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Updating the Eater 38: The Essential Philly Restaurants

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Today we update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those occasions when you absolutely must spend half a paycheck (sorry Vetri and Lacroix). Every couple of months, we'll add pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible. This update includes the new regime at Fork, Chris Kearse's Will BYOB, and the seasonal goodness of The Farm and Fisherman.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to nominate it for inclusion? State your cases for (or against) restaurants in the comments or in the tipline.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Zahav is not only Philly's best restaurant, it's our best value, as well. Chef Mike Solomonov's modern Israeli menu is creative, fearless, and trusts the diner. A unique concept executed perfectly with fantastic service.
Bibou is Philly's best French restaurant, with white tablecloth service in a casual atmosphere. Chef Pierre Calmels is peerless when it comes to creating sophisticated versions of Franco-peasant cuisine. BYOB, of course.

Osteria

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Marc Vetri's Osteria was his second location, and is still the most accessible. There's plenty of seating, and the same top quality pasta dishes you'll find at Vetri's eponymous restaurant. The Chicken Liver Rigatoni is one of Philly's best dishes, and the pizza is some of the best in the city.

Kanella

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Kanella consistently ends up as one of the city's most under-appreciated restaurants. Chef Konstantinos Pitsillides' head-to-toe cooking is honest and balls out, keeping beaks and feet on squab whether you like it nor not. His flavors and presentation are bold, and his veggie cooking is just as good as the omnivore stuff.
Fond is run by two of the young guns in Philly, Lee Styer and Jessie Prawlucki. They cut their teeth at Le Bec-Fin, and have been getting tons of critical praise since opening a couple years ago. Expect modern French and American cuisine expertly executed and great service. BYOB!

Barbuzzo

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The most successful outpost in Marcie Turney's empire, Barbuzzo is busy every day of the week. The "it" restaurant of 2011, the pastas and pizzas are fantastic, as well as the famous salted caramel budino dessert. Great cocktails and wine selection, Barbuzzo has a ton of staying power.

Vernick

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Vernick Food & Drink is a critical darling, and putting out some of the most technically beautiful food in Philly. But, there's plenty of soul in Greg Vernick's food, too, who spent much of his time in Jean-Georges' orbit. One of Philly's best new spots.

Zeppoli

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Zeppoli in Collingswood was the big restaurant surprise of the year in 2011. Getting heaps of critical praise and tons of word-of-mouth, Zeppoli put Collingswood on the lips of every Philadelphian. Great Italian food from chef Joey Baldino, who spent much of his career with Vetri, and it's BYOB. Get there if you haven't yet.
Vedge is the latest iteration of the evolution of vegan eats in Philly from chef Rich Landau. Famous for his previous restaurant, Horizons, Vedge has gotten a lot of local and national attention as of late. This isn't a great vegan restaurant, it's one of Philly's best restaurants, period. Don't sleep on this one.

Han Dynasty

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Philly's best Chinese restaurant is also the home of every heat-seeker in the city. Owner Han Chiang offers the best Sichuan cuisine around at Han Dynasty, and is open for lunch and dinner. Get the Dan Dan noodles and the Sweet and Spicy Cucumbers.
Top Chef Kevin Sbraga has made waves at Sbraga with a very affordable 4-course $45 menu. He's beaten the odds having success at an address with bad mojo. Get the Foie Gras Soup and the Meatloaf. Lots of comfort classics done up prettily.
The addition of Eli Kulp has kicked the experience at Fork up to a whole new level, and the critics and crowd have responded with glowing reviews and word of mouth.

Modo Mio

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One of Philly's hidden gems is Peter McAndrew's BYOB Modo Mio on Girard Ave. The Irish-named chef who does Italian as well as anyone in town also has one of the best values in his Sunday 5-course prix fixe for $33. The only problem here is the lack of available seating, so a reservation is almost a necessity.

Le Virtù

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Le Virtù has been hot in the media as of late, but they've been turning out fantastic food since they opened a few years back. The fairly recent chef change brought Joe Cicala to the kitchen, and the menu has gone from excellent to superior in quality. Their star is only going to rise even further in 2013.

Will BYOB

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Christopher Kearse opened Will last August and has been a huge hit with the critics and the neighbors on East Passyunk Avenue. The menu is stacked with creative takes on classic dishes and some of the most beautiful plates in the city.
Amada is Iron Chef Jose Garces' flagship restaurant, and still his best. While Garces isn't in the kitchen, much of the menu is still full of his spirit. Even though it opened in 2005, getting a reservation is still a challenge 7 years later. Great service and great wine.

Brauhaus Schmitz

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Chef Jeremy Nolen is turning out some of the best German food we've ever seen in Philly at Brauhaus Schmitz. His crispy skinned pig and doner kebab are crave-able and we can't get enough of the housemade brats and sausages. Don't miss out on his take on modernist German cooking, either. Yes, it's a real thing.
Cochon is a stalwart BYOB on East Passyunk, that's been there since before the street got cool. Chef Gene Giuffi's pig talents are some of the best in Philly, and that's really saying something. Get the crispy chicken livers and short ribs, too.

Fitler Dining Room

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Robert Marzinsky has been turning out great stuff since they opened up the Fitler Dining Room six months ago, and the critics have been throwing praise at them left and right. Don't miss it.

KooZeeDoo

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Koo Zee Doo doesn't get all the ink of it's other BYOB brethren, but the food is just as good. Chef David Gilberg is a Beard Award, and his wife Carla Goncalves is a master with the pastries. Get the duck rice, or the signature dish of the house.

The Farm And Fisherman

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The Farm and Fisherman opened up to great fanfare, and has evolved into one of the best restaurants in the city. Josh Lawler brings his farm-y sensibilities from Blue Hill to Philly, and has become one of our biggest stars.

The Mildred

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Mike Santoro's new restaurant, The Mildred, is a fantastic addition to the neighborhood. Homestyle heartiness with a sophisticated touch is the concept here, and Santoro proves that he can handle more than tweezer food.
Chef Jason Cichonski's Ela has gotten a lot of early attention for odd flavor profiles that just work. He's as pretty as the food he slings, and the critics love him, too. Get the scallop noodles.

Bistrot la Minette

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Bistrot La Minette is the best spot in Philly to get bistro fare in a warm and cozy setting. Chef Peter Woolsey's take on family recipes is a nice touch in an environment that has tons of them to start, like red aprons for their server brigade and a beautiful backyard patio.

John's Roast Pork

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John's Roast Pork is a Beard Award winner for their roast pork sandwiches and their fantastic cheesesteaks. For your out-of-town friends, this is a must-stop to impress.

Federal Donuts

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Federal Donuts took the food world by storm last year selling out all their goods in less than an hour for the first week and a half. Mike Solomonov's fried chicken and doughnuts have become legendary in very short order, including scoring a big piece in the New York Times food section.

South Philadelphia Tap Room

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Scott Schroeder's fantastic bar food at the South Philly Taproom has only increased the status of this already popular craft beer spot to legendary status. He makes the best grilled cheese in Philly, and amazing fried chicken. Head here for a great brunch and one of the best taplists in the city, too.

Paesano's Philly Style

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Paesano's is consistently called Philly's greatest sandwich haven year after year. Owned by Peter McAndrew's of Modo Mio fame, order the Paesano, the Arista, or the Bolognese. Take out-of-towners here to blow their minds.

Santucci's Square Pizza

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Santucci's in South Philly not only has one of the best pies in the city, but a serious pasta and sandwich program. Sure, it's a little pricey, but you'll love ever penny you spend here. Get the short rib sandwich and the square pie. Brunch rules, too.

Standard Tap

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The Standard Tap started the gastropub movement in Philly back in 1994, and they're still on top of their game. The best dishes are their softshell crab sandwich, duck salad, and the Standard Burger. All of the beers are draft only, and their Bloody Mary's are some of the best in town.

Tai Lake Restaurant

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Tai Lake scares off some people with their giant frog tank in the window, but passing this spot by would be a mistake. They have the best seafood in Chinatown and are open really late night. We've never had a bad meal here, and is a unique Philly experience.
Tashan is the glamorous older brother to the Tiffin family. The recently departed Chef Sylva Senat left behind a fantastic menu. Will they be able to keep up the top-level quality with him gone?

Nomad Pizza

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Nomad Pizza was leading the charge as Philly's pizza scene became national news. Since taking over the former Horizons, Nomad has been a monster hit, and is easily part of the must-visit lists of Philly eats.

Fette Sau

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Philly waited with baited breath for our very own Fette Sau to open, and it's here now to satiate all of your BBQ needs. The lines are already long, but they're worth it, as Fette Sau instantly became the best spot for smoked meats in the whole city.

Pizza Brain

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Pizza Brain has blown up faster than any other Philly restaurant in years. They've gotten a serious amount of national attention, and the pizza quality is no joke, either. A must-visit for everyone.

Hot Diggity

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Hot Diggity! opened last year and took off quickly. Owner Keith Garabedian sells Sabretts grilled up and topped with crazy combos of ingredients, like the Saigon (cilantro, jalapeno, pickled cucumber, and sriracha viniagrette) and the Grunge (tomato, onion, and garlic cream cheese).

Loco Pez

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Loco Pez is the new hotspot for tacos and modern Mexican food that is wowing the critics and locals alike. Follow their Twitter account for random daily dealage on some fantastic food.

Little Baby's Ice Cream Shop

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Little Baby's Ice Cream might only focus on frozen desserts, but there's no doubt that they're one of the 38 spots you have to visit whern you're in Philly. Their expansion continues at a breakneck pace, as do the accolades.

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Zahav

Zahav is not only Philly's best restaurant, it's our best value, as well. Chef Mike Solomonov's modern Israeli menu is creative, fearless, and trusts the diner. A unique concept executed perfectly with fantastic service.

Bibou

Bibou is Philly's best French restaurant, with white tablecloth service in a casual atmosphere. Chef Pierre Calmels is peerless when it comes to creating sophisticated versions of Franco-peasant cuisine. BYOB, of course.

Osteria

Marc Vetri's Osteria was his second location, and is still the most accessible. There's plenty of seating, and the same top quality pasta dishes you'll find at Vetri's eponymous restaurant. The Chicken Liver Rigatoni is one of Philly's best dishes, and the pizza is some of the best in the city.

Kanella