With its celebrated restaurant scene, dining out in Philadelphia promises to be a memorable, delicious night. The City of Brotherly Love also offers a diverse assortment of restaurants featuring live music, entertaining guests while engaging all five senses. Robert Bynum is the co-founder of four of these venues, and he was among a group of 20 people Philadelphia magazine credited with reviving the city’s downtown. “Philadelphia is the best place for our businesses because of the long and rich history of Jazz in the city,” explains Bynum. “There is a wealth of very talented musicians in the area, and there has been for generations.” Bynum’s group includes Warmdaddy’s, Relish, South, and Paris Bistro, each offering its own distinct ambiance. “We think it brings something unique to the dining experience and offers our guests the chance to make a whole evening out of dining with us. Dinner and then a show all under one roof.” Below, find some of the top restaurants with live music in Philadelphia to complement the meal.
Just north of Center City is South, serving up an updated take on traditional Southern cuisine in an expansive yet inviting space, highlighted by live jazz most nights. Ingredients meticulously gathered from local Southern purveyors yield classics that will make any native Southerner nostalgic for mom’s cooking. Pair dishes like whipped cheddar pimento, Carolina shrimp and grits, and bourbon pecan pie with a whiskey or Southern-infused specialty cocktail, and don’t miss the housemade breads, hot sauce, and pickles. Make a reservation at South.
Each of the three rooms at this lively spot in Center City has its own unique vibe. The Whiskey Bar offers more than 100 single malts, the upstairs features a DJ and dancing, and Time’s dining room is an elegant and intimate space serving seasonal American fare (think artisan cheese plates, seafood stew, and Berkshire pork spare ribs) with live music nightly. No matter your mood, Time assures an entertaining night out. Make a reservation at Time.
Find warm Southern hospitality in the heart of Philadelphia at this Society Hill hot spot. A charcoal-fired grill churns out fresh and entirely delicious lamb chops, chorizo tacos, and shishito peppers, while classic plates like country ham and fried chicken with rosemary honey glaze, are mainstays. Whiskey and bourbon options abound, and live blues and revelers fill the bi-level space six nights a week. Make a reservation at Twisted Tail.
Once a dining club in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse neighborhood, Vesper has gotten a modern update with a sleek bar, intimate booths, and candlelit tables — while still maintaining its classic cool vibe. The Continental menu includes favorites like a New York prime, linguine with clams, and a seafood tower, but the meticulously crafted cocktails may steal the spotlight. With live music and a bustling dance floor, come prepared to stay all night. Make a reservation at Vesper.
Exuding friendly Southern hospitality, Warmdaddy’s combines the best of classic Southern fare with vibrant live music. Although there’s a focus on jazz, the supper club recently hosted a tribute to Prince, and menu standouts include cornbread (complimentary, FTW!), skillet mac and cheese, and fried chicken with candied yams, and smoked turkey collards. Mason jar cocktails and a red velvet cupcake or warm peach berry cobbler for dessert will add a sweet Southern finish to the memorable meal. Make a reservation at Warmdaddy’s.
Jazz and R&B music fill the upscale space on Thursday through Sunday, but you’ll also find some of the best Southern food in Philadelphia anytime at this West Oak Lane neighborhood restaurant. The menu reads like a best of list for all kitchens south of the Mason-Dixon line: buttermilk fried chicken, deviled eggs, and slow-cooked turkey legs with apple cornbread stuffing. Make a reservation at Relish.
Lush greenery, cedar-paneled walls, and 36 taps pouring craft beer have transformed this one-time warehouse in the city’s hip Northern Liberties neighborhood into an urban oasis. In a casual, convivial setting, feast on rabbit sausage, roasted duck, and other rustic plates from the New American-focused menu while taking in nightly live music, including jazz and funk. On warmer evenings, request a table out on the garden patio. Make a reservation at Heritage.
Cibo Ristorante Italiano
This sophisticated supper club in Center City may be the only place to hear Adele, Lady Gaga, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra covered live in one evening. Cibo’s menu infuses some modern elements to traditional Northern Italian fare, and, between courses on Thursday through Saturday evenings, restaurant staff will pause to deliver first-class renditions of jazz standards, show tunes, and contemporary favorites. Make a reservation at Cibo.
Paris Bistro Jazz Café
Escape to Paris by way of Philadelphia’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood. Tucked under the 1930’s French bistro-inspired restaurant, with its tin ceilings and charming bar, find the Jazz Café. In an intimate setting, guests can sip classic cocktails and dine on dishes from the full bistro menu like French onion soup, Coq au Vin, and Steak Frites while enjoying Straight Ahead, Gypsy, and other styles of jazz on Thursday through Sunday evenings. Make a reservation at Paris Bistro Jazz Café.
Regan Stephens lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and when she’s not writing about food or beer, you might find her taking in all the great things about the city (restaurants, museums, plays!), reading on her Kindle, or eating ice cream. Probably the last thing. Say hi on twitter @reganstephens.