Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Oct 25 2016

What's in the Rittenhouse Square Neighborhood?

Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Outdoors & Arts In Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square Neighborhood

Long considered one of the toniest neighborhoods in the city, Rittenhouse Square isn’t just an enviable address. It’s a lifestyle. Home to a number of hotels along with dozens of restaurants and shops, Rittenhouse serves as a point of pride for locals and a favorite among out-of-towners.

Along Rittenhouse’s busy sidewalks—many with seating for alfresco dining and drinking in the warm months—residents and visitors find high-end stores; locally owned boutiques; small galleries; bargain stores; theaters and entertainment; cafes; beer, wine and cocktail bars; and restaurants of all kinds, from petite BYOBs to crowd-pleasing chains. The neighborhood buzzes with activity all year long.

Rittenhouse Square is the one-square-block park that gives the neighborhood its name. The green space is more popular with sunbathers, readers, families, artists and even dogs than city planner William Penn ever could have imagined. Festivals, farmers’ markets, fairs and general merriment make it the city’s best-known—and perhaps, most enjoyed—park.

Boundaries are in the eye of the beholder, but generally, Rittenhouse includes the area between Broad Street and the Schuylkill River and Market and Pine streets. It’s easily accessible for out-of-towners: Two train stations, Suburban Station and Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, are a short walk or ride away.

Neighborhood tips, itineraries and maps are available at visitphilly.com/neighborhoods.

Restaurants, Bars & Entertainment:

  • 1 Tippling Place – Bargoers who can find this hidden gem—there’s no sign outside—give it rave reviews. Comfortable, living room-style seating areas create an ambiance that’s the perfect mix of casual and upscale. 2006 Chestnut Street, 1tpl.com
  • a.bar – Part of hotel AKA Rittenhouse Square and sister property to a.kitchen, a.bar caters to the chic set. Open for lunch and dinner daily, a.bar specializes in oysters, charcuterie and snacks complemented by superb wines, craft beers and cocktails. 1737 Walnut Street, (215) 825-7035, akitchenandbar.com
  • a.kitchen – This understated and modern restaurant inside AKA Rittenhouse Square opens daily for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. An unfussy yet spectacular seasonal menu pairs with a selection of 300 natural wines, cocktails and craft beers. 135 S. 18th Street, (215) 825-7030, akitchenandbar.com
  • Abe Fisher – Taking inspiration from Old-World Eastern European Jewish food, chef Yehuda Sichel creates updated versions of schnitzel, pastrami sandwiches and matzo ball gnocchi. Diners can watch the magic happen in the open kitchen at this intimate, dinner-only spot. 1623 Sansom Street, (215) 867-0088, abefisherphilly.com
  • Aqimero – Prolific Mexican chef Richard Sandoval brings his signature Latino spin to the dining room beneath the high ceilings and among the marble columns of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner are served, with an emphasis on ceviche and seafood prepared on the wood-burning grill. (215) 523-8200, richardsandoval.com/aqimero
  • Alma de Cuba – Guests enjoy savory dishes with a Latin flair before topping off the meal with a chocolate Cuban cigar. Attentive service and knockout décor make this a highlight on Stephen Starr’s lengthy Philly resume. 1623 Walnut Street, (215) 988-1799, almadecubarestaurant.com
  • Art Bar – Art Bar defies “hotel bar” expectations with craft cocktails and a stylish interior thanks to an art program curated by The Center for Emerging Visual Artists. Sonesta Hotel, 1800 Market Street, (215) 561-7500, sonesta.com/philadelphia
  • Bar Bombón – The aesthetic may be inspired by Old San Juan, but the all-vegan menu is thoroughly modern. Patrons enjoy Latin American food with a twist along with margaritas available by the glass or pitcher. 133 S. 18th Street, (267) 606-6612, barbombon.com
  • Barclay Prime – Comfy velvet banquettes, crystal chandeliers and a well-dressed crowd create an upscale atmosphere at this handsome steak stalwart. Barclay lives up to the buzz, with the finest meat and delicious handcrafted cocktails. 237 S. 18th Street, (215) 732-7560, barclayprime.com
  • The Bards – A dartboard and hearty bar food bring customers in, and pints of creamy Guinness keep them there for hours. The happy-hour crowd orders specials every day—even on Saturday and Sunday. 2013 Walnut Street, (215) 569-9585, bardsirishbar.com
  • The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant – This three-floor neighborhood pub boasts hearty Irish-inspired menu items, a selection of quality drafts, a plasma television and friendly regulars. Brunch devotees stop in on the weekend for a traditional Irish breakfast and $4 Bloody Marys and mimosas. 247 S. 17th Street, (215) 545-9473, blacksheep.pub
  • Butcher and Singer – Old Hollywood sets the theme at Stephen Starr’s Rittenhouse steakhouse. Diners order steaks and chops with sides a la carte, and repeat guests know to save room for after-dinner favorites such as New York-style cheesecake, orange sherbet and baked Alaska. 1500 Walnut Street, (215) 732-4444, butcherandsinger.com
  • Butcher Bar – From the owners of eateries Valanni, Mercato and Varga Bar comes a meat-focused menu tempting carnivores with Sloppy Joe poutine, house-made sausage, four kinds of meatballs and smoked wild boar ribs, along with 16 beers and six wines on tap. 2034 Chestnut Street, (215) 563-MEAT, butcherbarphilly.com
  • Byblos Restaurant and Hookah Bar – Patrons slip into another world as they feast on Mediterranean cuisine, relax with tableside hookahs, sip on cocktails and dance to world beats. 116 S. 18th Street, (215) 568-3050, byblosrestaurantandhookabar.com
  • Cavanaugh’s – With more than 20 televisions and every sports package available, this bar caters to all types of fan—locals and out-of-towners alike. (Yes, even Dallas.) Creative bar food and a dictionary of craft beers bring even the deepest rivals together. 1823 Sansom Street, (215) 665-9500, cavsrittenhouse.com
  • The Continental Mid-town – A spirited energy fills the three levels of this fun restaurant and bar. The enclosed rooftop lounge, which stays open year-round, draws a young, fashionable crowd. 1801 Chestnut Street, (215) 567-1800, continentalmidtown.com
  • The Foodery – People help themselves to bottles and cans from the refrigerator wall or order at the counter for a draft. Brew-perfect food comes in the form of hearty sandwiches and charcuterie. 1710 Sansom Street, (215) 567-1500, fooderyrittenhouse.com
  • Crow & the Pitcher – The rotating beer taps and cheese cart selections are the focus at this casual spot. The large front window provides a great perch for watching people walk to and from Rittenhouse Square. 267 S. 19th Street, (267) 697-2608, crowandthepitcher.com
  • D’Angelo’s Ristorante Italiano – This romantic date spot serves up generations-old family recipes paired with an extensive wine list. On Friday and Saturday nights, guests head to the lounge for cocktails, DJ music and dancing. 256 S. 20th Street, (215) 546-3935, dangeloristorante.com
  • DanDan – A blend of Taiwanese and Sichuan food takes the stage at this bi-level bistro. Balcony seats are the best in the house and the namesake specialty dan dan noodles are not to be missed. 126 S. 16th Street, (215) 800-1165, dandanrestaurant.com
  • The Dandelion Pub – Modeled after the contemporary gastropubs in Britain, this cozy Stephen Starr eatery invites Anglophiles to imbibe cask-stored pints and dine on delicious Welsh rarebit, rabbit pie or sticky toffee pudding. And what would a British restaurant be without afternoon tea? 124 S. 18th Street, (215) 558-2500, thedandelionpub.com
  • Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse – A former bank building is now an impressive bi-level dining room where guests order fine steaks and savory side dishes. A two-story wine tower at the bar acts as the centerpiece of the restaurant, and the area that was once the bank’s vault now hosts private parties. 1426-28 Chestnut Street, (215) 246-0533, delfriscos.com
  • Devil’s Alley Bar & Grill – Highlights at this two-story gastropub include a Buffalo chicken sandwich, house-made burgers and weekend brunch. Outdoor tables and windows that stay open when weather permits make this an after-work hotspot in the warmer months, while a fireplace, couches and TVs feel cozy come winter. 1907 Chestnut Street, (215) 751-0707, devilsalleybarandgrill.com
  • Dizengoff – With just 25 seats, this hummusiya draws a line out its door during prime eating hours. Those in the know wait for rich, Israeli-style hummus, freshly baked pita and seasonally changing meat and vegetable toppings. 1625 Sansom Street, (215) 867-8181, dizengoffphilly.com
  • Drinker’s Pub – As the name suggests, this is a great place to get a drink, beer in particular. The bartenders pour a selection of craft brews, as well as old favorites like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller High Life. 1903 Chestnut Street, (215) 564-0914, drinkersrittenhouse.com
  • El Rey – With a welcoming, roadside feel, Stephen Starr’s Mexican restaurant serves brunch, lunch and dinner and hosts a popular happy hour. Mexican sodas and signature margaritas fill diners’ glasses as they enjoy homestyle, south-of-the-border cuisine. 2013 Chestnut Street, (215) 563-3330, elreyrestaurant.com
  • Farmer’s Keep – Just because it’s fast doesn’t mean it’s not healthy. Diners choose from plenty of salads with the option to add proteins or a side. A ban on nuts, shellfish, gluten, dairy and eggs caters to nearly everyone. 10 S. 20th Street, (215) 309-2928, farmerskeep.com
  • Fitler Dining Room – Fitler Dining serves American cuisine with inflections of classic French bistro fare. The bright, 32-seat space features double-exposure windows and décor made from reclaimed and salvaged materials. 2201 Spruce Street, (215) 732-3331, fitlerdiningroom.com
  • The Franklin Bar – Drinkers don’t need a password to sip the expertly mixed cocktails at this speakeasy throwback. The knowledgeable servers happily help navigate the menu with those new to the cocktail craze. 112 S. 18th Street, (267) 467-3277, thefranklinbar.com
  • Good Dog Bar and Restaurant – Ideal for a drink and buoyant conversation, this friendly bar has a great jukebox, delicious fare and a whimsical canine theme. The cheese-stuffed burger and sweet potato fries are fan favorites. 224 S. 15th Street, (215) 985-9600, gooddogbar.com
  • The Happy Rooster – Patrons of all hunger levels find the perfect pairing for their drinks at this gentlemanly corner watering hole that serves lunch, brunch and dinner. Burgers and fries are a staple here. 118 S. 16th Street, (215) 963-9311, thehappyrooster.com
  • Harp & Crown – Chef Michael Schulson’s handsome venture across Broad Street feels clubby and vintage. Featured here: charcuterie, other small plates and seasonal fare—and a by-reservations, two-lane bowling alley. 1525 Sansom Street, (215) 330-2800, harpcrown.com
  • Irish Pub – The lively bar crowd drinks pints of Irish Pub Stout in the large bar and dining areas, and during warmer weather, the open-air windows let in a pleasant breeze. Sports fans perch around the main bar to catch the game. 2007 Walnut Street, (215) 568-5603, irishpubphilly.com
  • Jane G’s – The work crowd comes to this sleek space studded with red lanterns for business lunches, dinner and happy hour. The menu highlights classic Szechuan Chinese dishes, including a chef’s tasting menu for $40. 1930 Chestnut Street, (215) 563-8800, janegsrestaurant.com
  • Jose Pistolas – The food is Tex-Mex, but the beer selection is a little more varied. This is the place for those looking for delicious nachos, a big burrito and a pint of microbrew to wash it all down. 263 S. 15th Street, (215) 545-4101, josepistolas.com
  • Lacroix at The Rittenhouse – Along with an extensive wine list and elegant décor, the French-infused menu makes this dining room a gem. Guests seated by the windows enjoy views of the square. 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, 2nd Floor, (215) 790-2533, lacroixrestaurant.com
  • Ladder 15 – This firehouse-turned-bar boasts multiple TVs and a rotating selection of beers on tap. Bites and bar snacks include truffle fries, burgers and spring rolls. On the weekends, a young crowd mixes and mingles to DJ music. 1528 Sansom Street, (215) 964-9755, ladder15philly.com
  • Le Chéri – Here, a French master prepares French classics, such as steak tartare, onion soup and steak frites. Pierre Calmels hails from Lyon, and this elegant bistro with a secluded garden is a magnifique showcase for his talents. 251 S. 18th Street, (215) 546-7700, lecheriphilly.com
  • Liberté – In the lobby of the Sofitel Philadelphia, this modern lounge draws people with its handcrafted cocktails and French-inspired food. The cocktail menu contains a list of libations, plus fun facts about each item. 120 S. 17th Street, (215) 569-8300, libertelounge.com
  • Library Bar – Just off of the lobby of The Rittenhouse Hotel, Library Bar serves small bites and sophisticated cocktails. As patrons relax on comfortable bar stools, armchairs and couches, they can peruse a carefully curated collection of books and fine art. 210 Rittenhouse Square, (215) 790-2685, rittenhousehotel.com
  • Lou Bird’s – A neighborhood bistro with an elegant touch finds the balance between approachable and interesting. Ingenuity finds its way into edibles like roasted potato and duck confit pierogi, Peking poussin over buckwheat waffle and oat cake with honey and chamomile ice cream. 500 S. 20th Street, (267) 804-7977, loubirds.net
  • Mama Palma’s – Neighbors have tried their best to keep this wood-fired pizzeria a secret. Diners dig into a variety of traditional and creative pizzas and sip beers chosen from an extensive menu. 2229 Spruce Street, (215) 735-7357, mamapalmas.com
  • Marathon on the Square – A stone’s throw from the park, this eatery is a convenient and satisfying choice for American fare. The build-your-own-omelet option and outdoor seating make it a go-to for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. 19th & Spruce Streets, (215) 731-0800, eatmarathon.com
  • Misconduct Tavern – A sports bar with a nautical theme, Misconduct is as proud of its happy hour as it is of its better-than-bar-food menu. Dishes include salmon, shrimp or lamb sliders and macaroni and cheese topped with tomatoes, bacon or roasted red peppers. 1511 Locust Street, (215) 732-5797, misconducttavern.com
  • Mission – From the team behind The Oyster House (and above the Oyster House), this cheerful, sunlit taqueria freshly remixes Mexican classics with results like the green juice margarita, lamb barbacoa with quinoa tabouleh, and braised goat tacos with feta and black currants. 1516 Sansom Street, 2nd Floor, (215) 383-1200, missiontaqueria.com
  • Monk’s Café – This Philadelphia beer institution pours only the finest craft beers. Novices shouldn’t be intimidated—the helpful bartenders can help to decipher the thick “Beer Bible” and suggest the perfect dish to complement the brew. Regulars swear by the burgers, mussels and frites. 264 S. 16th Street, (215) 545-7005, monkscafe.com
  • Oscar’s Tavern – Oscar’s was a dive bar before they were cool. And it remains true to its “real bar” rep: cheap beer, jukebox, cash-only policy and old-beer smell. 1524 Sansom Street, (215) 972-9938
  • Oyster House – Sam Mink continues his father’s mission of serving fresh seafood at reasonable prices. He presents classic dishes with modern flavors and uses local ingredients whenever possible. The happy hour menu includes buck-a-shuck oysters, $3 beer and a $5 cocktail. 1516 Sansom Street, (215) 567-7683, oysterhousephilly.com
  • Parc Brasserie – Diners may feel as though they’ve gone transatlantic while sitting at this Parisian-inspired bistro. From tables across from Rittenhouse Square, people view the park foot traffic while noshing on the crusty fresh breads, onion soup and mussels in Dijon broth.
    227 S. 18th Street, (215) 545-2262, parc-restaurant.com
  • Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria – The crust on this top-shelf pizza is thin and crispy from the coal-fired ovens. The menu also includes pasta dishes and salads. 1714 Walnut Street, (215) 735-8090, pietrospizza.com
  • Pizzeria Vetri – Crowds flock to this pizza shop for authentic Neapolitan-style pies made from the freshest ingredients and helmed by one of Philadelphia’s finest chefs, Marc Vetri. Smart pizza heads know to save room for dessert—the Nutella pizza topped with marshmallows is a menu favorite. 1615 Chancellor Street, (215) 763-3760, pizzeriavetri.com
  • The Prime Rib – With a business casual dress code and a bar serving up perfectly mixed Manhattans, The Prime Rib exudes class. A well-heeled crowd chows down on the delicious steak and seafood dishes. 1701 Locust Street, (215) 772-1701, theprimerib.com
  • Ranstead Room – Stephen Starr’s take on the speakeasy shares space with El Rey. Guests can talk to the mixologists to order special, off-menu cocktails. 2013 Ranstead Street, (215) 563-3330
  • R2L – The breathtaking views that span 40 miles add a grand atmosphere to Daniel Stern’s bar and restaurant, situated 500 feet above Center City. American cuisine is served in an ultra-modern dining room. The website lists the exact time for the sunset, so guests can be sure to catch the “show.” Two Liberty Place, 50 S. 16th Street, 37th Floor, (215) 564-5337, r2lrestaurant.com
  • Raven Lounge – Free events, eclectic music and board games set Raven Lounge apart from typical bars. Patrons enjoy comedy acts every Thursday night on the venue’s second floor. 1718 Sansom Street, (215) 840-3577, ravenlounge.com
  • Rogues Gallery Bar – The daily happy hour and amped up bar food such as fried Brussels sprouts and short rib nachos keep the after-work crowd satisfied. Thursday through Saturday, resident DJs spin until 2 a.m on weekends. 11 S. 21st Street, (215) 561-1193, roguesgalleryphilly.com
  • Rouge – Tucked among tough dining competition, this Rittenhouse Square mainstay serves up classic cocktails, simple dishes and sidewalk seating that’s perfect for midday people watching. 205 S. 18th Street, (215) 732-6622, rouge98.com
  • Scarpetta – The New York location of this elegant Italian trattoria has won endless accolades, including a James Beard nomination for “Best New Restaurant in America.” The Rittenhouse Hotel’s new outpost features fresh pasta and local ingredients, including justly famous dish spaghetti tomato and basil that’s anything but boring. (215) 558-4199, scarpettarestaurants.com
  • Seafood Unlimited – Fish lovers seek out this restaurant/market regularly to discover what’s freshest. Diners looking for deals love all-you-can-eat mussels on Mondays and half-priced appetizers during daily happy hours. 270 S. 20th Street, (215) 732-3663, seafoodunlimited.com
  • Shake Shack – People line up for burgers, dogs and fries from this hip fast-food joint. Those craving an icy-cold milkshake can skip the crowd and jump into the C-line. Friendly staff, outdoor seating, a television and a limited beer list give it a neighborhood vibe. 2000 Sansom Street, (215) 809-1742, shakeshack.com
  • Smiths Restaurant & Bar – Suit-and-tie types pile into this sports bar to enjoy happy hour or catch part of a day game. On Friday and Saturday nights, a DJ keeps the crowd on its feet until morning. 39-41 S. 19th Street, (267) 546-2669, smiths-restaurant.com
  • Square 1682 – Adjacent to the chic Hotel Palomar Philadelphia, this American eatery serves small and large plates alongside a variety of creative signature cocktails. The truffle popcorn is a must. 121 S. 17th Street, (215) 563-5008, square1682.com
  • Square on Square – A favorite of the work crowd and neighborhood residents, Square on Square offers both creative and classic Chinese dishes. Regulars rave about the velvet corn soup and General Powell spicy chicken. 1905 Chestnut Street, (215) 568-0088, squareonsquare.com
  • Stir Lounge – The music pumping inside this LGBT bar is audible from the outside, enticing passersby to come in and partake in the fun. Friendly bartenders and even friendlier pours accompany the jams. 1705 Chancellor Street, (215) 732-2700, stirphilly.com
  • Suga – A farm-fresh take on Chinese food is led by internationally renowned chef Susanna Foo, offering classics to exotic dishes for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Try the “Sparkling Susanna” cocktail in her honor, or one of the teas she hand-selected from China. (215) 717-8968, sugabyfoo.com
  • Tinto – Iron Chef Jose Garces followed the success of his first Philly restaurant, Amada in Old City, with this wine bar and restaurant. The authentic menu features mouthwatering pintxos, the variety of tapas found in Spain’s Basque region. 114 S. 20th Street, (215) 665-9150, tintorestaurant.com
  • Tria – Specializing in the fermented trio—wine, cheese and beer—Tria prides itself on global wines, boutique beers, and tapas-style plates. The knowledgeable staff helps guests choose from the menu’s delectable offerings. 18th & Sansom Streets, (215) 972-TRIA; 2227 Pine Street, (215) 309-2245, triaphilly.com
  • Tria Taproom – Like its counterparts, this edition of the Tria family focuses on wine, beer and cheese—but with a twist. Alcohol is served on tap, not from bottles. The crowd-pleasing menu includes a selection of wood-grilled flatbreads. 2005 Walnut Street, (215) 557-TAPS, triaphilly.com
  • Twenty Manning Grill – This sleekly modern neighborhood spot offers a sophisticated yet laid-back atmosphere and a menu of refined traditional American cuisine. Tip: Bar guests vie for the couch seats by the front windows. 261 S. 20th Street, (215) 731-0900, twentymanning.com
  • V Street – The couple behind nationally acclaimed Vedge keep hungry (and thirsty) vegans happy with global street food, such as Peruvian fries and Korean fried tempeh, and creative cocktails at this sleek, relaxed Rittenhouse bar. Even non-vegans love it here. 126 S. 19th Street, (215) 278-7943, vstreetfood.com
  • Vango Skybar & Lounge – After snagging fizzy cocktails from the bar, partiers kick up their heels to DJ-spun beats. At the rooftop Skybar, king-size beds provide the perfect seats to admire the dazzling city skyline. 116 S. 18th Street, (215) 568-1020, vangoloungeandskybar.com
  • Vernick Food & Drink – Greg Vernick and his team bring their love of food and drink to their Rittenhouse friends and neighbors. Regulars rave about the food, from the complimentary amuse bouche to the raw seafood dishes to the mix of small and large plates that make sharing easy. Cocktails, wines and house-made sodas wash it all down. 2031 Walnut Street, (267) 639-6644, vernickphilly.com
  • Vesper – A throwback swanky supper club, Vesper prides itself on its impressive raw bar and carefully crafted cocktails. A hidden underground bar is accessible by dialing the rotary phone in the entrance and waiting for a secret passcode. 223 S. Sydenham Street, (267) 603-2468, vesperphilly.com
  • Village Whiskey – Jose Garces puts his stamp on this pint-sized neighborhood bar, offering 100 varieties of whiskey, bourbon, rye and scotch alongside sparkling wines and American craft beer. The menu of tasty burgers, salads and snacks attracts its own crowd. 118 S. 20th Street, (215) 665-1088, philadelphia.villagewhiskey.com
  • Zama – Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka brings his experience from Pod, Genji and Morimoto to Rittenhouse Square. Zama presents innovative, visually stunning sushi; exquisitely prepared Japanese dishes; and a diverse selection of cocktails, beer and wine. 128 S. 19th Street, (215) 568-1027, zamaphilly.com

Food Only:

  • Agno Grill – At this organic, vegan-friendly and gluten-free restaurant, diners build their own Mediterranean masterpieces by choosing a base—salad, black rice or wrap—and adding proteins, veggie toppings and sauces such as spicy harissa or lemon tahini. 2104 Chestnut Street, (267) 858-4590, agnogrill.com
  • Chix & Bowls – The offshoot of a Washington Square Korean fast-service spot lets customers dress up chicken with spicy garlic, honey barbecue and other sauces, to be served on a rice bowl, atop salad or sandwich or aside wings. 28 S. 20th Street, (215) 925-8881, chixnbowls.com
  • Day by Day – Well-known for its private catering, Day by Day operates a storefront serving hearty lunches and brunches, with standouts stuffed challah French toast, soy chorizo burrito and potato pancake eggs Benedict. 2010 Sansom Street, (215) 564-5540, daybydaycatering.com
  • Dos Tacos – This shoebox-sized shop makes up in flavor what it lacks in space. Tacos, Mexican grilled corn and house-made churros keep lunchtime crowds sated, and the late-night menu on weekends is available until 3 a.m. for party animals. 120 S. 15th Street, (215) 567-8226, dostacosphilly.com
  • Federal Donuts – People come here for one thing: deep-fried joy. It’s delivered in the form of Korean-style chicken, with a variety of rubs and glazes, and donuts in constantly changing flavors like chocolate cake, blueberry pancake, tres leches and strawberry lavender. Coffee rounds out the delicacies at this triple-threat. 1632 Sansom Street, (215) 665-1101, federaldonuts.com
  • Giwa – The Korean tacos and bibimbop (rice bowl) options are the stars at this small eatery. The business crowd knows to get there early for the lunchtime to-go special—buy three tacos, get one free. 1608 Sansom Street, (215) 557-9830, giwaphilly.com
  • Hai Street Kitchen – Creativity flies at this loosely Japanese-inspired fast-food spot, where diners craft custom sushi rolls or rice bowls from out-there ingredients, including Mexican grilled pork belly and pickled mango. 32 S. 18th Street, (215) 964-9465, haistreetkitchen.com
  • HipCityVeg – In a city best known for its cheesesteak, HipCityVeg welcomes vegans and vegetarians looking for a quick bite. It focuses on all things green, with a completely plant-based menu and compostable packaging. And because it wouldn’t be Philly without one, HipCity even offers a faux cheesesteak. 127 S. 18th Street, (215) 278-7605, hipcityveg.com
  • honeygrow – At this bustling spot, a high-tech ordering system, flavorful smoothies and freshly prepared salads and stir-fry draw Center City crowds for lunch and dinner. Newcomers should be sure to sample the honeybar, where they can choose from a variety of local honeys, fruit and toppings to make a delicious, healthy snack. 110 S. 16th Street, (215) 279-7724, honeygrow.com
  • Little Pete’s – Simple, reliable diner staples—burgers, fries, pancakes and waffles—pack the menu at this greasy spoon. Since Little Pete’s stays open 24 hours a day, it’s a favorite of the late-night, club-going crowd. 219 S. 17th Street, (215) 545-5508
  • Mac Mart – Originally a mac and cheese truck, this now stationary spot serves all kinds of delicious toppings (barbeque brisket, mushroom and herb chicken, caramelized onions) atop the childhood favorite. (215) 444-6144, 104 South 18th Street, macmartcart.com
  • Mama’s Vegetarian – This strictly kosher falafel bar serves eats like eggplant and fried chickpea sandwiches on fresh-baked pitas, perfectly complimented by delicious fries. Tempting pastries such as baklava can follow the meal—or even stand on their own. 18 S. 20th Street, (215) 751-0477, mamasvegetarian.com
  • Meltkraft – Operated by New Jersey’s Valley Shepherd Creamery, this grilled cheese shop isn’t the average sandwich stop. The creamery uses cheeses made from its own grass-fed cow and sheep and goat’s milk to build sandwiches such as the Valley Thunder, filled with brisket and baked macaroni and cheese. 46 S. 17th Street, (215) 687-4950, meltkraft.com
  • Milk House – Workers, neighbors and visitors get quality and comfort at this grilled cheese and milkshake shop that offers gluten-free options. Breakfast, soups, salads, hand-cut fries and La Colombe coffee round out the menu. 37 S. 19th Street, (267) 639-4286, themilkhouse.com
  • Nom Nom Ramen – These are not dorm-room noodles. Authentic Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen bowls come filled with mushrooms, bamboo, kelp, pickled ginger or soft-boiled eggs, among other ingredients. To master its flavorful broth, Nom Nom soaks pork bones for more than 24 hours to extract all the richness. 20 S. 18th Street, (215) 988-0898, nomnomramen.com
  • P.S. & Company – The menu changes daily and seasonally based on the availability of local ingredients at this stylishly rustic, organic, vegan, gluten-free, kosher parve cafe. A variety of green and electrolyte juices round out the healthy offerings. 1706 Locust Street, (215) 985-1706, puresweets.com
  • Philadelphia Chutney Company – Fast-food Indian is the name of the game here—though it’s lighter and healthier than people may be used to. The organically sourced cuisine comes from southern India. 1628 Sansom Street, (215) 564-6446
  • Pure Fare – Operating on the you-are-what-you-eat principle, Pure Fare serves only fresh, healthy, gluten-free and all-natural foods. Local farmers and artisans provide many of the menu’s ingredients. 119 S. 21st Street, (267) 318-7441, purefare.com
  • Rachael’s Nosheri – This deli has developed a loyal lunch following among the Center City business community for delicious sandwiches, yummy salads, great pickles and excellent value—most items cost between $5 and $11. 120 S. 19th Street, (215) 568-9565, rachaelsnosherideli.com
  • Revolution Taco – This storefront combines three Philly food trucks (Street Food Philly, Taco Mondo and Say Cheese) to serve up eclectic tacos (smoked pork pastor; smoked mushroom vegan; roast duck with scallion pancake shell), burritos and house-made empanadas. 2015 Walnut Street, (267) 773-8120, therevolutiontaco.com
  • Shoo Fry – Poutine, Philly style is the name of the game at this belowground build-your-own fries bar. Fries come covered in cheese curds and gravy, slathered in steak and Cheez Whiz, topped with scrapple, cheddar and an egg. 132 S. 17th Street, (267) 639-2104, shoofry.com
  • Slice – Serving Neapolitan-style pizza (thin, crispy slices) to the Center City crowd, Slice uses a variety of regular and gourmet toppings. Whole-wheat dough, gluten-free dough and vegan mozzarella cater to all pizza lovers. 1740 Sansom Street, (215) 557-9299, slicepa.com
  • Snap Custom Pizza – The do-it-yourself ethic rules at the city outpost of this growing local chain. Patrons build up crusts with toppings such as veal meatballs, herb cream sauce, oregano oil and roasted peppers. 1504 Sansom Street, (215) 568-5000, snapcustompizza.com
  • Spice End – Kati rolls rule at this Indian street food specialist. Warm flatbreads can be stuffed with a variety of curried meats, cheeses and vegetables served alongside dipping sauces, late into the night. 2004 Chestnut Street, (267) 639-9405, spiceend.com
  • Steve’s Prince of Steaks – With a prime location, Northeast Philly-born Steve’s offers convenience in addition to its delectable sandwiches. Cheesesteaks, hoagies, burgers and fries satisfy diners looking for a Philly-centric meal. 41 S. 16th Street, (215) 972-6090, stevesprinceofsteaks.com
  • Sweetgreen – Health-conscious lunch customers line up to customize seasonal salads on a menu that changes five times a year. Ordering online cuts down on wait time. 1821 Chestnut Street, (215) 665-9710, sweetgreen.com
  • Wok Street – This eatery puts a healthy, DIY spin on Asian street market fare. Customers begin their order by choosing between rice or noodles, then move on to a variety of proteins and veggies. 1518 Chestnut Street, (215) 693-3010, wokst.com

Bring-Your-Own-Bottle (BYOB) Spots:

  • Audrey Claire – Large windows, an open kitchen and outdoor seating—not to mention stellar Mediterranean and American fare—add to the cool, casual ambiance at this corner bistro. Reservations are not accepted on Friday and Saturday; those waiting can grab a drink across the street at Twenty Manning Grill. 276 S. 20th Street, (215) 731-1222, audreyclaire.com
  • Casta Diva – A small apartment converted into a cozy Italian restaurant, Casta Diva creates dishes with locally sourced ingredients and fine Italian imports. Musts: the house-made pasta and center cut rib veal chop. 227 S. 20th Street, (215) 496-9677, castadivabyob.com
  • Erawan Thai Cuisine – This Thai restaurant serves large portions of drunken noodles, shrimp green curry and, of course, pad Thai. People rely on water—along with the wine they brought—to wash down the three levels of spiciness. 123 S. 23rd Street, (215) 567-2542, erawanphilly.com
  • La Viola – This small, authentic Italian BYOB was so popular, it expanded to a space across the street. Visitors to either of the locations can expect large portions of classic dishes at very reasonable prices. 253 S. 16th Street, (215) 735-8630, laviolaphiladelphia.com
  • Melograno – Chef Gianluca Demontis prepares authentic Italian specialties at this elevated trattoria. The savory menu includes pappardelle, risotto and several fish dishes.
    2012 Sansom Street, (215) 875-8116, melogranorestaurant.com
  • Porcini – Brothers Steven and David Sansone opened this very tiny Italian eatery in 1996, and it’s been an under-known neighborhood hit ever since. The menu includes calamari, mussels, filet, scallops, osso buco and a daily fish special. 2048 Sansom Street, (215) 751-1175, porcinirestaurant.com

Cafes & Confections:

  • Almaz Café – This Ethiopian cafe offers breakfast and lunch, and is known for its doro wot (Ethiopian chicken stew), wrap sandwiches and great cups of joe. Visitors can people-watch from the spacious loft area. 140 S. 20th Street, (215) 557-0108, almazcafe.com
  • Bakeshop on 20th – Downtown workers may claim they come for the fresh-brewed coffee or avocado toast, but it’s really the signature Rittenhouse Square—a pretzel-crusted fudge brownie with caramel topping—that keeps them coming back. 269 S. 20th Street, (215) 664-9714, bakeshopon20th.com
  • Australian Joe has its g’day at Bluestone Lane Coffee. The Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel-based outpost of a New York chain offers its Bluestone Lane espresso beans in drinks like flat whites, plus Aussie edibles like avocado smash toast, jaffle sandwiches and Lamington cakes. 1701 Locust Street, bluestonelaneny.com
  • Capital One Café – Thirsty techies stop here for free Internet access and inexpensive coffee and pastries. Insider tip: Patrons who use their Capital One debit card get half off of all beverages. 1636 Walnut Street, (215) 731-1410, cafes.capitalone360.com/philadelphia
  • Capogiro Gelato Artisans – Dessert lovers think they’re in Italy when they taste the goods at this Philly favorite, scooping out fresh gelato made from locally sourced ingredients. Flavors vary by season, but include classics like pistachio and stracciatella, plus combinations such as rosemary honey goat’s milk. 117 S. 20th Street, (215) 636-9250, capogirogelato.com
  • Chestnut Street Philly Bagels – The popular South Street Philly Bagels brings its traditional New York-style bagels to Rittenhouse. Bagels, sandwiches, espresso and drip coffee are all available for takeout from this tiny shop. 1705 Chestnut Street, (215) 299-9920, chestnutbagels.com
  • Elixr Coffee Roasters – Tucked along a quiet side street, Elixr offers an escape from Center City’s high energy. From the ethically sourced beans to the artistically poured froth, every sip here feels like something special. 207 S. Sydenham Street, (239) 404-1730, elixrcoffee.com
  • Good Karma Café – In addition to fair trade and sustainably sourced organic coffee, Good Karma serves a selection of snacks, salads, soups and sandwiches. A rotating display of works by local artists lines the walls, adding to the community-oriented feel. Tip: The backyard garden is a perfect warm-weather escape. 331 S. 22nd Street, (215) 546-1479, thegoodkarmacafe.com
  • Gran Caffè L’Aquila – Constructed in Italy and transported to Philadelphia, this cafe/bar stays open from morning until night and serves pastries, panini, a dozen flavors of gelato, wine and buzz-worthy coffee. The downstairs stand-up bar lends authenticity—that’s how it’s done in Italy—and the upstairs features a full-service restaurant. Also on the second level: the gelato lab, wine tastings and Italian classes. 1716 Chestnut Street, (215) 568-5600, grancaffelaquila.com
  • Insomnia Cookies – The sugary scents of fresh-baked treats waft from this take-out bakery, drawing people inside to try cookie varieties such as double chocolate mint and white chocolate macadamia. With delivery offered through the early morning hours, the goodies here can undermine even the strictest diet. 108 S. 16th Street, (877) 63-COOKIE, insomniacookies.com
  • Joe Coffee – A New York City transplant that was named one of the best coffee bars in the country by Food & Wine magazine, Joe offers caffeine, sweets and outdoor seats, perfect for enjoying the scenery of across-the-street Rittenhouse Square. 1845 Walnut Street,
    (215) 278-2454, joecoffeephl.com
  • La Colombe – Daniel Boulud is just one chef who favors the beans from this elegant European-style but Philly-born cafe, which serves its java in beautiful Fima Deruta pottery. For homebrewed goodness, coffee drinkers can pick up a box of Lyon, La Colombe’s previous collaborative project with Leonardo DiCaprio. 130 S. 19th Street, (215) 563-0860; 1414 S. Penn Square, (215) 977-7770, lacolombe.com
  • Lil' Pop Shop – Just steps off Rittenhouse Square, this homemade popsicle shop serves creamy and non-dairy treats with an emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients. Garden mint chocolate chunk and basil lemonade have been known to grace the menu, as do coffee and baked goods. 229 South 20th Street, 215-309-5822, lilpopshop.com
  • Max Brenner Chocolate Bar and Restaurant – Serving a seemingly endless lineup of chocolate treats for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Max Brenner wins over kids and their parents. Highlights: chocolate chunks pizza, the Brenner burger and chocolate European fondue—for roasting and dunking marshmallows. 15th & Walnut Streets, (215) 344-8150, maxbrenner.com
  • Metropolitan Bakery and Cafe – A Philadelphia institution, Metropolitan doles out wonderful breads, spreads, scones and sweets. Rittenhouse Square picnickers can grab artisan cheeses, produce and sandwiches here. Diners who prefer to eat in enjoy croissants, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, quiche and coffee at the sit-down spot next door. 262 & 264 S. 19th Street, (215) 545-6655, metropolitanbakery.com
  • Miel Patisserie – Gourmet cakes, sophisticated pastry and handcrafted, artisan chocolates line the cases at this tempting shop. Patrons can munch on a hot or cold sandwich or sip an espresso while trying to choose their treat. 204 S. 17th Street, (215) 731-9191, mielpatisserie.com
  • Plenty Cafe – The all-day café is brunch focused by day and wine and small plates focused by night. The sandwiches are inspired by destinations around the world. A large selection of teas and coffee with custom blends by Square One draws its own following. 1602 Spruce Street, (215) 560-8684, plentyphiladelphia.com
  • Saxbys Coffee – This locally based cafe, with multiple locations in the Philadelphia region, takes special pride in its Cold Brew Iced Coffee. The smooth, rich drink is made by steeping ground coffee in cold filtered water, which slowly coaxes flavor from the beans. 2000 Walnut Street, (267) 639-5416; Liberty Place, 1625 Chestnut Street, (215) 568-2111, saxbyscoffee.com
  • Sip N Glo Juicery – Juices, smoothies and shakes packed with nutrients make for a healthy treat. The menu changes based on the local produce that’s available, and regulars know to anticipate the monthly drink specials. 257 S. 20th Street, (267) 273-0639, sipnglo.com
  • Spread Bagelry – Montreal-style bagels baked in a wood-fired oven can’t get much better—unless they’re topped with homemade seasonal spreads, such as spring onion scallion cream cheese, freshly ground peanut butter and Amish jam. On the weekends, those in the know bring their own vodka for Bloody Marys. 262 S. 20th Street, (215) 545-0626, spreadbagelry.com
  • Swiss Haus Bakery – Century-old European recipes created with quality ingredients are what have kept this establishment going for 90 years. Customers come for custom cakes for every occasion, as well as pastries and cookies. 35 S. 19th Street, (215) 563-0759, swisshausbakery.com
  • Waffles & Wedges – Liege and gluten-free waffles, thick-cut baked potato wedges and organic coffee—it’s an unlikely combination that just works. Toppings for the waffles and wedges range from sweet (Nutella, ice cream and salted caramel) to savory (gravy, chicken and Sriracha ketchup). 1511 Pine Street, (215) 309-3222, waffleswedges.com
  • Yogorino – Yogorino’s one-and-only flavor—plain and tart, like classic Greek—contains all-natural ingredients. Customers load up on toppings—fruit, nuts, cereals, pistachio, bitter chocolate and dulce de leche sauces—to enjoy a healthy and delightful snack. 233 S. 20th Street, (267) 639-5287, yogorino.com

Different Concepts:

  • Ashton Cigar Bar – This bar and lounge offers a smoky alternative to the usual after-work drink spot. In addition to 200 varieties of cigars stored in a walk-in humidor, it stocks 365 whiskies and 500 spirits. 1522 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor, (267) 350-0000, ashtoncigarbar.com
  • COOK – Philadelphia’s hardest reservation to score isn’t at a swanky restaurant; it’s at COOK, a collaborative kitchen-classroom that accommodates 16 guests per class. Celebrated and up-and-coming chefs impart their foodie know-how, demoing doughnuts, knife skills, mixology, homemade pizza and so much more deliciousness. The best part: Guests eat the lesson. 253 S. 20th Street, (215) 735-COOK, audreyclairecook.com
  • Di Bruno Bros. – Famous for its fine selection of Italian cheeses and meats, this locally owned gourmet mega-store also offers sandwiches, prepared foods made daily and wonderful cappuccino and pastries. The lunch crowd takes their meals to go or enjoys them in the upstairs in the dining area. 1730 Chestnut Street, (215) 665-9220, dibruno.com

Music, Stage & Film:

  • Adrienne Theater – Tucked onto a narrow, quiet block are the main stages for Comedy Sportz, kid-driven MacGuffin and Philly Improv Theater. 2030 Sansom Street, comedysportzphilly.com, macguffintf.com, phitcomedy.com
  • Chris’ Jazz Cafe – Local and national jazz acts take the stage here every night but Sunday. Open-mic nights, comedy acts and performers of other genres, including funk, soul, R&B and world music—served up with great crab cakes—round out the calendar. 1421 Sansom Street, (215) 568-3131, chrisjazzcafe.com
  • Curtis Institute of Music – Founded in 1924, Curtis educates and trains a highly selective group of young musicians for professional careers as artists. While only the best and most talented are accepted into the school, anyone can enjoy the free or very affordable performances that are at the heart of the school’s learn-by-doing approach. 1726 Locust Street, (215) 893-5252, curtis.edu
  • First Unitarian Church – Sure, most churches have a choir that performs at Sunday services, but how many host rock concerts? R5 Productions—the same guys who book shows for ultra-cool venue Union Transfer—set the calendar for this music heaven. Note: All the rocking makes for a warm temperature inside. 2125 Chestnut Street, (215) 821-7575, r5productions.com
  • Helium Comedy Club – Standup comedians get big laughs Tuesday through Saturday nights at this intimate venue, which serves drinks, snacks and desserts. Funny guys and gals take advantage of the weekly open-mic night and monthly comedy workshop. 2031 Sansom Street, (215) 496-9001, philadelphia.heliumcomedy.com
  • Howl at the Moon – Dueling pianos, a high-energy crowd and rock tunes make Howl at the Moon a surefire pick for a fun night out on the town. Audience interaction, requests and dancing create lively shows. 258 S. 15th Street, (215) 546-4695, howlatthemoon.com
  • InterAct Theatre Company – From the historic Drake building, this contemporary company stages risk-taking and often world-premiere productions that engage and challenge audiences. 302 S. Hicks Streets, (215) 568-8079, interacttheatre.org
  • PFS Roxy Theater – The Philadelphia Film Society runs the two-screen Roxy Theater, housed in two row houses. It offers educational programs on films and filmmakers and shows popular and independent movies. 2023 Sansom Street, (267) 639-9508, filmadelphia.org/roxy
  • Plays & Players Theatre – One of the oldest continuously running theaters in the United States, Plays & Players opened as The Little Theatre in 1912. Its location on a quiet, residential street adds to its charm. 1714 Delancey Place, (215) 735-0630, playsandplayers.org
  • Prince Theater – Featuring dance, comedy, experimental works, operas and film, the Prince Theater showcases a range of productions. Some of the nation’s biggest cabaret and comedy acts stop at The RRazz Room at the Prince. The theater is owned and operated by the Philadelphia Film Society and hosts the annual Philadelphia Film Festival, featuring the best of American and international cinema. 1412 Chestnut Street, (215) 422-4580, princetheater.org

Museums, Attractions & Galleries:

  • The Center for Emerging Visual Artists – Dedicated to supporting artists throughout the region, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists provides career support, exhibition opportunities and education for artists working within 100 miles of the city. The community enjoys exhibitions and events. 237 S. 18th Street, 3rd Floor, (215) 546-7775, cfeva.org
  • City Hall – Covering 14.5 acres, Philadelphia’s City Hall is one of the largest municipal buildings in the world. The exterior features sculptures representing the seasons, continents and allegorical figures—all designed by Alexander Milne Calder. The most notable sculpture is at the very top: a 37-foot, 27-ton statue of city founder William Penn. Every weekday, two-hour tours of the building and 15-minute tower tours include a view from the Observation Deck. Broad & Market Streets, Room 121, (215) 686-2840, phlvisitorcenter.com/cityhall
  • Urban Publishing USA – John Andrulis opened this gallery/studio in 2009 to sell his own black-and-white photos, which primarily focus on Philadelphia, the Jersey Shore and Manhattan. JAG also displays prints, pictures, sculptures and pottery from the young artists that Andrulis represents. 2201 Pine Street, (215) 840-8591, urbanpublishingusa.com
  • Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia – Here, visitors discover the secrets of the “Soap Lady,” view the Hyrtl Skull Collection and immerse themselves in other disturbingly informative medical artifacts. A couple of the most popular displays: a tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland and slides of Albert Einstein’s brain. 19 S. 22nd Street, (215) 560-8564, muttermuseum.org
  • One Liberty Observation Deck – Even birds are envious of this place. An entertaining video plays as the elevator zips visitors up to the 57th floor of One Liberty Place, where wrap-around, floor-to-ceiling windows reveal panoramic views. Interactive kiosks zoom in on Philadelphia landmarks and exhibits offer interesting history, sports and art tidbits that help form the fabric of Philadelphia. 1650 Market Street, (215) 561-3325, phillyfromthetop.com
  • The Print Center – Free and open to the public, this gallery was founded in 1915, as a pioneer in its dedication to the appreciation of prints. Today, this vibrant nonprofit continues to encourage the growth and understanding of photography and printmaking as important contemporary arts via exhibits, publications and education. 1614 Latimer Street, (215) 735-6090, printcenter.org
  • Philadelphia Art Alliance – Across the street from Rittenhouse Square, the Art Alliance showcases contemporary craft and design. Exhibits focus on craft as an active verb and creating an interaction between artists and audience in a distinctive historic setting. 251 S. 18th Street, (215) 545-4302, philartalliance.org
  • The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia – Inside a stately row home, this museum houses an impressive collection of art, antiques, rare archives and literary treasures. Among them: the only surviving copy of Ben Franklin’s first Poor Richard’s Almanack, James Joyce’s manuscript for Ulysses, Bram Stoker’s notes and outlines for Dracula and more than 100 personal letters from George Washington. 2008-2010 Delancey Place, (215) 732-1600, rosenbach.org

Parks & Outdoor Spaces:

  • Dilworth Park – At the foot of Philadelphia’s iconic City Hall this tree-lined plaza welcomes pedestrians, commuters and visitors. Highlights include a lawn, an outdoor cafe and a walk-through fountain and an ice-skating rink in season. 15th & Market Streets, dilworthpark.org
  • Fitler Square – First dedicated in 1896, this half-acre park sits just south and west of Rittenhouse Square. Throughout the year, the square hosts neighborhood gatherings including a holiday tree lighting, Easter egg hunt, Halloween party, a farmers’ market and seasonal fairs. 23rd & Pine Streets, fitlersquare.org
  • John F. Collins Park – This tiny mid-building oasis provides an ideal spot for a quiet lunch among shrubs and native trees. Gates sculpted by local artist Christopher Ray depict nature scenes of the tri-state area. 1707 Chestnut Street, johnfcollinspark.org
  • Rittenhouse Square – The centerpiece of an upscale neighborhood, Rittenhouse Square is alive with locals and visitors amid greenery and colorful flowers. The historic park features walkways, sculptures, fountains and a reflecting pool. Farmers’ markets, craft fairs, concerts and events of all kinds shine a spotlight on the picturesque location all year. 18th & Walnut Streets, friendsofrittenhouse.org
  • Schuylkill River Banks and Trail –This eight-mile stretch of riverbank provides an ideal setting for running, biking, skating or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll and a picnic. Due to its proximity to the water, this area also offers fishing, kayaking and boating. Entry points are at 25th and Locust streets, Walnut Street west of 24th Street and Chestnut Street west of 24th Street. schuylkillbanks.org
  • Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk – An extension of the Schuylkill River Trail, this concrete, above-the-water connection is perfect for walkers, runners and bikers. Solar-powered overhead lights keep the boardwalk lit all night. Access points: Locust Street at the end of the Schuylkill River Trail (25th and Locust streets) and the north and south sides of the South Street Bridge. schuylkillbanks.org

 

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