The Center City Business Lunch
I work at One Liberty Place, right in the middle of the city. When it’s lunchtime, and particularly when the weather is cold and frightful, it’s tough to beat the convenience of the Food Court downstairs at the Shops of Liberty Place. I must admit that I’m a sucker for the $3.99 chicken teriyaki platter at Master Wok, the gourmet barbecue pizza at Peace-A-Pizza and the waffle fries at Chick-Fil-A.
But let’s say you’re looking for something slightly more upscale than Subway or Saladworks. Suppose you’ve been tasked to pick a place to bring a client, an expert, a summer associate or even an interviewee. You wouldn’t pick a fast food joint like McDonald’s, you don’t dare suggest a gastronomical extravaganza like Le Bec Fin and you probably shouldn’t select your favorite watering hole like The Irish Pub. Some careful consideration is needed to find places in Center City that would be appropriate for a business lunch.
For the more “informal” business lunch, Marathon Grill (various locations, including 16th and Sansom, 19th and Market and Broad and Chestnut) is a pretty safe selection. The menu is extensive enough to suit most palates, the service is quick and the prices are relatively inexpensive. Tir Na Nog (16th and Arch) and Public House (18th and Cherry) – yes, I know they’re both “bars” – also serve decent lunch food at very reasonable prices. Arguably the best Chinese food in the city outside of Chinatown and other than Susanna Foo can be found at Square on Square (19th and Chestnut). I have turned many people into devotees of the popcorn chicken dish. Additionally, Pietro’s (17th and Walnut) is an underrated pizza/pasta restaurant. I have had many business-related lunches there, starting when I was a summer associate, and it never disappoints.
For more formal business lunches, I have a few favorites. Rouge (18th and Walnut) probably ranks as my top selection. The surroundings (overlooking Rittenhouse Square) are unbeatable, and the food – particularly the famed Rouge burger – is excellent. As an added bonus, you rarely leave Rouge hungry, as the portions are filling. Davio’s (17th and Chestnut) is an excellent Italian steakhouse and pasta option. The servers do a good job of making you feel welcome, right down to addressing you by your reservation name at your table. And the desert tray is too tempting to pass up. Some friends of mine swear by The Capital Grille (Broad and Chestnut). While I have enjoyed eating there, I think it can also be a little too “stuffy” for certain people. But the food is top notch.
There’s a lot of other good business lunch restaurants out there (suggestions accepted), but you can’t go wrong with the places above.