It looks like BYOBs for all occasions, restaurants that inspire travel to Cypress, Southern France or India or a thick-cut slab of juicy pizza next to flawless culinary technique, both classic French and New American.
All in all, the Bella Vista and Queen Village neighborhoods host an array of fantastic places to eat and drink. Here are a few of our favorites.
A pigeon never met a meal it didn’t like, which is why it’s especially fitting that this sunny, new Queen Village cafe will soon be open not only for dinner, but also for breakfast and lunch, too. Chefs Scott Schroeder and Pat O’Malley are currently serving up a menu heavy on the small plates, hors d’oeuvres and side dishes. Picture plates composed with items such as chopped liver on rye with half sours, steamed clams with ginger, garlic and chili oil, or honey-buttered carrots with horseradish. The forthcoming breakfast and lunch menu is still to come but rest assured, you'll soon be able to graze as a pigeon would — all throughout the day.
Neuf is one of the best ways for Philadelphians to take a trip without leaving home. Inspired by the flavors of southern France and northern Africa, Joncarl Lachman and Bob Moysan invite guests to partake in aromatic meals. On the current menu, you'll find goat braised with sweet potatoes and apricots, baked monkfish with clams, fregola and coriander, and a particularly memorable plate of shakshuka featuring eggs braised on harissa-spiked tomato sauce. Plus, with Jesse Cornell mixing masterful cocktails behind the bar, you can reap an equally enjoyable experience if you want to stop in for a quick sip and a sandwich versus a full, leisurely meal.
Since reopening last fall in their new location, the Kanella crew is going strong. Longtime fans are grateful to once again have access to Chef Konstantinos Pitsillides’ Cypriot cuisine. Perched on the far side of Queen Village at Front and Fitzwater, Kanella serves up the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors typical of Cypress. Don’t miss the lacmajun, a colorful flatbread topped with ground lamb, pickled beets and pomegranate seeds.
The Good King Tavern
A true tavern places drink before food but overlooks neither. The Good King, Bella Vista’s own little tavern, is a strong competitor in this category. Within a cozy room encapsulating a wooden bar and a row of banquettes, playful options are pouring every night of the week. Grab a seat for a weeknight supper of tavern fare, such as roasted marrow bones, a vegetable tart or a classic onion soup gratinée. Even if you’re not a neighborhood resident, it’s worth going out of your way for a visit to sample a selection from the current collection of wines by small producers.
The Good King Tavern
At Little Fish, seafood served from the restaurant’s open kitchen is always at the center of the plate. This 22-seat, BYOB is a long-standing neighborhood institution, well beloved for its intimate setting and attention paid to detail. You’ll find elegant, not-too-fussy plates such as octopus with pork belly, kimchi, carrot and peanut, as well as a scallop dish paired with cauliflower, apple and black truffle. Though Chef Chadd Jenkins takes seafood seriously, you’ll also find the occasional meat dish and lots of local vegetables from New Jersey’s Zone Seven.
When Peter Serpico left the Momofuku empire in New York, he brought to Philly an uncharacteristically situated space on South Street and a vision for New American cooking. Serpico’s artfully arranged plates are as delicious as they are beautiful, whether a cool first course like hamachi tartare with ginger, scallion and dijon or a more substantial dish like chicken and snail lasagna with hazelnut, pecorino and béchamel. Sit at the chef's counter for a full view of the action or settle into a seat in the cozy, charcoal-colored dining room.
Imli brings warm Indian flavors to Queen Village in a bright, sunny BYOB space at the corner of Catherine and Passyunk with a menu full of classic and flavorful comfort foods characteristic to its genre of cuisine. Staples include tandoori roasted meats marinated in spices, palak paneer, chicken tikka masala, the Kashmiri dish of lamb rogan josh and fresh naan charred on the wall of the tandoor oven. The service is pleasant and the atmosphere casual, perfect for a low-key evening or dining out with a group.
Semi-Brooklyn, semi-Sicilian style, Square Pie is powerful pizza and potentially the best case scenario to have within walking distance. Reach for something simple with the pepperoni or mushroom options, or choose a slightly more elaborate pie such as the pizza pancetta with cured pork belly, roasted potato, leeks and cream. The Square Pie team knows their way around more than just dough, too. Smooth out your square meal with a side of round meatballs or arancini stuffed with prosciutto and roasted red pepper.
Bibou offers a seven-course tasting of beautiful French food, all in a sweet little room of a restaurant. Though Pierre and Charlotte Calmels have since opened Le Cheri in Rittenhouse, Bibou is the BYOB where they first got their start. It remains one of the most sought-after reservations around town, often completely booked weeks or months in advance. It's especially popular among lovers of French wine who like to draw together a set of pairings for themselves. If you manage to snag a table — note, reservations are required — prepare for a progression of plates and some of the most confident service in town.