If you look at a map of all the restaurants in Philly, it kind of resembles a birds-eye view of an Easter Egg hunt, except one where a bunch of the kids got together and decided to pool their resources and put all their eggs into one huge pile in the middle of the yard. That pile is Midtown Village, and this guide has a list of all the best places to eat when you’re there.
Whether you’re in Midtown Village for a quick coffee or a full dinner, Double Knot should be one of the first places that comes to mind. They do breakfast and lunch very well, but you should really come here to have dinner in the downstairs izakaya. It’s basically the polar opposite of the cafe upstairs, and on any given night it’s completely full of people drinking sake and working their way through the enormous menu. But the best option is to get the $60 tasting menu, which includes everything from sashimi to duck bibimbap, and let yourself be surprised by whatever ends up in front of you.
El Vez is huge and kind of looks like the inside of the Please Touch museum, with brightly colored walls and a bicycle hanging from the ceiling. So while it might not be your choice for a low-key weeknight dinner, it’s definitely worthwhile for certain situations - like Happy Hour margaritas or a 30th birthday dinner. They serve upscale Mexican food, but make sure to focus on the tacos.
Calling Vetri a “special occasion” spot would be like calling an iPhone a telephone. It’s the best special occasion spot in the city, but it’s so much more than that. You’ll get 15-ish courses of the most excellent pasta you’ve ever had in your life, plus wine pairings from a server who somehow knows your food preferences better than your own mother does after just a couple of hours. So if you have an important enough occasion to justify parting ways with a few hundred dollars, Vetri is where you should do it.
Jamonera’s dark, tavern-like space may make you temporarily forget that you’re in Philadelphia, but that’s exactly why we like it. There’s a long bar that takes up the entire front of the restaurant, plus a few tables in the back that are mostly two-tops hosting first dates. We like their cured meat and cheese boards, and their paellas are good for sharing if you want something a bit more substantial. They also have a pretty extensive sherry menu that you can get in flights of three, or in the form of sherry hot sauce (which is a better investment in our opinion).
There aren’t many places in Philadelphia like Bud & Marilyn’s. It’s perfectly retro, with wood-paneled walls and black-and-white dial TVs, and it has our favorite weekend brunch in the area - including a super strong Bloody Mary and a caramelized apple french toast that will distract you from the impending work week. Their Happy Hour is also solid, and a good choice for $5 bar snacks like crispy cheese curds and buttermilk pretzel rolls.
Little Nonna’s is deceptive. From the outside, you would think you’re just passing by a bakery or small cafe. But this is just a front for what’s happening in the back, where there’s a big garden space with string lights that cover the whole patio. For a date in Midtown Village, you can’t do much better. The menu is full of classic Italian dishes, but the Sunday gravy is why you should come here. The plate is full of braised short rib and fennel sausage covered in marinara, and they sometimes run out of it before the night is over, so make your reservation on the earlier side.
Having a go-to wine bar in every neighborhood is arguably the most useful piece of restaurant-related intel there is, and Tredici Enoteca is ours in Midtown Village. It’s got high ceilings, a big bar, and multiple rooms that all have a bit of a different feel to them. The wine list is extensive, but not super pricey, and the food ranges from small plates (our go-to is the Moroccan ribs) to pastas and large plates like scallops and lamb chops.
Barbuzzo is one of those rare spots that manages to please just about everyone, so if you’re going to dinner with a big group, or on a date with someone you don’t know super well yet, it’s a good bet. They make some of our favorite pizza, pasta, and Mediterranean small plates in the city, and while you’ll probably need to make a reservation to get a table, the bar and chef’s counter are first come, first served, in case you’re looking to roll the dice.
There are a lot of sushi options near Midtown Village, but most of them are either super expensive or they have bright fluorescent lights and sticky laminated menus that curl up at the corners. Fortunately, 1225 Raw is in neither of these camps. It feels kind of like an upscale lounge (with a back patio that has lots of large tables), but is reasonably priced and still condones your one friend’s sake bomb habit. Win-win.
Vedge, like Vetri, is another place you’ll probably book out at least a few days in advance, but you really don’t have to. You can come here before or after seeing a show, sit at the huge front bar, and have a full meal without having to book a table or make any decisions in advance. Everything here is vegan and actually made from vegetables (besides the soft pretzel, which is a must-order), and despite being devoid of anything resembling meat, this is still one of our all-time favorite restaurants in the city.
If you live in Midtown Village, Zavino probably gets brought up in conversation pretty often when you’re looking for somewhere to grab a casual dinner after work or to go on an affordable date. Partly because they have reliably good pizza and pastas, and partly because those pizzas only cost $8 during Happy Hour, which should probably tip the scales towards Zavino any time you’re trying to eat dinner before 6:30pm.
While the large, loungey, and very purple space may feel a little outdated, the food here is still good. We’re especially into the small plates, like the chicken bao bun and rabbit egg roll, which are each $5 or less during Happy Hour. And if you’re not into the vibe inside, you can get the whole Happy Hour menu out back at Graffiti Bar, which is a lot less purple.
Middle Child has the very casual vibe of a diner, but with a much smaller menu and generally much better food (no disrespect to diners - we love a 24-hour place with 300+ items on the menu). They make some great breakfast sandwiches, and you’ll probably wait at least 30 minutes for one on the weekend. It’s also a popular spot for Jefferson doctors and med students during the week, so if you want to grab lunch here, you’re going to need to time your visit for right before their shift change.
Giuseppe & Sons won’t replace your monthly visit to South Philly for Italian, but if you’re in Midtown Village and craving pasta, it’ll do the trick. There are two floors, with the top as more of a casual lunch spot serving Italian sandwiches and pastries from Termini Bros. The bottom floor, on the other hand, is a huge space that serves an upscale dinner menu and drinks. It’s supposed to be a take on a classic South Philly Italian spot, but looks more like the underground cave where James Bond gets all his weapons. Except this cave has really good meatballs and some solid whiskey cocktails instead of bullet-absorbing tuxedos.
Oloroso looks like a tapas place, and the way the menu is set up - with small plates and charcuterie dominating the menu - it seems like it should be a tapas place, but it definitely doesn’t feel like a tapas place. It’s more upscale, with formal service and well-dressed people on special occasion dates or out with clients. You’re not coming here before a big night out with friends, but the small plates (especially the charred eggplant and brochetas de pollo) are worth a visit next time you’re looking for a spot to take your boss.
Tria Cafe has a few locations, but the one in Midtown Village has the best outdoor seating situation and is generally full of people on dates splitting some wine and cheese. Come here for some charcuterie and to try a few things from the long wine list, and if you need something to go with a second glass, the truffled egg toast is always a good addition.
When you draw the short stick and have to organize your best friend from college’s engagement party, Porta is where you should go. It’s the third location of an Asbury Park pizza place and just like the first two, it’s fun. The walls of what used to be a furniture store are covered in graffiti, and the huge space and big tables will fit all of the happy couple’s family, friends, and family friends. After dinner, they even set up a dance floor, so you don’t have to plan a separate after party for everyone under 60.