9 Restaurants That Could Only Exist In Philly

The places that just make sense here.
9 Restaurants That Could Only Exist In Philly image

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Philly is a special town. “Go Birds” means "hello," "goodbye," and "how's your mom doing?" Our modes of transportation include the subway, dirt bikes, and horseback. Beers come with shots, almost by default. So of course our restaurants match the same wonderfully weird, don't-care-what-anyone-thinks attitude. We’re not saying the places below literally couldn’t exist outside of this city—many could. These are just nine great restaurants that use Philly as a main ingredient. 



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$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunchClassic EstablishmentLunch
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Food halls exist all over the country, but how many of them serve scrapple? Come to this Pennsylvania Dutch diner inside of Reading Terminal Market to eat crisp, creamy-centered pork loaf not because it's sexy, but because it's part of Philly's DNA. Dutch Eating Place understands that Philly people have zero patience, so there’s a window where you can order your apple dumplings to go. But we usually like to sit around and talk about the seven things that pissed us off before noon.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

In South Philly, Mexican and Italian communities live in mass. So, in a way, pizzas layered with mole and quesillo are an obvious innovation. (We wrote a whole guide about them.) Of all the options in Philly, Rosario’s simply does Mexican pizza best. Instead of getting hit with a waft of steaming marinara, these thin, crispy pies will smack you with cilantro, lime, and sizzled jalapeños. We especially like the version with al pastor or the avocado- and sausage-topped Mexicana, both of which are good enough to shout about from the Philly mountaintops, also known as One Liberty Place.

Gojjo on Baltimore Avenue in West Philly has four of the six Philly Infinity Stones: Ethiopian combo platters, a 2am closing time, cheesesteaks, and the Sixers playing on TV. (The other two are Jazmine Sullivan’s Tiny Desk concert and a Zoo key defaced with the word "d*ckhead.") Come to this divey Ethiopian bar and restaurant to be consumed by the scoreboard and your berbere-spiced cheesesteak in equal measure.

One business selling incredible cheesesteaks, pizzas, and hoagies should result in a historical marker, or at least Meek Mill rapping about the place in a song. That's the situation at Angelo's in Bella Vista. This cash-only spot is as Philadelphian as Jim Gardner or the middle finger. The phone is always busy, especially on the weekends. You may have to call 80 times to get through, or you can show up and stand on the sidewalk for multiple hours. People tolerate the pain of the wait times here more than anywhere else in the city.

photo credit: GAB BONGHI



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If you spot a group of Philadelphians in the wild, odds are they're headed to a BYOB. Right now, the BYOB that best encompasses Philly is Mawn. Not only does this Cambodian noodle shop in Bella Vista make soups, skewers, and soft-shell shrimp deserving of their own murals, but the varied menu works as an ode to the city’s Southeast Asian communities. Also, the owner talks to tables in his thick South Philly accent. No other city in the world could replicate this meal.

Sid Booker's in North Philly is the kind of place where you run into your barber, neighbor, or sibling who’s catching up with the staff about what’s been going on since they stopped by yesterday. You're here to eat fried shrimp battered with a slightly sweet seasoning that reminds us of a good seafood boil. The self-proclaimed "Colonel of Shrimp" behind the business hasn't changed the recipe in decades, which partly explains why Philadelphians keep lining up.

Philly has a long, bizarre legacy of members-only clubs, many of which are still around today. To get into this cash-only Italian social club in East Passyunk, you need a membership or a friend who has one and is willing to let you be their shadow. But it's not nearly as expensive or soul-sucking as the famous members-only club on Broad Street you're probably picturing right now. Imagine a Catholic uncle's basement from the 1950s that stays open until 3am and serves very good amaro, spaghetti and blue crab, and late-night stromboli. You can try emailing them nicely to ask about memberships (these cost less than $50), though it might not work. But once you're in, you’ll want to bring every out-of-towner here to show off. 

Tattooed Mom perfectly encapsulates South Street's grunge and chaos. The walls of this dive are covered in years of stickers, spray paint, and Sharpie, and it's possible you'd pass away before finishing a game of "I Spy." In addition to serving classic dive drinks, Tattooed Mom has a menu of over-the-top cocktails with cotton candy and Pop Rocks. They also make good burgers and vegan sandwiches, and host poetry readings, craft nights, and comedy shows. Grab a spot in the bumper car and soak in the weird. 

Thanks to a wave of Italian immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s, this city is committed to cold, saucy tomato pie. It would be reasonable to eat this thick dough cushion for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner, especially if you're going to Gaeta’s in the Northeast. The family-run shop makes slices that have textbook char from a brick oven and taste just a little sweet. Pies come with either six, 12, or 24 slices—also known as the perfect accessory for tailgating or sitting on the steps of a rowhome that isn't yours.

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Suggested Reading

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The Best Cheesesteaks In Philly, Ranked

The 10 best cheesesteaks in the city.

Where To Eat Mexican Pizza In Philly  image

The 9 best Mexican pizzas in town.

The Best BYOBs In Philly image

Our guide to the 20 best restaurants where you can BYOB in Philly.

This is a pretzel roll spread from Miller's Twist.

There are a lot of food stands in Reading Terminal Market. These are the 19 best.

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