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Business Description
Once called "the most genteel tavern in America" by John Adams and the first unofficial "White House," Chef Walter Staib's City Tavern has boasted the finest celebrations since 1773. With over 230 years of hospitality, City Tavern has been the centerpiece of affairs now immortalized in history. An evening at City Tavern is certain to be remembered. Just imagine sampling specialties, such as pepperpot soup, colonial turkey pot pie, roast duckling, Thomas Jefferson's sweet potato biscuits paired with ales the ales of the revolution made from George Washington & Benjamin Franklin's recipes -- all served by costumed wait staff. Watch an episode of A Taste of History on PBS, our Chef Proprietor Walter Staib will give you glimpse of what we do here at City Tavern.

Regular Hours

"City Tavern’s Specialty Draught Ales,
Payment method
amex, master card, visa, discover, all major credit cards
Price Range
Center City, Center City East
Taverns, Bars, Night Clubs, American Restaurants, Bar & Grills, Family Style Restaurants, Restaurants
Other Information

Cuisines: Family Style, American, Bar & Grills

Wi-Fi: No

Wheelchair Accessible: Yes

Alcohol: Full Bar

Parking: Garage, Street

Bike Parking: Yes

Attire: Casual

Takes Reservations: Yes

Outdoor Seating: Yes

Price Range : Average


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Great Atmosphere, Fun Experien...

Great Atmosphere, Fun Experience! My husband and I wandered in while on vacation in Philly. Period costumes were charming, food & beverage served on/in pewter added to the experience, as did the complementary, 3 breads the waitress brought out, each with its own story/history that she shared. I ordered a pasta w/seafood - great presentation, high quality food. We tried a historical/colonial beverage called "Shrub "which was quite good, and I even bought the restaurant cookbook, in part because I wanted the recipe for one of the breads they served. Would give this 5 starts, if staff were more friendly and hospitable. I complimented hostess twice on her period costume - and she couldn't have not heard - and she ignored me. Waitress was nice enough, but not terribly attentive, and was liking to brag to other tables about what a history genius she is -- when you're a waitress, just be friendly and bring out food and drinks, don't attempt to impress anyone with your hobbies.


Provided by Citysearch - 
A Philadelphia Gem

I have to say I had one of the finest meals ever at City Tavern.

You are instantly drawn to the exciting and inviting atmosphere. The staff are friendly and the service is exceptional. Each meal comes with a mini-history lesson that would make any Philadelphian proud and enlighten any tourist to how integral our city is to US history.

Just let the beer flow, and start with the appetizer sampler. Try the duck sausage, it's fantastic. If you're a vegetarian, try the West Indies Pepperpot soup, the most delicious bowl of soup you will ever eat. I had the medallions of beef, and it was superb. I recommend the Brawlers and the Thomas Jefferson Ale. After dinner, try the Madeira as an appertif and feel a little bit like George Washington toasting Thomas Jefferson. And the Martha Washington's chocolate mousse cake is the closest thing to eating heaven.

Honestly, I'm a history nut, and I couldn't help but feel a little closer to the Founding Fathers after the meal. It's a must for an Philadelphian and tourist alike.

Go to City Tavern for a wonderful meal and a wonderful experience.


Provided by Citysearch - 
A Real Disappointment

My sister and mother had been to city tavern before and said that it was fun and the food was good so I thought that it would be the same. We had dinner reservations at four pm. I ordered corn chowder, meatloaf and shared fried oysters with my sister. For openers I'm not a picky eater and it takes a lot for me to be totally dissatisfied. Anyway they sat us by a window which had flies constantly buzzing across the table. We laughed about it as we tried to squash them with our menus. Then throughout hte enitre service the waitstaff was getting linens out of this cubboard RIGHT next the out table, we laughed but in all honesty it gets annoying after awhile. Now onto the food. The corn chowder had clearly come from a can and I've had better at that. It was luke warm. I mean come on folks it's August on the east coast fresh corn is available EVERYWHERE and this is the best you can do for $6.50 a bowl!! Another reviewer talked about the bread being stale...true it had to be day old and was tasteless. The fried oysters were good in a nice cornmeal batter with a good dipping sauce so that was nice. I had meatloaf and my sister had a chicken and artichoke salad, which again canned artichoke and smoke chicken that had come from a roll like at the grocery store and cost $18.50!! that is just nuts in my book. My meatloaf was adequate but in all honesty by this point I didn't really care. I agree with others reviewers the waitstaff was fine the period costumes, I'll go for that, interesting building. Another thing the head chef if pimping his cookbooks on every table and in the lobby, if you are that great my meal wouldn't have been like this. Be a little be a little more tasteful for God's sakes and get your quality control in line. Bottom line way too Expensive, Poor quality, Lacking fresh ingredients....... Don't Bother


Provided by Citysearch - 
The worst meal we had in Philly!

Think tired theme park food. Is this Liberty Square in Disneyworld? That would actually be a gourmet step up. Stale sour dough bread. Dried out over cooked duck. A pathetic egg noodle side dish still swimming in a puddle of water topped with a vile brown gravy. The staff was pleasant enough and a turkey pie had pleasant flavor. But a peach and summer berry ""cobbler' at $8.50 was a strange concoction....neither a cobbler nor a crisp and simply inedible.


Provided by Citysearch - 
Old World Ambiance with Great Food

We made reservations for 6 (5 adults and one baby stroller w/ 10 month old) on the same day with no issues. They seem to have ample seating - 4 indoor floors and at least 2 outdoor levels - from what I could see. They did a great job restoring the original feel of 1700's living in Philadelphia. The weathered wooden floors, pewter water goblets (yes you drink out of them), and serving staff and characters from the time in traditional outfits. We were a little skeptical about the restaurant based on billboards and on line description specific to the ""costumes"". Thought it was going to be cliche or childish. Were we wrong! It was great fun. They were very accomodating with our 10 month old - child friendly. The service was great and the menu caters to all tastes. It does seem to be heavily German inspired with brats and krout. It's not fancy food and won't knock your taste buds out of your mouth but it is good food. The pale ale is great refreshment after a day of Philadelphia sightseeing.
The food on the plate is more than enough to fill you up and if you have room afterwards; the desserts are amazing. Bottom line: great atmosphere for all ages at any point in the year with prompt, helpful service and delicious food. I do highly recommend going here at least once.


Provided by Citysearch - 
Epic Fail

The romantic atmosphere implied in this restaurant's description was completely misleading. We went there for an anniversary dinner as a couple new to Philadelphia, but we were sat in the basement next to the kitchen in a table that made us feel like we were in a glaringly bright boiler room. Our waiter tried very hard, but sweat was literally pouring down his face -- appetizing! As we sat there feeling a little duped, the curtain fell as we started to notice tiny things like the plastic beer mugs, the fact our table was a folding picnic relic, and that the food was inedible. Neither of us could bring ourselves to have more than a few bites of the undercooked turkey pot-pie or the greasy wiener schitzel (both custom-priced for over-eager and gullible tourists). The only redeemable part of the experience was the beer itself which was brewed according to a presidential recipe. Every time we walk by City Tavern we are reminded of that laughably ""romantic"" dinner and how much we needed to put our experience into writing here.


Provided by Citysearch - 

I went yesterday during lunch, I ordered the duck sausage for an appetizer, more like a duck hot dog and the sweet and sour cabbage was just a mushy mess. For my entree braised rabbit with veggies and egg noodles. I thought when you braised something it was supposed to come out tender, but it was tough and stringy and the vegetables were soggy drawning in a horrible wine sauce. On the good side the mashed potatoes and saurkraut were great, as well as the glass of Jefferson Amber Ale. My friends turkey noodle soup was also very good.


Provided by Citysearch - 
Interesting Experience

I must admit that I am from the Philadelphia area, and have not visited City Tavern before. I always knew it existed, but never really had the opportunity to go there. A week ago, I made a reservation for myself and a guest.

I am not a big history buff, but I do not mind learning something new. City Tavern is a great place to do just this while enjoying some FANTASTIC food and excellent drinks. Upon being promptly seated for our 7:00pm reservation, we were greeted by a cordial waiter wearing knickers :P. He took our drink order and later gave us a brief history about the restaurant.

I won't bore you with the ""during dinner details"" but I did want to make it clear how excellent and worth the trip the food is. Whether you live in the city or are visiting from out of town, this is a great place to visit for a drink and definitely a bite to eat.

Don't be fooled by those glitzy, glamourous places in Center City with $150 cheese steaks and overpriced atmosphere - City Tavern may not be as hip as these places, but it definitely has some history.


Provided by Citysearch - 
A Philadelphia experience.

I recently went to City Tavern for restaurant week, and I found everything from the food, to the colonial attire of the staff, and the music to be very pleasant. I ordered Goulash soup and chicken breast Mount Vernon, and I was very delighted with it. Whether you are visiting the city or already live here this place is a must visit.


Provided by Citysearch - 
Martha Washington's absolutely devine turkey pie

A historic colonial restaurant steeped with tradition in the heart of the city. Upon entering the restaurant you are greeted by staff dressed to fit the era. They entertain you with interesting tales of the different President's meal choices and preparation of the impressive menu selections. The clavicord or the violin playing in the hall delighfully entertains you on the lower level while you enjoy a wonderful evening dining with family or friends.

A delightful restaurant with charming old century appeal that should not be missed.

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