Desert Rose’s Shakshuka//Photo by Steve Legato.
This delicious nook only serves lunch and dinner Wednesday-Saturday and brunch on Sunday, so make reservations. The menu changes daily, but you might just find slow-roasted beef shoulder, smoked pork belly, Tuscan sausage, or vegetable potpie in season. The sweeping farm views and on-site market are bonuses.
150 Wyebrook Road, Honey Brook, (610) 942-7481.
This Roman-inspired Italian gem satisfies with hearty signature classics like artichokes alla Romana, saltimbocca, and bucatini all’amatriciana. Indulge in the prix-fixe “Il Pranzo” dinner on Sundays, noon-3:30 p.m. Homemade dishes and a warm ambiance make you feel like part of the family.
327 E. Gay St., West Chester, (610) 701-8485.
Christine Kondra’s artisan market and BYOB both offer the best from around the country—New York smoked salmon, cured meats from Chicago—serving it simply. Guest chefs from across the globe visit for one-night-only multicourse dinners. Weekend brunch is our favorite—especially the grilled shrimp and Castle Valley grits.
1 West Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-1888.
Craft your own multi-topping pizza, or try one of CTC’s flavorful combos—like the Godfather, with garlic aioli, house mozzarella, roasted red peppers, organic arugula, prosciutto and balsamic glaze. Either way, you’re in for a treat. Rooftop seating is available in warmer months.
31 W. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 887-0241.
Pop the cork on a beloved bottle, and drink in the dark, rich wood tones and easy elegance of this charming Ardmore mainstay. The boeuf bourguignon, truite amandine and ratatouille are true-to-form perfection, and the energetic staff enhances the vibrant French-bistro vibe—as does live jazz and classical music on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
53 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (484) 412-8009.
Your favorite spirit is in good company, thanks to Amani’s outstanding mixer menu, where all the fixings for hard lemonade, ginger fizz, gimlet and a multitude of martinis await. Johnson & Wales-trained chef Jonathan Amann’s award-winning offerings include porcini-dusted grouper, a Berkshire pork chop, Long Island duck breast, and lobster ravioli.
105 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, (484) 237-8179.
Tucked away in horse country, this quaint spot has compiled quite the fan base for its wild mushroom soup with lump crabmeat. Also excellent are the Caesar salad with spicy chipotle pepper; the filet mignon with farmhouse blue cheese and a Madeira demi; and the sea scallops atop tomato, lemon and basil. Mix a six-pack with craft lagers, ales and pilsners to complement the rich flavors.
1701 W. Doe Run Road, Unionville, (610) 347-2227.
The Classic Diner//Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
A bottle of bubbly and a little patience are necessities at this busy brunch mecca. Everything is worth the wait, from the pear-and-cinnamon-cream-stuffed French toast to the classic eggs Benedict.
352 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 725-0515; 16 E. Gay St., West Chester, (484) 947-0809.
Frankie’s Fellini Café//Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
Toast to good friends with your favorite chianti at this cozy, old-school spot, revered for its authentic pizzas, panini, antipasti and salads, along with veal, chicken and tuna dishes-, and arguably the best cannoli on the Main Line.
678 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, (610) 647-1737.
True to its name, Lotus relies on partnerships with area farmers like White Swan Organics, Happy Cat Organics and Pete’s Produce. Executive chef Ryan Sulikowski’s high level of culinary artistry involves dehydrating olives into a finishing powder, curing octopus in basil, and crowning proteins with celery-gin ice. Dishes of note include Rohan duck breast paired with a foie gras emulsion, and fennel peanut-butter bread pudding.
112 W. State St., Media, (610) 565-5554.
There’s a reason why Andrew Deery’s Phoenixville gem never disappoints: Its intimate dining space and innovative, locally sourced seasonal menu are unparalleled. Watch Deery carefully prepare everything in an open kitchen, where you can see his diligence in using chef’s plating tweezers to place microgreens. Treat yourself to a six- or eight-course tasting menu Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Options include sweet-potato agnolotti with pistachio pesto, as well as raw hiramasa withcream and chives.
258 Bridge St., Phoenixville, (610) 917-0962.
Culinary master Margaret Kuo has been transforming simple ingredients into delicious works of art since 1974—and Mandarin is the only one of her restaurants where you can enjoy an Asian feast with your own bottle. In a time-honored tradition, choose the Royal Peking Duck, and then ring the gong.
190 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 647-5488.
From Left: Majolica’s Romanesco Salad; Pescatore’s Pan-roasted Branzino//Photos by Steve Legato
A fifth-generation member of South Philly’s Anastasi Seafood clan, executive chef Tommy Anastasi offers Cape May scallops, Gulf shrimp, and Maryland crab, plus fresh pasta, house specialties like Nona’s beef, veal and pork meatballs, and the region’s best Sunday gravy.
134 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd, (610) 660-9401.
Michael Klaumenzer’s neighborhood eatery has been a favorite for nearly a decade. Wholesome options include French onion gratin, chicken and shrimp piccata, Creole pasta, and jumbo lump crab cakes. It’s a family affair right down to the ultra-rich house-made desserts crafted by the owner’s wife.
245 Woodbine Ave., Narberth, (610) 664-9282.
With executive chef Tim Courtney at the helm, not a single detail is overlooked. Generous portions of lobster-pumpkin risotto—topped with roasted zucchini, crispy bacon, and sage brown butter—look almost too good to eat. Almost.
Eagle Village Shops, 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 688-7646.
This quaint standby focuses on contemporary American fare with a distinct French flair. Menu headliners include escargot with roasted garlic, herbed butter sauce and toasted crostini, plus short rib accompanied by roasted root veggies, pommes dauphine and shaved Gruyère. Tote along your favorite bottle of chablis to complement the exquisite—though far from pretentious—cuisine.
614 Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 526-0123.
Since 1978, Michele Haines has been bringing her love of France’s Touraine region to this Conshohocken darling—the area’s first BYOB. Mimosas provide the perfect complement to a Sunday brunch of truffled chicken-and-liver pâté, ragoût d’escargots, smoked salmon and caviar, omelets, and impeccably prepared French Toast Selon la Saison.
164 Barren Hill Road, Conshohocken, (610) 828-2550.
The executive chef at Boxcar Brewpub and a Savona alum, Andrew Cini launched his 16-seat, two-night-only pop-up dinners last fall. Using produce from the West Chester Growers Market, his Mexican-inspired menus have included shrimp ceviche tacos with Valentina hot sauce, and a tostada with Prince Edward Island mussels and locally cured chorizo. The full menu is just $35 per person.
Roaming locations around Chester County, including Imperio Maya Tienda, 127 E. Market St., West Chester.
Consider Hong Kong expat Ko Wing Sun the local authority on upscale Chinese fare. Start with the masterfully textured steamed watercress dim sum, before moving on to the pork-and-shrimp-stuffed Chinese eggplant in a rich black-bean sauce, or fresh prawns blanketed in an aromatic ginger-scallion coating. Grab a growler from the nearby Tired Hands Fermentaria.
33 Rittenhouse Place, Ardmore, (610) 649-3382.
Philly transplant MacGregor Mann has reimagined and refined Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine to gushing reviews in his 42-seat, Cape Cod-style eatery. Regulars rave about the skate—with its ginger brown-butter emulsion, crispy capers, romanesco, and cornmeal polenta cake—and the free-range chicken, paired with seasonal vegetables, maple-braised endive, and a chopped tomato reduction. With so many great selections, a chef’s tasting is always a great option.
Olde Ridge Village Shoppes, 100 Ridge Road, Chadds Ford, (484) 574-8041.
Staples at this suddenly trendy spot include crusty, hearth-baked artisan breads, hand-tossed salads, quiches, sandwiches, flatbreads, and the occasional deviled egg. The daily rotating menu rarely repeats itself and is full of seasonal options. The Buttery also serves a top-notch Americano, made with beans from celebrated North Carolina-founded coffee maker Counter Culture.
233 E. King St., Malvern, (610) 296-2534.
Mi País//Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
For a crash course in authentic Colombian cuisine, sample the empanadas dipped in chimichurri and habañero sauces. Other standouts at this import market, bakery and BYOB include the chorizo-and-tripe soup, the Bandeja Mi Pais—with rice, red beans, egg, Colombian bacon and green plantains—and the dirt-cheap arepas, corn-patty sandwiches with cheese, shrimp and ham.
477 Lancaster Ave., Frazer, (610) 251-0956.
Round up at least 10 others some Wednesday-Saturday, and book the chef’s table for an evening supper. The sustainable bounty might include cauliflower soup, line-caught cranberry-crusted wild flounder, and local Black Angus filet mignon. Bring a sampling of wines to complement your meal.
1805 Unionville-Wawaset Road, West Chester, (610) 793-1210.
Here, the prix-fixe Tuscan menu begs for just the right vino. Sage-and-bacon-wrapped pork loin, chicken scaloppini with lemon capers, and a crab cake with rémoulade sauce highlight an always-changing lineup.
130 S. Lloyd Ave., Downingtown, (484) 401-5554.
Don’t let the tablecloths fool you—there’s nothing fussy about the roster of authentic, red-sauce-heavy favorites at Tom DeFruscio’s Italian market-turned-BYOB. We love the spicy steamed clams, the signature meatballs, and the Mediterranean sea bass baked in parchment paper with white wine and artichokes. Veal lovers should take note of the nightly specials.
101 W. Eagle Road, Havertown, (484) 454-5995.
The signature taco features mahimahi, mango-papaya salsa, cabbage, and cilantro- lime sauce in a crispy corn shell. The killer nachos and made-to-order quesadillas are choice craft-beer accompaniments, as well.
165 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, (610) 225-8226.
Dave Ravanesi’s family-run hot spot is serious about its authentic, flavorful Neapolitan pizza—like the classic Margherita or Bianco, made in a wood-fired oven set at no less than 1,000 degrees. Arrive early: Ravanesi regularly sells out of dough.
790 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, (484) 840-8912.
In the newest version of the beloved Spence Café, Andrew Patten has crafted a spectacular seafood-centric menu, with standouts like organic Scottish salmon and the signature Spence clambake.
312 S. High St., West Chester, (610) 738-8844.
The slight mineral quality and bright citrus of a good sauvignon blanc will tame Tsunami’s jarringly delicious Rocket Boat—fried stuffed jalapeños with crabmeat, escolar and caviar in a spicy eel sauce. Elsewhere, the ingredients truly shine in the udon soup, tempuras, curries and various Thai dishes.
10 W. Market St., West Chester, (610) 430-3300.
Kristen and Philip Ferro’s inspired taco combinations (think Kobe beef with Manchego) and shareable starters (panko-crusted jalapeño rellenos, lobster quesadillas with avocado crema) push the boundaries of authenticity, keeping things intriguing at this neighborhood hub. Weekly specials include free guacamole on Wednesdays, and margarita pitchers are available with guava, jalapeño, Mexican vanilla and more.
5 Brookline Blvd., Havertown, (610) 446-8200.
You’ll always leave Sabrina’s full and satisfied. Quality meals at the $15-and-under price point include chorizo-and-jalapeño-loaded huevos rancheros, ultra-thick stuffed challah French toast, and hearty house-made meatloaf studded with mushrooms.
50 E. Wynnewood Road, Wynnewood, (484) 412-8790.
Here, various portion sizes and an affordable slate of items allow for some serious flexibility. Created by JPM Catering, the seasonal menu features pork-scallion meatballs, buttermilk-marinated fried chicken, and triple mac and cheese. Pair it all with your favorite white wine or local craft beer.
8 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 642-2670.
One needn’t be fluent in French to understand the passion behind every crêpe coming from Patrick and Jennifer Yasaitis’ kitchen. The proof is in the filling, as each is made to order in an open-concept kitchen. Start your morning with the Bonne Femme, stuffed with scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, bacon, caramelized onions, and chèvre. Nothing exceeds $10.
11 Louella Court, Wayne, (610) 964-9700.
This family-owned spot is the perfect place for an affordable girls’—or guys’—night out without trekking into the city. Sample your way through a tapas-style menu that includes house-made hummus-and a spicy shawarma.
305 W. State St., Media, (484) 442-8012.
Cousins Isaias Dominguez and Manuel Ruiz embrace the classics and excel at sandwiches—especially the torta de Milanesa, with juicy fried steak, avocado, pickled jalapeños, smears of mayo, and handfuls of cotija. You supply the tequila, and the margaritas are on the house.
61 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (484) 413-2999; 103 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 567-0120; 38 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, (267) 460-8949.
The nightly three-course prix-fixe menu is just $37.50 per person. Entrées include sage-and-butternut-squash risotto, baked escargot in a vermouth cream base, pan-seared breast of duckling with a green-peppercorn-and-dried-cranberry demi-glace, and root-beer-glazed roast pork tenderloin. Decadent daily desserts seal the deal.
308 Fayette St., Conshohocken, (610) 567-0366.
Get messy with Jimmy’s slow-cooked pulled-chicken sandwich, rubbed with lemon, rosemary and brown sugar, and smoked using cherrywood. Save room for the side of creamy-rich mac and cheese.
309 Lancaster Ave., Malvern, (610) 879-8805.
This unassuming nook boasts some of the area’s best Mexican food—simple, ample and spicy. Try the huarache, piled high with meat, sauce, lettuce, pineapple and more. For lighter appetites, the tacos al pastor are a perfect snack.
609 W. Cypress St., Kennett Square, (610) 952-2651.
Tear off a hunk of clay-oven-baked pita bread, and scoop up some Kashk-O-Bademjan (eggplant-onion dip with mint), Mast-O-Kheyar (yogurt and cucumber), or house-made hummus. Also excellent are the grape leaves stuffed with herbed rice, and anything that includes the marinated, stewed lamb roast. Dessert specials include saffron-laced pudding with almond crumble.
870 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 525-2627.