Buddakan

The Experience

A towering gilded statue of the Buddha generates elegant calm in this 175-seat, Pan Asian restaurant with sleek, modern decor. Immensely popular, Buddakan is a restaurant that is great for both large parties and intimate dinners.

Located in the heart of the bustling Old City neighborhood, Buddakan features two full bars as well as a popular (and hard to reserve) 20-person, lit-from-within, community table for sharing food and conversation.

The fare is top notch – appetizers include seared kobe beef carpaccio, endamme ravioli, miso tuna tartare and tea smoked spareribs. For the main course, delve into delicious dishes like Japanese black cod, wasabi crusted filet mignon, roasted ponzu chicken and collosal tempura shrimp. For dessert, the chocolate bento box will please just about anyone.

Be sure to make your reservation before coming to town as Buddakan fills up quickly especially on weekends. Better yet, make your reservation right now .

Morimoto

Stephen Starr creative Japanese restaurant has garnered all kinds of national and international attention since opening a few years back. Located a block from Independence Hall on Chestnut Street, Morimoto has an interior – awash in glass and colors – that is both striking and serene in its design.

The restaurant´s namesake and head chef, Morimoto (of Food Network´s Iron Chef fame), has created a menu offering the very best in contemporary Japanese cusine. While regulars flock here for the exquisitely prepared sushi, Morimoto offers diners a broad spectrum of flavors that delve beyond nigiri and sashimi.

In recent years, the restaurant has made it onto Gourmet magazine´s “Best Restaurants in America” list and Conde Nast Traveler magazine 50 Hot Tables in America. Today Morimoto remains one of the hottest spots to dine in Center City and continues to receive rave reviews from regulars and first-timers alike.

That said, be sure to call ahead for reservations.

Insider Tip

The mezzanine level lounge is a great spot to have a pre-meal cocktail while waiting for your table. You can enjoy a sake or try a “Sakura” – a cosmo made with Sake – in the sleek space that overlooks the brilliant restaurant below.

Sampan

Chef and charismatic television star Michael Schulson returns to Philadelphia with the opening of Sampan, a modern Asian restaurant where he serves the acclaimed cuisine that has made him one of the country´s highly sought-after culinary talents.

Schulson returns to Philadelphia after having opened Buddakan in New York City for Stephen Starr and Izakaya at the Borgata in Atlantic City and then having gone on to star in Style network´s popular series Pantry Raid and TLC Ultimate Cake Off.

Chef Schulson has been looking forward to a time when he could come back to Philadelphia and cook in a small, personal space, which he has now achieved with Sampan. To him, Sampan is a place where he can prepare serious food from across Asia while interacting with guests and sharing his love of the cuisine with them.

Design

Designed by Philadelphia´s Sparks Design, Sampan features distressed metals, reclaimed timber and a rustic, natural aesthetic anchored by a custom-crafted, color washed painting that lends a warm ambiance to the space. In contrast to the large scale restaurants such as Manhattan´s Buddakan and West Philadelphia´s Pod, where Chef Schulson served as executive chef, this 80-seat gem is a cozy setting that allows his passion for Asian flavors, thoughtfully prepared, to shine.

Cuisine

Schulson´s says his mission at Sampan is to make the more exotic and unfamiliar flavors of Asian cuisine accessible and inviting to American palates.

Sampan menu is composed of a variety of small plates – Chef Schulson´s preferred way to cook because it is ideal for sampling and sharing. Tempting dishes include: his signature Edamame Dumplings, with truffles, shoots and sake broth; Thai Chicken Wings with pickles, mint and basil; Pekin Duck with tamarind pancakes, scallions and cucumbers; Lamb Satay with yakitori, penko and ginger; Crispy Chili Crab with Hong Kong noodles, black beans and ginger chips; Mao Pao Tofu with pork, ginger and garlic; and Wild Mushroom Salad with goat cheese, puffed rice and truffles.

Prices range from $5 to $19.

The Rittenhouse

A deluxe hotel like The Rittenhouse deserves a deluxe restaurant, a fitting description for Lacroix, named “Restaurant of the Year” in 2003 by Esquire magazine.

Located on the second floor of the Rittenhouse Hotel, Lacroix features elegant décor and a broad view of Rittenhouse Square, which combine to make the ambiance at Lacroix as enjoyable as the meal itself.

The creative French menu changes with the season and in the past has included favorites like pumpkin soup with fried shallots and tuna steak with salmis sauce. The wine list is excellent and extensive – thanks to the 4,000-bottle wine cellar .

The tasting menus can be catered to your preference – three-, four- and five-course selections are offered at set prices during lunch and dinner.

Sunday Brunch at Lacroix – which features such delectable dishes as baby lamb chops with garlic crust and banyuls sauce, niman ranch smoked bacon, quail eggs with artichoke, golden beet and shiitakes, and french baguette toast with apple, raspberry and rosemary jam – is also highly recommended.

Lacroix at The Rittenhouse

A deluxe hotel like The Rittenhouse deserves a deluxe restaurant, a fitting description for Lacroix, named “Restaurant of the Year” in 2003 by Esquire magazine.

Located on the second floor of the Rittenhouse Hotel, Lacroix features elegant décor and a broad view of Rittenhouse Square, which combine to make the ambiance at Lacroix as enjoyable as the meal itself.

The creative French menu changes with the season and in the past has included favorites like pumpkin soup with fried shallots and tuna steak with salmis sauce. The wine list is excellent and extensive – thanks to the 4,000-bottle wine cellar .

The tasting menus can be catered to your preference – three-, four- and five-course selections are offered at set prices during lunch and dinner.

Sunday Brunch at Lacroix – which features such delectable dishes as baby lamb chops with garlic crust and banyuls sauce, niman ranch smoked bacon, quail eggs with artichoke, golden beet and shiitakes, and french baguette toast with apple, raspberry and rosemary jam – is also highly recommended.

The Fountain Restaurant

The Fountain Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia has received seemingly every type of accolade there is, from top honors in Gourmet magazine to Forbes Travel Guide´s 2010 Five Star award to a perfect Five Diamond rating from AAA. It´s been a Philadelphia favorite for special occasion meals for decades.

Additionally rated as the best restaurant in Philadelphia by Zagat´s, the Fountain Restaurant overlooks the majestic Swann Memorial Fountain sculpture by Alexander Stirling Calder in the center of Logan Square. You´ll also enjoy sweeping views of the grand Benjamin Franklin Parkway and its gorgeous Beaux Arts architecture.

Fountain is definitely an incredibly romantic restaurant, so if you´re visiting with a special someone, you will surely impress them with a meal at Fountain.

You can order a la carte or select the prix fix option to enjoy the “spontaneous tastes” menu which gives the chef control of a few courses. The menu changes regularly, but you can expect to see globaly influenced items like Pan-fried Veal Sweetbreads, Braised Dover Sole Roulade, Sautéed Venison Medallions and Roasted Australian Lamb Saddle.

Percy Street Barbecue

Percy Street Barbecue sees the South Street debut of restaurateurs Steven Cook and Michael Solomonov (Zahav, Xochitl).

Serving a straightforward selection of slowly smoked meats and homey side dishes alongside craft beers and tasty cocktails, Percy Street is an ideal venue for Chef Erin OShea much-lauded Southern cooking, and is on its way to become the city top spot for barbecue.

Working with J&R smokers sourced from Texas, Chef O´shea and her crack team of barbecue wizards headed down to Texas – tested no fewer than 20 beef briskets – as they perfected the ideal balance of salt, smoke and seasoning. Check out this video about their culinary field trip to the Lone Star State.

The Eats

That Brisket which is Percy Street´s signature dish, served – as is the custom in Texas – by the half pound or pound, in three distinct cuts: Moist, Lean and Burnt Ends.

Other menu items include: Spare Ribs; house-made Sausage; half or whole Chicken; and Pork Belly, all slowly smoked and served with white bread and pickles. Sides, available small or large, include: Pinto Beans; Green Bean Casserole, Root beer Chili, Coleslaw; Collard Greens; Macaroni and Cheese; and Vegan Chili.

The Drinks

In keeping with their bare-bones, Texas-frontier aesthetic, Percy Street´s craft beers are served exclusively on draft at the poured concrete bar, lit from above by illuminated green glass beer growlers. Beers include Sly Fox Rauchbier (available in Pennsylvania exclusively at the restaurant) as well as a hand-crafted Root Beer from Yard´s Brewing Company.

Cocktails include: FM 423, with Tito handmade vodka, peach juice and sweet tea; Jack & Ginger, with Jack Daniels, Canton ginger liqueur, lime cordial and ginger ale; and Cherry Cola, with Beam rye, cherry Heering, DiSaronno and cola.

Atmosphere

Percy Street´s simple, rustic decor was created by Elisabeth Knapp, who also designed Cook and Solomonov Xochitl and Zahav restaurants.

Her frontier-influenced design focuses on the fire engine red smokers, visible through a window in the dining room and bar area. The restaurant features light wood floors, weathered red paint, a working jukebox and custom “blackboard walls,” large panels of schoolhouse blackboards that can be rearranged to create private dining areas throughout the 80-seat space.

Seating in the form of repurposed church pews, and bare light bulbs overhead in the dining room lend to the restaurant Texas-esque aesthetic.

Parc

If you love Paris in the springtime, Parc is a veritable grand cru.

With Parc, famed restaurateur Stephen Starr brings a certain je ne sais quoi to Rittenhouse Square. Parc offers an authentic French bistro experience, fully equipped with a chic Parisian ambiance and gorgeous sidewalk seating overlooking the Square.

Cuisine

Parc menu encourages a joyful dining experience, where croissants, champagne and conversation are enjoyed in equal measure.

Sample hors d’oeuvres include salade lyonnaise with warm bacon vinaigrette and poached egg, escargots served in their shells with hazelnut butter and a crispy duck confit with frisée salad and pickled chanterelles.

Outstanding entrées include boeuf bourguignon with fresh buttered pasta and steak frites with peppercorn sauce. A variety of plats du jour are also offered, including a seafood-rich bouillabaisse on Fridays and a sumptuous coq au vin, perfect for Sunday night suppers.

And what´s an authentic French meal without wine? More than 160 expertly chosen varietals are offered by the bottle, with more than 20 available by the glass.

See and Be Seen

With seating for more than 75 at its sidewalk and window seating, Parc has instantly become one of the best places in Philadelphia for alfresco drinking and dining.

The awning-covered seating wraps around the restaurant´s two sides and overlooks Rittenhouse Square, one of Philadelphia´s most popular public spaces.

Atmosphere

The aroma of freshly baked breads fills the air as one enters Parc´s casual front room, which is clad in hand-laid Parisian tiles in shades of ecru and green.

Red leather banquettes flanked by frosted glass offer subtle intimacy, while well-worn wooden chairs, reclaimed bistro tables and mahogany paneled walls give the room a sense of place.

The more formal dining room provides a slightly more sophisticated experience while maintaining the energy and emotion of a bustling brasserie.

To put it simply, Parc is nothing short of an authentic Parisian dining experience – right here in the heart of Rittenhouse Square.

Zavino Pizzeria and Wine Bar

Zavino is a new pizzeria and wine bar located at the epicenter of the city´s trendy Midtown Village neighborhood. The restaurant features a seasonal menu, classic cocktails, an approachable selection of wine and beer and some of the best late night menu offerings in the area.

The restaurant´s interior looks great – it has a simple, rustic feel with an original brick wall, large picture windows, a long bar and a large outdoor cafe coming this spring.

And the menu is great too – it boasts affordable snacks ranging from pizza to pasta to charcuterie to satisfy diners’ hunger, and then cocktails, including Italy´s venerable Negroni and Bellini, and an ever-evolving assortment of wine and beer offerings, to quench their thirst.

Menu items vary seasonally, as is customary in Italy, and may include: House-Made Beef Ravioli with brown butter and sage; Roasted Red and Golden Beets with pistachios and goat cheese; Roasted Lamb with fried eggplant and mint; a delicious house-made gnocchi; and traditional Panzanella, a tomato and bread salad. There is also a nice selection of cheese and charcuterie available a la carte.

The Pizza

The gourmet pizzas are baked in a special wood-burning oven that reaches temperatures of up to 900 degrees. The pizzas are approximately 12 inches in diameter. And Chef Gonzalez describes the crust as neither too thin or too thick, but rather somewhere right between Neapolitan and Sicilian, “crunchy and tender, and just exactly right.”

Three classic pizzas will be available year-round: Rosa, with tomato sauce and roasted garlic; Margherita, with tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella, topped with fresh basil; and Polpettini, tomato sauce and provolone cheese with veal mini-meatballs.

The specialty pizzas that are on the opening winter menu include: Philly, with bechamel, provolone, roasted onions and bresaola; Kennett, with bechamel, claudio´s mozzarella, roasted onions with oyster, cremini and shitake mushrooms; Sopressata, with tomato sauce, claudio´s mozzarella, sopressata olives, pickled red onion and pecorino; and Fratello, with bechamel, broccoli, roasted garlic and claudio´s mozzarella.

Pizzas vary in price from $8 to $12.

Village Whiskey

Located in a Rittenhouse Square space evoking the free-wheeling spirit of a speakeasy, Village Whiskey is prolific Chef Jose Garces’ intimate, 30-seat tribute to the time-honored liquor.

In fact, Village Whiskey features a veritable library of 80-100 varieties of whiskey, bourbon, rye and scotch from Scotland, Canada, Ireland, United States and even Japan.

Much as Village Whiskey could be a scene for toasting and roasting, it also comes from the culinary imagination of Jose Garces (of Amada, Tinto, Distrito and Chifa fame), meaning the food is no less than outstanding.

Cuisine

Village Whiskey´s specialty from the kitchen is “bar snacks,” but that doesn´t mean a bowl of cashews. Rather, it means deviled eggs, spicy popcorn shrimp, soft pretzels and an à la carte raw bar, all treated with the culinary care that made Jose Garces a finalist on The Next Iron Chef.

Perhaps you seek something heartier. The lobster roll, raw bar selections and Kentucky fried quail are standouts, but you’d really ought to order the Whiskey King: a 10 oz patty of ground-to-order sustainable angus topped with maple bourbon glazed cipollini, Rogue blue cheese, applewood smoked bacon and foie gras. Bring your appetite.

Cocktails

Whiskey-based cocktails are divided into two categories: Prohibition (classic cocktails) and Repeal (more contemporary, modern takes). Meanwhile, the venerable Manhattan is a mainstay, mixed using house-made bitters.

Prohibition cocktails include: Old Fashioned (Bottle in Bond Bourbon and house bitters); Aviation (Creme de Violette and gin); and Philadelphia Fish House Punch (dark rum, peach brandy and tea). Repeal cocktails include: APA (hops-infused vodka, ginger and egg white); De Riguer (rye, aperol, grapefruit and mint); and Horse With No Name (scotch, Stone Pine Liqueur and pineapple).

Atmosphere

The speakeasy atmosphere is accomplished through dim lighting, posters for various alcohols, a tin ceiling and antique mirrors. Black-and-white white tiled floors, marble topped tables and wooden drink rails add to the traditional bar decor.

Behind the pewter bar, whiskies are proudly displayed like leather-bound books.

During the warmer months, diners can sit at large, wooden tables placed along Sansom Street for whiskey alfresco.