A new year means a new crop of restaurants. And whether that brings an instant classic, a steakhouse specializing in sustainable cuts or new joints for oyster enjoyment, we're happy with the influx. Here's a look at what's hot this season in Philly.
This snug neo-bistro (that is, a seasonal gastropub) from the crew behind Kensington Quarters, Cafe Lift, Bufad and Prohibition Taproom is a pioneer in the emerging Point Breeze section of South Philadelphia. With a tight menu of locally sourced, Pennsylvania-inspired snacks, small plates and mains from chef Rob Marzinsky, a focused bar list and Bucky Fuller motif, there's no place like dome.
- Point Breeze
Must-Order: While raw might be your go-to oyster order, don’t skip the oven-roasted bivalves. Finished with cultured butter, thyme and a splash of lemon, this half dozen proves it’s okay to sometimes mess with a good thing.
Insider Tip: With all the cocktails and wine on the menu listed under $10 a glass, Buckminster’s is a fantastic drinks destination. Don’t miss the lavender-infused gin and tonics.
"Farm-to-table" is the mission at this colorful, rustic-chic steakhouse tucked into The Logan Hotel in historic Logan Square, replacing Philly's landmark Fountain Restaurant. The menu features hefty cuts of heritage-bred beef, plus creative seafood and sides, all served in multiple dining areas (including a bar and an eating counter with a view of the kitchen).
- Logan Square
Must-Order: If you’ve ever wondered about the subtle differences between dry-aged, grass-fed and prime cuts, the New York steak tasting at Urban Farmer is a curious beef eater’s dream.
Insider Tip: While it might not have the polish of The Fountain, Urban Farmer is still a great place to sit down for a full weekday breakfast.
Chef Sam Jacobson harks back to his London roots with this humble East Passyunk storefront, serving savory pies and mash (including meat versions with jellied and stewed eels) and British sweets such as sticky toffee pudding. Though it's mostly takeaway, the occupants of the few tables can catch football on the telly and free tea.
- East Passyunk Crossing
Must-Order: British-style pies and mash reign supreme here. Go with the classic beef and onion option served with parsley liquor.
Insider Tip: Pie fillings change on a daily basis — depending on what chef Sam Jacobson gets from local purveyors — so be sure to check the specials board.
Befitting its Old City digs in a former bank building, this Southern-accented New American bears the nickname of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. The bi-level experience includes a dining room with soaring ceilings and cathedral-style windows, plus a cozy bar tucked under the stairs and a second floor with a lively night scene.
- Old City
Must-Order: The mac 'n' cheese here is a triple threat: five cheeses blended with stewed tomatoes and fried okra.
Insider Tip: The raw bar at Little Lion is shucking a daily selection of East and West Coast oysters, offering both fried and chargrilled varieties.
The pastry chef from nearby Brauhaus Schmitz and Whetstone Tavern handles the oven at this quaint corner cafe/bakery in Queen Village. Though cakes and pies are the specialty, the kitschy room has a few small tables where Bavarian pretzels, salads and pressed sandwiches can be enjoyed.
- Society Hill
Must-Order: Brauhaus and Whetsone regulars will be happy to see favorites like Black Forest cake and maple custard pie by the slice — either to eat in or take home.
Insider Tip: Nolan's breakfast game is on point with grab-and-go croissants filled with sweet and savory combos (raspberry and Brie; bacon and aged cheddar).
Hoagies, charcuterie and other light foods pair well with craft cocktails and draft wines and beers at this chill, hipster-heavy bar in a former warehouse on the edge of Fishtown in Kensington. Balcony and table seating offer cozy options, and off to one side there's a turntable spinning vinyl in a throwback den setting.
- North Kensington
Must-Order: The menu changes frequently but ginger-mushroom congee is a cold-weather must with smoked peanuts, kumquat relish and five-spice mushrooms.
Insider Tip: Catering to the industry crowd, Martha’s kitchen is open until 1 AM.
The Jeweler's Row standard Coco's has been spruced up with leather banquettes and faux antler heads under the owners of nearby Opa, offering a moderate-priced option for an up-and-coming slice of Washington Square West. The American menu hits the basics (burgers, oysters, roast chicken), while the beer list veers local, and the name pays tribute to the workers on the street.
- Washington Square West
Must-Order: Steaks might be the go-to beef and cheese sandwich in Philly, but with a sidecar of beefy au jus, black pepper roasted chuck and plenty of provolone, the French dip here is a serious contender.
Insider Tip: From corned beef to charcuterie and beer-spiked sausages, the kitchen staff at this Jeweler's Row local are curing, brining and grinding all of their own meats.
Set across from sibling Zavino on a Washington Square West corner, this chic Italian wine bar/oyster bar boasts a gleaming marble counter and light-wood benches and booths. Small plates like lollipop lamb chops and crispy chicken predominate on the menu, and wines are available by half and full pours, the better to sample.
- Washington Square West
Must-Order: There are plenty of places to grab a few dozen oysters around town but behind the raw bar at Tredici the staff is cracking rarely seen around these parts Jonah crab claws.
Insider Tip: Wines are available in half and full pours allowing guests make their way though the sizable list. Don’t forget to check out the Cruvinet for glasses of rare bottles handpicked by the knowledgeable staff.
With 16 beers and wines on tap, the crew from Memphis Taproom and Strangelove's aims to please West Philadelphians at this cheery corner bar across from Clark Park. The menu is a snacker's paradise: pizza, apps and a few shareable plates.
- Spruce Hill
Must-Order: With sour cream, shaved ham and a scallion and pine nut pesto, the potato pie is pretty much a twice-baked in pizza form.
Insider Tip: The pies might be getting the majority of the press at this West Philly corner but there are loads of non-pizza options on offer like coq au vin, rigatoni with local mushrooms and lentils and a vegan roasted eggplant and chestnut pâté.
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran (Barbuzzo, Jamonera, Lolita, Little Nonna's) have ventured to the heartland of Wisconsin (Turney's hometown) for inspiration for this retro American, set on a corner in Washington Square West. Kitschy atmospherics play off the menu of updated (but solid) classics and throwback rec-room vibe at the bar.
- Washington Square West
Must-Order: Can't recall the last time you had a pupu platter? The elevated version of this throwback app comes with tuna poke, tamarind-peanut spareribs and spicy glazed wings.
Insider Tip: Same goes for Funfetti cake — here it's topped with buttercream and a strawberry milk crumble.