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Tips for Dining in Philadelphia Right Now

August 11, 2021

Savor Philadelphia’s celebrated culinary scene with convenience and confidence thanks to enhanced health and safety measures and new experiences

Similar to museums, attractions and hotels, many Philadelphia-area restaurants continue to operate with health and safety guidelines and new dining experiences in place. Consider the below factors when planning your meal in Philadelphia.

NOTE: Beginning August 12, 2021, the City of Philadelphia will require masks to be worn inside all Philadelphia businesses and institutions, including restaurants, that do not require vaccination for employees and patrons. Businesses and institutions that require vaccination for all employees and patrons are exempted from having a mask requirement. Consult each restaurant’s website for their respective policies.

Make Reservations in Advance

While some restaurants only offer first come, first served seating such as the historic McGillin’s, others do accept reservations for inside their dining rooms or outside in their “streateries,” such as The Love in Rittenhouse Square or Fork in Old City. Most local eateries have a presence on reservation platforms such as OpenTable and Resy, but it’s always best to check your preferred restaurant’s website and social media ahead of your visit for updates on their reservation and seating policies.

TIP: Popular restaurants such as Zahav and Suraya tend to book up several weeks (or months!) in advance, so once you have your travel plans in place, lock in a reservation for brunch, lunch or dinner at one of the city’s can’t-miss eateries.

Review Vaccination Requirements Ahead of Your Visit

In the interest of health and safety for restaurant staff and fellow diners, and to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19, several Philadelphia restaurants have begun requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to dine indoors, either by presenting a vaccination card or photo of one. Most establishments still allow all diners, regardless of vaccination status, to dine outdoors in their gardens or along patio or sidewalk seating. Restaurants currently requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining include CookNSolo eateries Zahav, Laser Wolf and Abe Fisher (effective August 31, 2021) and Marc Vetri’s Fiorella and Vetri Cucina (effective September 7, 2021), in addition to Martha, Sally, Irwin’s, City Winery, and Kalaya, among others. Policies vary per restaurant, so be sure to confirm any vaccination requirements by visiting your preferred restaurant’s website or social media, or contact them directly, prior to booking a reservation.

Be Prepared for a Contactless, Cash-Free Experience

Many restaurants have also introduced a contactless ordering and payment process. Menus are now accessed via QR codes scanned by your phone (though traditional menus are often still available) and card (or digital) payments have been prioritized, with most restaurants no longer accepting cash. In some instances, you can even swipe your own credit card tableside via wireless card readers, such as those at Vernick Fish.

Embrace Al Fresco Dining

Outdoor dining along Sansom Street in Center City Philadelphia. Several restaurants on the block share outdoor dining space, including Mission Taqueria and Oyster House. Photo by M. Stanley for Center City District.

Though indoor dining at Philadelphia restaurants has returned at full capacity, many local eateries also continue to offer outdoor dining via expanded seating options, patios and rooftops. These open-air options allow diners to enjoy the city’s top menus while surrounded by the sights and sounds of the city, such as the cool breeze coming off of Rittenhouse Square when dining at Parc. When making reservations, guests are often presented with the option to dine indoors or out. For a full list of restaurants, bars, and breweries offering outdoor dining, click here.

Take Advantage of Take-out and Delivery

Centrally located and just a short walk from many Center City restaurants and the Reading Terminal Market, Dilworth Park is an excellent setting to enjoy a take-out meal. Photo by M. Stanley for Center City District.

Most Philadelphia restaurants now also offer take-out or delivery service (either directly through the restaurant or through a third party such as Grubhub, Caviar, Postmates, UberEats, or DoorDash), allowing you to enjoy some of the city’s most appetizing menus on your terms and at your preferred location. Pick-up food from your preferred restaurant and head to a nearby park, like Dilworth Park in Center City, or enjoy your meal in the comfort of your hotel room. For more tips on ordering take-out and delivery in Philadelphia, click here.

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