The Best Restaurants In Kensington

From Vietnamese breakfast spots to great BYOBs, here's where to eat in Kensington.
The Best Restaurants In Kensington image

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

With Port Richmond and Fishtown on its edges, Olde Kensington and East Kensington located within, and nearby restaurants like Kensington Quarters (which isn’t even in Kensington), understanding the official borders of this North Philly area can be confusing. But figuring out which taquerias, soul food spots, or sandwich shops to visit shouldn't be. This neighborhood has one of our favorite restaurants in the entire city, and plenty of great places where you can eat for under $20. Rely on this guide when you want something incredible to eat in the area, even if you're not entirely sure where the area starts and ends.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI

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Meet one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, a laid-back Israeli grill that's great for groups, date night, or eating by yourself at the bar. From the all-you-can-eat salatim, to chicken skewers and shareable things like juicy tuna slices covered in a green chili sauce, everything they put to the flame here is exceptional. Make a reservation ahead of time.

Càphê Roasters is a casual Vietnamese coffee shop that’s lined with tall plants, bookshelves, and plenty of tables that can fit your friends. You'll have a hard time choosing between chacha fries that are covered with salsa roja and fried eggs, breakfast tacos packed with cloud-like eggs and avocado, or a crispy chicken ​​bánh mì coated with a syrupy gochu glaze. Get the egg coffee, which is topped with egg custard, condensed milk, and cocoa powder, if you like a little dessert with your morning coffee.

We tried to go a few weeks without a soul food platter from Ms Daisy's Corner Kitchen. But it turns out that life without their fried fish, potato salad, and string beans is like a Roots Picnic with no music: boring and flavorless. From juicy salmon to pillowy macaroni and cheese, everything at the Kensington takeout only shop is seasoned perfectly (and worth the 25-minute wait). Just like the top billing of a festival, it will be the headliner of your week. 

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO



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Philly is known for many things, but great fish tacos aren’t one of them. However, this spot—which has a massive outdoor patio and rows of overhead lighting—serves some that we can’t get enough of. The lamb barbacoa is perfectly cooked and each bite of tender meat makes us forget about a week of “I hope this email finds you well” messages. The vegetarian and vegan-friendly menu is perfect for a Happy Hour or full dinner when you also want to drink cocktails made with corn-infused tequila.

This Italian cafe moved from Queen Village to Kensington in late 2023, and we're really excited about it. Although they close at 3pm, Fiore's menu is varied enough to warrant multiple visits in one week. For breakfast, order a BEC with caramelized onions and a chai sugar donut. Then come back for a bubbly tomato pie, and walk out with some pasta for later or a fried chicken sandwich that's so thick, it looks like it never missed a chest day in the gym.   

Kensington’s Zig Zag BBQ offers classic Texas barbecue staples like pork ribs, brisket, and turkey breast. And while you can kind of get BBQ as good at a few other places in town, what sets them apart are their loaded sandwiches, creative sides, and how consistent they are. Get the turkey sandwich, layered with blueberry jam, mayo, and caesar-y kale, or their juicy and tender brisket sandwich, topped with pickles, onions, and peppery sauce. For sides, they have a dill and horseradish-heavy potato salad, and queso mac and cheese with a Flamin' Hot Cheetos garnish. Add a square of their fluffy cornbread with melty miso maple butter and you’ll have a meal worth the 30-minute hunt for parking.  

Forîn is a charming all-day cafe and wine bar in Kensington. Everything in the casual space is mint green, from the counter seats looking out onto Frankford Ave. to the large booth tucked in the corner. In the morning, they serve pastries and sandwiches (the egg sandwich on a house-baked biscuit with espresso jam is a must-try), while the evening is all about European small plates, wine, and cocktails. Pop in for an AM work session, or post up with a few friends while sipping cocktails, sharing citrus galettes and listening to Khruangbin. They also have a “retail corner,” with records, candles, and, for some inexplicable reason, bespoke plaid shirts.

After one drink at your last party, you felt inspired, announcing “I’m going to open a bar one day, fill it with everything that we like, and the people will flock to it.” And though no one took you too seriously, you’ll realize when you get to Martha that someone got the jump on you. The cocktails, wine, and beer are affordable (most costing less than $15), there’s a ton of outdoor seating in their plant-covered patio, and the menu is full of your favorite things to eat after your third drink of the night, like hoagies, cheese, and pickles.

This Kensington Avenue spot is where you should come to catch up with friends over shrimp wontons, spicy tom yum soup, pan-seared tilapia, and some small plates from the very long menu. We always order their pad kee mao, which mixes a spicy basil garlic sauce, broccoli, bell peppers, your protein of choice, and rice noodles in a stir fry. Its blend of flavors works so well that we eat it in small forkfuls just to make the dish last longer. There’s nothing on the menu over $20 and they open as early as noon, so it can work as your go-to spot for a Thai iced coffee or a casual lunch.

Although this Kensington bakery makes both traditional and vegan donuts in their shop, the ones made with coconut milk are somehow just as good—or even better—than the regular ones. The flavors change weekly, but range from classics like Boston cream to ones that sound like they were invented by a hungry 9-year-old, like banana graham cracker and black and white cookie cake. They’re also owned by the same people as ReAnimator, so you know they have great coffee, too.

Right across from Somerset station, this Mexican restaurant serves chicken chilaquiles for brunch, tinga tostadas for lunch, and braised pork shank and masa dumplings for dinner. The atmosphere is cozy—there are only a few tables and the walls are lined with handmade figurines like cacti, colorful chihuahuas, and antique plates. They have sopas that can be made vegetarian and vegan, quesadillas big enough to feed two people, and other sharable plates like a braised pork shank topped with an Oaxaca pasilla pepper salsa.  

Whenever you’re looking for somewhere that feels expensive but isn’t, Helm in Kensington is one of your best bets. They change up the $55 three-course tasting menu (that has around five options for each course) a lot. But you can expect dishes like tender pork over butternut squash, lamb ravioli, and a small plate of beets and smoked carrots. If it all sounds great, you can always bring a big group here and make sure everyone picks a different dish so you can sample the entire menu.

Poe’s Sandwich Joint in Kensington is the kind of place where you’ll struggle to walk away with less than four sandwiches per person. Located inside Human Robot, they have lots of ingredients for their crispy cutlet sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and inventive vegetarian options, and they somehow all work beautifully. Plus, each one has quality individual elements, like citrusy whiz sauce, hand-pulled mozzarella, and juicy, thinly shaved oven-roasted chicken. Along with some of the neighborhood’s best sandwiches, you can also get loaded fries topped with roast pork, scallions, or crumbled bits of salty bacon to pair them with.  

Street Side is a tiny Vietnamese BYOB on Girard that's mostly great for takeout (there are only a handful of seats). So when you end up working late and are too tired to even reheat the leftovers from last weekend, it’s a good place to stop in on your way home. Other than their pho, this place mostly does small plates that are easy to eat on the go. Some of our favorites are the pork belly rice paper roll, the beef skewer, and the pork and chive dumplings.

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