The Required: Philadelphia

The Required: Philadelphia

A definitive guide to Philadelphia's tried and trues, as chosen by over 3000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

July 30, 2020
The Required: Philadelphia

The Required: Philadelphia

A definitive guide to Philadelphia's tried and trues, as chosen by over 3000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

July 30, 2020

Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love. Philly. Home to some excellent food, and now part of our Required club. 

The Required is our expert version of a "best list," comprised of the stand-out restaurants that have garnered the all-time most recommendations from our expert community. That's 5000+ all-star chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, and more–no black box of food editor committees or user surveys, just plain, crave-able cred.

Read on to plan your next trip—or just to be sure you've checked all the boxes on your home turf.

Bibou

The Story: Husband and Wife team Pierre and Charlotte Calmels opened their French eatery Bibou in 2009 and which has become a beloved neighborhood institution in South Philly’s Bella Vista.  Liquor licenses are prohibitively expensive in Philadelphia, so the Calmels worked around it by having a BYOB policy with no corkage fee. They figure: you bring the wine, they’ll focus on giving you some of the best food and service you’ve ever experienced. 

What to Eat: Offering a seven-course pre-fixe menu that changes nightly, at $125 per person, you’ll need reservations to dine at Bibou. Everything is executed and plated with painstaking care, and you can expect to find French provencal classics like Pate en Croute and Roasted Bone Marrow to make guest appearances. 

What to Drink: Check the menu on the night you plan to go so that you can decided on which bottles to bring. If you’ve got a bottle in your cellar you’ve been saving for a special occasion, now’s the time to dust it off. Bibou’s patrons often bring the best bottles from their wine stashes and have been known to share tastes with other guests, so make sure to bring something excellent to return the favor with in kind. 

The Vibe: An intimate dining room with white-linen service, this place is ideal for spending a relaxing evening where excellent food and good company bring you into the moment. 

Bibou
Spot
Bella Vista, Philadelphia
$$$, French
10 Recommendations

Vetri

The Story: After years of working in the finest kitchens in Italy and the U.S., Expert/Chef Marc Vetri returned home to his native Philadelphia and took up residence in the intimate, historic townhouse that was once home to the lauded Le Bec-Fin. Together with his business partner, Jeff Benjamin, they opened Vetri Cucina’s doors in September of 1998. Over the past two decades Vetri built a reputation for offering outstanding rustic fare, handcrafted pastas, innovative flavor combinations and artful presentations inspired by Italian cuisine. More recently they’ve opened a second location in Las Vegas. 

What to Eat: Vetri is a reservation only establishment, offering a four-course tasting menu experience at $165 a pop (before alcohol and gratuity.)  The menu rolls with the changing of the seasons. Good news for picky and adventurous eaters alike: you have several options to choose from in each course category, meaning you can choose your own adventure. One dish that will always be available is the Spinach Gnocchi with Ricotta Salata and Brown Butter, which our Experts have called “the absolute best pasta dish in the city,”  Expert/Chef Stephanie Reitano says it best: “Delicate, smooth, perfectly balanced. The brown butter sage sauce is a perfect foil for the strength of the spinach. The thin, scattered shaving of cheese lends saltiness and a bit of texture." Other stand-outs are the Bison Tartare with Caviar and Potato Blini, the Salt Baked Branzino, and any preparation of Duck that Chef Vetri has on offer. 

What to Drink: Upgrade your tasting menu to include wine pairings specific to your selected dishes, or simply wing it with a bottle from their list. 

The Vibe: A romantic, intimate dining room placed in an old Townhouse, an evening at Vetri is an event to remember. 

Vetri
Spot
Center City, Philadelphia
$$, Full Bar, Italian
13 Recommendations

John's Roast Pork

The Story: While tourists might think of The Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich (ie Geno’s or Pat’s) as the most iconic dish Philadelphia has to offer, our Experts say that honor truly goes to John’s Roast Pork. Here you can find their famous Italian Roast Pork Sandwich, a recipe handed down to third-generation owner John Bucci Jr. John’s Roast Pork has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation as an American classic. 

What to Eat: Chef/Expert Scott Schroeder lays it down plain: “It depends on my mood whether I get pork or beef from John's, but it's always with broccoli rabe and sharp Provolone. There's usually a line out the door for cheesesteaks, but never one for beef and pork. You get to cut in front of all the suckers waiting for 20 to 30 minutes and get straight to Philly's best. I suggest a side of long hots, too, and for visitors, awesome $10 T-shirts." For breakfast their Egg and Peppers Sandwich and Pork Roll are worth the visit. 

What to Drink: Soft drinks. 

The Vibe: A clean, no-frills counter service sandwich joint, that manages to keep their prices insanely cheap and their portions huge. 

John's Roast Pork
Spot
South Philadelphia, Philadelphia
$, Outdoor Seating, Sandwiches, Breakfast
9 Recommendations
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