Philadelphia for Foodies

05/18/2015 03:01 pm ET | Updated May 19, 2016

Philadelphia is a well-known restaurant destination: even when the city was going broke, it boasted the likes of traditional French restaurant, Le Bec Fin, known as one of the best in the nation. Much has changed in the last decade; Le Bec Fin has closed its doors, but new restaurants have opened theirs, to much acclaim. Here are some of my favorites.

Little Fish

Photo: Little Fish by: pointnshoot flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot

If you like mussels, you'd be foolish not to go with the perfectly sized appetizer of the Prince Edward Island variety served in a green thai curry sauce. The oysters also, usually a selection of 6 to 8 varieties, hailing from both East and West Coasts, are magnificently selected. Mix and match is my recommendation.

Bassett's Ice Cream

Photo: Bassett's Ice Cream by: NatalieMaynor flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot
Philadelphia has its own style of ice cream, and Bassett's is hands down the best this city produces. Bassett's, you'll find, is slightly less dense than other premium ice creams because it doesn't use egg as a binder. Pick up a pint of Bassett's in one hand and Haagen Dasz in another, you'll see the Bassett's weighs a little less, but is just as rich and flavorful as the best of them.


Photo: Barbuzzo by: Elvira Vanag - Courtesy: Gogobot

Ever since Marcie Turner's Mediterranean Burbuzzo opened on 13th St it's been a splash. Small dishes for sharing that change according to season. The pan seared gnocchi, truffled brussel sprouts and fontina stuffed meatballs will knock your socks off. So is the salted caramel Budino, a dessert that every foodie in Philadelphia seems to rave about. Reservations are highly advisable for dinner, but the great  it's generally possible to get immediate seating for an impromptu lunch.

John's Roast Pork

Photo: John's Roast Pork by: T.Tseng flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot
Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan once wrote that if he had to choose a last meal in Philadelphia it would be the exquisite roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone and spinach on a long Sarcone's roll. I may just agree with LaBan. For a real Philly style sandwich head to John's for the roast pork or the cheesesteak (don't ask for Whiz, they only use "real cheese" as the owner put it). And forget about Pat's and Geno's.

Butcher and Singer

Photo: Butcher and Singer by: dcwriterdawn flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot

Step inside Butcher and Singer, the 1930s-era steakhouse by renowned restaurateur Stephen Starr, and you'll be swept up in the sophistication of Rittenhouse Square dining at its finest. Old Hollywood touches include a raw bar, ice-cold martinis and the sounds of Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald wafting throughout the restaurant, while romantic lighting and dark woods evoke a bygone era of old Hollywood. Steak is the name of the game at Butcher and Singer. Entrees include an opulent porterhouse steak (sliced for up to six people to share), domestic lamb chops and boneless rib eye, also called "The Delmonico." The seafood is delicious as well.

Grace Tavern

Photo: Grace Tavern by: Burger Baroness flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot
Excellent Burger served on brioche Bun with remarkable fries served with Bourbon Mayo. Blackened green beans and homemade sausages. There's a great beer selection on tap, and the lovingly restored Bevadore refrigerator houses a great selection of beer bottles.  It's comfortable and quirky, with a diverse crowd. The coffered tin ceiling gives the bar a classic feel.


Photo: Vetri by: chatirygirl flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot

The best of the best when it comes to Northern Italian cuisine in Philadelphia, and one of the finest in the U.S. according to top critics like the folks at James Beard. Very formal, very elegant, hand painted menus express daily-changing food selections and food and wine pairings. The restaurant occupies part of the first floor of a renovated townhouse. Meals are hand crafted and personalized, according to conversations with your server. Vetri used to be a la carte but switched recently to a $155 per head tasting menu.


Photo: Pumpkin by: cliff1066™ flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot

My favorite BYOB in the city. Local and seasonal ingredients play a major role in Pumpkin's cuisine, so it's no surprise the menu of this relaxed New American establishment changes constantly -- all without compromising value. The popular BYOB is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Di Bruno Brothers

Photo: Di Bruno Brothers by: mkorcuska flickr - Courtesy: Gogobot

A food lover's ultimate dream. The cheese cave in the back of the store features anything and everything you would want in the way of fromage, with a great staff that's more than willing to let you sample anything and offer suggestions about how to pair the cheese with wine, beer, fruit, chutneys and spreads.

Gogobot's mission is to help people find great places to stay, eat and play that are perfect for them. Read more from the Foodie Tribe here or explore more of Philadelphia here.