The Best Places to Drink Wine in Philadelphia

Over the past couple decades, Philadelphia has often felt like a town struggling to identify its relationship with wine. Strict liquor laws have always made it a difficult place to buy and enjoy it; and while the city benefits from one of the country’s greatest BYOB restaurant scenes as a result of these antiquated laws, true wine destinations have been few and far between, with places like Tria, Panorama, and the long-defunct Striped Bass among the lone leaders of the avant-garde for years. Recently, however, the scene has been bubbling over; n influx of new beverage talent, drawn to Philly by an elevated culinary scene and an ever savvier clientele, has given rise to tons of great new wine bars and wine-focused restaurants. Simply put, there has never been a better time to drink wine in Philadelphia.

  • 1

    a.kitchen

    This chic restaurant off Rittenhouse Square occupies one of the choicest locations in Philly, below a luxury hotel across from Center City’s busiest public park. Power lunchers and wine professionals rub elbows over chef Eli Collins’ modern American fare and an eclectic wine list. Expect an emphasis on natural wine, the Jura and riesling, as well as cru Beaujolais, new-school American pinot noir and thoughtful seasonal selections that change with the food. The emphasis on importers is a unique, refreshing addition, bringing a larger voice to small producers. If you’re up for a nightcap, the adjacent a.bar buzzes with ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • craft cocktails
    • hotel bar
    • full menu
    • outdoor/patio
    • oysters/raw bar
  • 2

    Jet

    Jet's owner/wine director Jill Weber is an Archaeologist by trade, and carries her professional penchant for the unknown and the unexplored to her wine list. The by the glass selection—which focuses on exotic grapes and regions—is among the city’s most eclectic, with pours as far flung as Morocco and as unexpected as Pennsylvania. The bottle list is home to some of the best wine deals in town, with pedigreed gems that you might see for almost double in ritzier locales. Part of Jet’s charm is the sense of community that its lack of pretense has fostered (no askance looks if you mispronounce “Assyrtiko” amongst the ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • low wine markups
    • good wine
    • bar food
    • singles scene
    • cheap date
  • 3

    Lacroix

    Nestled in one of the city’s most elegant settings (the luxury Rittenhouse Hotel), this legendary Philly dining room has withstood the ebb and flow of dining trends with timeless sophistication. The wine list is much the same: the expansive tome is stacked with many of the world’s greats while maintaining a contemporary feel. There's simply no better place in town to drink vintage wine, whether it's high-end Burgundy and Rhône you're after, or farther-flung regions just now getting the recognition they deserve. Thus is the sort of list that is democratic in its vintage offerings, offering age in a variety of different ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • vintage wine
    • champagne
    • full menu
    • oysters / raw bar
    • historic
    • hotel bar
  • 4

    Panorama

    While a Guinness World Record for most wines by the glass (150, priced from $8.50 to $50 per glass) is worth a visit to Panorama alone, the real draw here is the reserve wine list, which is packed with serious depth of producers and vintages from Italy’s benchmark regions and beyond. Many of the older gems on here are not only wines you won’t readily find anywhere else, they’re also a steal.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • vintage wine
    • Italian wine
    • low wine markups
  • 5

    Tria

    Philadelphia was a vastly different wine landscape when Tria served its first glass ten years ago. Since then, they've not only been instrumental in reshaping Philly wine culture, but they’ve also continued to stay relevant while adding chapters in several downtown neighborhoods. The wine bar's impressive by-the-glass menu is supplemented by great small plates, salads, panini, a killer cheese selection and casual, but refined service that is eager to educate if prompted.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • good wine
    • craft beer
    • full menu
    • day drinking
    • outdoor / patio
  • 6

    Vedge

    This pioneering vegan restaurant was not only among the first upscale restaurants to showcase a small, focused wine list, but owner and wine director Kate Jacoby was also one of the first natural wine devotees in Philly. Featuring one of the city’s most beautiful interiors—the restaurant occupies a Victorian mansion with ornate original details as far as the eye can see—the scene here is refreshingly mixed. And there’s no lifestyle manifesto to be found on the menu, just seriously good cooking that has had many a meat eater overlook the obvious omission. Jacoby also has an eagle eye when it comes to picking out small ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • full menu
  • 7

    Vernick Food & Drink

    Greg Vernick earned 2017 “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” honors from the James Beard Foundation for his innovative cooking, splitting the difference between homey familiarity and flawless execution. But his restaurant’s equally excellent wine and cocktail programs have also contributed greatly to its reputation as a bona fide destination. Smart, dialed-in and constantly evolving, wine director Ray Gazdzinski’s list reflects a preference for terroir-driven wines from small producers and service that’s elegant yet casual. The same is true of the bar, which boasts some of the best bartenders in the city. (Their domain also ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • craft cocktails
    • full menu
  • 8

    Vetri

    Chef Marc Vetri’s 30-seat Italian flagship restaurant has made waves nationally for years, even prompting food writer Alan Richman to ask, “Is this the best Italian restaurant in America?” Despite establishing a winning formula, the restaurant is still evolving, moving to an all tasting menu format in the past few years and adding a private dining room and cooking classes. On the wine front, pairings are a serious draw here, and on any given night there are upwards of 40 bottles open to go alongside the soulful Northern Italian-inspired cooking. Anticipate some legendary wines hitting the table, including ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • vintage wine
    • Italian wine
    • celebrity chef
    • full menu
  • 9

    Volvér

    One of the jewels of chef Jose Garces’ restaurant group, Volvér offers molecular-driven food, a sleek modern bar and one of the best selections of Champagne and sparkling wine in the city. Pre-show bubbly is a no brainer, but with serious cocktails and an expansive by-the-glass list, there are almost too many ways to drink well here. Allow the staff to tailor a pairing alongside a 6- or 12-course tasting menu.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • craft cocktails
    • oysters / raw bar
    • celebrity chef
    • full menu
  • 10

    The Good King Tavern

    A cozy, narrow bistro serving the leafy residential neighborhoods of Queen Village and Bella Vista, the Good King is a good hang for anyone looking to warm up with proper Beef Bourguignon or a platter of socca. But it’s a low-key wine lover’s perch, as well. Keep it simple with a house wine selection by the glass or pitcher, succinctly categorized under the headings “Good,” “Better” and “Best” (more details available by request), or delve into personal picks from proprietor Chloé Grigri, whose global approach is centered around big flavors and small producers.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • craft cocktails
  • 11

    Walnut Street Café

    The Lower Manhattan wine-geek favorite Rebelle may be no more, but its team, and philosophy, lives on a few hours south in the form of Walnut Street Café, a slick all-day operation set in the pretty Art-Deco ground floor of the hyper-modern FMC Tower. Built by wine director Patrick Cappiello and overseen by sommelier Kait Caruke, WSC’s list strives for diversity by the glass and a smart split of Old World and New World where the bottle selection is concerned.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • French wine
    • Champagne
    • raw bar
    • craft cocktails

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