The best kind of magic is the kind that happens right in front of your eyes. You scrutinize every move and analyze even the smallest gesture, certain that if you never lose focus, you’ll catch a glimpse of something that will reveal the secret. But, even though the artist is working a mere arm’s length away, you still cannot fathom how the chef makes that masterpiece so mercilessly delicious. Such is the thrill and wonder of tableside food prep. The closer you are to the process, the more amazing it is. Here are five jaw-dropping, up-close and in your tummy restaurants that put on a truly sizzling show.
Michael’s Restaurant
935 Lincoln Highway
Morrisville, PA 19067
(215) 295-5001

Michael’s is an ornate restaurant that offers a divine dining experience that is comprised of equal parts opulence and camaraderie. Opened in 1968, this full-service facility provides fine food and friendship. Just stepping through the doors, you are greeted with the feeling that you’ve entered a place that isn’t quite like anything else you’ve ever experienced. The tableside cooking is often accomplished with a dramatic flourish of flame and showmanship. Whatever your fancy, whether it’s seafood, poultry, beef, linguine, or any of the chef’s many other specialties, Michael’s has the magic that makes you want more.

Bistro Romano
120 Lombard St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 925-8880

Bistro Romano is thick with atmosphere. The charming restaurant is steeped in the rich lore that only accompanies establishments of historical note. Constructed in the early 1700s, according to their website “the building was originally the residence of a wealthy shipping merchant.” If that’s not enough ambiance for you, patrons can also descend underground to Bistro Romano’s romantic wine cellar. The Caesar Insalata was voted “Best of Philly” and it features fresh romaine and Pecorino Romano, drizzled with house-made dressing and their signature Bistro Croutons. The moment is made all the more special as the dish is prepared tableside for two or more.

128 S. 19th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 568-1027

It doesn’t matter whether you’re craving Japanese, seafood, sushi or vegetarian, the self-taught food stylings of Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka will deliver a tantalizing prize to your taste buds. Zama offers an abundance of delights ranging from Akadashi Soup and Kurobuta Pork Dumplings to Angus Ny Strip and House Tofu, which is cooked right at your table (and comes with a delectable wild mushroom sauce). Located in Rittenhouse Row, this esteemed eatery offers more than food, as the establishment regularly partners with celebrities and athletes to concoct collaborative dishes for the benefit of a chosen charity. Zama serves up food that’s not only good for you, but it is good for the community.

Related: Top Sushi In Philadelphia

723 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107

One of the illustrious Stephen Starr restaurants, the modern elegance of the chic Morimoto is simply unparalleled in Philadelphia. Dining has been elevated to a total immersion art experience that truly stimulates all of your senses. According to his bio, born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, Chef Morimoto “learned the art of sushi and traditional Kaiseki cuisine by training under several of his country’s esteemed master chefs.” His Ishi Yaki Bop rice is prepared in a hot river stone bowl right at your table. When your stomach is in search of bliss, Morimoto’s is the establishment that will enable you to transcend to a culinary Shangri-La.

Steak 38
515 Route 38 E.
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
(856) 662-3838

Do not let the address fool you, this award-winning New Jersey foodie favorite is a mere six miles from Philadelphia’s City Hall. Lifelong pals Joe DiAmore and Ben Blumberg began their working relationship together all the way back in the 1960s when both of the ambitious young men served as waiters at Chubby’s Restaurant in Collingswood, New Jersey. Now co-owners of Steak 38, the duo have created a restaurant that offers a dynamic dining duality of meat and seafood. Joe and Ben’s acclaimed tableside service is available for “caesar salad, fish de-boning, meat-carving and bananas foster.” Hop across the river to Steak 38 to experience a meal that’s remarkably great.

Related: Top Dim Sum In Philadelphia

Allen Foster, a lifelong Greater Philadelphia resident, has been writing about all those wonderful things that make us feel so alive for over 20 years. He approaches each day as an adventure, eager to discover what new and vibrant surprises await just around life’s corner. You can see his work on