The biggest Restaurant Week of them all is back Sept. 15: Center City District’s nearly two-week run (through Sept. 27) includes more than 125 restaurants offering multicourse dinners ($35) and lunches ($20). Options span from steakhouses to South Asian restaurants, in neighborhoods from Old City to Rittenhouse.
From that sea of choices, we’ve highlighted 12 spots worth booking during Restaurant Week. Some are first-timers, others are led by James Beard Award-winning chefs, some are plain old pricey, and still others offer the kind of fine-dining ambiance that usually goes with a splurge. Enjoy them all, for less.
A newcomer to Restaurant Week, this three-bell Mediterranean restaurant off Rittenhouse Square boasts a four-course menu, led by a mezze spread including its signature farro-stuffed grape leaves. After the memorable start, choose from dishes like broccoli tabbouleh with garlic tahini, whole roasted fish with a leek vinaigrette, and a sundae with vanilla-cardamom gelato, banana, and sherry caramel — all among the priciest options on Spice Finch’s regular menu.
220 S. 17th St., 215-309-2238, spicefinchphilly.com
The elevated takes on Jewish-inspired cuisine at this member of the CookNSolo empire (Zahav, Federal Donuts, Goldie) are rooted in centuries of tradition yet treated playfully: Think cacio e pepe kugel, veal schnitzel tacos, and roasted squash with everything-bagel bread crumbs. Its four-course menu lets you choose from not only the kugel and tacos, but also chopped liver mousse with pastrami onion jam, bluefish croquettes, latkes with sour cream and apple sauce, skirt steak, egg cream, and zucchini olive oil cake. This is another three-beller.
1623 Sansom St., 215-867-0088, abefisherphilly.com
a.kitchen + a.bar
Go on any other night to this always-bustling three-bell Rittenhouse restaurant and order the ricotta and chive dumplings, fluke crudo appetizer, and panna cotta, and your bill would already top $35. Go for Restaurant Week, and you can try all of those plus a third-course steelhead trout, flank steak, or grilled chicken, too.
135 S. 18th St., 215-825-7030, akitchenandbar.com
Harp & Crown
With 24-foot ceilings and a bowling alley in the basement, this shabby-chic Sansom Street hot spot from Michael Schulson nailed the reworked-warehouse aesthetic from the start. It opened in late 2016 and still can be a challenge to get into. Get its eight-course, $45 tasting menu for $10 less during Restaurant Week. Each course gives you several options, like burrata salad with savory granola, lamb meatballs with date relish, lemon-accented Spanish octopus, and pizza topped with Calabrian chicken sausage. The sixth course offers plates designed for two; choose between a dry-aged steak with fried rosemary or grilled pork chop with Vidalia onions.
1525 Sansom St., 215-330-2800, harpcrown.com
Hyper-local ingredients take center stage at Helm, where appetizers average $13 and entrees hover in the $25 to $30 range — which means you’ll enjoy Restaurant Week savings well before dessert. Look forward to seasonal produce like the tomatoes in the first-course cheese- and fennel-laced pithivier (a beautifully formed puff pastry pie), the shishito peppers in the ravioli entree, and the preserved peaches in the tonka bean-infused monkey bread.
1901 Chestnut St., 2nd floor, 215-982-1671, helmrittenhouse.com
Upgraded to three bells last year, this upscale Mexican standard, located in a stately brownstone near Rittenhouse Square, has been a go-to since it opened more than 30 years ago. Its Restaurant Week menu includes options like fish and shrimp ceviche, enchiladas stuffed with crabmeat, shrimp and lobster, and its popular tres leches cake — a three-course pairing that’d normally run $55. Take a look at the extensive tequila and mezcal menu and you’ll have no trouble spending the savings.
1602 Locust St., 215-545-0181, tequilasphilly.com
Jeff Michaud, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind this upscale Italian spot, led Osteria onto Inquirer critic Craig LaBan’s Top 25 Restaurants 2017, seeing it through a rocky transfer of ownership from Marc Vetri to Urban Outfitters and, finally, to himself, with backing from restaurateur Michael Schulson. Its four-course Restaurant Week offering includes most of its regular-menu specialties, like homemade pasta (think delicate sopressini with rabbit ragu), house-cured salumi, and wood-fired fare (vegetable antipasti, lemony roasted chicken, and whole branzino).
640 N. Broad St., 215-763-0920, osteriaphilly.com
Recently relocated from East Passyunk, chef-owner Tod Wentz’s three-bell modern French bistro makes its Rittenhouse debut with a Restaurant Week-only menu that features dishes like roasted sea scallops with an uni-seaweed emulsion and slow-braised lamb shoulder with late summer and early fall produce (think fingerling potatoes, figs, and roasted grapes). Both are among the best values, as is the third-course Valley Milkhouse Creamery cheese plate. Wentz also personally vouches for the chocolate gâteau, a rich cake complemented by salty black olives and a savory rosemary Chantilly cream. If French isn’t your speed, check out Oloroso, Wentz’s other Center City District Restaurant Week contender 10 blocks east.
2121 Walnut St., townsendphl.com
While not the priciest restaurant on this list, 10-year-old Sampan surely ranks among the most popular, drawing crowds that continuously spill out onto its 13th Street perch. For Restaurant Week, the casual pan-Asian-inspired spot adds a fourth course (and fifth, if you include the side) to its menu, making a meal of General Tso soup dumplings and pork bao buns, plus Korean BBQ beef, spicy mapo tofu, and honey-glazed char siu pork and pineapple duck fried rice a feasible feast.
124 S. 13th St., 215-732-3501, sampanphilly.com
Come for the stunning, 19th-floor skyline views, stay for the always dependable modern-American cuisine. Among the pricier restaurants in town, this elegant dining room on the top floor of The Bellevue is a perfect pick for Restaurant Week — enjoy the same setting for a fraction of the usual cost. Its menu includes entrees like pan-seared drum bass (normally priced at $39) and port wine-braised short ribs (normally $34), alongside fresh end-of-summer apps, including a burrata, roasted peach, and baby beet salad, and a cucumber-coconut gazpacho with a shrimp kebab.
200 S. Broad St., 19th floor, 215-790-1919, nineteenrestaurant.com
Bistrot La Minette
A bastion of French cuisine in Philadelphia for more than a decade, Peter Woolsey’s cozy Queen Village bistro offers everything from Provencal tomato soup to almond-studded trout swimming in lemon brown butter to an end-of-meal cheese plate (or try the caramelized mille feuille). Don’t miss the cherry-port-sauced foie gras and the white wine-braised lamb shank, the priciest appetizer-entree combo on the Restaurant Week menu.
623 S. Sixth St., 215-925-8000, bistrotlaminette.com
High Street on Market
Elevated comfort food defines this Old City staple. And though the three-course menu options seem straightforward, savings here reach as high as $20. Come hungry for dishes like chicken nuggets served with sweet-tart agrodolce and tangy pickles, steak with shoestring potatoes (the priciest entree at $31), and beer-can-smoked chicken with jalapeño mac and cheese. For dessert, two equally hearty options await: a Boston cream cake with chocolate ganache and a sundae featuring peanut ice cream, banana pudding, and miso.
308 Market St., 215-625-0988, highstreetonmarket.com