Philadelphia is famous for its cheese steaks, but this cosmopolitan city also offers a variety of more sophisticated fare -- from Mediterranean small plates to farm-to-table vegetarian dishes. Pack your appetite!
Founded in 1773, the historic City Tavern is kitschy but fun; waiters dress in colonial costume, and George Washington and Benjamin Franklin really did eat here! On the menu are traditional dishes like braised rabbit and Martha Washington-style colonial turkey pot pie, but also fried tofu, the directions for which were inscribed in a 1770 letter from Franklin.
One of Philly's favorite spots for lunch is Reading Terminal Market, housed in a huge, late-19th-century railroad shed at 12th and Arch Streets. Vendors at the market offer nearly every imaginable cuisine from smoothies and seafood to gyros and pad thai. Local favorites include traditional cheese steaks and Amish home-baked goods.
Barbuzzo is on 13th Street, in a once-desolate neighborhood that has recently transformed into a trendy midtown village with new restaurants and boutiques. The Mediterranean-inspired fare includes seasonal pastas, pizzas and main dishes such as grilled octopus. Top it off with a chocolate tasting for dessert. Small plates, sophisticated farmhouse decor and rather reasonable pricing will help you forget about the cramped tables.
More casual but still hot and trendy is the Devon Seafood Grill, located in the Rittenhouse Square area. The menu changes depending on the fresh catch of the day, but usually includes favorites such as jumbo lump crab cakes, fresh shucked oysters and Maine lobster bisque.
For pub fare try Monk's Cafe, offering comfort food favorites like burgers and macaroni and cheese, as well as a wide selection of fine brews. "If you think that you don't like beer," the restaurant's website claims, "then you have never really tasted quality beer."
Cuba Libre, a restaurant and rum bar in Old City, is eclectic and dynamic (and has fabulous mojitos). The menu offers Cuban and Latin favorites like paella, arroz con pollo and, of course, the classic Cuban sandwich.
Even dedicated carnivores find themselves savoring the cuisine at Vedge, a vegan restaurant in Center City. The ever-changing menu emphasize seasonal local vegetables, with indulgent desserts such as blueberry "cheesecake" and zucchini blondies.