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A dinner spread featuring chicken, salad, and wine.
Dinner at Mish Mish.
Mish Mish

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Philadelphia

The best restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection for a variety of standout meals, like tasty cheesesteaks to incredible Italian cuisine to dazzling omakase

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Dinner at Mish Mish.
| Mish Mish

Say hello to the Eater 38, which answers the question, “Where should I eat in Philly?”

This essential group of restaurants covers the whole city (and even beyond), runs the gamut of cuisines and price points, and collectively satisfies virtually all dining needs, whether you want fine dining or counter service, takeout sandwiches or chef’s-choice tasting menus. The list is typically updated each quarter, and restaurants should be open for at least six months to qualify. To track down the most exciting new restaurants in town, check out the Eater Heatmap, a periodically updated map of places that have opened in the last six months or so.

For this update, welcome to the buzzworthy attraction of Mish Mish; West Philly’s fried chicken haven, Doro Bet; Delaware’s classic French gem, Le Cavalier; Pietramala, a remarkable vegan restaurant in Northern Liberties; Gass & Main, a New American BYOB tour de force; and Bardea Steak, a beloved steakhouse in Wilmington.

Did we miss your favorite restaurant? Reach us via the tipline or email us at philly@eater.com. For all the latest Philly dining intel, subscribe to Eater Philly’s newsletter.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Kim’s Restaurant

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In Olney, the unassuming Kim’s Restaurant provides an exceptional Korean barbecue experience. Part of the magic lies in the restaurant’s use of charcoal for the in-table grill, a rarity now that many Korean barbecue spots have switched to gas burners. The allure of meat prepared over a live fire is undeniable, and the service staff makes sure every piece of lamb chop and galbi beef is perfectly cooked. Bountiful servings of fresh banchan accompany the meal. Make a reservation for a big group, or walk in with a smaller crowd.

Down North Pizza

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By now, one has likely heard word of the Detroit-style square pies, spicy chicken wings, and flavored lemonades at Down North Pizza in Strawberry Mansion. That’s because the admirable mission of the place — to hire formerly incarcerated workers at fair wages — goes hand in hand with deliciously crispy, delightfully cheesy pizzas to make something special. Whether you end up there to support the mission or to get a taste of the signature “Norf Sauce,” expect to leave satisfied.

a hand reaching for two pizza pies, one with peppers and mushrooms and another with cheese and stripes of red tomato sauce
Detroit-style square pizzas from Down North Pizza.
Gab Bonghi

Cantina La Martina

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Kensington is reimagined in this vibrant Mexican restaurant that’s both nationally acclaimed and beloved by the neighborhood. There’s generously poured margaritas that are served with fruit-infused popsicles, baked branzino in a mezcal salted crust, cabrito braised in pulque and agave leaves, countless taco options, and more.

Shrimp aguachile from Cantina La Martina.
Shrimp aguachile from Cantina La Martina.
Cantina La Martina

Chef Nok Suntaranon has moved her beloved Italian Market Thai BYOB to a much larger location in Fishtown. Thankfully, everything is as flavorful and fun as expected, including new additions like tropical cocktails. The menu of Southern Thai dishes is longer, so bigger groups will find lots to share, like miang pla phao — a whole grilled branzino served with pineapple, herbs, and rice noodles — or a towering tom yum kalaya with giant river prawns emerging from the fragrant broth. The chic restaurant recently started lunch service on weekends, and small groups can usually find a spot at the bar, but it’s best to book ahead for a table.

A window with gold text that reads “Kalaya”
Kalaya’s storefront.
Kalaya/Facebook

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Have you really visited Philly if you’ve never eaten at Suraya? The Lebanese cafe, specialty market, and garden helmed by Nathalie Richan and Roland Kassis has made quite a name for itself in the six years since it opened, becoming a common sight on “best of the city” lists and roundups. But what makes this Fishtown staple so great? Could it be the steaming pillows of housemade pita, silky spreads made for dipping, or the mashawi, a selection of vegetables, seafood, and meat cooked over an open fire? You be the judge. Just make sure to make a reservation for indoor dining, especially on the weekends — they’re available 30 days in advance on Resy

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Middle Child Clubhouse

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Philadelphia’s love of sandwiches may be confusing to outsiders, but everyone loves Middle Child. At Middle Child Clubhouse — the second, much bigger restaurant from sandwich legend Matt Cahn — one can still get all the sandwich hits from the first shop, but now with so much more, like imaginative cocktails from Brandon Thrash and a whimsically American dinner menu. Hits include okonomiyaki-style latkes, a house Caesar decked out with Old Bay shrimp, and a hulking bone-in pork chop. The restaurant itself is a great place to hang, too.

Jim’s West

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When cheesesteaks were served at Jim’s Steaks, they were fairly decent for decades. Now, under the new Black ownership of Cortez Johnson and his uncle, a cheesesteak at the renamed Jim’s West is an upgrade beyond measure. Located in the heart of West Philly, these well-portioned cheesesteaks are made with the juiciest chopped rib-eye and memorable seasoning. Beyond the previous controversy surrounding its revival, Jim’s West is a spot that both locals and tourists should revisit immediately.

A large cheesesteak with fried onions and peppers alongside a grill of fried onions
Cheesesteak at Jim’s West.
Jim’s West.

Brothers Ben and Robert Bynum have been influential forces in Philly’s entertainment scene since 1990, when they opened their first jazz club. South, their biggest restaurant, brought live jazz and Southern staples to Spring Garden in 2015. The jazz shows are a great complement to comfort food highlights like macaroni and cheese, honey butter skillet cornbread, etouffee, and po’ boys.

Pietramala

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One of the most exceptional restaurants in the city is unapologetically vegan. Chef Ian Graye and his culinary team have reimagined what vegetables can and should taste like — whether it’s the comb tooth mushrooms (with Sea Island red pea tamari and heirloom polenta), blistered carrots, or honeynut squash — this charming BYOB is fine plant dining done right.

Pietramala is vegan dining done right.
Pietramala

Vernick Fish

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Every city needs a splurge-y date-night destination — and Philly is charmed to have James Beard Award winner Greg Vernick’s Vernick Fish for celebrations big and small. Everything from the raw bar to the small plates to the large dishes, like roasted fluke imperial and whole branzino, is immaculate. Save room for dessert; those are perfect, too.

A full grilled fish on a platter with cucumbers, being held by two hands and shot from above.
A full grilled fish from Vernick Fish.
Gab Bonghi

Jezabel’s

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Jezabel Careaga’s Argentinian medialunas, alfajores, empanadas, and other treats are like a song you can’t get out of your head: Once tried, prepare to definitely be back for more. Alfresco seats are well-suited for a quiet West Philly lunch or breakfast with a cup of tea, or go the takeout or delivery route.

Pinchos from Jezabel’s Cafe’s original location 
Pinchos from Jezabel’s Cafe’s original location 
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The return of Pod represents an exemplary culinary comeback in University City. This beloved Stephen Starr mainstay is a classic that must be tried (or revisited) by diners across the region. Whether you go full sushi bar with head chef Kevin Yanaga or try the cool take on other Japanese cuisine (such as the delicious “JFC,” aka Japanese Fried Chicken bucket), you’ll discover the reason this hot spot has been impressing Philadelphians for over a decade.

From above, various sushi rolls and sashimi.
Rolls and sashimi at Pod.
Pod

Honeysuckle Provisions

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From the minds of chefs Cybille St.Aude-Tate and Omar Tate comes Honeysuckle Provisions, an Afrocentric grocer and cafe where the scrapple might be made from black-eyed peas, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is really a slice of house-made Sonoran wheat bread topped with freshly milled single-origin peanut butter, apples, and apple butter. It’s an unabashed celebration of Black foodways with a constantly changing menu. The West Philly space is sunny and airy, but only offers takeout.

A tray of golden biscuits.
Biscuits made with whole wheat pastry flour and einkorn flour.
Naomieh Jovin

Restaurant Aleksandar

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Chefs Montana Houston and Ja’mir Wimberly-Cole have taken Rittenhouse by storm with their inventive and daring take on European cuisine. There’s nothing dull or predictable on their vibrant tasting menu, which features scallop paella, tomato panzanella, and unforgettable lacquered duck breast.

A pork chop with an orange glaze on a plate with a vegetable garnish.
Caraway orange glazed pork chop at Restaurant Aleksandar.
Restaurant Aleksandar

My Loup

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Arguably the most dazzling new restaurant in Philly thus far, My Loup is what happens when you allow an emerging chef like Alex Kemp to do his thing, Pleasantly unpredictable, yet somehow very familiar, this Rittenhouse restaurant serves an ever-changing modern French menu that’s hip without sass and ambitious without stuffiness. Whether you’re trying the delicious smoked eel Caesar salad or masterfully grilled swordfish with Jimmy Nardello peppers and squid, it’s a fine dining experience worth the trip (if you’re lucky enough to get a reservation).

Her Place Supper Club

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Her Place Supper Club is the kind of dinner party everyone wants an invite to, and it’s not hard to see why. Chef Amanda Shulman’s prix fixe dinner has a limited number of reservations, a rotating menu of extraordinary fine dining dishes done casually, and a convivial energy that supper clubs are known for. While Shulman’s place started as a pop-up, the restaurant is now a permanent fixture on Sansom Street. Check the restaurant’s website for hard-to-come-by reservations as well as info on times you can walk in.

The Love

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Rittenhouse has not been the same since this bubbly restaurant effortlessly began serving new American cuisine all week. The key to indulging here is not to overthink it — the restaurant serves tasty buttermilk fried chicken with collard greens, immaculate braised beef short rib ragu, and beer batter fried cauliflower. It’s comfort food that’s respected as fine dining, a delightful experience without all of the fussiness that’s typically associated with Center City restaurants.

A dining room with wooden tables and chairs with a large arched walled in the background.
The interior of The Love.
Rebecca McAlpin

Alpen Rose

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The ultimate date/engagement/anniversary steakhouse in the city continues to impress diners from across the region with its intimate dishes. Romantic-comfort cuisine includes such memorable entrees as the lobster linguine, ⁠brick pressed chicken, and the impeccable dry-aged rib-eye steak.

Beer-battered onion rings stacked in a tower on a plate.
Beer-battered onion rings at Alpen Rose.
Schulson Collective

High Street

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The versatile High Street in Center City serves some of the city’s best small plates, pizzas, and pastas that represent the epitome of seasonal new American cuisine. (That also explains why everyone started paying attention to Philadelphia’s restaurant scene to begin with.)

Pizzas, pasta, and chicken spread over a table.
A full spread at High Street.
High Street Hospitality Group

Doro Bet

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This impressive spot in West Philly is serving up hot, crunchy, Ethiopian fried chicken that’s remarkably tasty. Come here for the awaze and buttermilk batter, as well as the juicy chicken that’s dredged in teff flour and served with a side of spicy cabbage slaw.

Crispy fried chicken wings on a plate alongside purple cabbage.
Crispy fried chicken wings.
Doro Bet

Friday Saturday Sunday

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Chad and Hanna Williams’s acclaimed fine dining restaurant (winner of the 2023 James Beard Award for best restaurant in the country) offers a luxurious eight-course tasting menu, perfectly striking the balance of hospitality and whimsy. Friday Saturday Sunday’s menu is ever-changing and the cocktails are some of the best in town, courtesy of bartender Paul MacDonald. Reservations are necessary.

A plum galette topped with a scoop of ice cream in a round bowl.
Plum Galette at Friday Saturday Sunday.
Friday Saturday Sunday

Forsythia

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French cuisine is both traditional and experimental at chef-proprietor Christopher Kearse’s cozy restaurant in Old City. Succulent duck, bountiful escargot, and the city’s most scrumptious crepes can be found on the restaurant’s self-proclaimed “French AF” menu.

Corn agnolotti with lamb neck on a white plate at Forsythia
Corn agnolotti with lamb neck at Forsythia
Forsythia

Vetri Cucina

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Legendary chef Marc Vetri’s renowned restaurant on Spruce Street is a culinary gem. The tasting menu ($165 per person) is the only option and has been impressing diners for 25 years with contemporary Italian favorites, such as sweet onion crepes, Swiss chard gnocchi, almond tortellini, and baby goat with polenta.

Zahav, the 2019 James Beard Award winner for best restaurant in the country, first introduced Philly to the delights of Israeli cuisine and its myriad influences more than a decade ago. The restaurant continues to set the standard with its menu of laffa, mezze, and grilled meats and vegetables. In addition to the stellar service, the showstopper at Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s restaurant is the pomegranate molasses-braised lamb shoulder, but even something as simple and now-ubiquitous as hummus is genuinely eye-opening here. Reservations for an entire month open at 11 a.m. the first day of each month.

Zahav

Rex at the Royal

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South Street hasn’t been the same since this Southern/coastal-influenced cuisine hit the block. There’s a lot to appreciate about Rex at the Royal: the New Orleans vibe of the venue, the imaginative cocktails (try the fruity, tequila-forward Por Dio), and the exceptional entrees (such as the crab fondue, fried green tomatoes, Madeira-braised pork shank, and expansive oyster selection) that will make one a fan instantly.

Over the course of a two-year closure, Marina de Oliveira and Chris D’Ambro reimagined their high-end Italian restaurant to bring Philadelphia something totally new. Ambra, next to sibling Southwark, welcomes groups of two or four diners into the kitchen for a tasting menu that examines the cuisine from intriguing angles, like a house-made crab pasta based on D’Ambro’s family’s summer traditions, or a carta di musica inspired by the Queen Village neighborhood’s musical history. At $300 a person (including service and wine), cash only, it’s a splurge that will stay with you long after you leave. Larger groups can also book the dining room for eight to 10 people at a flat price of $2,500. It’s the most entertaining dinner party in town.

Royal Izakaya

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Dining at chef Jesse Ito’s sushi and izakaya restaurant Royal Izakaya is a must for Philly locals and visitors alike. Every dish — whether in the form of a roll, gyoza, or katsu sandwich — is made to Ito’s exacting standards with the highest-quality ingredients. Diners can do takeout and delivery, or walk in for dinner. The restaurant also has an exquisite omakase bar that you can book online.

South Philly Barbacoa

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Cristina Martinez’s casual Mexican restaurant has gone from local landmark to national darling, with appearances on TV shows like Chef’s Table and Martinez’s 2022 James Beard Award for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic. That’s all to say, get here early: South Philly Barbacoa doesn’t do delivery or credit cards and is only open Saturday and Sunday from 5 a.m. until the food sells out. Should one succeed in ordering at the counter, sit inside, outside, or take something to go — a half-kilo of barbacoa with house-made tortillas, consomé, and all the fixings travels extremely well.

El Chingon

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“Chingón” means someone or something cool, awesome, very good — and that’s the perfect way to describe this popular Mexican all-day cafe near East Passyunk. El Chingon excels in merging the regional culinary flavors of Mexican street food and traditional family dining — from the mouthwatering pierna adobada (which includes adobo pork butt, ayocote beans, grilled pineapple, red onions, quesillo, and avocado) to the decadent cheesecake guayaba (with guava and a galleta Maria crust).

River Twice

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It didn’t take long for Randy and Amanda Rucker’s River Twice to become one of the most exciting new American restaurants in the city, with a seasonal tasting menu that offers the full spectrum of chef Randy Rucker’s repertoire (see: charred Caraflex cabbage or soft-shell crab in koji butter). All of the dishes are heavy on flavor, personality, and creativity, and the restaurant itself is just a lovely place at which to dine.

Mish Mish

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Food editor-turned-restaurateur Alex Tewfik’s Mediterranean restaurant isn’t institutionally fussy (it’s a cozy spot with minimalist vibes) but it still takes its cuisine seriously. With a vibrant menu that serves pomegranate-lacquered grilled chicken, grilled squash with dressed kohlrabi, duck and endive salad with persimmons — it’s hard not to appreciate the ambition and creativity behind each dish.

Hardena

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Diana and Maylia Widjojo hit on something special when they began offering what they call the #NotPizzaBox, a pizza box lined with banana leaves and stuffed to the gills with the Indonesian specialties that have long made Hardena a Philly mainstay. They’ve moved away from that concept for now, but one can still get all those highlights a la carte. No order is complete without fried corn fritters, called bakwan, and a few skewers of richly marinated chicken satay. Be sure to ask for extra cups of the restaurant’s legendary sambal, which is the best in the city.

Gabriella’s Vietnam

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After opening her Vietnamese and Thai grill restaurant in Ambler in 2019, chef Thanh Nguyen expanded into the former Saté Kampar space in East Passyunk to serve Vietnamese street food of the highest order. The bánh bèo quảng nam — open-faced dumplings that come served in small decorative bowls — are unreal, and the large-format dishes, from the half-chicken platter to Vietnamese fried winter flounder, will not be a letdown. Come prepared: It’s BYOB.

Juana Tamale

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Jennifer Zavala’s birria taco pop-ups were some of the most exciting to hit Philly over the past few years, so much so that Zavala’s Juana Tamale grew a devoted cult following. Zavala opened a brick-and-mortar location in East Passyunk that’s brightly colored and extremely fun. There, she serves her infamous juicy birria tacos, tamales, and ramen to match. Everything on the menu is worth it.

Three birria tacos in a red serving tray alongside a slice of lime, a pepper, garnishes, and cups of sauce.
Birria tacos at Juana Tamale.
Juana Tamale.

Irwin’s

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At Irwin’s, upscale yet down-to-earth Sicilian fare meets a very pleasant vibe, great cocktails, and an amazing view from the sky-high patio atop the Bok Building. Chef Michael Ferreri’s house-made pastas arrive on cute vintage plates, and appetizers like eggplant caponata and bowls of mixed seafood are perfect companions to larger-format dishes.

Hearthside

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This popular BYOB in Collingswood has won the hearts of many residents in the neighborhood and throughout the region for its refreshing take on contemporary American cuisine. Chef Dominic Piperno’s wood-fired cooking technique is incomparable in various dishes, including his Berkshire pork loin, coffee-rubbed lamb chops, and astonishing 35-day dry-aged, 28-ounce bone-in, prime New York strip.

Gass and Main

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This new American BYOB by chef Dane DeMarco is a gorgeous marriage between rustic cooking and fine dining. Tomato brodo mussels, orange pomegranate shrimp, smothered pork rib-eye, and wild boar meatloaf embody how this restaurant masters both the cuisine from the land and sea remarkably.

Le Cavalier

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Chef Tyler Akin brings his passion for European fine dining to Delaware in this French-forward restaurant at the grand Hotel du Pont. With flavorful dishes — such as the duck cassoulet (served with flageolet beans and Toulouse sausage), lamb tagine, and branzino a la bouillabaisse (generously served with shrimp, scallop, crab, and saffron) — it’s definitely worth the trip across the bridge to dine.

Bardea Steak

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Acclaimed chef Antimo DiMeo shines in this lively steakhouse in Wilmington. At Bardea Steak, the focus is not just on serving large cuts of sizzling beef — but also hosting an incomparable experience. The nine-course chef’s tasting menu that includes steak, seafood, pork, and poultry (for $150 per person) is a regional master class on how to dine well and effortlessly.

Kim’s Restaurant

In Olney, the unassuming Kim’s Restaurant provides an exceptional Korean barbecue experience. Part of the magic lies in the restaurant’s use of charcoal for the in-table grill, a rarity now that many Korean barbecue spots have switched to gas burners. The allure of meat prepared over a live fire is undeniable, and the service staff makes sure every piece of lamb chop and galbi beef is perfectly cooked. Bountiful servings of fresh banchan accompany the meal. Make a reservation for a big group, or walk in with a smaller crowd.

Down North Pizza

By now, one has likely heard word of the Detroit-style square pies, spicy chicken wings, and flavored lemonades at Down North Pizza in Strawberry Mansion. That’s because the admirable mission of the place — to hire formerly incarcerated workers at fair wages — goes hand in hand with deliciously crispy, delightfully cheesy pizzas to make something special. Whether you end up there to support the mission or to get a taste of the signature “Norf Sauce,” expect to leave satisfied.

a hand reaching for two pizza pies, one with peppers and mushrooms and another with cheese and stripes of red tomato sauce
Detroit-style square pizzas from Down North Pizza.
Gab Bonghi

Cantina La Martina

Kensington is reimagined in this vibrant Mexican restaurant that’s both nationally acclaimed and beloved by the neighborhood. There’s generously poured margaritas that are served with fruit-infused popsicles, baked branzino in a mezcal salted crust, cabrito braised in pulque and agave leaves, countless taco options, and more.

Shrimp aguachile from Cantina La Martina.
Shrimp aguachile from Cantina La Martina.
Cantina La Martina

Kalaya

Chef Nok Suntaranon has moved her beloved Italian Market Thai BYOB to a much larger location in Fishtown. Thankfully, everything is as flavorful and fun as expected, including new additions like tropical cocktails. The menu of Southern Thai dishes is longer, so bigger groups will find lots to share, like miang pla phao — a whole grilled branzino served with pineapple, herbs, and rice noodles — or a towering tom yum kalaya with giant river prawns emerging from the fragrant broth. The chic restaurant recently started lunch service on weekends, and small groups can usually find a spot at the bar, but it’s best to book ahead for a table.