1623 E. Passyunk Ave., East Passyunk
Helmed by chef Townsend Wentz, a reservation at this modern-French restaurant is worthy of a special occasion. It’s set up inside a residential-looking townhouse, which makes for an atmosphere that’s simultaneously unintimidating and elegant. You can order a la carte, though we suggest going all out with the five-course tasting menu. Even if you’re not looking for a sit-down meal, stop by for a drink—the bar here is impeccably stocked with a cocktail list to match.
261 S. 20th St., Rittenhouse
This is one of those fail-proof neighborhood spots where you’re guaranteed a great meal on date night—or any night when you simply don’t feel like cooking. You can go simple with a perfectly prepped burger, or go light with a veggie stir-fry, and for dessert the berry cobbler is bomb.
Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat
2101 South St., Fitler Square
With a menu that’s comprised almost entirely of Brunch classics, this traditional diner-style restaurant is a huge hit with both kiddos and their parents (BYOB!). There’s biscuits and gravy, eggs benedict, several scrambles, and something called the “Honey Cristo”—essentially, it’s an order of French toast stuffed with cheese and ham. The non-breakfast selection spans all the classic sandwiches, burgers, and salads—plus, a fish taco situation that’s surprisingly solid. Fair warning: cash only.
Sonny’s Famous Steaks
228 Market St., Old City
It wouldn’t be a trip to Philly without sinking your teeth into a Philly cheesesteak. Sonny’s in Old City makes half a dozen or so iterations of the classic steak (or chicken) and cheese sandwich. And while no one would suggest the melts are in any way healthy, they do have gluten-free buns and the ingredients are as fresh as can be. The communal tables inside are ideal for a low-frill lunch—though we prefer grabbing one of the outdoor seats.
1831 Chestnut St., Rittenhouse
While it’s not exactly a hotel, Roost in Rittenhouse (there’s also a Midtown location) is where you want to post up when staying in town on a weekly or monthly basis. The one- and two-bedroom apartments come beautifully furnished with all the creature comforts—tricked out kitchens, on-site laundry, (real!) houseplants, and, brilliantly, Apple TV. The Roost team can also set you up with groceries, temporary gym memberships, and a 24-hourse concierge to meet pretty much every need and fancy. Best part: pets and kids are more than welcome.
110 Market St., Old City
An old-timey candy shop at first glance, recently, the new Shane Candies has been carefully restored (by the brother team behind Franklin Fountain) to mirror the original confectionary—in business on and off since 1863. Their claim to fame: “clear toy” candies, made right on site, where they also craft bonbons, fudge, perfect marshmallow hot chocolate, and so much more, from scratch.
1615 Chancellor St., Rittenhouse
The dough here is so delicious that you can easily make a meal of the crusts alone—or order a Rotolo as an appetizer. The Napoletano-style pies cover all the toppings bases—margherita, porchetta, even a tuna—though after eating your way through the city, one of the salads, which are excellent (we like the arugula), is a lighter option. For dessert, the Nutella/marshmallow pizza is a big hit with the littles and so is the soft serve. The space is cozy, so you can watch the pies go in and out of the massive wood-fired oven from pretty much anywhere.
115 E. Girard Ave., Fishtown
With skimpy opening hours (Wednesday through Saturday, 5:30pm to 10:30pm, or until they sell out) and a strict 40-pies-a-day rule, it’s no surprise that Pizzeria Bedia is essentially a one-man show: owner and baker Joe Beddia painstakingly makes all the dough by hand. People tend to line up hours before opening to get their hands on what many consider to be some of the best pies in the country, which can make for a fun little adventure if you’ve got older-ish kids in tow.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
1020 South St., Washington Square West
As its name suggests, this massive, interactive art installation—including indoor-outdoor galleries and a labyrinth—is, in fact, magical. Artist Isaiah Zagar works predominantly in mosaic, which he meticulously constructs from tiles, old plates, glass, old tires, and more (if his art looks familiar, you likely saw some of his smaller scale murals peppered throughout the city). You can easily see the entire space in under an hour, with plenty of time left over to explore the rest of the neighborhood. Pro tip: Grab your tickets online ahead of time.
205 Arch St., Old City
What separates this adorable little toy store from its big-box counterparts is its focus on learning the old-fashioned way: through imaginative play and make-believe. Proof: There’s a play area where kiddos can test out floor models and an arts-and-crafts table, meaning customers are encouraged to stay a while. The toy selection is as vast as it is thoughtful, much of which is blessedly analog for when you need a break from screens, buttons, and the like. If you’re lucky, your visit will coincide with one of the many in-store events (story time, sing-along, etc.)