There are plenty of things that bring people to the Center City. Stretching from Rittenhouse to Old City, you’ll find all the wonderful, vibrant neighborhoods that make living in or visiting this city so great. It also boasts more cafes, restaurants, and bars than any other part of the city. This guide focuses on the restaurants surrounding the city’s nexus point, where Broad Street crosses Market Street. Here, you’ll find breakfast sandwiches and pastries to fuel a day of sightseeing, soup dumplings and hand-pulled noodles perfect for when you feel that first chill in the air, and an elegant seafood dinner that you’ll want to bookmark for a very special occasion—all within walking distance of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the Kimmel Center, the convention center, and more.Read More
The Essential Restaurants of Center City
Steakhouses, seafood towers, burger joints, sushi, and more can be found in the heart of Philly
This Central American street food spot is popular with diners who want to eat something flavorful and incredible without spending a fortune. Come here for lunch or dinner, and find out why their beef taquitos, pupusas, mini dobladas, and their exceptional Horchata soft serve has made them a mainstay on Chestnut Street.
Meat-lovers, this is your destination. Butcher Bar is unapologetically for carnivores who love marinated steaks, juicy burgers, fire-grilled chicken, succulent ribs, tasty sausages, filling meatballs, and the perfect sides to go with them (such as their smoked gouda mac n cheese, sriracha slaw, and cavatelli pasta). For those who want to push the limit, try “the Trough” which is a $350 feast (which includes a Nashville hot fried game hen, IPA sausages, baby back ribs, royale burger sliders, smoked bacon, confit duck wings, roasted bone marrow, korean short ribs, parmesan truffle fries) that serves up to 8 people.
The menu at Goldie is short and delicious, featuring falafel sandwiches, shawarma fries, and hummus platters from the team behind the award-winning Zahav. Lunch lines can be long, but they move quickly. For those moments when you need a silly little treat, go for the dairy-free tehina shakes. The Turkish coffee is perfect for anyone who can’t say no to tiramisu or an affogato.
For celebrations worth busting out a bottle of bubbly, head to James Beard Award-winner Greg Vernick’s Vernick Fish. It’s a guaranteed elegant night out where you’ll enjoy sea bream crudo, broiled oysters, jerk marinated fried snapper, and stellar wines to match. And do save room for key lime pie.
Good Dog Bar
This beloved downtown bar has the unique ability to make you feel like you’re in a small-town neighborhood spot with their cozy furnishings and nod to dogs (there’s framed photos and wall-hangings dedicated to the popular canine). Whether visiting for a sports game or looking for somewhere chill to dine, their tasty burgers (that are served up with a variety of toppings), juicy chicken, brownie sundaes — and whatever scrumptious they will have on the menu — is worth the trip.
The Greek cuisine mainstay have been impressing diners in Center City for years their generous portions and expansive menu. From their incredibly seared dover sole to their sizzling lamb shanks, this is where one goes for a Mediterranean feast done right.
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In a town with plenty of steakhouses, Steak 48 is the one not to miss. Diners from all over the region have raved about this family-owned restaurant’s steaks and chops that’s been impressively wet aged for 28 days, featuring a “more than steak” menu (that includes their massive seafood tower, iberico pork chops, and blue crab stuffed sole).
Tucked inside a gorgeous historic townhome on Spruce Street, Vetri Cucina has been serving up some of the finest Italian cuisine in Philly since 1998. The prix-fixe menu showcases high-quality local, seasonal and specialty ingredients in the form of outstanding dishes like garganelli with espresso braised duck ragu and apples, seared venison with sweet potato and delicata squash, and smoked baby goat with house-milled polenta.
Bud & Marilyn's
Bud & Marilyn’s is a restaurant with a simple focus: great comfort food. You’ll enjoy crispy cheese curds, fontina-stuffed meatloaf, Nashville hot chicken, short rib stroganoff, and the queen of all funfetti cakes in a retro dining room that gives off serious Mad Men vibes.
Hard Rock Cafe
Yes, there are plenty of chain restaurants to choose from in Center City, but sometimes all you want is a juicy burger and frosty beer surrounded by rock and rock memorabilia. For those busy weeknights when you’re tired and you want to go out to eat but you don’t want to overthink it, this unique Hard Rock Cafe offers consistently delicious food.
There is no shortage of great sandwich shops in Philly. Case in point: Middle Child. Here you’ll find big breakfast sandwiches and even bigger lunch options, such as the CSG Reuben and the So Long Sal (Italian meats and cheeses, artichoke relish, and balsamic mayo on a seeded hoagie).
MilkBoy (multiple locations)
This hotspot is more than just a concert venue, but a great space to also dine downtown. Whether you stop by for lunch, happy hour, or dinner, expect a fun menu of comfort food (such as their inventive French onion burger, buffalo chicken fries, butternut squash hummus, or pimento cheese empanadas).
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Come for the mapo tofu, stay for Chongqing spicy chicken and sea bass in Sichuan chili oil. If you’re looking for gluten-free dining in the city, the bulk of EMei’s food is naturally gluten-free or available that way at your request.
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Three years after it closed during the pandemic, High Street (from James Beard award-winning restaurateur Ellen Yin) has reopened at the historic Franklin Residences. Handmade pastas and sourdough pizzas are served alongside big entrées like roast chicken and monkfish on the bone. At the bakery next door, you’ll find unforgettable breads, daily pastries, and breakfast sandwiches.
One of the crown jewels of legendary restauranteur Stephen Starr, Morimoto is the ultimate sushi spot to dine in Center City. This isn’t any typical sit-and-eat, but an experience for those who want to check out fine sushi-dining (their omakase is $165 per person) and other incredible entrées (such as their tasty chicken katsu curry, koji salmon, and black cod miso).