110 S. 13th St., Washington Square West
This tiny Mediterranean spot is lively and typically packed, thanks to its incredible pizzas (think: red grapes, secret sauce, gorgonzola, arugula, prosciutto, toasted walnuts, and vincotto) and salads, like their watermelon and buffalo mozzarella offering. Dessert here is also a draw—they're known for their budoino (and once even offered their take on a Choco Tac, which was stuffed with frozen salted caramel budino). If you want a table for dinner, definitely make a reservation—seats at the bar are sometimes available if you just walk in.
2034 Chestnut St., Rittenhouse
Meat hooks line the ceiling of this split-level space, which—with its glossy white subway tiles, tidy bar, and expansive front window—is anything but rough around the edges. The menu lives up to the restaurant's name: A meatball and sausage menu complement plenty of meat-forward entrees, like smoked wild boar ribs served with cheesy cornbread. Beers on tap and top-notch whiskey cocktails round out the experience.
1516 Sansom St., Rittenhouse
Perched on the second floor above sister restaurant Oyster House, Mission has a bright, welcoming space filled with white picnic tables (and tons more seating throughout), several well-placed skylights, and plenty of greenery. Ceviche, chicken mole tacos, and churros are all on the menu, along with a host of excellent cocktails. They also have wifi, so if you need it, it's not a bad place to perch and work with a meal in the afternoon.
Rooster Soup Co.
1526 Sansom St., Rittenhouse
From the same people behind Zahav and Federal Donuts, Rooster is an amazing diner that uses the leftover chicken bones from Federal to create the broth base for their soups. With a menu that's both Southern- and Jewish-bent, you'll find everything from grits to biscuits and sausage gravy to matzo ball soup. The best part? 100 percent of the proceeds go to support the Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative, which serves meals to Philadelphians in need.
1632 Sansom St., Rittenhouse
Yes, the donuts at this teeny spot are exceptional (flavors rotate and the cinnamon brown sugar is a good introduction to what they do here), but many would argue that the main draw is the fried chicken. Instead of a biscuit, chicken platters—customize yours with a choice of seasonings and glazes—come with a honey donut on the side. Get here on the early side, the fresh-baked stuff tends to go crazy-fast and plan on eating yours on-the-go as seating as limited.
276 S. 20th St., Rittenhouse
Out of context, this teeny bistro looks like it was plucked right off a quiet European side street—and the same can be said of the Mediterranean menu (note the seasonal specials written out on a chalkboard): grilled baby octopus, watermelon with feta cheese, and really well done fish, like the potato-crusted ahi. Diners are responsible for their own wine pairings (BYOB).
300 E. Girard Ave., Fishtown
This happy, sun-soaked spot is ideal for a chill meal—whether you’re looking for a quickie pastry-and-coffee breakfast, a healthy-ish salad for lunch, or a place to post up for an early happy hour. Some menu highlights: The Girard breakfast sandwich (grilled avo, egg, and cheese), the chicken sandwich, and the vegan (!!!) biscuits and gravy. Their local-adored BYOB policy is also worth mentioning.
210 W. Washington Sq., Society Hill
While there’s plenty of indoor seating, as its name suggests, the place to be is in the garden—twinkling lights and pockets of lush greenery throughout. The only thing more whimsical than the setting is the farm-to-table menu, from deviled eggs three ways for brunch (topped with pickled beets, fresh crab, and bacon) to sustainably sourced salmon tabbouleh for dinner. Also important: the wine and cheese selection is arguably the best in the city.
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.