One of the best ways to experience a new restaurant is to choose the tasting menu option. These multi-course meals allow chefs to select their best dishes, often served in smaller portions, to highlight different sections of their overall menu. While typically a bit more expensive than simply ordering an entree, by dining in this style, you see the complete vision of the chef in a way that ordering a la carte rarely conveys. It can also be a useful way of finding new favorite dishes to order a full portion of in the future. Here, a few of Philadelphia’s top chefs and restaurants flex their creative muscles and bring you innovative tasting menus that are worth splurging on.

M Restaurant (Credit, Michelle Hein)

M Restaurant
Morris House Hotel
231 S. 8th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 625-6666
www.mrestaurantphilly.comNestled behind a wrought-iron gate, a brick path that’s lined with trees and flowers and lit by tiny white lights will lead you to M Restaurant’s amazing garden. This magical setting becomes even more enchanting when you consider that historical figures Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and George Washington met at this very hotel, which was built in 1787. Whether you’re spending a night at the charming Morris House Hotel or just passing through on your way to the Walnut Street Theatre, M is the perfect spot for a romantic date or quiet gathering of friends. The four-course tasting menu is available for $45, and the pre-theater special includes three courses for $35 when you show your ticket stubs. If you’re interested in hosting a wedding or another event at M Restaurant, you might choose to try the seven-course events menu for $95 per person. This very special meal replicates the experience you would have at your event, and the price will be deducted from your total event price upon booking. Each menu option includes dishes made with the finest fresh-to-farm ingredients, many of which are either grown right on the premises or come from the owner’s Frenchtown farm.

Cuba Libre (Credit, Michelle Hein)

Cuba Libre
10 S. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 627-0666
www.cubalibrerestaurant.comFrom the streets of Old City, you’re able to walk into a Havana courtyard. At Cuba Libre, Chef Guillermo Pernot takes you on a tropical vacation. With so many wonderful options to choose from, let the chef do the work. Choose the “15 Tastes of Cuba” menu ($39.95), and you’ll be served 15 small plates that have been carefully selected by Chef Pernot to guarantee you’ll enjoy all of the menu favorites. Appetizers such as shrimp ceviche and malanga fritters lead to entrees including mahi-mahi and chimichurri-marinated grilled steak with sweet plantains and rice. Your meal ends with a traditional Cuban flan and sponge cake soaked in tres leches with a mocha mousse. Please note that the “15 Tastes of Cuba” is not available on Saturdays, though.

Related: Top Sangria in Philadelphia

Il Pittore
2025 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 391-4900
www.ilpittore.comIl Pittore brings the romance of Italy to Rittenhouse Square. Hand-painted murals, black-and-white photographs of Italy and a rooftop herb garden combine to create a quaint atmosphere reminiscent of a countryside villa. While favorite menu items including a selection of house-made pastas, antipasti and impressive dishes such as steamed black bass and rack of rabbit can be ordered a la carte, choose the six-course tasting menu for the complete dining experience. This $85 meal starts with a spring pea soup with lobster before going into other delectable courses including scallops, exotic mushrooms, ravioli with beef, veal, pork and chanterelle and veal flank steak. The meal ends with a delicate orange poppyseed cake served with a blueberry compote and buttermilk gelato.

Alma de Cuba (Credit, Michelle Hein)

Alma de Cuba
1623 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 988-1799
www.almadecubarestaurant.comAllow executive chef and owner Douglas Rodriguez and restaurateur Stephen Starr to take you away on a culinary vacation via modern Latin cuisine and exotic drinks. It’s no secret that Alma de Cuba knows rum, and so, as a twist on the traditional tasting menu, rum flights to pair with your meal. With seven different menus available, Alma de Cuba is the first Philadelphia restaurant to offer this creative concept. Options range from the low-cost Caribbean menu (including Brugal Blanco, Bacardi eight-year rum and Barbancourt five-star eight-year rum) for $25 to the more extravagant Premier (Pyrat 1623, Zacapa X.O. and Clement X.O) for $120. The new menus are already becoming a popular choice for guests, as they are the perfect accompaniment to your meal of updated Latin classics such as grilled octopus and lechon asado.

Related: Top Spots for Rum in Philadelphia

Sbraga (Credit, Michelle Hein)

440 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 735-1913
www.sbraga.comChef Kevin Sbraga, of Bravo’s “Top Chef” fame, is the owner and executive chef of this aptly named restaurant located on the Avenue of the Arts at the corner of Broad and Pine. Offering modern American fare, Sbraga focuses on seasonal dishes, using local ingredients whenever possible. When dining in the 60-seat dining room, guests can enjoy a four-course prix fixe menu for $49 with an optional beverage pairing for an additional $35. A six-course tasting menu is available for $75 at the Chef’s Counter, with an added beverage pairing priced at $50. Dishes such as the meatloaf made with foie gras and held together with a veal mousse — instead of the traditional breadcrumbs — illustrate Chef Sbraga’s art of transforming simple dishes into innovative masterpieces.

Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open.