Philadelphia’s best restaurants for party vibes
There are plenty of Philly spots to visit for a fabulous ambience.
Philly has always been a social town, teeming with places for people to see and be seen.
However, thanks to social media, restaurateurs aren’t just jazzing up the menus with foie gras and fontina; they’re building floor-to-ceiling floral walls, unique fireplaces, fun water fountains, and fancy bars.
Here is a list of Philly spots where the ambiance is as fabulous as the appetizers.
A stone’s throw from the Swann Memorial Fountain in Logan Square, Assembly Rooftop Lounge offers cozy blankets and blazing firepits for an aprés ski atmosphere. Boozy peanut butter hot chocolate and a plum-spiced old-fashioned are for the sipping. Enjoy a cocktail along with chef Sonny Ingui’sfour-cheese fondue or some roasted bone marrow. Take in the panoramic views of the city with your bestie, your beau, or by yourself.
A favorite of both Mayor Jim Kenney’s and author and national news commentator Marc Lamont Hill’s, Booker’s Restaurant & Bar is best known for its brunch. The fried okra and cheese curds are tops on the restaurant’s hors d’oeuvres du jour list. Booker’s Whiskey Ginger Jawn — a mix of whiskey, lime juice, and ginger beer — will put island pep in your step year-round.
The lobby at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia features a winter wonderland designed by renowned floral and artistic designer, Jeff Latham. Alcoves filled with twinkling fir trees and white poinsettias are nestled throughout. Head to the 60th floor and take in a 10-foot-tall polar bear fashioned from sparkling mirrors. A pear swizzle or hot apple toddy will be waiting for you at JG SkyHigh. Visiting during Sunday brunch? Try chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s holiday brunch tower, layered with sweet potato lettuce cups, smoked salmon, prosciutto, brioche mini French toasts, and caviar.
This restaurant meets bookstore meets gallery is the brainchild of restaurateur Stephen Starr and interior designer Serge Becker. The daily vegetarian cocktail, a blend of cucumber, bell pepper, poblano, and cactus juice — mixed with your choice of spirit — is a fave of fashionistas and health fanatics. Executive chef Francisco “Frankie” Ramirez’s pescado zarandeado, a whole sea bass served with hot tortillas and crudites, is Instagram-worthy. And patrons looking to keep it discreet can hang in the back room where no cameras are allowed.
This quaint West Philadelphia French-inspired bistro, complete with fireplace and plush couches, is the picture-perfect spot for canoodling. We recommend the white cosmopolitan — a generous dose of citrus vodka, orange liqueur, lemon, lime, agave and sparkling wine — perfect for a holiday happy hour or nightcap. If you get hungry, we’re sure that Louie Louie’s bacon-wrapped dates will beat all of Santa’s gifts.
Husband-and-wife team Tracy Hardy and Jennifer Gomez-Hardy’s Lou & Choo’s boasts a heated outdoor lounge where Wu Tang Clan’s Method Man and Redman have been spotted, as well as former U.S. Rep. Bob Brady. This month marks chef Bruce Palmer’s inaugural holiday season and features a range of fried fish and shrimp dishes topped with jumbo lump crabmeat. The good news is these fried fish specials will remain on the menu well after the last gift is opened.
This Taiwanese Old City lounge and restaurant is aglow in pink and purple. Cherry blossoms hang from the ceiling, the bar is encircled with pink velvet walls, and there is a wall of cats for good luck. Eagles players like Miles Sanders and Rodney McLeod show up occasionally for the wide-ranging food and drink menu, which features a salted pear margarita and polenta-crusted scallops, among many other options.
The Moshulu is among the best places in town to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks. The view of the water is sublime and as the city’s only restaurant aboard a tall ship, the experience is unique. Sip a spicy margarita and get ready to people watch — you never know who you might run into. After all, it’s one of The Roots’ favorite spots to throw a party when band members are in town.
This Old City destination’s bottomless seafood brunch (featuring zucchini crab cakes and a lobster skillet, a succulent blend of seafood, cavatelli, and mozzarella cheese) kills it. Try the creamy candy cane martini with limoncello, creme de menthe and creme de cacao. If you slide through during happy hour, you may just run into a few Flyers as Sean Couturier is among the local celebs who frequent Positano.
It’s a good thing that seating at South Jazz Kitchen begins at 5 p.m., because this music spot is always brimming with in-the-know restaurant-goers like regulars Kenny Gamble and Gov. Tom Wolf. Some of the world’s top jazz vocalists and musicians — think Jazzmeia Horn and Joey DeFrancesco — gig here. Classic mac and cheese, bayou chicken gumbo, and Gulf catfish and shrimp are just a few of the Southern dishes available at this Avenue of the Arts hot spot.
The home of the butchers-cut steak and The Botanist cocktail — a concoction of gin, lime, turmeric, and thyme — Steak 48 is the swankiest destination in town. Celebrity patrons have included Justin Bieber, Adam Sandler, and Kevin Hart. Those with a serious sweet tooth will enjoy the corn cremé brûlée and the beignet tower. We know you won’t be able to resist posting a picture from the grand staircase. But just make sure you follow the dress code.
High above the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, lead bartender Christopher Devern keeps the party going at Stratus Rooftop Lounge with butterscotch-infused old-fashioneds and amber mules — a mix of spiced rum, blood orange, allspice, and ginger beer. Stratus’ white pavilion room sparkles with white lights and faux snowflakes, the perfect backdrop for a winter-themed TikTok video. The pretty backdrops and trendy drinks brings in a hip crowd, which has included comedian Dave Chappelle.
W Philadelphia has been open for only six months, but already its lobby — or living room, as they like to call it — is a scene. Local DJ Joshua Lang, the hotel’s music director, spins there a few times a week. The beats, combined with disco lighting makes for a total 1970s vibe. And if that’s not enough coolness for you, a real-life speakeasy is behind the bar’s two-way mirror. The people watching may lure you, but the espresso martini will keep you.