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.

Vernick Food & Drink

The Story: As a little guy, Greg Vernick could be found in the kitchen thanks to his grandfather owning a Philadelphia butcher shop and mother, Beth, owning a restaurant. Following and expanding upon family tradition Greg is now a James Beard award-winning chef with his own nationally recognized restaurant, Vernick Food & Drink, which our Experts agree offers the best fine dining Philadelphia has to offer. 

What to Eat: Our Experts go wild for classics like Whole Roasted Amish Chicken with Lemon and Herb Jus, and the Bone-In 28 oz. Dry-Aged Bone-In Strip Loin which Chef/Expert Sean McPaul says is the best steak in Philadelphia, if not the universe: “It comes out in a massive clay dish straight from the wood-burning oven, perfectly medium rare, crusty from being baked in salt, and juicy as any steak I've ever had.” The “On Toast” portion of the menu is not to be ignored, with offerings like “Sea Scallop and Black Truffle Butter” and “Beef Tartare with Freshly Shaved Horseradish.” 

What to Drink: Start with a classic or contemporary cocktail before moving on to imported European and African wines. 

The Vibe: Contemporary upscale dining with an open kitchen, bar and table seating.  

Vernick Food & Drink
Hot Spot
Center City, Philadelphia
$$$, Outdoor Seating, Modern, Full Bar, American
11 Recommendations

Vietnam Restaurant & Cafe

The Story: Some of the best Vietnamese food in Philadelphia can be found at Vietnam Restaurant in Chinatown, and Vietnam Cafe, in University City. Owned by the Lais who emigrated from Vietnam to Philadelphia in the late 1970s, and lived through many harrowing, lean years before their businesses were established and thriving. For many Philadelphians the first Vietnamese flavors they imprinted on and fell in love with came out of the the Lai family kitchens, and they remain enamored to this day. 

What to Eat: Expert/Chef Marcie Turney says: “The barbecue platter from Vietnam Restaurant or Cafe is terrific to share. It comes with crispy spring rolls, beef in grape leaves, grilled meatballs, and more.” Expert/Chef Michael Schulson recommends the Can Chua Ga: “"Pineapple, tomatoes, and chicken make this sweet and sour soup clean and refreshing. The balance of the sweet Thai basil goes so well with the tart flavor of the pineapple and tomatoes." The Crispy Duck Legs with Five Spice and Chili Pineapple Sauce are worth a trip to either (or both) locations. 

What to Drink: Choose from their Polynesian inspired cocktail lists, or if you’re feeling more tame, go for one of their mild imported Asian beers, or an iced Vietnamese Coffee. 

The Vibe: Both locations are casual, welcoming, comfortable for an afternoon hang sesh or simply a quick bite while out sightseeing.  

Vietnam Restaurant
Hot Spot
Center City East, Philadelphia
$$, Vietnamese
10 Recommendations

Federal Doughnuts

The Story: Chef/Expert Michael Solomonov’s Korean style twice fried chicken and donut concept has been met with so much enthusiasm by the public that it now has eight locations throughout Philadelphia. 

What to Eat: Freshly fried donuts with appealing flavors like Pistachio Cardamom and Blueberry Cheesecake and Fried Chicken with dry spice profiles like Za'atar and Coconut Curry, either glazed with your choice of sauce or served “Naked.” 

What to Drink: Cold brew, hot brew, or a Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda. 

The Vibe: A contemporary counter service chicken and donut joint that smells like heaven. 

Federal Donuts
Hot Spot
Pennsport, Philadelphia
$, Outdoor Seating, Breakfast, Donuts, Fried Chicken
15 Recommendations
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