New York strip steak at the Capital Grille in Philadelphia.
Amid the constantly evolving restaurant scene, retro chophouses offer a timeless appeal. Here in Philadelphia they run the gamut from half-century-old stalwarts to newer spots channeling the era of the three-martini power lunch. Here are the ones to check out.
A soaring ceiling and clubby tufted booths mark Stephen Starr’s homage to Old Hollywood at this former brokerage (and home of The Striped Bass) at the corner of 15th and Walnut Streets. A reliable go-to for romantic dinners and business meetings alike, the restaurant serves classic cocktails, stellar seafood dishes and expertly cooked meat.
Must-order: The prime porterhouse (for one or two) is best accompanied by the decadent stuffed hash browns.
1500 Walnut St.; 215-732-4444
When this iconic Italian chophouse in Bella Vista opened its doors in 1967 it sold 40-cent martinis — mixed by the gallon. Today it’s still run by the founding Santore family, and the spot really harkens back to a bygone era with an old-school atmosphere enhanced by an extensive collection of antiques, most of which come from the Philly area.
Must-order: There’s a wide selection of seafood, steaks and Italian-American standbys to choose from; try “The Bosses’ Chicken,” a paillard with hot and sweet peppers.
750 S. 7th St.; 215-627-1811
What this South Jersey institution lacks in refined elegance it more than makes up for in friendly, kitschy charm. From the can’t-miss retro sign out front, to the cavernous, medieval-tinged dining room, a meal here takes you back in time to when the restaurant opened more than 60 years ago. Count on affable service and big groups of friends and families marking life’s milestones.
Must-order: The 12-ounce fillet house special includes choice of potato and a trip to the legendary salad bar.
7600 Kaighns Ave., Pennsauken, NJ; 856-665-6440
With a prime location just steps from City Hall, this steakhouse is synonymous with power dining in Center City — just ask the regulars like former mayor Michael Nutter. Known for expert service and quality steaks (with expense-account prices), the traditional standby is unsurprisingly appointed with white tablecloths and lots of dark wood.
Must-order: Here the bone-in, dry-aged New York strip steak is crusted with Kona coffee for a bold flavor boost.
1338-46 Chestnut St.; 215-545-9588
Step into an elegant 1940s supper club at this mid-Atlantic chain’s Philadelphia branch in the Warwick Hotel. The live jazz and black-walled dining room evoke classic steaks, stiff cocktails and old money. Visit the bar during the workweek for civilized happy-hour specials.
Must-order: You can’t go wrong with the signature bone-in prime rib served with horseradish.
1701 Locust St.; 215-772-1701
The luxury Texas-based chain found a home in Philadelphia in 2008 at the 1920s-era Packard Building. Marble columns, red fabric–draped balconies and a three-story wine tower bring the drama. Downstairs, a 13-ton metal door leads to an old bank vault converted to a private dining room.
Must-order: Warm up for the 32-ounce Wagyu tomahawk chop with the Shanghai-style fried calamari starter.
1426 Chestnut St.; 215-246-0533