Philadelphia – You may know us for the history, the Rocky steps (hey, there is an awesome Art Museum at the top of the steps so keep running to explore it!) or the cheesesteak (Jim’s on South Street please). In the past decade, our restaurant scene has exploded with so many options, that you could eat somewhere new every day of the week and not be bored or disappointed. We have Iron Chefs, James Beard award winners, Top Chefs, etc. and a whole host of non-celebrity chefs turning out imaginative and flavorful foods in restaurants, vendor carts and food trucks. I invite you to look past the soft pretzels and cheesesteaks and discover all of the flavors of the city in each of our neighborhoods.
While I usually offer bespoke advice to people regarding their Philadelphia visit, I figured I’d share a few of my go-to favorites restaurants in Rittenhouse Square close to the many hotels in Center City. For those staying on the Main Line (close to the many universities such as St. Joe’s, Villanova, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College and Cabrini College), see my Main Line favorites post.
5 Restaurants in Rittenhouse Square
Consistently, my favorite restaurant, Davio’s Italian Steakhouse never disappoints. From the trademarked cheesesteak spring rolls with spicy ketchup, to the many entrees (dry aged steak, made in house pasta, etc) to the dessert tray your taste buds will thank you.
With regard to the dessert tray, my friend recently remarked “I’m eating dessert fast so my stomach doesn’t know it’s already full”. Housed on the 2nd floor of a restored bank building, the dining room has high ceilings to feel open yet the tables feel intimate. I once attempted to empty my water glass and to no avail, someone was always available to refill it, the service is quite attentive. Crumbs are combed away from your table but don’t worry though, it is not pretentious at all (this is Philly!) – you can be casual here. They have a separate bar menu and happy hour specials. My favorites: cheesesteak springrolls appetizer, truffled gnocchi, homemade angel hair pasta, impressive wine selection and the entire dessert cart.
Despite a plethora of high end steak options/chains available in the city, I continue to return to Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. The restaurant is located in a restored historic bank building with soaring ceilings, a grand staircase to the second level as well as marble stairs leading to the basement vault. The decor is just as good as the food. Try to book a booth and watch the fun at the bar and in the dining room – people watching is such a great sport to add to the meal. My favorite: Filet Mignon (try the special trio when offered), chocolate mousse and red wine. Nothing fancy, just straightforward simple food for me. I’m definitely in a happy place – red meat, red wine and chocolate.
I tend to be a cheerleader for all Starr restaurants in the city (at last count there are more than 20, each with a different menu/theme, each with signature Starr service – attentive and not intrusive) as I really think that they are consistent in food, service and experience. Hard not to include them all, here are three favorites restaurants in Rittenhouse Square:
Barclay Prime is the steakhouse treat, given that it is on the higher end of the Starr scale. I enjoy the steaks, my friend enjoys the seafood -the menu strikes a nice balance. The entrees are nicely portioned and available in both the main dining room and in the lounge area. Definitely pace yourself to enjoy each and every course. My favorites: Kobe beef sliders appetizer, Petite Filet Mignon, homemade tater tots (you’d be surprised they are so good!) and a pastry chef that delights every sugar craving on the dessert menu (hard to pick just one).
Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram, will know that I always seem to be at Parc Restaurant & Bistro eating bread usually after a workout nearby (hoping to negate the carbs). With views of Rittenhouse Square, I love to people watch here enjoying a good meal. See if you can snag an outside table and enjoy the people watching if the weather is nice. I like that they treat solo diners so well (I usually make an Open Table reservation if I think they will be busy).
I never feel weird eating alone at the neighborhood restaurant. The bread here really is a highlight of what is to follow. Made in house, the bread basket comes with a baguette, rye and cranberry walnut (all available in loaves for takeaway), I dare you not to eat it all. With something for everyone here, you will have a fantastic meal but save room for dessert (changes seasonally). A special off menu item are the macaroons to go – a colorful treat. My favorites: half chicken entree, club sandwich at lunch, anything on the dessert menu and the weekend brunch.
Dandelion is another Starr restaurant that I just love and would often visit at lunch solo when I’m in the mood for the best fish & chips (I think that they are better than in London!). With a British pub menu, there are happy hour specials, Sunday roast and a plethora of great choices. The bread basket is a star here with a local Victory Stoudt beer bread and a salted white sourdough bread. The burger is also a highlight.
So just a five of my go-to favorite restaurants in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood located in Center City Philadelphia. All are on OpenTable to make reservation (highly suggested) – I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do.