Sovalo - 2nd and Fairmount, in Northern Liberties http://www.sovalo.com/
Sovalo is just a few blocks from our house, and we discovered it early on once we moved into the neighborhood. It is pricey for Northern Liberties, but the quality makes up for the difference. Their menu changes with the seasons, featuring produce and meats particular to that season. We went for my Husband's birthday last weekend, and they featured Cornish Game Hen and Butternut Squash, along with others. They also have a fantastic wine selection. As I've already mentioned, it's a bit pricey, with about $17-25 an entree. It's also a smaller restaurant, so be sure to make a reservation at least a week in advance. It can get cramped in there, so if possible, request the table by the front window.
If the price is too much, but you're curious to try the food, go on a Monday night when they turn the restaurant into a BYOB. Bring your favorite cheap bottle of wine, but eat like a King or Queen.
Suh Ra Bul - 2nd and Grange St, in Northeast
Being from the NYC area, I have had a very hard time trying to find a Korean BBQ restaurant that rivaled anything close to what we have in NJ and NYC. It look me almost 4 years, and finally, I found Suh Ra Bul.
I included a little map for this restaurant because it's not near centercity, and to be honest, many people don't drive through here... we usually have to drive through some scary areas to get to this restaurant, but people, it's worth it! Also, a map is a good substitute for not being able to find a picture in internet land.
When you go, order 1 Kalbi, and 1 Deuji goo-ee (beer and spicy pork), dolsot bibimbap, and Clam Spicy Stew. Korean family style dining is a totally different experience and really fun! So if you know anyone familiar with Korean food, drag him/her along! You may need some guidance.
The service is slow and the servers don't really understand English, but the menu does have English translations.
Prime Rib - 17th and Locust, Philadelphia http://www.theprimerib.com/
YUM! A nice dry aged Prime Rib is to die for, and especially here at Prime Rib. If you go to the website, you'll see that the interior design was catered toward MANLY business associates, and yes, I don't care much for their decor either. It's outdated and animal print carpet is gross. But their food is so good that once you're eating, you forget it all and think you're at the best restaurant in the entire world!
Now, their Flintstone size Prime Rib does comes with a high price, so if you want more of a bargain, hit them up during Restaurant Week (sign up at Open Table.com) or reserve a table for Sunday night (See pic above). A Tip: For restaurant week, book a table as early as possible. We usually book a table 2 months in advance to make sure we get the day of the week and time we desire.
Joy Tsin Lau - 10th and Race, Chinatown http://www.phillychinatown.com/joytsinlau.htm
Dimsum is sumfun! But it's scary if you don't know what you're poking your chopsticks into. So many things are wrapped in paper, lotus leaves, or in dumplings. Most things are not veggie friendly, and even if the ladies there say they are, be wary of little pork pieces in your food! The servers don't speak English at all there, but they're all very friendly. I highly suggest you bring a friend that speaks Cantonese or Mandarin the first couple times until you can identify the foods for yourself.
They're the busiest on Sundays, so be prepared to wait in line. But trust me, it will be worth the wait! There is also convenient parking garage next door. You can get a parking discount after you pay for your meal.
Tiffin - 7th and Girard Ave http://www.tiffin.com/
Since Craig LaBan wrote this article, Tiffin has been hoppin'. As you can see from the photo taken by Google's Street View (seriously, isn't that creepy?) it's a tiny store front, comparable to an average Chinese takeout place. But people are loving Tiffin, and the tiny restaurant has transformed to a BYOB and is crowded on a Thursday night. One night, my husband and I had to wait 20 minutes to pick up our take out order, but we were excited for Tiffin.
Tiffin was already open for many months before the huge review, and we prayed that they never shut down, like many of the restaurants that have come and gone on Girard Ave. But for low prices, you get amazing meals. I'm no Indian cuisine expert, but I do love my chicken tikka masalas, and theirs is the best I've tasted so far. Plus, the delivery men wear 3 piece suits, and they're so adorable.
Tiffin also promotes healthy living, and you can pre-order your meals for the week. They prepare healthy lunches and dinners with variety, so you can try many different types of Indian food. They also cater for larger events.
La Viola - 253 S 16th St Philadelphia, PA 19102 (215) 735-8630
Back when I first met my husband, he was in law school and very poor. I was in college, still unaware of the worth of money. On our second date, he took me to La Viola. Since it was a BYOB, we brought a decent bottle of wine (we were wine noobies at the time) and I ordered their salmon penne vodka. Honestly, I forget what my husband ate, because I was too busy enjoying my meal. Turned out that my husband had to eat mac n'cheese and rely on free cafeteria food from my college to save up money to take me on dates. Hey, I was not opposed to sneaking him into the Bryn Mawr dining rooms if that ensured a few dates to some wonderful city restaurants (A few months later, he took me to Striped Bass for my graduation dinner. I knew then he was a keeper!)
Anyways, back to La Viola, a small Italian BYOB. This place is small and very cramped, however the servers are great with all customers. They're friendly and very knowledgeable. This place does book up fast, so call early for reservations. La Viola has opened up another dining room across the street, but I haven't tried it out yet, so I'm not sure how it's working, but if the food and service remains the same, you can't lose.
Vetri's - 1312 Spruce St Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 732-3478 http://www.vetriristorante.com/