Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Are you willing to travel for a great meal? New York City for the elegant Michelin stars. Chicago for the best cuts of beef. San Francisco for amazing fusion dishes. If so, it’s time to add Philadelphia to your list. Everyone is buzzing about the City of Brotherly Love’s restaurants right now. Local, sustainable, and New American may not be new terms in the food world, but three restaurants are putting their own twist on them. The results are delicious.

Photo: Fork Restaurant
Photo: Fork Restaurant

You’ve probably heard of Fork before. You may have even been there. But a new chef recently took over this Market Street restaurant’s kitchen. First, Eli Kulp reinvigorated the menu, and then he was named one of Food & Wine‘s Best New Chefs 2014. The restaurant has hand-painted chandeliers and a concrete bar. The food focuses on produce from the Delaware Valley. Charred octopus and spruce-smoked yellow beets are among the appetizer selections. Stinging nettle gnudi is a pasta option. And it will be difficult to choose between olive oil poached tilefish and Amish chicken with dirty risi e bisi (Italian-style rice and peas) for the main course. The perfect pairing? A Sly Fox 113 IPA from Phoenixville, less than 30 miles away.

Photo: Sbraga
Photo: Sbraga

You may have heard of the chef at another one of Philly’s hot tables, as well. Kevin Sbraga was the winner of Top Chef: Season 7. He recently opened Sbraga, which serves a four-course prix fixe menu, in Rittenhouse Square. Your first bite of the evening: foie gras soup with rose petals and a Gruyère popover. Once your palate has woken up, follow the soup with fluke crudo with jalapeño and pickled strawberry. Move on to barley risotto with crispy rabbit and fava beans. Then the tough decision: brook trout with just-picked green beans or Indian-spiced game hen. Go with the game hen, and leave room for roasted peaches for dessert.

Photo: Vedge
Photo: Vedge

The first two restaurants sound good, but you’re looking for something different. You want food you wouldn’t, in theory, cook for yourself. Or maybe you need a break from your usual go-tos, even with a twist. If so, Vedge is the place for you. This—don’t cringe—vegan restaurant is one of the most popular places in Philly right now. Start with a snack: curry pickled cauliflower or heirloom tomatoes with baked kohlrabi. Try a heart of palms tart with squash gazpacho and Brussels sprouts with smoked mustard. Sip a house ginger beer or a glass of pomegranate sangria. And don’t pass on dessert. Yuzu cornbread with miso frosting, if you prefer savory, or a cherry jelly donut with horseradish cream, if you need something sweeter. By the end of the meal, you might be considering eating veg more often.

So now that you’re drooling, when is your next trip to Philly?

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