October 3, 2018

14 Philadelphia Spots for Experiential Dining

Tasty & Interactive Eating-Out Adventures In Philly

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Royal Sushi & Izakaya in Pennsport serves seafood sourced from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji fish market.
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South Philly's Perla BYOB serves a Filipino family-style Kamayan dinner Wednesday and Sunday.
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Malaysian specialties are served at Saté Kampar along South Philadelphia's East Passyunk Avenue.
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In a vibrant food city like Philadelphia, dining can be more than just a great meal, top-notch service and a fair price. Philly restaurants are distinguishing themselves with interactive, international, entertaining, unusual, unforgettable, shared—in other words, experiential—dining experiences. The following list includes Korean barbecues, Brazilian rodizios, Ethiopian destinations, Italian trattorias and more:

  1. Anastasi Seafood – This old-school family-owned restaurant, bar and seafood market anchors a busy corner of the historic 9th Street Italian Market. Dining here means passing by glass cases of fresh, fragrant catches before sitting down to break open hard-shell crabs, then dipping the perfectly cooked crab meat in melted butter. 1101 S. 9th Street, (215) 462-0550, anastasiseafood.com
  2. Dahlak – Baltimore Avenue’s Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurant and bar is a popular, come-as-you-are, neighborhood meeting place for West Philly students, families and neighbors. Here, guests sit around low, basket-like tables, using spongy injera bread to scoop up stews and dishes while listening to a mix of pop and traditional Ethiopian music. Drinkers converge on the string-lighted back patio. 4708 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 726-6464, dahlakrestaurant.com
  3. Fez Moroccan Restaurant & Hookah Bar – Tapestry-covered walls, comfy couches and trays set up for utensil-free feasts greet diners at Queen Village’s Moroccan hideaway. Long and luxurious group dinners begin with rounds of appetizers and segue into larger entrees, followed by fruit and sweets, and punctuated by sharing of the hookah and enjoyment of live belly dancing. 620 S. 2nd Street, (215) 925-5367, fezrestaurant.com
  4. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ – This Logan Square restaurant specializes in Japanese yakiniku (barbeque). A personal grill graces each table, so hungry visitors cook their own miso-marinated steaks and vegetables and, at the end of the night, s’mores, while enjoying Japanese sake and beer. 1901 Callowhill Street, (267) 603-9482, gyu-kaku.com
  5. Hippot Shabu Shabu – This Chinatown spot offers eaters build-their-own hot-pot adventures. Diners choose a broth, then cook their own steamy mixture of fresh vegetables, sprouts, tofu and meat slices or balls right at their table, dressing creations with offerings from a huge sauce bar of oils, spices, butters and vinegars. 1002 Arch Street, (215) 928-8838, facebook.com/hippotshabushabu
  6. Kabul Afghan Cuisine – An Old City staple for more than 25 years features authentic Afghani fare, including buttery rice with plump raisins, vegetarian and meat stews. In a special corner in the back of the restaurant, diners can eat the traditional way: on the floor on pillows and rugs; Afghani musicians and dancers also occasionally make appearances. 106 Chestnut Street, (215) 922-3676, kabulafghancuisine.com
  7. Kim’s Restaurant – Korean barbecue options abound in Philadelphia’s Olney neighborhood, but Kim’s is the only place that fuels fires with red hot lumps of natural charcoal. Tables here are packed with a generous selection of banchan (kimchi, steamed veggies, seaweed salad and other Korean sides), beer and shochu (a Japanese liquor), along with well-marinated beef, pork and chicken ready to sizzle on a tabletop grill. 5955 N. 5th Street, (215) 927-4550
  8. Lacroix Champagne and caviar aside, Sunday brunch at The Rittenhouse Hotel is a special occasion. During this elegant meal, a buffet extends around the dining room and into the kitchen, giving guests the rare opportunity both to fill their plates and to peek into the inner workings of one of the city’s most beloved restaurants. 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, (215) 790-2533, lacroixrestaurant.com
  9. Marrakesh – This Moroccan destination in Society Hill invites diners to fill up on a half dozen courses—which they consume with their hands. Authenticity here means stimulating the senses with traditional dishes such as b’stella, a nutty and cinnamon-y aromatic chicken pie; aromas of incense, cumin and fresh mint tea; and textures of cooked eggplants and fluffy couscous. 517 S. Leithgow Street, (215) 925-5929, marrakesheastcoast.com
  10. Perla – Kamayan is the utensil-free Filipino way of sharing a meal, and, at East Passyunk bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) Perla, rice, spring rolls, fried fish, veggies and sauces are all spread on banana leaves and eaten with the hands while diners share stories and drinks. It’s a guaranteed way to feel like part of the family at this restaurant, named for the chef-owner Lou Boquila’s mother. 1535 S. 11th Street, (267) 273-0008, perlaphilly.com
  11. Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse – This no-frills buffet and grill in the heart of Northeast Philadelphia’s Brazilian community serves lunch, dinner, coffee and dessert. Diners could load up on plantains, yellow rice, stewed beef and more at the buffet, but Picanha’s rodízio—all-you-can-eat meats sliced right at the table—tends to fill guests to the brim with chicken, beef, lamb and more. 6501 Castor Avenue, (215) 743-4647, picanhagrill.com
  12. Royal Sushi & Izakaya There are plenty of sushi counters in Philadelphia, but this Southwark nine-seater in the back of a dimly lit barroom features a most intimate experience with chef-owner Jesse Ito. A maximum of three seatings each night allow Ito to carefully guide guests through the Japanese provenance and expert techniques he uses to craft a multi-course omakase (tasting menu). 780 S. 2nd Street, (267) 909-9002, royalsushiandizakaya.com
  13. Spice C – In the back of the dining room of this friendly Chinatown walk-up, chefs prepare noodles through a window, weaving, stretching and dividing the pliable dough with great flourish. The menu offers both thin, hand-drawn noodles and a craggy hand-shaved version, both destined for brothy chicken or beef soups and hearty stir fries. 131 N. 10th Street, (215) 923-2222, spicenoodle.com
  14. Victor Cafe This South Philly Italian restaurant bills itself as “a music lover’s rendezvous,” which is appropriate both for the venue, a former gramophone shop, and for its servers, who all sing opera as they work. Between running plates of chicken piccata and fettuccine verde, singing servers burst into ballads. 1303 Dickinson Street, (215) 468-3040, victorcafe.com

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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