Sometimes it feels like someone sent a chain email to every restaurant in the city that told them if they were open on Mondays, they’d have bad luck for seven years. As a result, if you’re trying to go out for a nice meal after a long Monday in the office, your options are basically pizza, the Whole Foods salad bar, or cooking one of those salmon filets that have been in the back of your freezer for at least a year. Fortunately, we found 17 places that are willing to laugh in the face of danger and provide people with an actual meal on Mondays, even if it means a seven-year hex by the internet powers that be.
Monday’s the day you go back to work still hungover from a spontaneous Sunday drinking session, and you sit at your desk reminiscing about how in college you could take eight shots, wake up the next morning, and then go for a five mile run. What you need is a glass of red wine and a bowl of pasta from Osteria to get you to Tuesday, when your serotonin levels are finally back to normal. The entrees at this Spring Garden spot aren’t worth going out of your way for, but they have one of our favorite pastas in the city - the francobolli with trumpet mushrooms and robiola - and a pretty extensive wine list.
If you’ve ever seen Mad Men and wished your work life was all drinking and smoking cigarettes and having “creative meetings” that are really just more drinking, use your post-work hours next Monday to hang out at Bud & Marilyn’s. It’s perfectly retro, with wood-paneled walls and black-and-white dial TVs, and you can eat all of the buttery comfort food you want, like crispy cheese curds and fried chicken, without any of the obvious cons of living in the 1960’s.
Res Ipsa is a tiny all-day cafe in Rittenhouse from the people behind Stock. During the day, it’s a popular takeout place, but at night it undergoes a Cinderella-style transformation into a full-service Italian spot. They have a pretty small menu that’s heavy on pasta (our favorite is the spaghetti alle vongole), but everything is surprisingly very good for a place you normally just stop by for a quick lunch. Because of how small it is, it’s pretty quiet, which is exactly what you want after a stressful Monday where every single one of your coworkers asked how your weekend was.
Mondays are really hard. At the end of the day, you probably just want to go home and search all-inclusive vacations while you eat something warm that’s not reheated pizza from your freezer. Everything at Hardena - an Indonesian take-out shop near East Passyunk - is delicious, and it also comes in a styrofoam box, so you can take it home and eat it in the dark next to your 15-tab investigation into Club Meds in Mexico.
Double Knot is like a well-oiled machine, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day. But what you really want to do is eat in the basement, especially after a Monday so boring that the picture your mom sent you of her dog wearing pajamas was the highlight of your day. The downstairs izakaya is basically the polar opposite of the cafe upstairs, and on any given night it’s completely full of people drinking sake and working their way through the enormous menu. You can get pretty much any dish here (especially the robatayaki) and leave impressed and very full, but given how dull the day has been so far, you should probably get the $60 tasting menu that includes everything from sashimi to duck bibimbap, and let yourself be surprised by what ends up on your plate.
The original Han Dynasty in Old City is where we like to go watch Monday Night Football because it has a long bar and you can get a lot of really good Sichuan food here for about $25. Their dan dan noodles are our favorite thing here (even though they’re pretty spicy), but if you can’t handle the heat, there are 50 other things on the menu that you can get instead.
Trattoria Carina is in Fitler Square, and you’ll feel the shift from the hordes of shoppers in Rittenhouse as soon as you cross 20th street. It’s a little quieter and less flashy than most places in the area, but that’s exactly what you want on a Monday night. No big loud groups of twenty-somethings who don’t see the distinction between a weekend and weeknight. Just you, a bowl of spaghetti with clams, and a Negroni.
You go to Sate Kampar on East Passyunk to sit and have some meat on a stick that tastes really good, maybe while drinking a cup of Malaysian coffee. So it’s the perfect place to eat alone on a Monday night while you fantasize about that scene in Office Space where they beat the fax machine with baseball bats while “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster” plays in the background.
If you’re on a mission to make Monday objectively not the worst day of the week, start by making it your date night, because Saturday will still be fun even without a romantic candle lit dinner in a garden under some twinkly lights. And since Talula’s Garden is open on Mondays and has both a garden and string lights, it’s a good place to start. The long wine list, big cheese boards, and rotating menu of seasonal, produce-heavy dishes don’t hurt either.
You’ve already had to make a lot of decisions today, from where to go for lunch to how to answer Janet’s passive aggressive email about your doctor’s appointment on Thursday. At Little Fish in Queen Village, dinner doesn’t have to be another list of choices. The menu is made up entirely of seafood, it changes every day, and it only has six to seven items at a time, so you can honestly just order one of everything and leave the rest of the decision-making to tomorrow.
Loco Pez is a taco truck-inspired bar in Fishtown that looks straight out of the ’70s, and if you have one of those jobs where Mondays and Tuesdays are your weekend, this is where you should go on your nights off. They have a full bar with cheap drinks, $2 tacos, and a jukebox that has mostly old-school stuff you’ll want to sing along to. Just remember to bring cash and look up the secret menu before you go.
Cheese and meat: two things that will make your Monday (or honestly any day of the week) better, and two things that Good King Tavern does very well. Another thing they do well: really comfortable bright blue booths that you should ask for in advance as they tend to fill up very quickly. If you’re looking for more than a glass of wine and charcuterie on a plush leather couch, you can get almost any of their shareable plates and be impressed by their upscale take on casual tavern food - like duck wings that will have you campaigning your neighborhood wings spot to switch birds.
We’ve all fantasized about living in London, where every single day after work it’s not only acceptable, but encouraged, to go straight to the pub for a pint or three. If you want to test out this lifestyle, go to The Dandelion in Rittenhouse for Happy Hour. This place is totally committed to the British pub theme, which you’ll see not only in the queen paraphernalia and hog heads hanging on the wall, but in a lengthy menu full of English staples like Sunday roast and rabbit pie.
Sometimes you make plans on a Monday night because you think it will improve your day, but then you show up to work and find out your coworker got promoted to the position you wanted, and now you need to cancel your plans and eat a cheesesteak in front of your TV. When this happens, you might as well get one you haven’t tried before. Gojjo’s version, which includes meat marinated in berbere spices, is worth your time and is one of the better cheesesteaks we’ve tried. It’s exactly what you need to take your mind off of the fact that you’ve been doing all of your coworker’s projects for the last six months.
You’ve exhausted the scene on Second Street and you’ve aged out of the Piazza, but you still need a place where you can get a good dinner on a Monday night and maybe have a couple drinks. Bardot Cafe is here for you. This place is a little more grown up, from the candle lighting and leather booths to the pots of mussels you’ll be eating, but it’s still a fun spot where you can either have a chill dinner or a big night.
Street Side is a tiny Vietnamese BYOB on Girard that mostly does takeout, so when you end up working late in the office and are too tired to even reheat the chicken you put in the freezer for this exact occasion, just stop here. Some of our favorites are the pork belly rice paper roll, the kroeung beef skewer, and the pork and chive dumplings.
Sure, you could “take it easy” since “it’s only Monday,” or you could take advantage of American Sardine Bar’s half-off Happy Hour and folding lawn chairs on the patio. It’s the neighborhood spot you wish you lived next door to and on top of their great weekday drink deals, they also have a menu full of sandwiches and seafood that will help balance out the three pints you had before the clock struck 6pm.