Maybe one of your New Year resolutions is to try out some new foods in Philly. Luckily for you, Philadelphia offers a cool way to do that without breaking the bank. Restaurant Week is a time where some of the restaurants in Philadelphia set up a prix-fixe or pre-fixed menu that ranges from $20-35. This year’s dates are January 18-23 and 25-30. With some of the places, you have the option of eating from the lunch or dinner menus. The eateries range from Mexican, Spanish, and French to even Israeli cuisine. There were so many restaurants to choose from but I managed to simplify down to the top five places to go. I have been to all of these restaurants and promise that they will bring you nothing but gastronomical joy. If you decide to attend several places during restaurant week, I encourage you to visit a different place of a different cuisine every night and try something new. Here’s a large list of the restaurants in Philly participating this year. Go ahead and make a reservation now!
1. Alma de Cuba (Latin Fusion)
Located at 1623 Walnut Street, this is one of the city’s favorite Latin-fused restaurants. This pale yellow building is nestled in between a bunch of busy shopping places, making it every bit of intriguing from the outside. Once you step inside, bright orange and red modern décor is everywhere. Latin music is thriving as photography of Tradition Latin culture is hung from the walls. I suggest you grab the Kale Salad, Churrasco de Entrana (grilled steak) and for dessert, the Alfajores cookies. You can’t leave without eating at least one of those. They’re addictive!
2. Buddakan (Asian/French Fusion)
One of Philly’s most known restaurateurs is Stephen Starr, who is also the owner of Buddakan. Buddakan resides in Old City. It has an Asian fusion menu with hints of French cuisine. This place offers both lunch and dinner during Restaurant Week. For lunch, I recommend ordering the Kobe Beef Sliders, Buddakan’s House Salad and Grilled Lamb Chops. All the items sound subpar from the menu but once you taste them, they will be anything but. Most people who dine at Buddakan opt for the famous “Dip Sum” Doughnut, little balls of doughnuts fried until crispy and served warm with a three dipping sauces: homemade ganache (chocolate sauce), homemade cream cheese, and homemade jelly. Yes, they are divine but, step away from the crowd and order the “Crying Chocolate.” Doesn’t it sound decadent? Just know it is chocolate on top of chocolate and topped with an edible gold leaf!
And of course we have the dinner menu. Buddakan is really good at making awesome salads so opt for the Asian Caesar Salad and the Teriyaki Salmon. For dessert, go for the “Crying Chocolate” again.
3. The Dandelion (Beer and British-Cuisine)
British cuisine seems to fly right over people’s heads sometimes, but when done right, can be truly phenomenal. The Dandelion is a treasure located right on 18th Street. It’s actually considered a pub. The décor is old and nothing matches but we’re for the food! Some of the items on the menu might sound a little weird but they are nothing but weirdly delicious. I recommend the Lamb Neck Raviolo, Crispy Peking Duck Breast, and finish with their Sticky Toffee Pudding.
4. The Oyster House (Seafood)
The Oyster House is one of those places in Philadelphia that you go to truly have a good time. It’s pretty much always crowded, especially for brunch. You can expect a healthy portion of fish and seafood prepared in simple yet slightly upgraded ways. For their dinner prix-fixe menu, they have four courses! You will definitely be full afterwards. From the menu, you should lean towards their Four Oysters on the Half Shell because; everyone should try raw oysters at least once in life. Fried Calamari and Sautéed Flounder should be your next choices and conclude dinner with their ultra- rich Chocolate Bread Pudding.
5. Zahav (Israeli)
Like British cuisine, Israeli food is highly underrated. There are so many components and spices that go into one simply amazing dish. Zahav, located in Old City, does a four – course menu for lunch and dinner. I suggest the Hummus-Tehina, Friend Cauliflower, Duck Kebabs and Almond Chocolate Cake. The almond chocolate cake is really what I would be there for. It’s basically a baklava, which is a common dessert for Israeli, Moroccan and Greek cuisines.
If there was something you were torn with on the menu, don’t fret. The lunch menu is the exact same for dinner. So, you get a second choice! Choose the hummus again, with Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Spiced Eggplant and the Vanilla Custard with Poached Fruit on top. Yum!
Food can bring everyone together, whether they are strangers or families. When you go out, make sure you really enjoy and savor your food. Restaurant Week is a way for you to eat great food, in the company of great friends.