an amazing restaurant. No budget restrictions, no Italian, no where that has a NY outpost and not too far from the museum if possible but willing to travel. I would love if it was farm to table or seafood but want more than anything to experience the best the city has to offer.

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    1. It is technically Italian but have you checked out Vetri?

      5 Replies
      1. re: barryg

        My friend does not eat gluten or dairy so
        Italian is usually hard, Verti would not work for him

        1. re: misnatalie

          This rules out a ton of places IMO, even tho some may accommodate your friend you are not getting the best the kitchen has to offer. In this case I recommend vedge or zahav, both can make a great meal of on-menu dishes that meet those requirements.

        2. re: barryg

          haha... "technically italian"

          in the TITLE OF THE POST, she says no italian.

            1. re: alex1018

              I don't think most people are thinking about foie gras pastrami, roasted baby goat, onion crepe etc when they say Italian food. Actually now that I think about it vetri could probably serve a great GF meal but losing dairy would be tough.

          1. My pick for best non-Italian is Bibou. Or Kanella if you want to stay in Center City.

            1. Best is very subjective and you have come to the right place to get a good variety of opinions on best. Certainly in Philadelphia there is a wide range of contenders that are non-Italian or technically Italian from which to choose, as per your request. I will offer a few good spots of high recognition, frequent national awards or popularity. With the no gluten or dairy wishes of your friend the first that comes to mind is:

              Vedge- direct hit on friends diet- national rec.
              Fountian Room 4 Seasons - some rank best in Phila
              Zahav - Best new chef award -National Rec-Local favorite
              Amada- Small plate Tapas- busy local favorite-casual
              The Prime Rib - high end steak house - some rank best here
              Dandilion- English, great decor with renditions of british fare
              Barbazzo- eclectic -busy- noisy-fun
              Wiskey Village - great burgers-casual - good fun

              All mentioned might require reservation. I am sure you will get many more options from local hounds.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bacchus101

                So many choices so little time (1night) and after your stroll through the Mutter you may choose a very light dinner with little or no meat! The list provided by Philadelphia Mag and Mr. best Byob offers a very wide selection but is 1 year outdated and as noted by Mr. byob some listed are gone. If considering the list note the comments below indicating the dissatisfaction of many readers with the choices. I for one would invest in Mr. Byob's suggestions and LaBan reviews first. Opinions are what you came for and certainly what you will get.

                1. re: Bacchus101

                  Not to get off topic, but I find it funny that despite all the online controversy lists like this always seem to cause (in the off-line real world, they never cause any controversy), if you were to add up all the restaurants that people complain about having not made the list, you'd probably come up with at most 5 or 6 legitamately debatable ones.

                  So the list really does cover 90% of our best restaurants, which is certainly within the margin of error for personal preferences.

                  Actually, I've made it a point this year to try to go to more places that I haven't been before, rather than just doing Blackfish and Bibou every other week. So I've been using this list for ideas. I'm up to 34 out of 50 of them, so still a ways to go (and time is running out!)...

              2. The Farm and Fisherman is our best farm-to-table, IMO. The chef was previously CdC at Blue Hill. BYOB.

                Here's Craig LaBan's review:


                Philly can't compete with NYC (if that's where you are from) for high-end dining (with the possible exception of Vetri and The Fountain). But what we excel at better than anywhere else is tiny, chef-driven BYOBs.

                As was mentioned, Bibou (French) and Kanella (Greek Cypriot) are also excellent, and many others, depending on what cuisine excites you. Although it will be almost impossible to get a Sat reservation at Bibou at this point (call them now and hope for the best).

                Of course you need to bring your own wine, or figure out where there is a conveniently located state store (something we do worse than anywhere else this side of Utah):


                If you don't want to deal with BYOB, maybe Zahav (Modern Israeli).

                FWIW, here is the last Philly Magazine Top 50 list (more of a what's hottest than what's best ranking, but it still covers most of the best):


                [Statesides's chef has changed, and Le Bec Fin and Koo Zee Doo are no more.


                If you are willing to try vegan, Vedge is world class and will change how you view veggies.

                1. Oh, I see on your profile that you like Momofuku Ko. How about Serpico (too new to be on that Top 50 list)?

                  The chef is Peter Serpico, whom you may remember as David Chang's right hand and chef at Momofuku Ko.

                  Very different than MK, but you will recognize the inspiration of some of the dishes. A very exciting restaurant.

                  We just had a tasting menu there, and it was one of the best meals of the year. [Incidentally, they will let you BYOB if you ask.]

                  1. There's an outside shot Avance will be open by then (Bogle's new restaurant), in which case i would say that.

                    I think given the dietary restrictions, Zahav is the best bet. There legitimately nothing like it in New York (which is why i take all my ny friends there). They should be able to accommodate the gluten and dairy situation. Also, everyone on these boards always says to call ahead to reserve the lamb shoulder... it's absolutely delicious, but comes at the expense of trying a bunch of skewers and other things, so on the first visit I suggest steering clear of it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alex1018

                      Normally I would agree with you, but the lamb with the crispy rice really is an amazing gluten- and dairy-free dish. Of course they would need to customize the mezze to meet the restrictions--which I am sure they will happily do--but I would ask them to bring out the fresh baked laffa for the wheat eater too, it's great.

                    2. If I were you I'd go to Vedge, especially in light of your companion's restrictions.

                      1. Amada is a great choice..great vibe... spanish tapas executed perfectly. Good chance to try many different dishes.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Shasty

                          I think tapas is a great idea.. in addition to Amada, you have Tinto, Bar Ferdinand and Jamonera.

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            Tapas probably fits the gluten and dairy free bill, but are those places the best/"amazing" dining Philly has to offer? I certainly wouldn't put Jamonera in that league.

                          2. re: Shasty

                            Dairy-free tasting menu at Amada was boring!

                          3. I think Zahav is the right call here. I agree with above posters that fine dining is not what makes the Philly restaurant scene such an exciting one, but I also intuit from your posting that you're looking for something more ambitious and fine tuned than what most of our BYOBs offer. Zahav is the restaurant I recommend most often to out of town friends, and now they offer (on a VERY limited basis, so call right away) a chef's tasting on Fridays and Saturdays.

                            If somehow the Zahav menu doesn't appeal and you can't score the chef's counter, here's a pick that hasn't shown up on this thread yet: Fork. New chef Eli Kulp (recently of Torrisi Italian Specialties) is doing a ton of exciting stuff--his breads and butters alone are worth a visit. Go for the tasting menu (may not be advertised on the website but definitely exists); you'll start with a long parade of amuse bouches, then first in what will be 3 different trios of breads and butters, etc. Come to think of it, maybe Fork would be my first choice for you...

                            As for Serpico: it was immediately one of Philly's most exciting restaurants when it opened this year, but if you're acquainted with the Momofukus I wonder how much will be new to you. I haven't been to Ko but it's clear that at least the scallop, duck bun and foie dessert are reworkings of Momofuku dishes, and I'm curious to what extent that's true.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: nwinkler

                              Serpico took the foie off the menu. I like Serpico, but I don't think it's among the very best in Philly. At least not yet.

                                1. re: Buckethead

                                  Although there are obvious inspirational connections between some dishes at MK and Serpico, there really is very little actual overlap between the two restaurants. Serpico is a very different beast, and if it weren't for the Chef being the same, we wouldn't even be comparing them they are so different.

                                  A lot of our group of 8 were even more opinionated than I, saying that it was the single best meal we've had in Philly this year. IMO, Serpico is now easily in the top 5 restaurant in Philly, along with Farm & Fisherman, Vedge, Zahav, and (you fill in the blank, but I might be tempted to say Fork).

                            2. I'm going to second both Zahav and Vedge. Both work well for the dining restrictions, have some of the most interesting, creative and delicious food the city has to offer (and both are unlike anyplace I know of in NYC).

                              1. I would say Butcher and Singer! I loved our meal there except for my dessert, the Baked Alaska.

                                1. My choices would be Farm & Fisherman, an entire meal could be vegetarian and IMVHO blow Vedge off the shelf.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. Agree with the many others that have recommended Zahav. Amada and Vedge are also great options. I would rank them in that order if choosing just one to visit. But you can't go wrong with any of these. Had a beet dish at Vedge that will haunt me until I figure out how to recreate it at home.

                                    1. This was great, so much helpful information. After going back and for and reviewing the menus it looks Amada will be our first choice. I love tapas (and am a die hard carnivore) so we feel Amada has a lot to offer both of our dining preferences. Thanks so much for the input and advice.