Center City Restaurants
1312 Spruce St., Center City
The first venture by Philly native and James Beard Award-winning Chef Marc Vetri and sommelier/partner Jeff Benjamin, Vetri remains a celebrated restaurant two decades (and as many sister restaurants) later. The thirty-two-seat dining room has a rustic wood floor and exposed ceiling beams, and is elegantly dressed with a hand-blown glass chandelier lighting the center of the room. (As of 2014, Vetri has a private dining room upstairs, too, with a dedicated kitchen; intimate ten-person dinners can be had around the chef’s counter, or larger meals around the formal dining table.) The Italian-style tasting-menu-only setup is matched by a 2,500-bottle wine cellar, also Italian-focused, though Vetri offers great craft beer pairings as well.
237 St. James Pl., Center City
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov, who was born in Israel and raised in Pittsburgh, is the star of this iconic Philadelphia restaurant. Go for the pre-fixe menu, a sampling of amazing mezze and Israeli-style grilled meats and veggies.
306 Market St., Center City
A part of the same restaurant group as High Street on Hudson in NYC (and others), Fork has a brilliant dinner menu, now helmed by Chef Jeremy Hansen. Handmade pastas are coupled with grilled lobster, dry-aged steak, bitter green salads, and other seasonal dishes. Fork also does a Sunday brunch that showcases more of the acclaimed pastry/bread program, too.
120 S. 13th St., Center City
Okay, Double Knot, which opened in 2016, hardly qualifies as historic, but it seems destined to become a Philadelphia mainstay. It’s a handsomely decorated (dark wood, industrial lighting, leather chairs, bookshelves) hybrid cafe/Japanese fusion restaurant that’s open all day—beginning with a.m. espressos and moving toward banh mi, pork buns, robatayaki-style meat, and handrolls throughout the day. Cocktails are poured into the night at the intimate, speakeasy-like basement bar.
1221 Locust St., Center City
Vedge has the distinction of being not only one of the best vegan restaurants in the country, but also one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, period—a particularly impressive distinction for a city that has such stiff competition (not to mention, home of the cheesesteak). An emphasis on vegetables has resulted in an amazing menu that includes drool-worthy fare like stuffed avocado, country-fried kohlrabi, and eggplant braciole. While the food certainly takes center stage, the beer, wine, and cocktail selections are also top-notch.