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Posted by Ashley Primis on April 28th, 2009
Whether you love our rankings or think we’re nuts, we want to hear about it. Weigh in here —and post your own top 5.
Related Tags: Avenue-of-the-Arts, Events, lunch
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Ridiculous list that gives way too much weight to what’s trendy and not nearly enough to the classics that define our food scene. Le Bec Fin at 46? Philadelphia wouldn’t even have a restaurant scene with Georges Perrier. And where’s Buddhakan?
Pretty interesting ranking, though I think I’d put the top ones in a different order. Zahav is great, but it doesn’t quite top my list. My top 5:
5. Marigold Kitchen
Jack C, this list talks about what’s best TODAY. I agree that Perrier was a central figure in the Philly food scene, but LBF became a museum piece years ago.
And Buddakan, which you apparently can’t even spell, is on the honorable mention list.
Congrats Philly Mag! I agree that Zahav is Philly’s best. Been there twice and I’m dying to go back. I can’t say much for the other picks, because I haven’t been to all of them. However, I have been to Blackfish, and while I do think its a dependable gourmet restaurant, I do not think it should be top ten.
An outrageously innacurate list cobbled together by clueless dullards who could not distinguish between a meal at Troisgros and a chili dog eating contest.
BTW, Yuppie, Blackfish is one of the top several restaurants in the Philly area. Perhaps you should try it again.
David- I’ve tried it once and was highly disappointed. I’d rather go to one of the other great restaurants in Philly than give it a second chance.
Nowhere in your article do you explain how you chose the restaurants listed and how you weighted them. Only that you ate a large number of meals.
Granted that liking food is subjective, but sometimes it seems as if you put the names of the restaurants in a hat and had a drawing for where they would go in the list. You continue to mix apples and oranges when it comes to “fine dining” contrasted with just going out for a nice dinner.
Le Bec Fin deserves a special place on your list every year, and NOT 46 out of 50.
Perhaps your current food writers are too young to remember and /or they did not research prior Philadelphia Magazine Best Restaurant Lists, but Philadelphia Magazine awarded Le Bec Fin the equivalent of a “Lifetime” Best Restaurant Award some years ago and did give it a special category.
Contrary to your current commentary where you say you are rooting for LBF to succeed, over the past few years your magazine has gone out of its way to criticize the restaurant and Georges Perrier undeservedly.
Fortunately, there are other resources in the Delaware Valley where those who know and understand fine food can discover the best places to dine. As another commentator has noted, you simply show a list of the current trendy places.
Your list is entertaining only because it shows how much your food writers do not know about fine dining.
The methodology is linked from the Philly Mag 50 homepage. You can find it here.
Where is Cochon? Best of Philly BYOB!
Tim, Thanks for the link. Their methodology is flawed — you cannot compare bar food to fine french dining. Their point system doesn’t give an even playing field. Philadelphia Magazine wants to create a buzz and sell magazines. Guess they haved accomplished this.
I feel that as a team, a real team of people who love food and a good time. I think that the sun shine through the window is always bright until you close your eyes. Food is something you chew then say goodbye to the next day.
Zahav better than Vetri, Distrito, James, Amada? NO WAY! THIS IS STUPID…….
ok this list is completely flawed! Amada at 8! Osteria is better than James and Amada is also for that point. Nothing against James, but it did not blow me away as much. I would love an explination of why James is better than Osteria! i want one good reason. Also, why is Supper in the 20s? it should be top 10.
Secondly, Philly Mag you should disclose that little know fact that you have to pay to play. If you want to be rated you have to pay an advertising fee. Notice how many key players were absent last year.
GREAT CHOICE! Solomonov and Cook went out on a limb and brought a great fresh taste and fresh restaurant to Philly. Price range is also good. Kudos to the ZAHAV Team!
Zahav is excellent and trendy and fresh…the combo gives it number one! Thankfully, I do not see many of MY favorites on the list…while all you others run to the long lines, hard-to-get-reservations and over-worked staff, I will enjoy a quiet, excellent meal in the often-missed neighborhood gems!
This is ridiculous. Only restaurants who pay for advertising in Philly Mag are rated. What a bunch of baloney. Sad, Sad, Sad . . .
Oh. My. God.
And the Pulitzer for best absurdist fiction goes to Philly Mag! Zahav’s at (gulp) number 1? James at the number 3 slot? Really?
I honestly asked myself several times while reading your list whether anyone at Philly Mag actually lives in the city.
The omissions from the list were the tip off that y’all might be driving in from a subdivision. For example, where was Tria and Bistrot La Minette, which are indisputably among the city’s best and most significant restaurants for different reasons. And where was any honest assessment of Parc’s widely acknowledged “kitchen-issues” that can replicate any number of childhood traumas (abandonment, neglect, passive-aggressive amounts of cheese on the onion soup)?
Props for the Pynchonian effort and DO let me know if you want to try this next year with an actual city resident on your selection committee; I would gladly volunteer.
Who did Jose Garces sleep with to get 4 out of the top 22 restaurants?
Where is Gilmore’s? Last year they where number 9, and now they are not in the top 50, what a joke. They are even better than ever. I wonder if The Philly staff has been there as of late?
the list is full of great restaruants but the order is all messed up. I would also put restaruants like Fogo De Chao on the list. There is no way they are not in the top 50
What I would like to know is how many restaurants on this list DO NOT pay to advertise in Philly Mag? Is that a prerequisite to making the list?
no Cafe Estelle!?!?! shocker! the brunch place downtown needed! amazing food with GREAT service and none of the attitude.
When this list came up I was hoping to find a restaurant that I highly favor. Alison Two definitely deserves to be on this list. My boyfriend took me here to celebrate my birthday and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The scallops were cooked perfectly and the homemade gnocchi was to die for. The Meyer Lemon Creme Caramel was the icing on the cake. A bit pricey, but it was truly worth it. You won’t go wrong with this restaurant.
I have eaten in 40% of these places and don’t think the order is correct. James, Osteria and Blackfish are way overated. They are all to impressed with themselves to be that good. My favorite is Amada, both creative and delicious.
May’s Philadelphia magazine fails to accurately rank the top 50 restaurants in Philadelphia. What I suspect this list more accurately reflects is the top 50 restaurants in Philadelphia to invest in promotions and advertising with Philadelphia magazine.
Zahav at number 1? While offering a distinct menu of Israeli cuisine, there is nothing unique about the dishes or special about the preparation that would lead you to think of Chef Michael Solomonov as an artist in the kitchen. The hummus, chopped liver, sausage and roast lamb that Zahav makes are just as good at Whole Foods (missing from the ranking). When I go out for a meal, I want to eat something I can’t prep in my own kitchen.
To counter Philly mags list, I’ve outlined below my top 10 favorite places to eat in Philly. I used a simple methodology: Where would I want to eat if I was asked out on a date where I was not expected to pay?
1. Tinto – My number one favorite! The prix fixe brunch and lunch specials are completely inspired and both under $20. Jose Garces is a food genius and I can’t get enough of his very special cuisine.
2. Vetri – The menu changes nightly, so there is always something new to try. It’s the only place in the city where I can find true Italian pasta the way it is meant to be prepared and served. Too bad eating here with a guest costs the same as my rent.
3. Amada – The complete package of ambiance, service and great food. I’m partial to the grilled tapas. Cilantro, garlic, and EVOO make a simple marinade for the city’s highest quality meats and seafood grilled to perfection. Iron Chef winner Garces knows that if you start with quality ingredients, the rest is simple.
4. Fork, etc. – Every Wednesday night at 8:00 PM, the Chef at Fork previews new menu items at a chef tasting available for $40, first come-first serve. It’s one big table and one very special experience.
5. Distrito – I have finally succumbed to Elizabeth’s assertion that Distrito makes the most original Mexican food in the city. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive.
6. David Mae Lae Wah – The salt & pepper shrimp is prepared with jalapenos and the dumplings are served with shaved ginger. Service and ambiance is pretty horrendous, but the food is a hidden Philly treasure. Sang Kee can not compare. Open 24 hours, take-out available, no delivery.
7. Lolita – This modern Mexican BYOB is totally sexy. Tucked into the gayborhood, darkly lit tables are surrounded by soft glowing orange walls, excellent service, and good food. They would be higher up on my list if they took reservations and didn’t make guests wait up to two hours for a table on a Friday night.
8. Lacroix – When my “ex-turned-current-boyfriend” took me here to ask me back into his life, he made a smart choice. A gorgeous buffet of little spoonfuls of gourmet delicacies is only a tease for the full offering of breakfast foods laid out in the kitchen. You are invited back into the Chef’s domocile for personal souffles cups, house-stuffed sausage and a chocolate fountain that make all-you-can-eat a classy affair. At $100 a head, this is not the right place to tell your date you don’t think it’s going to work out.
9. Honey’s Sit ‘N’ Eat – If I had mom that cooked, then this place would feel like home. Comfort food made with quality ingredients make this a favorite brunch spot. Think OJ served in jam jars and fresh strawberry preserves on biscuits still hot from the oven.
10. Bar Ferdinand – Oh God, the fried manchego foam simply explodes in your mouth causing a mini food orgasm. I recommend two orders.
11. **Bonus ** Vietnam – Sometimes I dream about the crispy spring roll. I like it so much that I don’t even remember anything else on the menu.
Other places I might want to go on a date, but need to try a few more times before I can say they are a favorite are Pumpkin, Supper, Melograno, Raw and Audrey Claire.
You are completely out of your mind! May be your food writer does not have any palate ! You classified
restaurants that have not been in business even one year with establish restaurant like Le Bec Fin who put Philadelphia on the map in USA as one of the best restaurant in the country.
Please revise your rating or change your food writer!
As I have eated at almost all of the top 50 (and the reserve list) I agree with the posters that the numerical order is wrong but the restaurants included are among the top 50 (give or take a few). Having eaten at Le Bec for over 20 years (and since I was in my 20s). the experience/service of eating there was always the best part of the meal and that dessert cart! The food itself has not been that memorable in years. I think this list gives someone who is not familiar with Philly restaurants a good idea of where to go for a good meal. I think that should be the point.
Is the number one spot for sale? That’s the only thing that makes sense because Zahav at number 1 is ludicrous! The dishes Vetri is executing is leagues above the rest of the city.
4. Talula’s Table (not totally fair as they only have one table and one seating)
5. Birchrunville Store Cafe
Although Le Bec-Fin is a bit antiquated it would still make my top 10 list for best food.
Zahav might be in my top 100????
I cannot believe that Gilmore’s in West Chester is not on the list. How on Earth do they go from being at the top last year to being honorable mention?? I cannot see how come whoever did the ratings this year can’t clearly see that Gilmore’s has only gotten better and better. The craziest fact is how was Gilmore’s left out of the Top 50 when they were voted by their customers on opentable.com as one of the top 50 restaurants IN THE COUNTRY! How is this possible?
I think this magazine is full of crap.
The Cafe at terrain at Styers is my favorite. chef David is so creative and uses local ingredients when ever possible. His bean burger is to die for! as is his real red meat burger. Yum!!! And after lunch or before dinner, stroll through the garden center and home stores. It’s a feast for all the senses! suzi
chifa ahead of fork? who the [bleep] makes this [bleep] up? what a joke
For those of you not in the business, it’s always easy to see who has the best publicists. Zahav was a media darling before it even opened. Remember the daily progress reports on its construction? And I’m pretty sure that at least five of the restaurants are Marc Vetri Alumni….ordained to a life of good reviews and national acclaim. So don’t be bitter when your faves aren’t recognized. This list has nothing to do with what restaurant is better, just who is more connected.
Enjoyed a pleasant lunch at Zahav today (the $25 taste of everything) and found the food tasty, the service pleasant enough but seriously confused and understaffed (one waiter certainly isn’t sufficient for the room, even with sporadic hostess and bar assist.) Ambience was not a particular highlight. We’d return again but rating this spot #1 really seems a bit of a stretch.
Sure, ratings are subjective but this is shamelessly biased. Too many ridiculous examples to list, but someone else was correctly aghast at Gilmore’s drop. And how does Savona, with its unmatched combination of Philly’s best food, service and décor not make the list? Hmm…. I don’t see them advertising in Philly Mag.
would like to see an positive disclaimer from Philadelphia Magazine, that this ranking list is not at all influenced by the amount of paid advertising by any of the restaurants rated
This would go a long way toward assuring credibility of these rankings
“And how does Savona, with its unmatched combination of Philly’s best food, service and décor not make the list?”
If you want to pay top dollar and get treated poorly, Vetri is the place to go.
I just wonder who picks these restaurants and their place on the list. When it comes to authentic and delicious Indian food you can’t miss The Palace at the Ben, did they even consider it? Most of the restaurants listed here have better silverware than food. I wish they made a list of Favorite Philly Restaurants but this time chosen by the public. Happy dining everybody!
I always look forward to this list! The one disappointment is the lack of suburban restaurants to make the list. I’m a sububanite myself and frequent several establishments that could compete head-to-head with any Philly Top 50 of 2010. My favorite is Bridgets Steak House in Ambler! Not only is the food delicious and consistant but the service and friendliness flawless. I have entertained clients, had date nites, and also have dined alone at the bar and with each different experience all of my expectations have been met. I highly reccommend you visit…it truely is an overlooked jem!
Next time you put a brunch place on the list, maybe you should skip Honey’s and check out Cafe Estelle. Best brunch in the city by far.