Dining in Philadelphia is an experience to thrill the taste buds. From the local specialties like cheesesteak and soft pretzels to gourmet dinners; during our trip we experienced a little bit of everything. Attached to and managed by the Convention Center, Reading Terminal Market is filled with tempting aromas to get your mouth watering. The busy market is a popular spot to get lunch from one of the vendors or restaurants or buy locally grown produce, Amish specialties, cheeses, flowers and other houseware goods. There is private event space on the Market floor available for corporate events during business hours. The Rick Nichols Room seats up to 48 for a luncheon or buffet and up to 72 classroom-style.
On our first night we dined at Tinto, a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant in the Rittenhouse District, with hip ambiance and informative wait staff providing food and drink recommendations. The small plates-style is conducive to sharing and easy conversation. Tinto is one of the nine restaurants in Philadelphia owned by Iron Chef Jose Garces, offering customizable wine tastings for a fun group activity and the restaurant has a private dining room and lounge for groups.
Stephen Starr, the renowned restauranteur, has been given credit for the transformation of the Philadelphia food scene. His restaurant Parc is so authentic that groups will feel they were teleported from a street in the Rittenhouse District of Philadelphia directly into a bistro in Paris. The Parisian bistro serves traditional French cuisine – croissants, Coq au Vin and of course, wine. During the warmer months of the year, they roll back the floor to ceiling windows to allow a breeze and bustle of the streets to enhance the Parisian ambiance which extends to sidewalk seating.
We visited McGillin’s Olde Ale House, known as the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia, for lunch the day after St. Patrick’s Day, when they had one of their largest crowds ever. McGillin’s is a pure Irish pub with wooden floors, tables and chairs, lots of paraphernalia decorating the bar and large windows bringing in natural light to the late 1800s bar/restaurant. They serve a diverse clientele during the day from office workers at lunch to the younger set for happy hour and into the evening. No matter when you go, you’ll find a festive mood, a wide selection of local and regional draft beers, and a menu featuring much more than pub grub although they do offer the Philly favorite cheesesteak. From Sunday through Thursday this Washington Square/Midtown Village tavern can host up to 90 people in the event space upstairs on second floor.
Juniper Commons on the Avenue of the Arts evokes nostalgia of the 80s with retro furniture, macramé plant hangers and playlist of favorites from that era. The restaurant is the brain child of celebrity chef Kevin Sbraga, winner of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef – Season 7,”who has created a modern meat and potatoes, seafood and salad bar menu to enhance the fun dining experience.