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.

Zahav

The Story: Chefs/Experts Michael Solomov, Steve Cook, and Camille Cogswell of Zahav keep sweeping the James Beard Awards with their outstanding Israeli cuisine. Located in Society Hill, during its eleven-year tenure Zahov, which means “Gold” in Hebrew, has remained a favorite amongst locals, and according to our Experts if you had one day in Philadelphia, Zahov makes the “must-visit” list. 

What to Eat: Salatim, a flight of Israeli salads, pickled veg, and spreads that change with the seasons, for the table. “Michael Solomonov makes the smoothest, silkiest hummus ever, and the masbacha version arrives warm. I've wondered if I could lick the dish without getting stared at," says Chef/Expert Joe Cicala. Expert/Chef Terence Feury, says that the Whole Roasted Lamb Shoulder is a show stopper: “The combination of the pomegranate glaze, chickpeas, and tender lamb shoulder is just incredible. Even after a five-course meal, I can still kill it. There is limited availability of this dish, so make sure to get it if you can.”

What to Drink: Order a refreshing pitcher of cocktails for the table, like the Lemonanna- Bourbon, Lemon, Mint, and Lemon Verbena. Or venture out and try a bottle or two from their list of Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese, and Turkish wines. 

The Vibe: Upscale Casual with leather booths, generously sized tables for visiting and sharing with loved ones, and bar seating for when you’re flying two at a time or solo. 

Zahav
Spot
Center City East, Philadelphia
$$$, Happy Hour, Full Bar, Israeli
22 Recommendations

Han Dynasty

The Story: Legend has it that before opening Han Dynasty’s flagship location in Philly’s Exton in 2007, Chef/Owner Han Chiang had never worked in a restaurant before. After meeting critical and popular acclaim his Szechuan style cooking, Han Dynasty has since expanded to four more Philly locations in Old City, University City, Manayunk, and Royersford. Han’s kingdom of restaurants expands to outposts in New York and New Jersey, with plans for eventual world domination in the works. 

What to Eat: Chiang’s food is spiced on a scale of 1 (mild) to 10 (“What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger and gives me a wicked endorphin high” level hot.)  Expert/Chef Mike Stollenwerk agrees with his colleagues that it’s all about the Dan Dan Noodles, mixed tableside: "Deliciously crispy pork crumbles fleck this bowl of buttery feeling noodles slicked with Han Chiang's chili oil. So simple, but unforgettable.” Chef/Expert Michael Sbraga says go for the Cumin Style Lamb, “It is so tender, perfectly spicy, and aromatic... I can’t get enough of it!" Chef/Expert Joe Cicala waxes poetic about the  Garlic Style Pork: “This dish is all about the complex and startling contrast of textures: tender shredded pork, crunchy shreds of bamboo shoots, sharp ginger, and the softer snap of wood-ear mushrooms. It's hot, smoky-sweet, and otherworldly.”

What to Drink: Like many restaurants in Philadelphia, some of Han Dynasty’s locations are BYOB, some have a full bar, so call ahead– you’re going to want a crisp, mild lager or a cooling white wine to offset all that heat. 

The Vibe: Modern, with several seating options, from huge round-top tables for sharing a feast with a dozen friends, to communal and bar seating for smaller parties who just want a casual bite. 

Han Dynasty
Spot
Center City East, Philadelphia
$$$, Happy Hour, Chinese, Reservations, Full Bar
17 Recommendations

Osteria

The Story: Chef/Expert Jeff Michaud has been with Osteria from day one when it opened in 2007, and has since earned the James Beard “Best Atlantic Chef” award in 2010.  Michaud’s culinary style which is informed by regional Italian cooking, plays with rusticity and refinement in a way that has our Experts flocking to Osteria for comfort and excellence on their precious few days off. 

What to Eat: The Rigatoni with Chicken Liver and Sage is a unanimous favorite with our Experts, Michael Solomonov puts it best:  “I've never had anything like it, it’s a great example of how just a few simple elements can become something really special.”  Chef/Expert Georges Perrier is all about the Wood Grilled Octopus “Accented with potato, cured lemon and chive, I love Osteria’s octopus because it has just the right texture: not too chewy or rubbery, but just done to perfection on the grill." Their wood-fired Neaopolitan style, pizzas like the Vongole, with Clam, Fennel, and Leek Crema, are not to be missed. 

What to Drink: Start with one of Osteria’s craft cocktails featuring Italian apertivi and digestivi, like the Pointed Cap– Rye, Cocchi Americano, Cynar, Luxardo. They also have a carefully selected wine by the glass program featuring imported Italian varietals. 

The Vibe: A modern, uncluttered aesthetic with high ceilings and an open kitchen makes Osteria appropriate for well-behaved family get-togethers, after work hang sessions, and casual dates. 

Osteria
Spot
Spring Garden, Philadelphia
$$$, Full Bar, Italian
20 Recommendations
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