With the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting coming to Philadelphia at the end of January, we decided to begin compiling lists of Philly-related things (probably mostly food) to help our librarian friends navigate the city. This won’t be a comprehensive list but a selection of places easy to get to from the Convention Center area.
We’ll add new posts as we cover different topics but will aggregate all our information on our Midwinter 2014 page.
If you’re coming to Philly for the conference, feel free to ask us any questions. We’d be happy to answer or point you in the right direction.
There’s no way we can list all our recommended restaurants here, as there are just too many, so here are some highlights, mostly based on proximity to the convention center, with a few outliers that we think are worth the trip. Note that many Philadelphia restaurants are quite small/cozy and reservations are recommended in most cases (check Open Table or City Eats for openings).
Note: Center City Restaurant Week will also be happening during the conference. This may mean even more crowds than usual, so even more reason to try and secure reservations (or avoid restaurants participating in restaurant week if that doesn’t appeal to you).
Vedge (1221 Locust St) – not only one of the best vegetarian restaurants in the country, but one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, period. Delicious food, beautiful space, fantastic bar, excellent wine list and cocktails. Dinner Mon-Sat (closed Sundays). Good luck getting a reservation (it books months in advance), but you can always try to get a seat at the bar.
Caribou Café (1126 Walnut St) – French bistro with good wine, beer, and cocktail options. Among Midtown restaurants, we find it to be rather underrated, and fortunately, less crowded than other options in the area. Brunch, lunch, and dinner daily. Takes reservations but we’ve had good luck walking in.
Garces Trading Co (1111 Locust St) – delightful food, great wine & beer options, full bar. They have a good happy hour deal from 3-7pm daily, with drinks and snacks for $5. They also have a boutique wine store in the back if you need to pick up wine for another occasion. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat-Sun. Takes reservations but we’ve had good luck walking in.
Jamonera (105 S. 13th St) – tiny place with delicious tapas and a good wine list. Dinner nightly. Reservations recommended.
Barbuzzo (110 S. 13th St) – another tiny place with tasty Mediterranean food and good drinks. The salted caramel budino is famous for being one of the best desserts in town. Lunch Mon-Sat, dinner nightly. Reservations recommended.
Zavino (112 S. 13th St) – a small wine bar and pizzeria, we’ve had their pizza several times and enjoyed it. Lunch and dinner daily. No reservations, walk-in only.
Little Nonna’s (1234 Locust St) – Tiny space with delightful Italian-American comfort food. We went for dinner and absolutely loved it. Lunch Mon-Sat, dinner nightly. Reservations highly recommended.
Nomad Roman (1305 Locust St) – wonderful pizza and a good beer list. We’ve only been once for lunch but were pleased to find it not crowded. Lunch and dinner daily. Reservations accepted for parties of 6 or more, otherwise walk-in.
Opa (1311 Samson St) – Greek food, full bar, and a beer garden in back. Lunch M-F, dinner nightly. Reservations recommended.
Spice 28 (1228 Chestnut St) – Interesting dual-chef concept, with a combination of Szechuan and Asian fusion offerings. Lunch and dinner daily. Reservations accepted but we’ve had good luck walking in.
Pennsylvania 6 (114 S. 12th St) – raw bar and seafood-centric menu, including a gluten-free menu. We went for lunch recently and were pleased to find it wasn’t too crowded. Lunch M-F, dinner nightly, open late. Reservations accepted but we’ve had good luck walking in.
Strangelove’s (216 S. 11th St) – gastropub fare, good beer selection. This place is relatively new so we haven’t been yet, but it looks promising. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Mon-Sat. Reservations accepted for parties of 6 or more, otherwise walk-in.
Rosa Blanca (707 Chestnut St) – Cuban-inspired food from Chef José Garces. This just opened so we haven’t been yet, but we love the other Garces Group restaurants, and the menu looks great. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Reservations recommended.
Kanella (1001 Spruce St) – Incredible Greek food and BYOB. We’ve had some of our best meals in Philadelphia here. Dinner Tues-Sat, brunch Fri/Sat/Sun. Reservations highly recommended.
Varga Bar (941 Spruce St) – Gastropub fare, excellent beer and cocktails, one of our favorite places. Dinner nightly, brunch Sat-Sun, open late. Walk-in only.
Cheu Noodle Bar (255 S. 10th St) – Tiny space for homemade delicious noodles, limited selection of craft cans and cocktails. Lunch and dinner nightly. Walk-in only.
Amis (412 S. 13th St) – Italian trattoria with an excellent bar. Dinner nightly, Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended.
Zahav (237 St. James Place) – Delicious Israeli cuisine, excellent bar. Dinner nightly. Reservations a must.
Han Dynasty (123 Chestnut St) – Sichuan food, famous for dan dan noodles and spicy food. We haven’t been to this particular location (recently expanded, formerly BYOB but now with full bar) but we regularly go to the University City location and love it. Lunch and dinner daily, open late. Reservations recommended.
Vernick (2031 Walnut St) – excellent food, wine, and cocktails. Dinner Tues-Sun. Reservations recommended.
Percy Street BBQ (900 South St) – delicious barbecue and a huge variety of craft cans and bourbon. Dinner nightly, lunch Sat-Sun. Fairly large, can accommodate groups (call first for parties of 9 or more). Takes reservations, but we’ve had good luck walking in.
Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South St) – German food and beer. Lunch and dinner daily, open late. Looks small from the front, but has a big room in the back and a second bar. Takes reservations, but we’ve had good luck walking in.
Rex 1516 (1516 South St) – Southern comfort food, excellent bar, gluten-free menu available. Dinner nightly. Reservations recommended, or belly up to the bar.
Magpie (1622 South St) – a whole restaurant just for pie! Savory pies suitable for lunch or dinner, sweet pies for dessert. BYOB. Lunch and dinner Tues-Sun (closed Mondays). Walk-in only, limited seating.
Bistrot La Minette (623 S. 6th St) – Delicious French bistro, good wine list. Dinner nightly, lunch Sat-Sun. Reservations recommended.
Beau Monde (624 S. 6th St) – Traditional Breton crêpes, both savory and sweet. Lunch and dinner Tues-Sun (closed Mondays). Takes reservations, but we’ve had good luck walking in.
The convention center is very close to Chinatown, which offers many dining options. Just in time for Midwinter, the Philadelphia Inquirer recently published its Chinatown Eating Guide.
The East Passyunk neighborhood is home to Philadelphia’s best restaurant row, including Birra, Cantina Los Caballitos, Fond, Laurel BYOB, Le Virtù, Noir, Noord BYOB, Stateside, and Will BYOB. We are especially fans of Le Virtù, our favorite Italian restaurant in Philadelphia, and Stateside, which has a small but excellent bar. East Passyunk is also home to several other good bars, including Royal Tavern, P.O.P.E., and The Garage. East Passyunk is a bit off the beaten path if you’re staying near the convention center, but the dining scene is well worth the trip.
Gluten Free Philly is a source for gluten-free dining in Philadelphia and also has iPhone and Android apps to help locate gluten-free friendly establishments. Zagat Philly also has a list of the best gluten-free restaurants.
VegPhilly is a source for vegan and vegetarian dining in Philadelphia, and is searchable by neighborhood, cuisine, and special features.
But wait, there’s more! In our upcoming posts on Craft Beer, Wine, and Cocktails, we’ll be highlighting several other restaurants for their drink programs, but that have excellent food as well. We’ll also be doing a separate post on sandwiches and other quick eats.