Looking for a new place to take your parents when they visit? Want to splurge for a special occasion? Then, University City’s Louie Louie is your new go–to spot. This small piece of Paris at Penn will intrigue with the ambiance and impress with the cuisine.

After hearing that the new restaurant opened on campus last month, I eagerly planned a meal there with my parents during move–in. I knew I would be glad to have a nice meal close to home rather than going downtown to eat after a long day of Target trips and unpacking.

Photo: Remi Lederman

The European–inspired bistro is conveniently located right on 36th and Walnut in the dining space of the Inn at Penn, aka that hotel where you tell your fancy visitors to stay. The spot was previously home to Penne until 2017.

The first thing you’ll notice about Louie Louie is its decor. Immediately upon entering, you forget you’re in West Philly and you feel like you’ve been teleported to Europe. The 6,000 square foot restaurant is extremely colorful and boasts lavish furnishings. 

During my visit, we were seated immediately by the hostess in a funky yellow booth. Every corner of the restaurant has a different color scheme, with a variety of fabrics and wall decorations. It seems like you could have an entirely different experience at each table.

Photo: Remi Lederman

The outdoor patio, partially shrouded with lush greenery, stretches along the full length of the restaurant. Snagging one of the 50 seats al fresco will be quite the feat when the weather cools down. In the meantime, the remaining 160 seats are located inside the well–air conditioned restaurant with an additional 15 seats at the full bar. 

As my family perused the menu, we were amazed by the extensive options, including daily specials. The menu would best be described as French with an American flair. Some highlights include the escargots, the French dip sandwich, the octopus, and the lobster bisque. But vegetarians need not fear as there is also an abundance of meat–free options and accommodations including a vegetable entree section on the dinner menu that features mushroom ragout and zucchini pasta.

Photo: Remi Lederman

After what seemed like an eternity of deliberation, I made the difficult decision between the options I was weighing. I ultimately chose the steak frites and was not disappointed. My steak was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and was complimented perfectly by a light tangy sauce and french fries. My dad was equally impressed with his choice. He proclaimed that his choice, the Hudson Valley duck breast, rivaled a similar dish he had had in Paris. 

The staff was extremely accommodating to my mom, who is vegan, and she settled on the zucchini pasta which was able to be modified to fit her dietary restrictions. Unlike most vegan food, she said her dairy–free dish still managed to taste creamy, and was much more substantial than the salads that are often the only vegan option at many restaurants.

Photo: Remi Lederman

My family walked out stuffed and satisfied, excited to try the brunch and lunch selections and looking forward to visiting again.

Since the prices are high for a student budget, with dishes ranging from $14 to $38, Louie Louie may not be an everyday spot, but for a special occasion, it hits the mark. Make your graduation reservations now. The next time you’re hosting relatives or having a celebration close to campus, you know where to go.