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).
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.
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.
2031 Walnut St., Rittenhouse
Chef-owner Gregory Vernick’s namesake Rittenhouse Square restaurant is one of those spots that gets name-checked every time someone talks about the booming dining scene in Philly. And while it has topped many “best-of” lists in the last few years, we can say with certainty it’s worth all the hype. (There’s an entire corner of the menu dedicated to beautifully plated toasts—need we say more?) There are plates big (grilled black sea bass with spicy broccoli and saffron) and small (Maryland crab on toast), plus simple wood-fired Amish chicken and a fish of the day. The back dining room has the best views of the open kitchen, but the bar is just as nice if you can’t snag a reservation.
126 S. 19th St., RIttenhouse
From the same people behind Vedge, V Street is a similarly impressive and popular vegetable-forward dining spot, where you can expect some next-level vegan food that’s really just excellent food, period. Consider some of their brunch options: pho French dip, waffles with sesame butter, blackberries, and ponzu, a side of Peruvian home fries, and purple sweet potato ice great with orange granita, coconut whip, and picked pineapple for dessert. This spot is decidedly more casual (and cheaper) than Vedge, but it’s still sleek and vibrant; they have a full bar with great cocktails, plus a selection of natural wines and draft beers.
Harp & Crown
1525 Sansom St., Rittenhouse
A drop-dead gorgeous example of marrying old with new, antique with modern, Harp & Crown is a destination for foodies and the design-minded alike.