Chances are you work somewhere near Center City. And even if you don’t, either your clients do, or it’s the only part of the city that you can agree is convenient for all of you. It’s not the most interesting or exciting part of Philadelphia, but it does have a lot of great restaurants that are open for lunch.
Whether you’re meeting with some high-powered lawyers or just grabbing lunch with your mentor for some career advice, we’re here to help you pick where you should go. The places on this guide have tables large enough to accommodate all your important business folders and excellent food that will please any picky clients.
We don’t live in the 1960’s anymore. Three-martini lunches aren’t the standard and “creative meetings” don’t just involve sitting around, smoking cigarettes, and pouring vodka from a crystal pitcher. But if you want to pretend like you’re on the set of Mad Men, take your clients to Bud & Marilyn’s. It’s retro, with wood-paneled walls and black-and-white dial TVs, and you can eat all of the buttery comfort food you want - like crispy cheese curds and fried chicken - without any of the obvious cons of living in the 1960’s.
Your biggest clients are in town. Your boss handed you the corporate card and told you to take care of them. In that case, you should take them to Jean-Georges. The sprawling space is at the top of the newest Comcast Tower - on the 59th floor to be exact - and the 360-degree panoramic views of the entire city are enough to make even that guy from Free Solo feel a little uneasy. The menu here is French and heavy on the seafood, and while everything is very good, you should take this opportunity to order one of the three caviar dishes. Our personal favorite is the one with meyer lemon gelee and creme fraiche - look for it on the section of the menu titled “Indulge.”
If you can’t get a reservation at Jean-Georges, or if one of your clients is deathly afraid of heights, take them to Vernick Fish instead. It’s in the same Comcast Tower, and what it lacks in views it makes up for by looking so damn pretty. Technically, the restaurant is supposed to resemble an oyster bar down the Shore, but it’s way fancier than any place we’ve ever been to there - even in Avalon. The menu is, as the name implies, mostly seafood, and the raw bar has a ton of different options. But if the same client who’s afraid of heights also hates seafood, there’s also a “not fish” section of the menu that has a roasted chicken and a beef ribeye.
Morimoto is a super expensive sushi restaurant that’s technically in Old City, but it’s close enough to Center City to convince your clients that it’s worth it to walk (or cab) over there. It looks kind of like a space station inside, with translucent, neon green booths and a winding glass staircase at the entrance. During lunch hours, the omakase is only $65 (down from $125 at dinner), so it’s a good time to take advantage of their 10-course sushi parade. They serve the omakase at all of the tables, but if you really want to entertain the people you’re with, make a reservation for the sushi bar. That way, they’ll be too busy watching the chef cut and prepare the fish to tell you about their daughter’s college application process.
Planning a big group lunch, whether it’s with clients or just with your team, is always stressful. Instead of overthinking what place will please people the most, just book a table at The Love. This American spot a block from Rittenhouse Square Park is about as close to a universal crowd-pleaser as you’re going to find. The long menu ranges from great fried green tomatoes to a griddled Angus burger to a chocolate mousse dirt sundae with crushed Oreos on top. The service is always fantastic, and while it’s always busy, it’s never too loud to have a conversation.
Eating a giant steak at lunch may mean an afternoon of alternating between napping in the “wellness room” and chewing Tums like candy. However, the consequences are worth it if you get to eat lunch at Butcher & Singer. The huge Rittenhouse steakhouse with vaulted ceilings was formerly a bank, and it’s an impressive space that’ll show your clients you’re serious. You can’t go wrong with the filet or the lunch burger, but if this is on the company card, go with the 22-ounce porterhouse. It’s massive, so consider taking half of it home for dinner unless you already have some Tums waiting for you at your desk.
The only request your out-of-town clients made was to take them to a “very Philadelphia restaurant.” Don’t think twice - take them to Parc. This French spot in Rittenhouse Square is a special place and works great for a casual one-on-one with your manager or an eight-person power lunch. The menu’s heavy on delicious and classic French bistro food like steak tartare and duck l’orange. They also have some of the best sidewalk seating in the city, so if the weather’s nice, book a table outside and watch a bunch of people walking their lookalike dogs in the park across the street.
After you’ve spent all winter eating your lunch by the space heater you keep under your desk, you might be looking for any excuse to eat outside when it’s nice out. Instead of letting another client lunch keep you in an air-conditioned tundra, go to Harper’s Garden. The seating on their front patio is covered in greenery, which both you and your clients in town from somewhere even further north than Philly will appreciate. The menu is long and diverse, with everything from kung pao calamari to a cheeseburger to a bunch of vegan and gluten-free options.
When your New York coworkers come to town, they’ll probably initially be a little annoyed when they find out that you’re taking them to a hotel restaurant in Rittenhouse Square. That’s okay, it just means they’ll be that much more impressed when they get their first course of warm, fluffy flatbread with garlic yogurt. There are lots of big, round tables at Spice Finch, so you can bring the whole team and order a ton of small plates to split. Make sure to get the lamb ribs - after they try them, your counterparts might start questioning if they should even go back to New York at all.
You reached out to an old classmate on LinkedIn who has your dream job. She’s finally agreed to have lunch with you, but said, “you pick the place.” This may or may not be a test to see if you have good taste, so go with Double Knot. The Japanese spot in Midtown Village has a basement that serves an excellent dinner, and they also have an all-day cafe upstairs with a $7 build-your-own plate lunch special (the shrimp and cabbage noodles are delicious). Both of your meals will be cheap enough that when you offer to treat your old friend, it won’t look like you’re trying too hard.
Dandelion, a British pub in the middle of Rittenhouse Square, is the one spot in Philly that says, “I want to do business with you, but first I’d like to drink this pint.” This place certainly feels British, with photos of the queen and union jacks hanging on the wall. You can start your lunch with some beers at the bar, and then make your way back to the fancier-looking dining room to a floral-embroidered table for a Sunday roast or rabbit pie.
There are lunch meetings that you know are going to be boring, hour-long sermons on Q4 projections. Then there are the lunch meetings with people you actually like, during which you’ll spend 10 minutes talking about work stuff and two hours on everything else. Porta is ideal for the second category. Pizzas dominate the menu - get at least one to share with the whole group along with an order of the ricotta with toasted bread and meatballs.