There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a new city, but when you only have days (or hours) to explore, it helps to have a curated list from travelers you trust. That’s where Domino’s Field Guide comes in. Compiled by editors and design-minded locals around the globe, consider this a need-to-know edit of the coolest bars, hotels, restaurants, galleries, and boutiques in the top design cities. First up: Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is on the brink of transformation. In recent years, the city’s burgeoning creative side has yielded an array of beautifully designed shops, hotels, and restaurants, evolving the personality of the destination from a city known for its storied background as the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence to one recognized as a design leader.
The university town may have a rich and historic past, remnants of which are still present today, but we’re looking to the fresh wave of creatives and establishments that are making a mark in the design scene. With the intention of carving out their individual identities within the vibrantly changing landscape of Philadelphia, these hospitality and design trailblazers are inspiring a revival that’s transforming the city into a vibrant, style-centric locale.
Ahead is the Domino design lover’s Field Guide to an inspired weekend jaunt to Philadelphia.
Where to Stay
Dubbed as the “invisible hotel,” Lokal’s claim to fame lies within the fact that the majority of its services are digitized—lacking a front desk, visitors key in a trip-specific code to enter. Think of it as Airbnb meets a boutique hotel. Situated in the heart of Old City, the beautifully designed, six-suite establishment boasts all the comforts of a home with the added elegance of a luxe stay.
Checking into Roost more or less feels like going home. The apartment-style hotel is designed to feel like the ultimate base for exploration, filled with all the conveniences one could possibly require on vacation (in-room washer/dryer units, included). The group recently unveiled its East Market location, which features an entire floor dedicated to amenities—a movie theater, kitchen, library, and an outdoor entertaining area to name a few.
Centered at the heels of the historic Rittenhouse Square, the eponymous hotel has been rooted in elegance. While many of the furnishings are custom made, it’s the lodging’s courtyard that really takes things to the next level. Unwind at the Mary Cassatt tea room and the idle in the garden’s for a true escape in the city.
Exclusivity is an integral yet unintended element at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. The four-room hotel features apartment-style rooms designed with an eclectic blend of the old and new. Custom-made furniture, vintage pieces, and curated wall art are just a handful of the thoughtful details that have gone into the design of the space. Pop down into the restaurant for brunch—the smoked salmon toast served atop grappa cream and the tagliatelle come highly recommended.
Where to Eat
Grab a seat at the chef’s counter and revel in the spirited buzz of the kitchen all the while gorging on the eclectically robust menu. Toasts are a mainstay of Vernick, and the red curry shrimp leaves little else to be desired. If you still find yourself struggling to make a decision, simply ask one of the willing line cooks for their recs.
It’s not often that you come across a restaurant, speakeasy, and bowling alley all rolled into one, and yet Harp & Crown manages to do it with stylish flair. Grab a seat in the airy garden room and dine under an abundance of greens that blanket the space with an inspired dose of liveliness.
A farm-to-table-style eatery that celebrates simplicity with a colorful approach to plating and design, don’t miss the Bartlett pear butter and cardamom donut munchkins.
Dubbed as one of Philly’s best restaurants, Zahav’s menu is a modern ode to Israeli cuisine. If you can’t snag a seat—reservations tend to fill up a month in advance—head to Suraya, a chic, Lebanese eatery with a bright and lively atmosphere and a menu that’s deliciously comparable.
Simple fare and a laid-back ambiance are the pillars of this hot spot that caters to the all-day crowd.
Fishtown’s long-awaited Omakase-concept Japanese eatery opened its doors earlier this year to great avail. Designed by Method Co, in conjunction with Stokes Architecture, the restaurant is a haven for minimalists, with nods to its inspiration of period living in Kyoto. Spring for the 20-course tasting menu and with an optional sake pairing.
Where to Shop
For curated home and lifestyle pieces sourced from local and independent makers, go to Yowie, 716 S 4th St
For vintage clothes and home goods, go to VESTIGE, 2041 Frankford Ave
For furthering your ever-growing plant collection, go to Field Plant and Supply, 2032 Frankford Ave
For Euro-inspired home essentials with subtle rustic charm, go to Isabella Sparrow, 8433 Germantown Ave
For restocking your bar cart with spirits, bitters, and chic barware, go to Art in the Age, 116 N 3rd St
For light window shopping and seeking inspo for your future home, go to the by-appointment-only Bulthaup, 132 North 3rd Street
In a Nutshell
Begin your morning at Elfreth’s Alley, a quaint and picturesque street that’s the nation’s oldest residential street. Continue your stroll through Rittenhouse Square, a historic public park around which you’ll find some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants.
Spend your afternoons museum-hopping. The Philadelphia Museum of Art may get all the recognition, but the Barnes Foundation is the curated art experience every design lover deserves, with its inspired collection of Impressionist art.
Grab a quick bite at Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest public markets in the country, where you’ll find both locally and exotically sourced eats. If you prefer an even more hands-on approach, head to Cook, part cooking class, part culinary boutique.
Cap your day off with pre-dinner cocktails. Inspired ambiance aside, Friday Saturday Sunday is the sort of place you’d want to become a regular in. Tucked around the corner from Rittenhouse Square, the restaurant features a Deco-chic bar on the first floor and is prime for cocktails and light bites. Over on the other side of the city, in Philly’s up-and-coming Fishtown, you’ll find R&D, a neighborhood bar that’s trendy yet laid back. If low-key cocktails, beers and ciders are more your speed, The International is sure to please.