Not your usual downtown restaurant week. No, not with a new citywide vaccination mandate for indoor dining in effect and the omicron push that has even fully vaccinated people guessing (again) whether they should be eating in the dining rooms.
Cleverly, this year’s lineup of downtown restaurants offering multi-course prix fixe lunches for $25 and dinners for $40 also has plenty of options for outdoor dining area and go out. Is this an optimal setup for a culinary adventure in Philadelphia?
Probably not given the dipping temperatures outside. Again, some of the best outdoor structures are heated. And also: Think about the challenges our restaurants are once again facing as a long, cold winter approaches, and consider this another resourceful opportunity to support your favorite establishments when they need it most.
The pioneer of traditional Philadelphia Mexican cuisine has just brightened up the decor of its historic and elegant dining room. But we recently opted to savor the warmth of its insanely heated sidewalk cabanas, where this year three-course menu has options not to be missed with the epazote flavored tortilla soup, the cochinita pibil or the mar y tierra combo of tequila buttered prawns with a sirloin on a creamy chorizo sauce. Not included on the RW menu, but also good for warming the soul: Explore the 103 mezcals and 100 tequilas on the list of the best agave spirits in town.
1602 Locust St., 215-546-0181; tequilasphilly.com
Modern Mediterranean flavors are always bright, fresh and light at chef Jennifer Carroll’s spacious restaurant and bar near Rittenhouse Square. It also has one of the finest dining shelters for al fresco dining, to delve into a three-course menu. Start with his signature broccoli tabbouleh or a Spanish egg and potato tortilla with harissa aioli, then head to one of the best whole fish you’ll find on an RW menu, this one with a vinaigrette. leek and candied lemons.
220 S. 17th St., 215-309-2238; www.picefinchphilly.com
Gianluca Demontis’ standard-bearer in the Italian BYOB genre has always been one of Restaurant Week’s top performers, with a vast menu choice of Tuscan influence. Its outdoor dining options are unfortunately not suitable for dining in extreme weather. But several of his dishes survive quite well on the go, from charred octopus and meatballs with polenta appetizers, to truffled walnut pappardelle, prosciutto and mozzarella-draped chicken cutlet and pork chop with a cream sauce of green pepper and brandy. Tartufo for dessert!
2012 Sansom St., 215-875-8116, melogranophilly.com
Clementine’s Stable Café
This spacious, modern American restaurant and bar that helped revive North Broad Street was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2021. Chef Leo Forneas and his team kick off 2022 with one of the best value menus of the week restaurants, with a four-course menu including several choices that travel reasonably well, from tuna tartare and Tasmanian sea trout crudo to braised short rib with spaetzle, kabocha agnolotti, swordfish with white beans and tomato conserve, and a juicy grilled pork chop with pickled peppers.
631 N. Broad St., 215-454-6530, clementinescafe.com