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A Guide To Group Dining In Philadelphia
Casual Spots, Private Rooms & Prix-Fixe Menus Perfect For Groups
Dinner just tastes better when everyone’s together, and this is especially true in Philadelphia, where the concept of Brotherly Love extends across the table. For breaking bread with family, friends or both, a restaurant that’s both physically and conceptually designed to handle a big, hungry bunch is an invaluable find. Here’s a diverse selection of Philadelphia’s top group dining options, including casual spots to pop in with a party of 10 (and more upscale destinations where foodies book big tables in advance), bistros with prix-fixe menus and/or BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) policies that take the worry out of splitting the bill, to elegant venues with private rooms to book ahead for a larger occasion.
- A long-running South Street destination, Jamaican Jerk Hut’s soulful cooking and BYOB perks make it a popular pit stop for hungry groups of six to 10. The cozy dining room can handle a solid amount of jerk chicken and shrimp roti lovers. Parties that remember to BYOB are treated to fresh-squeezed fruit juices that pair perfectly with Caribbean rum. 1436 South Street, (215) 545-8644, jajerkhut.com
- A Center City collaboration between the owners of Fishtown standouts Stock and Reanimator Coffee, Res Ipsa is a comfy coffee shop by day, Sicilian BYOB by night. The unique room can handle dinner groups of up to 14, and that number can increase for those who buy the slick space out. Any party of six or more can opt for a prix-fixe tasting ($50) of the kitchen’s creative apps, handmade pastas and entrees. 2218 Walnut Street, (267) 519-0329, resipsaphilly.com
- Open seven days a week, beloved Queen Village pizza shop Square Pie is a reliable destination for takeout, but its quaint dining room also makes for an excellent gathering space for groups of 12 to 15. Chef/owner Gene Giuffi’s fluffy, flavorful Brooklyn-style dough is a draw all its own, but the menu extends to feature a creative selection of shareable salads, pastas and small plates. 801 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 238-0615, squarepiephilly.com
- American Sardine Bar, the popular Point Breeze gastropub, is positively humming on most nights—good thing there’s an upstairs barroom, complete with picnic-table seating that can handle larger parties of six and up—or 35 to 50, when reserving the top floor for a private event. Patrons here enjoy the 16 rotating craft beer taps and irreverent, ever-changing menu. 1800 Federal Street, (215) 334-2337, americansardinebar.com
- Northern Liberties is one neighborhood with no shortage of quality dining options, but Cantina Dos Segundos stands out for groups thanks to its convivial atmosphere and affordable, versatile menu, which features plenty of vegan options, including a build-your-own taco section. Booked in advance, the side room here can host up to 80 guests. 931 N. 2nd Street, (215) 629-0500, cantinadossegundos.com
- Franky Bradley’s knows looks aren’t everything, but that hasn’t stopped them for going all out where decor is concerned. The psychedelic eye candy of this tucked-away Center City hang is complemented by plush vintage booths and banquettes—perfect for accommodating diners in groups of up to 18 excited to tuck into the kitchen’s elevated comfort food menu. 1320 Chancellor Street, (215) 735-0735, frankybradleys.com
- One of the biggest and busiest Vietnamese restaurants along South Philly’s “Pho Row,” Nam Phuong is an ideal group-dining pick—especially on short notice. A huge menu that runs the gamut from homey soups to rice- and noodle-based bowls and plates can deliver for any palate. Round banquet tables can accommodate parties of eight comfortably; longer tables are capable of fitting in even more diners. Ranging in price, the “Family Dinner” options for four to 14 are a no-muss, no-fuss way to taste the kitchen’s best dishes. 1100 Washington Avenue, (215) 468-0410, namphuongphilly.com
- Chinatown dining can be incredibly group-friendly, and the veteran seafood specialist Tai Lake is no exception. The big, round 10-person Lazy Susan-equipped tables, generous hours of operation (open until or well past midnight) and swift in-and-out turnaround make it ideal for a gathering on short notice. Must-orders include the crab and asparagus soup, salt-baked squid and chili-spiced clams with minced pork. 134 N. 10th Street, (215) 922-0698, tailakeseafoodrest.com
Upscale Group Spots:
- Harp & Crown, the latest debut from chef Michael Schulson and his wife Nina Tinari-Schulson, marries sleek looks with Euro-inspired food and drink. Regardless of where parties land inside—the studded-leather bar stools, Hollywood booths with room for eight, long communal tables that can fit a dozen, the 140-seat upstairs as a whole or the subterranean “Elbow Lane,” complete with plush lounges and bowling lanes—there’s ample room to relax. 1525 Sansom Street, (215) 330-2800, harpcrown.com
- With live music every night, Heritage already distinguishes itself as a nighttime destination, but the NoLibs restaurant’s wide-open floor plan and bustling bar scene make it a no-brainer for those rolling deep. There’s a private space that can host up to 16, while the main dining room is flexible enough to accommodate parties as large at 36 (with advanced notice, of course). The menu’s mix of small and large New American plates presents a format that works for sharing. 914 N. 2nd Street, (215) 627-7500, heritage.life
- Classic American cooking, dramatic neo-industrial design and Philly’s booming performance community commingle at La Peg, a handsome restaurant-bar in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Doubling as the FringeArts headquarters, La Peg’s sky-high ceilings and varied seating (beer garden included) are a natural fit for a party of two to 250. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 375-7744, lapegbrasserie.com
- Just steps off Rittenhouse Square, Stephen Starr’s aptly named Parc is a Philly classic, thanks to its crowd-pleasing brasserie cuisine and transporting, tres Gallic decor. It’s also large enough to host a gathering of some size—semi-private dining can host up to 100, which jumps to 200 seated if you book the whole space—so long as it’s reserved in advance. 227 S. 18th Street, (215) 545-2262, parc-restaurant.com
- With 24, a newcomer to Jose Garces’ ever-growing local-national portfolio, the chef splits the geographic distance between Center City and University City, serving aperitivi and wood-fired Italian fare on the banks of the Schuylkill River. The versatile indoor-outdoor space is perfect for groups, and Garces’ own test kitchen, Estudio, accommodates private bookings of about 25. 2401 Walnut Street, (215) 333-3331, 24philly.com
- Philly’s best-known bierhall, Brauhaus Schmitz offers loads of rare German draft beers, a mirthful staff, true-blue Teutonic cooking (bring on the pork shank) and elbow room. Casual gatherings and pre-booked private parties congregate at 20-top tables in the main bar, the adjoining Brauer Bund Bierhall (big enough for 85 to sit) or up on the mezzanine, which can comfortably host 20. 718 South Street, (267) 909-8814, brauhausschmitz.com
- The weekend scene at Cuba Libre is rich with music and dance, but the multi-floor restaurant is also a consistent source of well-balanced modern Cuban cooking, thanks to chef Guillermo Pernot’s tasting menu featuring shrimp ceviche, lechón asado, coconut crab fritters and flan. Private dining includes the Havana-inspired Harlequin Room, which seats 28, a mezzanine balcony for 55 or the whole place—about 200 seats in all. 10 S. 2nd Street, (215) 627-0666, cubalibrerestaurant.com
- One of the city’s most enduring dining destinations, Fork is an impressive booking no matter the party size. The “house menu” option, allowing guests to build their own four-course tastings based on chef John Patterson’s innovative seasonal menu, is a seamless way to go, so long as the entire table participates. Fork’s elegant off-dining room space accommodates parties of up to 45, and has audiovisual capabilities. 306 Market Street, (215) 625-9425, forkrestaurant.com
- A two-story gem in the thick of Frankford Avenue, Fishtown’s Kensington Quarters specializes in rustic cooking inspired by locally and sustainably raised meats. Larger parties can reserve tables for six to eight in the breezy dining room or on the back patio. The upstairs kitchen classroom is available for events and private dining for 24 to 38. 1310 Frankford Avenue, (267) 314-5086, kensingtonquarters.com
- Chef Marc Vetri’s North Broad Street Italian destination Osteria is known for its elegant and exclusive wine room, so named for its view of the 100-plus barrel cellar and accommodating up to 30. Parties of eight to 14 can book the kitchen table; groups of 40 to 75 go for the glass-enclosed patio. 640 N. Broad Street, (215) 763-0920, osteriaphilly.com
- Three board rooms and a large event space accommodate all manner of groups (of up to 150) 37 floors above ground at Two Liberty Place’s R2L. Here, chef Daniel Stern’s sophisticated American menu—saffron-glazed whole lobster, elegant steak frites—rivals the panoramic city view. 50 S. 16th Street, 37th floor, (215) 564-5337, r2lrestaurant.com
- Acclaimed and authentic Zahav in Old City remains one of the toughest-to-get reservations in town, but groups of 9 to 24 who plan enough ahead can get their own, private taste of chef Michael Solomonov’s stupendous Israeli innovations. (There’s also the option of buying out the whole place, too.) 237 St. James Place, (215) 625-8800, zahavrestaurant.com
- The 14-person communal farm table situated in the back of Hungry Pigeon looks like it belongs in someone’s home, and that’s on purpose. Guests who really want to feel warm and fuzzy should opt for the reservation-only “Family Dinner,”" a flat-fee spread of creative hors d’oeuvres and hearty mains with a scratch-made dessert. 743 S. 4th Street, (215) 278-2736, hungrypigeon.com
- Vegan destination and South Philly BYOB Miss Rachel’s Pantry invites diners to ethical meals around a reclaimed wood farmhouse table for 12—bookable as a group every day but Saturday, when chef-owner Rachel Klein serves communal prix-fixe dinners by reservation. 1938 S. Chadwick Street, (215) 798-0053, missrachelspantry.com
- For seafood lovers who travel in pack of six or more, the Oyster House’s recurring “Dump Dinners” are an unbeatable deal. For just $28 a head (with options for raw bar and alcohol supplements), everyone’s treated to a New England clambake spread of lobster, steamers and various sides—a gloriously messy and very bib-worthy experience. 1516 Sansom Street, (215) 567-7683, oysterhousephilly.com
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On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
25 Things To Know About Philly's Food Scene
Philadelphia food is so much more than the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel, or even scrapple, or roast pork sandwiches. It’s also amazing vegan fare, quirky BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) restaurants, world-class craft local beer, emerging distillery scene, or chef-driven concepts and passion projects. Philly’s food scene is about neighborhoods that grow with their restaurants. And competing chefs who work together. It’s about sourcing ingredients from the region’s farms and giving casual dining its due. It’s about embracing delicious diversity.
Here is a primer of 25 lesser-known components of Philly’s lush and luscious food scene:
- Richly Rewarding Food Shed:
The BYOB Restaurant: A Philly Phenomenon
Despite decades of popularity and expansion, one quintessential Philadelphia dining phenomenon continues to fly deliciously under the radar. It’s the BYOB, the bring-your-own-bottle restaurant—BYO, for short. Typically independently owned and operated, Philly’s BYOBs number into the three hundreds. Diners find them on dozens of corners in Center City, along avenues of renewed urban neighborhoods and tucked down rural roads. It’s a curious trend with an interesting backstory—and an even more interesting present.
Here’s a short explanation of how the BYOB scene came to be—and advice on navigating the landscape.
What Is A BYOB?:
A BYOB restaurant allows patrons to
Poke Makes A Splash In The Home Of The Soft Pretzel
The Hawaiian poké craze has hit Philly in a major way, and no wonder: Raw fish over rice with vegetables, sauce and assorted fun toppings makes for a healthy and satisfying meal. While Japanese sashimi and Italian crudo continue to be widely popular, restaurant goers are also enthusiastically embracing fresh seafood in many new (to the region) ways, whether it’s a traditional dish of Philippino kinilaw or a completely unorthodox Mexican-Japanese mashup tuna taco.
Here are just some of the delicious ways to experience uncooked fish in Philly:
- Bubble tea meets sushi at the aptly named Bubblefish. The
When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out
It’s a curious thing that a city so renowned for its cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches could also foster one of the nation’s most robust vegan food scenes. Upscale diners can find delight in the shared plates at Vedge or the coursed and the home-style elegance of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, while those seeking a quick bite can swing by Blackbird Pizza for fare that is more traditionally Philadelphian. Factor in some coffee shops, bars and even a diner, and vegan eaters will see—and taste—that the city’s offerings have something for every palate, day or night.
Here’s a look at some
Fall For Philly Restaurants
It’s official: Two of Philly’s recent openings—Wm. Mulherin’s Sons and South Philly Barbacoa—made Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants list, marking 2016 as a banner year for the local restaurant scene. There’s more yet to come this fall, with a thrilling lineup of globally inspired newcomers, including Philly’s first poke shop (Poke Bowl), a boldly imaginative taqueria (Mission), Filipino fine dining (Perla) and Latin American street food (La Mula Terca). Here are just a few highlights for the season’s must-try list:
Center City East:
- Taking up residence in a cozy
Philly Pizza Pleases Every Palate
Philadelphia’s gained some serious pizza cred in recent years. Not only is this city home to a pizza museum and restaurant (Pizza Brain), an artisan pizza truck (Pitruco) and, according to Bon Appétit, America’s very best pizza (Pizzeria Beddia), but it’s also a proving ground for the idea that this traditional food can be reinvented in infinite ways. Whether it’s a straightforward but studious Neapolitan round, a floppy tri-corner slice with cheese to spare or a newfangled pie laden with unexpected but carefully sourced ingredients, there is absolutely a pizza for every eater’s predilection. Here’s...
Many Philly-Area Eateries Make Vegans, Vegetarians & Gluten-Free Diners Feel Right At Home
There’s no doubt that Americans are increasingly health conscious. Current studies, including the Vegetarian Resource Group’s Harris Poll, suggest that there are now some eight million vegetarians in the United States and one million vegans. Veg-loving visitors to Philly have plenty of options from which to choose, from upscale white tablecloth restaurants offering inventive vegetable creations to casual spots serving raw foods. There’s also plenty of great gluten-free goodies.
Here are some health-minded eateries worth checking out:
- Vegetable lovers head to Bucks County, where Mike Jackson’s Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille turns out creative, big-portioned vegetarian food (no
What's In the Callowhill Neighborhood?
Dubbed the “Loft District” by real estate developers and “The Eraser ’Hood” by locals referencing the once-dark landscape that inspired former resident David Lynch’s cult classic Eraserhead, Callowhill is something in between these two extremes. The stylish-yet-still-transforming neighborhood attracts both young professionals who enjoy its high-end condos and close proximity to Center City and artists looking for affordable-yet-expansive studio and gallery spaces. It’s a formerly industrial neighborhood that charms with a rich stock of large, urban buildings, remnants of cobblestone streets, edgy rock clubs, emerging galleries and the kind of hidden cultural gems that intrigue visitors and residents alike.
Vegan Paradise: Philly Leads The Way For Meatless Eating And Sustainable Living
Ever since Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s nationally lauded restaurant Vedge opened in 2011, Philadelphia has been a true destination for vegans with standards. Many of the region’s most popular vegan eateries are direct descendants of Landau and Jacoby’s kitchens. The scene continues to bubble over with great ideas, interesting concepts, excellent locally made products and an ongoing mission to make the lifestyle actually livable.
Here are just a few of Philadelphia’s vegan treasures:
Fine Plant-Based Dining:
- A forerunner to today’s hip vegan joints, Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille cooks up plant-forward fare in Bucks County. While many dishes have