Most Timeless Restaurants in Philadelphia

November 21, 2016
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.

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 - Steak House Philadelphia
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 Restaurant
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.”
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" ).
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 Restaurant
French · 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
Mexican · 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."
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.