Where to find the best aphrodisiacs and plates made for sharing at local spots.
Plenty of Philly restaurants make it easy to share with small plate menu formats that encourage grazing. These are the ones not to miss. ADAM ERACE
Amada is the small plate restaurant that started it all in Philly. Jose Garces opened this sultry Spaniard in Old City in 2005 before he became a household name from his Food Network appearances. The restaurant has held up well over time; it’s still packed with locals and tourists who come for bites of Spanish cheese and charcuterie, dainty seafood dishes and family-style paella. 217-219 Chestnut St., 215.625.2450
Nicholas Elmi’s tasting menuonly spot, Laurel, on East Passyunk Avenue, is so perennially packed, the chef opened up an overflow wine bar next door called ITV. Now it doesn’t take reservations months in advance to eat Elmi’s food; you can slide right up to the bar for a glass of Aglianico or junmai sake and a few bites, some of which are just $5 at happy hour. 1615 E. Passyunk Ave., 267.858.0669
Jesse Ito has spent his whole professional career cooking at his parents’ old Japanese restaurant in South Jersey— until now. The family sold the business and partnered with a couple Philly restaurateurs to open Royal Sushi & Izakaya in Queen Village in the fall. Ito mans a sushi bar in the back, while up front in the dimly lit saloon, the menu features plates true to the restaurant’s Japanese pub inspiration. Cool beers and the best sake list in the city complement. 780 S. 2nd St., 267.909.9002
The smoked lamb shoulder gets top billing at Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s Israeli restaurant, but Zahav is actually a small plate-r in disguise. Start with the silky hummus and salatim, a spread of seven Middle Eastern vegetable salads, then move through mezze and the al ha’esh section of skewers cooked over smoldering coals. 237 St. James Place, 215.625.8800
Proudly unorthodox, Bing Bing Dim Sum plays with the rules of Chinese dim sum on East Passyunk. The neighborhood’s loyal regulars and a solid contingent of Philadelphians from other areas— Bing Bing’s intersection is one of the most popular Uber pick-up/drop- off points in the city— get cozy on Hong Kong wedding bedsturned-banquettes and at the bar, where high-proof punches flow. The menu is a mishmash of dumplings, noodles, congee and veggies built for sharing. 1648 E. Passyunk Ave., 215.279.7702
Bing Bing Dim Sum