Philadelphia Is Having a Hotel and Restaurant Boom — From Suites in the Sky to a Hoagie Omakase
Mention Philadelphia and most people’s minds mump straight to the obvious: It’s the birthplace of America. The locals are fanatical about sports. (Cheering for the Eagles on Sundays isn’t tradition – it’s religion.) And the sandwich scene is unrivaled by any other U.S. city, thanks to a winning triumvirate of cheesesteaks, roast pork, and hoagies.
While they still rightfully deserve our attention, as of late, the City of Brotherly Love has experienced an uptick of visionary business growth — challenging everything you think you know about the destination. In short, it’s transitioned into a vibrant urban destination that embraces the new, while honoring its historic roots. Below, ten buzzy new hotels and restaurants proving why now is a sublime time to visit Philly.
One way to enjoy access to this buzzy, members-only club is by booking one of the 14 hotel rooms. Besides spacious accommodations — which feel more like chic studios — there’s a bevy of perks, so you won’t ever need (or want) to leave. Celebrated hometown chef Marc Vetri brings his soulful Italian cooking to the restaurant, while there’s several bars to kick back with cocktails. (Another perk? Gratuity is included.) Fitness fans will flip for the Field House, the city’s most comprehensive fitness center clocking in at a whopping 25,000 square feet. When you’re ready to really let loose, head to the Trophy Room for bowling, billiards, and ping pong.
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia
Perched sky high on the top floors of the city’s tallest structure, Comcast Center, the heart-stopping views begin in the glass elevator zipping you up to the 60th-floor lobby. Luxe accents abound, from dazzling arrangements by celebrity florist Jeff Leatham to the sparkling spa, whose walls are embedded with healing crystals. The 219 sleek rooms and suites are decked out with cutting-edge technology, including access to over 300 television channels and 50,000 movies. Eating and drinking well also come easily, thanks to Jean-Georges Philadelphia, JG Skyhigh, and Vernick Fish.
Push through a set of circular wooden doors on a quiet corner in Fishtown to be transported into the serene world of chef Hiroki Fujiyama, who trained with Masaharu Morimoto for over a decade. Neutral tones, a mix of local and Southeast Asian woods, and soft lighting set the backdrop for Fujiyama’s artful, 20-course omakase. Each meal commences with seasonal bites, before progressing to grilled meat and 12 nigiri. Every piece is meticulously crafted by Fujiyama, and intended to be eaten with your hands.
After closing up Will, a beloved French bistro in South Philly, after seven years in June, chef Christopher Kearse didn’t dawdle one bit. In fact, just a few months later, he unveiled Forsythia in Old Town. Like Will, it takes cues from the French canon of classics, but with a welcome dose of whimsy. That means rillettes are blended with smoked trout, tuna collar (not trout) is prepared Amandine, and even kitchen staples like cornichons are beer battered and paired with paprika aioli for dipping.
James Beard Award-winning chef Greg Vernick celebrates the ocean’s bounty at this spacious restaurant on the ground floor of Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. Equal parts industrial and sophisticated — imagine exposed ceiling ducts juxtaposed against gleaming terrazzo walls and marble counters — Vernick Fish turns out pristine raw oysters and zippy tartares, in addition to a globe-trotting selection of cooked seafood. And despite its name, one of Vernick Fish’s strong suits is dessert. Meaning: save room for a slice of carrot cake pie.
Tucked away in the new boutique Queen Hotel by Sonder — a unique hospitality concept combining the best of hotels and homes — is the latest outpost of Emmy Squared. Like the others, those chewy, thick crust square pizzas and belly-busting Le Big Matt burgers are on deck, but you’ll discover locally inspired bites as well. Waffle fries are smothered with chopped beef, pickles, and cheese sauce for the Chopped Cheese Fries, while the Tony Luke Jr. pie is topped with broccoli rabe, provolone, and hot peppers.
Taking inspiration from one of Mexico City’s hippest enclaves, Condesa marries a lively patio, bar, and main dining room with spirited cuisine from not one, but several regions in Mexico. But whether you order Pescado Veracruz, carnitas tacos, or octopus tlayudas, one component weaves throughout the menu: tortillas. Made with stone-ground masa from heirloom yellow and blue corn, they strike a fine balance between sturdy and delicate. They easily support the heartiest toppings, but are also terrific for solo snacking.
When it comes to opening Philly hot spots, chef Mike Solomonov (of Zahav, Goldie, and Dizengoff) has the Midas touch. And for K’Far, a positively pretty Israeli-inspired bakery and cafe in Rittenhouse Square, Solomonov strikes gold again. But here, it’s the exemplary baking skills of Zahav’s pastry chef, Camille Cogswell, that take center stage. From everyday noshes (chocolate babka and Jerusalem bagels) to wholly original creations — the pistachio sticky bun is a must — everything here is deeply, deeply satisfying.
Sometimes, the hype is real. And at pizza impresario, Joe Beddia’s follow-up to his wildly popular counter spot – where he only fired up (and always sold out) 40 pies Wednesday through Saturday – you can finally sit down with a pizza fresh out of the oven, along with slabs of tomato pie, natural wines, and creamy soft serve. To indulge in another Philly staple, book the Hoagie Room, where diners are presented with assorted hoagies omakase-style for two hours.
Located in South Kensington, Cadence is the kind of restaurant every neighborhood deserves. (Plus, it’s BYO.) The space seats just 38 guests, to maintain a cozy, almost residential vibe. The design is low-key (think shelves filled with knickknacks and rotating pieces from local artists). And food wise, chefs Jon Nodler and Samantha Kincaid have cultivated a following with their ability to elevate seemingly humble ingredients — beets, for example, feel both familiar and fresh with the help of cashew cream and rye crisps — to great new heights.