When available, the tasting menu is the best way to experience a chef’s complete vision for his restaurant. Many restaurants will offer this style of dining with a set menu with each course carefully selected by the chef, while others allow you to make the final choice with guidance as to how many selections from each category you can make. Either option is designed to encourage you to try all of the sections of the menu, hitting the chef’s highlights. Ordering in this way is typically more expensive than simply ordering an entree, but you might also end up saving a bit of money if you’re one that usually orders appetizers and dessert along with your meal. The restaurants listed here feature some of the best tasting menus in Philadelphia, all under $100 per person.
1623 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Opened in fall of 2014, Abe Fisher is the latest restaurant from CookNoSolo Restaurants, the team behind Zahav, Percy Street Barbecue, Federal Donuts and Dizengoff. Owners Steven Cook and Michael Solomonov (who is credited as co-chef along with Yehuda Sichel) offer small plates inspired by the Jewish diaspora. The menu is divided into four sections: vegetable, meat, fish and dessert. While you can order a la carte, your best bet is to go for the prix fixe option. Deviating from many tasting menus that are picked for you, this $39 dinner allows you to create your own four-course meal by choosing one item from each section. Standout dishes include veal schnitzel tacos, gefilte fish and borscht tartare (guests with special dietary needs are welcome to pick any four dishes, regardless of the category). Pair your choices with one of the 17 available wines or a creative cocktail like “The Abe Fisher” made with gin, dry vermouth and a Kosher pickle.
217-219 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Amada is Chef Jose Garces’ first restaurant, which opened back in 2005. While the Iron Chef has since opened more than a dozen eateries across the United States, the nine-year-old Amada is as popular with Philly diners as ever. A little rustic, a little chic, the Old City restaurant offers authentic Spanish tapas. The menu is ideal for ordering several dishes to taste and share, but to get the most for your money, try one of the tasting menu options. The $55 “tradicional” features a selection of small plates inspired by the traditional Andalusian bar experience. For just a bit more, the $65 “especial” option includes a number of small plates selected by the chef from the dinner menu along with original off-menu surprises. While the plates might be “small,” you won’t go home hungry. Diners are typically treated to an average of 10-12 dishes with favorites including grilled octopus, bacon-wrapped dates and short rib flatbread. For the complete experience, opt for the wine pairing priced at $25 for “tradicional” and $40 for “especial.”
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The Fat Ham
3131 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Chef Kevin Sbraga opened his Southern-influenced University City spot in the late fall of 2013. With cozy seating, warm wooden furniture and an eclectic collection of mismatched tableware and chairs, The Fat Ham conveys the rustic feeling of dining in a countryside home. This past October, The Fat Ham started offering Sunday Suppers. Inspired by the Southern family tradition of big family dinners with passed plates of food, the three-course hearty meal is served from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for $30 per person. Though the menu says three courses, the plates seem to just keep coming. Dishes range from mustard greens Caesar and shrimp and grits to collard greens with pork and the restaurant’s famous hot chicken. Paired with friendly service and drinks like the Southern Mule or the Charleston, you’ll feel right at home … only better.
8705 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Located within the Top of the Hill Plaza in Chestnut Hill, Heirloom is a cozy BYOB featuring elevated versions of traditional American comfort food. While the typical dinner and brunch menu is noteworthy in itself, Chef Al Paris also occasionally hosts tasting menu events as part of his collaboration dinner series. On these special evenings, Chef Paris works with an invited chef to put together an exclusive menu highlighting seasonal ingredients. The series began in the fall of 2013, when legendary Chef Georges Perrier joined Paris for the evening, and the most recent dinner in October 2014 featured Chef Christopher Kearse of Will BYOB. The collaborative dinners typically feature four courses and are always under $100 per person (the Chef Kearse dinner was $65 plus tax and gratuity). Be sure to keep an eye out for the next dinner in the series, as these are a unique way to experience the area’s best chefs.
440 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
With the winner of the seventh season of “Top Chef,” Kevin Sbraga, behind this Avenue of the Arts spot, it’s no surprise that guests have been consistently impressed since its 2011 opening. While you can order a la carte from the bar, the standard menu is prix fixe and features four courses at $55 per person. Sbraga’s menu of modern American dishes changes seasonally to guarantee fresh, high-quality ingredients, so be sure to check the website or call for current offerings. Wine pairing is available for an additional $40 per person, and there is typically an aged meat (served for two people) offered as a $40 supplement.
Michelle Hein is the social media 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 husband would love to open.
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