Sunday suppers are a cherished tradition among many families, and even among restaurant staffers, who often gather for a family-style feast at the end of the weekend.
Happily, the Sunday supper legacy is being carried on by restaurants in Philadelphia. Some serve traditional, family-style meals and others boast special offerings like prix-fixe menus and exclusive dishes.
And winter is kind of the perfect time of year to enjoy a heart meal at the end of the week.
Here are our picks for the best Sunday suppers in Philadelphia:
• Modo Mio: The “Sugo Sunday” special at Modo Mio is one of Northern Liberties’ best-kept foodie secrets. For $33, diners at the cash-only BYOB get a family-style meal including antipasti, salad, pasta, meat and dessert from acclaimed chef Peter McAndrews.
• Kanella: This center city traditional Greek hotspot serves a fabulous mutlit-course, family-style dinner they call Cypriot Meze. Small-plates are placed at the center of the table for all to take from. Take your pick of the vegetarian option for $30 or the meat/seafood for $35. The menu changes weekly but usually features things like beat-root felafel and spanakopita for the vegetarians and often different veal and pork dishes for the meat/seafood eaters. Pickled vegetables, bread, dips and marinated olives are served for course one, then a salad, then a few small plates for the the sort of main course, then another salad and finally, three meat or three vegetarian starches.
• Mercato: For only $35 for adults and $20 for children, enjoy a four-course, family-style meal at Mercato one Sunday a month. Grab your friends or family (and a bottle of wine) and dig into an antipasti course, a pasta course, an entree, and lastly a tasty dessert.
Special Prix Fixe Menus
Bistrot La Minette: Chef Peter Woolsey offers a Bistrot La Minette staples, like white wine-braised chicken or brown butter-basted fluke.
• Bibou: Wine critic Robert Parker once said that Bibou “might be the best French bistro in the entire country.” The oft-praised South Philly restaurant is known for exemplary French fare from chef Pierre Calmels, like escargot with fava beans and tarragon and braised, lentil-stuffed pig feet. The best deal at the BYOB is found on Sundays, when they offer a $45 prix fixe menu, with choices for each of four courses.
• Little Fish: The Sunday night tasting menu at Queen Village BYOB Little Fish has been gaining steam in recent years, and tables are harder to come by than they once were. But those diners who do snag a reservation — available in two seatings, at 5:30 and 8:00 — are treated to five courses of inspired dishes like halibut with orecchiette and bagna cauda or sturgeon with pork belly and spinach. The tab? A modest $33 — just $6.60 a course!
• Pumpkin: Cozy BYOB Pumpkin has long been a favorite for seasonal locavore cooking. Sunday nights, the restaurant offers a five-course prix fixe for $40, with a menu that changes weekly based on what’s fresh from local farms. Expect dishes like skate with pistachio, endive and Beurre Noisette, or Duroc pork loin with heirloom cauliflower.
• Amis: Marc Vetri’s industrial-chic small plates emporium followed up Sal’s Sunday Supper, a weekly menu named for Vetri’s father, with a traditional South Philly Sunday Gravy menu. Amis’ chef Brad Spence thinks up a new menu every weekend, combining the best of fresh, local ingredients with South Philly-style Italian tradition. Prices vary, but usually hover around $35.
• The Mildred: The Mildred just began serving a three-course prix-fixe menu every Sunday night. The meal costs $38 and includes ever-changing and decadent plates.
• Isabella: Get ready for Isabella’s new Supper Size Sunday menu starting on January 6, 2013. The menu will be offered every Sunday and will extend past Isabella’s traditional small plate dishes. Guests looking for bigger portioned comfort foods to end the weekend — short rib ragu, salmon, steak — can look no further than Conshohocken’s Isabella.
Special Sunday Dishes
• The Dandelion: Sometimes referred to as the best restaurant in the Stephen Starr empire, The Dandelion is an homage to old-fashioned English pubs, serving a carefully curated beer list and favorite across-the-pond staples like sticky toffee pudding and a mean fish and chips. But there’s one dish you can only get on Sunday nights (and on Bank holidays): a succulent sirloin roast for $28, complete with traditional horseradish sauce and yorkshire pudding.
• Rittenhouse Tavern: The just-opened upscale American restaurant in the Philadelphia Art Alliance digs offers a regular menu with kicked-up American classics, like deviled eggs with pork scrapple, and a burger with a custom Pat LaFrieda beef blend. But only on Sunday does the restaurant serve its signature fried chicken dinner for $18 per person. It includes whole-fried local Amish bird along with fresh-baked biscuits and a daily side.