Ordinarily, we would give these two western Center City neighborhoods their own blog posts for a survey like this. But with only one of Philadelphia magazine’s “50 Best Places to Eat Right Now” – the Fountain Restaurant – located in Logan Square, it makes just as much sense to include it in the roundup for Logan Square’s tonier neighbor to the south.
Mural at Butcher and Singer
Butcher and Singer, 1500 Walnut Street, 215-732-4444. Step through the doors of this former brokerage – Stephen Starr dusted off its name – and you’re transported back in time to Hollywood in the 1930s, when plush luxe was the order of the day. Steaks and chops are the things to order now – they’re decadent, as are the sides on the a la carte menu.
Fountain Restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel, One Logan Square, 215-963-1500. Along with Le Bec-Fin and Vetri, the Fountain Restaurant sets the standard for true fine dining in Philadelphia. It also proudly resists the trend towards the casual – you still have to dress up to dine here. You’ll be glad you did, for both the food and the service are memorable – the stuff of which special occasions are made even when there aren’t any.
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, 210 West Rittenhouse Square, 215-790-2533. Another Philly fine dining superstar, Lacroix distinguishes itself on two fronts: its inventive global menu (“progressive international cuisine,” they call it) and its Lucullan feast of a prix fixe Sunday brunch. Another draw: the chef’s table, available Monday through Thursday evenings.
Le Bec-Fin, 1523 Walnut Street, 215-567-1000. Whether this doyenne of ne plus ultra dining will regain its faded luster once its new owner takes over is a question only time can answer – the restaurant is currently closed and will reopen in May.
Matyson, 37 South 19th Street, 215-564-2925. This pioneering office-canyon BYOB has changed chefs but is still in top form when it comes to serving up creative, globally inspired American-fusion cuisine. Like those that followed in its wake, Matyson emphasizes fresh, seasonal, local ingredients on its constantly-changing menu. The $45 tasting menu is a world tour in itself.
Mémé, 2201 Spruce Street, 215-735-4900. Chef David Katz wanted to create a restaurant where dining out feels like dining at home, and the result is this rustic, casual space near Fitler Square. Your family, however, probably didn’t think to pair swordfish with zucchini cakes, fava beans and tzatziki sauce for dinner. Creative combinations of familiar and ethnic ingredients distinguish the fare at Mémé.
Oyster House, 1516 Sansom Street, 215-567-7683. The Mink family – longtime owners of legendary Philly fish house Kelly’s of Mole Street – gave this old-school seafood standby an extreme makeover three years ago after buying it back from a previous owner. The rejeuvenated restaurant is nothing less than fantastic, boasting the best lobster roll in Philly (we’ll put it up against anything you can find in New England) and a great buck-a-shuck oyster special at the bar at happy hour, with the shuckers themselves as the featured performers.
Parc, 227 South 18th Street, 215-545-2262. Stephen Starr’s French bistro-brasserie is oh, so authentic, oh, so loud, and oh, so good. Tied with neighbor Rouge as the best place to people-watch on Rittenhouse Square aside from the square itself, Parc boasts a large a la carte menu loaded with traditional French bistro fare, with a few “foreign” objets thrown in for the Francophobes in your party. The pastries especially are first-rate. In good weather, get a seat on the 18th Street sidewalk, both to take in the scenery and spare your eardrums.
Pub & Kitchen, 1946 Lombard Street, 215-545-0350. This neighborhood gastropub wins raves for its burgers – in particular, the Churchill burger, which some diners on Yelp rate the best in town. The classic tavern-fare menu offers much beyond burgers, but those who have a beef with eating animals will likely be disappointed with the choices. For everyone else, though, this place has few peers for its combination of ambience, affordability and quality of food.
Pumpkin, 1713 South Street, 215-545-4448. What’s on the menu? We wish you could tell you, but chef Ian Moroney probably doesn’t know either until he’s bought the ingredients. Really fresh, really local, and constantly changing are the hallmarks of the New American fare at this casually romantic South Street BYOB. In addition to wine, be sure to bring cash – Pumpkin doesn’t take credit or debit cards. If you’d rather do Pumpkin at your place, their next-door market offers sandwiches, soups, chili and breakfast all day to go.
Square 1682, Hotel Palomar, 121 South 17th Street, 215-563-5008. One problem with hotel restaruants is that the food often doesn’t live up to the decor. Square 1682 is a notable exception to this rule. Chef Guillermo Tellez presides over a kitchen as inventive as the contemporary decor at this bi-level New American hotspot. Tellez mixes things up with a palette of international spices, and there’s something for everyone – even vegans – available. Notable aside: the restaruant points with pride to its LEED certification, making it Philly’s first truly green restaurant.
Tinto, 114 South 20th Street, 215-665-9150. After putting tapas on Philly’s culinary map with his first establishment, Amada, chef Jose Garces refined and improved on the idea with this, the second restaurant in his still-expanding portfolio. Only these aren’t tapas, strictly speaking – they’re pintxos, their Basque cousin, prepared with the customary Garces flair. The menu also includes more substantial offerings as well as charcuterie and cheese plates. The PhillyMag editors recommend the chestnut soup.
–By Sandy Smith for PhillyLiving.com
Photo of Butcher and Singer by Frank Roche, photo of Parc by shaggyshoo, both used used under a Creative Commons license