Knowing that I would spend four or more years in an unfamiliar city made me really curious about the food options. I had always adored the experience of dining at a restaurant; from the walk or ride there, to the anticipation for the main course, to the sweet ending of dessert. However, I realized that the excitement faded after I finished the meal. I would often think, "That's all? Nothing else?" after eating. My appetite was satisfied, but my palate was not. That's when I learned that Philadelphia restaurants with tasting menus were the solution to my craving. Out of all the Philadelphia restaurants with tasting menus that I have tried, here are my all-time favorites:

Entrée BYOB

Breanne Mastromarino

I discovered this American-fare bistro through local restaurant searches and reviews over the years, not realizing it offered a tasting menu until my first visit. Located in Center City, Entrée focuses on serving both traditional and modern plates using seasonal ingredients that are combined in a way that is simple, yet captivating. The front window of the restaurant is open to the outdoors, creating a friendly and inviting environment.

While reading the menu, I came across $40 and $50 three-course prix fixe options. It was an easy decision for my friend and me to pursue the $40 prix fixe menu because of the incredible value of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert compared to ordering à la carte.  Although the options on the $50 menu seemed a bit fancier, the options on the $40 menu were highly appealing.  Our server explained the flexibility of the prix fixe menu and the option for certain substitutions from the regular menu to be included. 

I selected the lobster rangoon special for my appetizer, seared duck breast (pictured) for my main course, and fried oreos for dessert. The portions were perfectly-sized and paired well with a bottle of white wine. I also enjoyed the complimentary bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar throughout the meal, so much so that I even spilled a bit on my blue dress.  

#SpoonTip: When you dine at Entrée, don't forget to save room for dessert! The homemade fried oreos were an outrageous indulgence to top off a worthwhile and affordable three-course dinner. 


Breanne Mastromarino

I found Zahav absolutely worth the two-month wait for a reservation. This restaurant near Penn's Landing is so popular that it is often booked for months at a time. After hearing overwhelming positive reviews of the dining experience from friends and online articles, my boyfriend and I were dying to visit. He happened to check for table availability to discover that the next available reservation was on my 21st birthday.

We knew upon arrival of this comfortable restaurant with beautiful views of the city that the Tayim Taste of Zahav menu and wine pairings would be the most exciting way to celebrate my birthday, since Zahav specializes in small plates. Feeling adventurous, I was eager to try as many dishes as possible to introduce myself to this diverse Israeli-inspired modern cuisine. The selection of flavorful vegetable salads (pictured) was an impressive way to begin the meal. I loved the mezze, especially the grilled duck hearts which I had never eaten before. My favorite course was the lamb shoulder slow-braised with pomegranate molasses and chickpeas. It was incredibly decadent and I was able to fully appreciate the preparation process of that plate.

#SpoonTip: The lamb shoulder must be ordered with plenty of days in advance due to the 48-hour brining process of the lamb. If you miss your chance, there is another lamb dish on the menu that you can order as well. 

After indulging at Zahav, I felt an immeasurable sense of accomplishment. I was proud of my patience for waiting two months to eat here, my courage to try Israeli food for the first time, and my ability to clear nearly every plate. 

Bibou BYOB

Breanne Mastromarino

Being the first of anyone I knew to try this restaurant, I was prepared to embrace Bibou with open arms and an open appetite. This South Philadelphia French bistro whose name literally means "sweetheart" offers a different tasting menu each week that highlights the incorporation of fresh and seasonal ingredients for new and returning guests alike. It is dark, yet cozy inside, exhibiting a romantic atmosphere. 

The menu contained one option per course, creating a sense of relief by removing the pressure to make a decision of what to eat. Upon reading the menu, I realized I had difficulty imaging what each dish would look like. I recognized some of the ingredients, but the titles and the presentations were new to me. I soon realized that this element of surprise made the meal incredibly special. 

The dinner began with miniature utensils containing canapés, each containing a unique taste and texture. Despite the server's reminders, I often could not remember what I was eating, but I knew that I loved every bite. It was incredible to see and taste some of my favorite French ingredients in an entirely novel way. The foie gras and veal medallion (pictured) plates were especially memorable. The hot lemon soufflé was my first encounter with a sweet soufflé and it was stellar. The menu was so comprehensive that by the end of the meal, my palate had never felt so complete. 


Breanne Mastromarino

I was inspired to visit Suraya after discovering photos displaying an aerial view of colorful, attractive plates of their food on social media. I had previously never heard of the Lebanese restaurant's name but soon found out Philadelphia Magazine named it the Best New Restaurant of 2018. This only further stimulated my excitement to try Suraya. Two weeks after making my reservation, I ventured to Fishtown and entered the restaurant and truly felt as if I had left the bustling streets of Philadelphia for a foreign land. I spent some time both before and after my meal perusing the bazaar and cafe, which I could have spent hours inside.

The dinner tasting menu, A Taste of Suraya, consisted of an assortment of dips, one mezza (appetizer) per guest, one mashawi (meat and poultry) per guest, and one dessert per guest. The possible combinations of dishes between two people seemed endless. From sautéed chicken livers to grilled halibut kebab, each plate was cooked with delicious traditional spices and complemented with warm pita bread.

#SpoonTip: According to the tasting menu, the kanafeh dessert (pictured) is split between two guests. The kanafeh was, by far, my favorite part of the meal and was both a sweet and savory conclusion to this wonderful dinner.

Vetri Cucina

Breanne Mastromarino

My dinner at this intimate Italian restaurant in Center City was my Valentine's Day gift last year and was revealed to me as a surprise the week before. It was the perfect type of suspense before this momentous occasion, especially because the restaurant offers only a tasting menu for customers who dine in. 

Our server first presented a general menu and explained that the meal would consist of ten to twelve courses that the chef would select based on our preferences. I loved the thrill of a pleasant surprise at each course and found that each portion was small enough to leave me satisfied, yet ready for the next. My favorite course was combined spinach gnocchi with brown butter and almond-ricotta tortellini with truffle butter (pictured). The taste and texture of both portions of pasta were so fulfilling that they left me entirely in awe. I enjoyed three different complimentary mocktails throughout the meal, quenching my thirst taste buds. Knowing at the end of the dinner that there was literally nothing else I could ask for, I was delighted to receive a large paper copy of the menu and an almond cookie in a shopping bag from the restaurant. The service was impeccable and this was truly an exquisite dining experience and a Valentine's Day that I would never forget. 

These Philadelphia restaurants with tasting menus are perfect for when you are celebrating a special occasion, feeling adventurous, or looking for a break from food on your campus. Tasting menus allow for a quintessential restaurant experience with the opportunity to take your time and try a myriad of exquisite courses. In a city that is so easy to navigate, you should seek out these remarkable restaurants that will leave you with a full stomach and full heart.