A restaurant crawl—the kind of night where you wander from place to place sampling smallish portions of this and that—can sound great in theory, but from a practical standpoint it can be a hard thing to pull off. Choosing restaurants whose menus might mesh is essential, but so is their proximity to each other. Strolling, not cabbing, is part of the appeal.
There’s some luck involved, because it’s almost impossible to make a bar-stool reservation for a small plate and a glass of wine. Restaurants understandably want to save tables for those ordering full meals. It’s also best to limit your party to two for ease of bar seating—and conversation. Starting early helps a lot.
For a Philly restaurant crawl, your best bet is surprisingly not Center City. Seems like an obvious choice with so many restaurants packed together, but most cater to tourists and the gems are separated by blocks of lackluster places. (Remember, we want stroll-friendly). Head to the Queen Village neighborhood instead, where there's a high concentration of outstanding eateries, many serving small plate options. Here are four spots you must hit along the way.
Joy Manning is the restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine.
Address: 611 South Seventh Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Website: horizonsphiladelphia.com This vegan haven off South Street has gained a national reputation as the best of its genre. Even inveterate carnivores appreciate these creative meatless dishes. Start your crawl off in the downstairs bar area with one of the restaurants signature vacation inspired cocktails and a plate of the savory seitan wings or edamame hummus.
Address: 622 South Sixth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Website: shouklounge.com Shouk has long flown under the radar, so there are usually seats aplenty to be had in the dining room, especially early. Order the sweet and sour cauliflower mezze. (For my full homage to this dish, check out Philadelphia Magazine’s Taste Daily. Sip the hard tea, which is infused with cardamom rum.)
Address: 627 South Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Website: ansillfoodandwine.com Ansill has a reputation as the “fear factor” restaurant because chef and owner David Ansill does cook things like tongue, sweetbreads and bone marrow. He does this very well, in fact, but most of the menu wouldn’t intimidate even a picky eater. I insist you order the open face lamb osso bucco sandwich and the roasted fingerling potatoes with bacon and caramelized onions. A glass of Cotes du rhone from the approachable wine list is probably in order.
Address: 701 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Website: southwarkrestaurant.com With its mahogany bar, twinkling candles and friendly crowd, it’s smart to make this your last stop because you will probably want to stay awhile. Also, the shortbread cookies with homemade lemon curd may be the best dessert on the planet. (Or at least my very favorite.) Wrap up your evening with a nightcap—Southwark’s famously perfect Manhattan.
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.