Most Timeless Restaurants in Philadelphia

November 21, 2016
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by Zagat Staff

No matter how long these restaurants have been on the block, they remain as stylish and buzzing as ever. Consider them a testament to the lasting power of cool.

Amada
Spanish · Old City · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.5

Jose Garces’ flagship Spaniard in Old City “never disappoints” with its “fabulous” tapas, “delicious” sangria and a wine list “built to please” , served by a “knowledgeable, courteous” staff; although some report “loud” conditions and caution “your wallet can empty quickly” , most say it’s “worth it for a special occasion.”
Barclay Prime
Steakhouse · Rittenhouse Square · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"Feel like a ninja and select your knife" for cutting “amazing” steaks at Stephen Starr's "super-high-end" steakhouse "power scene" on Rittenhouse Square, where “fantastic food and wine” are served by an "attentive” but “not overbearing" staff; despite “expense-account” tabs, the mood is “relaxing” in the “modern” setting, and many consider it one of the “best for special occasions.”
Dante & Luigi's
Italian · Bella Vista · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

This "old-world" , circa-1899 Italian in Bella Vista "does things the right way" , offering “outstanding” “classic” fare (including “veal that’ll melt in your mouth” ) and “spot-on” service in a “lovely environment” that's a popular "special-occasion" venue; pay with cash and you get a 10% discount.
Buddakan
Asian · Old City · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.5

Stephen Starr's "Asian-inspired" "gastronomic nirvana" in Old City is still "staggeringly popular" , turning out "ah-may-zing" , "beautifully executed" fare served by an "attentive but not hovering" staff in "dark" , "spectacular" quarters beneath a “massive” statue of Buddha; the "people-watching" never disappoints, and though some feel it's "pricey" , most deem it “perfect for a date night or a special occasion.”
Panorama
Italian · Old City · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.5

"When you want to feel special" , La Famiglia's "little brother" is a "treat" , with "innovative" Italian cuisine and a "spectacular" wine list served by an "outstanding" staff in "quiet" , "pleasant" digs in Old City's Penn's View Hotel; a few find it's "pricey, but you do get what you pay for" (i.e. "an experience" ).
Fork
American · Old City · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

This "elegant" , “iconic” Old City New American offers a "sublime" menu "full of interesting dishes" , paired with “unparalleled” service; some find it a "bit pricey" , but "worth it" when you want to entertain clients or be "sweet to your sweetie."
Parc
Breakfast · Rittenhouse Square · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.4

Stephen Starr "out-bistros most Parisian bistros" with this "très jolie" "people-watching" perch, where those lucky enough to nab an "outside table facing Rittenhouse Square" feel "transported" to the "Champs-Élysées" (but "without the smoking" ); inside, the "happening scene" can reach "daunting noise levels" , but given the "first-rate" French classics – from "sophisticated brunches and lazy lunches to fancy dinners" – and "polished" service, to most it's a "delightful experience" all the same.
El Vez
Bar · Washington Square West · $$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.2

"Even after all these years" , "high expectations" are "met and then some" at Stephen Starr's "high-energy but relaxing" Mexican in Washington Square West offering "awesome" blood-orange margaritas, an "amazing" guacamole menu and "out-of-this-world ceviches" ; some say you have to "yell across the table" and "prices can add up quickly" , but "responsive" service helps make it "worth it."
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Cuban · Old City · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.2

Be "transported to the land of perfect cigars and tropical breezes" at this Old City Cuban that gets a "big thumbs up" for “decadent” fare, “fantastic” mojitos and “fun” salsa dancing in a “Havana-themed space” ; “fast” service is another plus, though a few say it would be "nice if they dialed down on the loudness."
The Continental Mid-town
American · Rittenhouse Square · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.2

A "cool" “variety of environments” , from a "Mad Men" –style mezzanine with hanging chairs to an "impressive" rooftop lounge, keeps Stephen Starr’s “three levels of fun” “popping” from midday to late-night (though the "helpful" staff is good at “getting you in and out" ); the “vibrant” Eclectic menu doubles as “a trip across the continents” , though some contend that the cocktails “take the cake."
Rouge
American · Rittenhouse Square · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

Despite its "petite" setting, this "attractive" Rittenhouse American bistro is "locally popular" for its "huge" , "last meal" –worthy Gruyère-stuffed burgers and sidewalk scene that makes you "feel like you're in Paris" ; some sense a "snob feel" among a crowd eager to "see and be seen" , but the "memorable" "people-watching" makes for many "regulars."
The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar
American · Old City · $$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.1

This Old City “hot spot” offers “sophistication with a splash of fun” in the form of an Eclectic menu built around “twists on old favorites” and “innovative" , "seasonal" cocktails; despite what some say are "pricey" tabs, the "Jetsons-style" "retro diner" setting is usually "crowded" with "hipsters" being tended to by "professional" servers.