Chef Jason Cichonski is a superstar—and all you need to do is dine at his new Queen Village restaurant to see why. Start with a whimsically named, artistically prepared cocktail, and move on to perfect, unfussy dishes boasting flavor combinations you didn’t know existed (but we’re sure glad they do).
627 S. Third St., Philadelphia; (267) 687-8512, elaphilly.com.
Husband-and-wife owners Colleen and Joshua Lawler source the freshest, most seasonal ingredients from area farmers for their menu, ensuring earthy plates that are as delectable as they are beautiful. This BYO is easily among Philly’s finest.
1120 Pine St., Philadelphia; (267) 687-1555, thefarmandfisherman.com.
Southern Italian dishes shine at this Schuylkill River restaurant and pizzeria. Likewise the perfectly charred, wood-fired-oven pizzas. Small plates and antipasti round out a menu that should leave no one unhappy. The outdoor patio is a must on warm nights.
4116 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia; (215) 438-4848, in-riva.com.
The Spanish tapas and small plates at this hip eatery round out Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s 13th Street empire seamlessly. With so many bold and intriguing flavors, the highlights are too numerous to list. The sherry list is one of the best around, suitable for both neophytes and longtime fans.
105 S. 13th St., Philadelphia; (215) 922-6061, jamonerarestaurant.com.
Thank two talented Jose Garces protégés for concocting some of the most exciting contemporary Mexican cuisine we’ve tasted in, well, forever. This festive Fairmount spot brings everything there is to love about an oft-underestimated cuisine to a sophisticated—yet still approachable—level.
2321 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia; (215) 787-9930, lacalacafeliz.com.
Though not technically new, Le Virtù has soared to new heights since chef Joe Cicala’s recent arrival. The locally sourced components of each visually stunning dish at this rustic eatery pay homage to Abruzzo, the region of Italy that inspires the menu. Each and every plate is treated with love and finesse, making this one of our favorite Italian restaurants.
1927 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia; (215) 271-5626, levirtu.com.
The product of yet another dynamic husband-and-wife team, the food at Russet is about as unpredictable as it gets, with a new menu created nightly based on what’s freshest that day. The Italian- and French-inspired specialties (especially the pasta) are soulful and surprising, from the apps to co-owner Kristin Wood’s elegant desserts.
1521 Spruce St., Philadelphia; (215) 546-1521, russetphilly.com.
An impeccable union of ambiance, food and service—this highly touted collaboration between Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy has it all—and does it all so right. Whether it’s something as simple as a side of marinated beets or as complex as a freshly re-imagined farro risotto, this is seasonal cooking at its finest.
210 W. Washington Square, Philadelphia; (215) 592-7787, talulasgarden.com.
Many folks are intimidated by Indian cuisine. But if there was ever a place to ignore those fears and dive right in, it’s Tiffin owner Munish Narula’s new small-plates
restaurant. At Tashan, unbelievably fragrant, globally inspired dishes emerge from an open kitchen in creative and brilliant arrangements of textures, flavors and tastes.
777 S. Broad St., Philadelphia; (267) 687-2170, mytashan.com.
Set aside the fact that this is a vegan restaurant (it’s not that scary) and focus on the food, which is so good you won’t miss anything that resembles meat. Give them a chance, and Rich Landau and his wife, Kate Jacoby, will wow you with their highly evolved small-plate transformations of garden-variety ingredients.
1221 Locust St., Philadelphia; (215) 320-7500, vedgerestaurant.com.