Distrito: Iron Chef does Mexico City. Always fun, great margaritas, and the diver scallop with grapefruit is out of this world. ($30) 3945 Chestnut St., 215-222-1657.
Landmark Americana: Green materials rule at this eco-friendly, locally owned pub with outposts in West Chester and Glassboro, N.J. The Dining Days menu includes spicy tuna egg roll and chicken Imperial with crab and asparagus. ($25) 3333 Market St., 215-727-4500.
MidAtlantic Restaurant & Tap Room: Chef Dan Stern conceived this friendly pub as a vehicle for inventive regional cuisine, like his Chester Town crab bisque and a grown-up version of Pennsylvania Dutch chicken and waffles that will make you sigh with joy. ($25) 3711 Market St., 215-386-3711.
Marigold Kitchen: Local son chef Robert Halpern recently took over this Victorian BYO on leafy 45th Street, placing the emphasis on eclectic modern fare and pristine ingredients, often sourced locally. This is a fine-dining scene, complete with options like escargot, peekytoe crab and a swank take on "pork, beans & beer." ($30) 501 S. 45th St., 215-222-3699.
Penne: Beyond her ethereal homemade pasta, chef Roberta Adamo has a knack for incorporating seasonal ingredients in ways that make her Italian creations seem both modern and wonderfully familiar. Everything is good, especially the crab raviolo and ragu of the sea, brimming with shrimp, calamari and scallops. ($30) 3611 Walnut St., 215-823-6222.
Pizza Rustica: Philly native Michelle Rowan is in the kitchen at this down-home pizza joint complete with red-checked tablecloths and great homemade lasagna. ($15) 3602 Chestnut St., 215-895-3490.
Sang Kee Noodle House: Opened in late 2009, this is the third and largest location for the Chow family's popular restaurant. Sleek, modern Sang Kee's Dining Days menu offers faves like Peking duck roll, beef in black bean sauce and an excellent pressed tofu with chive blossom. ($15) 3649 Chestnut St., 215-387-8808.
Vietnam Cafe: Benny Lai's expanded West Philly location delivers the same great food as the original Chinatown restaurant. This is a great deal: Choose from 31 different menu items, including winners like salt-and-pepper squid, and shrimp and lemongrass over broken rice. ($15) 816 S. 47th St., 215-729-0260.
Vientiane Cafe: This family-owned BYO is the spot for Laotian cuisine - similar to Thai, with a few borrowed elements from the Vietnamese table. Try the tilapia tempura and crab basil fried rice. ($25) 4728 Baltimore Ave., 215-726-1095.