When it comes to dining in Philadelphia, Rittenhouse contains the greatest concentration of the city’s finest eats.
Named after astronomer and inventor David Rittenhouse, the open park (at the time referred to as Southwest Square), located at the convergence of Locust and 19th streets, was one of five such squares created by city founder William Penn in the 17th century. The space took the name Rittenhouse Square in 1825. Surrounded by urban mansions and Brownstone-style buildings converted to modern condominiums, the area has always erred on the side of prestigious.
Today, Rittenhouse Square lures both established chefs and culinary visionaries to the neighborhood, which lies six blocks southwest of historic City Hall. As with anywhere around the world, restaurants come and go but a few establishments in Rittenhouse have become staples of a food scene that embraces culinary art, creates trends, and more importantly satisfies palates. Here are seven of the best Rittenhouse restaurants.
On the corner of Sansom and 18th streets stands a stylish testament to the old architecture of Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse neighborhood. Restaurateur Stephen Starr’s The Dandelion is an ode to the traditional English pub, offering classics of Welsh rarebit, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie. Homemade puddings and hearty roast dinners make the menus every Sunday. Choosing where to sit in this converted home may be more challenging than deciding what to order, with the eclectic array of arrangements, such as private, Victorian-style rooms, or the Dog Bar with its antique globe lights proclaiming Man’s, Best, Friend.
124 S 18th St.
Whiskey may be the primary draw at Ecuadorian American Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Village Whiskey, but the restaurant also serves up some of the best meat in Philly. Burgers are king at Village Whiskey, especially the Whiskey King burger topped with maple bourbon glazed cipollini onions, Roth Moody Blue cheese, applewood bacon, and foie gras. The short rib and cheddar topped duck fat fries are popular and fun to share with friends over a pour of a vintage tipple. Weekend brunch features all the burgers and fries from the dinner menu plus steak and eggs, breakfast Sammy, and bourbon French toast.
118 S 20th St.
Friday Saturday Sunday
Look for the cast iron kettle hanging above the doorway on a quiet corner of Rittenhouse to find the hidden gem called Friday Saturday Sunday. Chef Chad Williams offers an eight-course tasting menu inspired by the seasons at his intimate, upstairs location. Each ingredient is precisely selected to create a dining experience disguised as a special occasion. A sensation of flavors bounds from a recent menu, which included gemelli pasta with scallop and fruits de mer, sweetbreads with mushroom and plantains, grilled quail, and lamb rib. Friday Saturday Sunday is open Wednesday through Sunday.
261 S 21st St.
The Continental Mid-Town
One of the coolest spots to hit in Rittenhouse is The Continental Mid-Town. Stylishly designed to reflect 60s mod, this pop spot attracts many locals and Philadelphians in the know. The menu is eclectic; at dinner, Thai coconut shrimp meet the BBQ quesadilla, while Korean fried chicken shares space with farro risotto under the menu’s main plates section. Upstairs, a few wicker hanging chairs overlook diners below and a spirited cocktail bar offers up some creative concoctions. Parties will enjoy the lively atmosphere upstairs. People watchers should request a downstairs booth along 18th Street.
1801 Chestnut St.
Vernick Food & Drink
James Beard Award-winning chef Greg Vernick opened Vernick Food & Drink in 2012 and the space quickly became one of the hottest seats in all of Philadelphia. Drawing on his east coast heritage and education from the Culinary Institute of America, Vernick blends modern American cooking with global flavors for a diverse dinner menu. The menu changes frequently with a series of artistically presented small and large plates. The cocktail menu provides both modern and classic sips and the beer selection is pointed and precise. Vernick is an intimate venue and table reservations are required.
2031 Walnut St.
Guests are brought to France via Parc, which describes itself as “a lightly perfumed love letter to all the City of Light has to offer, written in a distinct Philadelphian hand.” An authentically designed interior completes the transformation from Philly to Paris. The menus—lunch, midday, and dinner—reflect Parisian bistros and village cafes with the inclusion of escargot, oeufs durs mayonnaise, and tartare. Even the American food, like the burger with raclette cheese, has a European flair. Like many other Rittenhouse restaurants, Parc offers weekend brunch, offering much of the weekday lunch menu with the addition of internationally inspired egg dishes.
227 S 18th St.
Her Place Supper Club
If there ever was an effort to redefine the word restaurant, linguists should visit Her Place Supper Club. Amanda Shulman started serving as a pop-up and opened a more permanent spot in 2021. Her “restaurant” is more of a dinner party. The experience is more of a gathering as Shulman cooks nearby; strangers become new friends around a cuisine described as “French and Italian with some Jewish touches swirled in.” The Club is open Tuesdays through Fridays for two dinner seatings. Admission is through a ticketing system, which kicks off every other week on Sunday. Tickets sell out quickly.
1740 Sansom St.