The Best Restaurants In East Passyunk

The 20 best places for your East Passyunk food crawl.
The Best Restaurants In East Passyunk image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

With some of the best restaurants in the city, BYOBs galore, and a couple of cheesesteak spots even people in Indiana have heard about, the East Passyunk area is almost always busy. It's easy to get whiplash choosing somewhere for breakfast, tacos, or date night. That's why we’ve done the work for you. These are the 20 best spots in the orbit of East Passyunk, including a few great restaurants west of Broad, too.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI


East Passyunk

$$$$Perfect For:Corporate CardsDate NightDinner with the ParentsDrinking Good WineFine DiningImpressing Out of Towners
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This upscale French spot on East Passyunk takes dishes you've eaten 50 times before and makes them feel fresh. Oysters wear pickled serrano and gelée party hats, monkfish sits in a kiddie pool of jet-black lobster velouté, and duck breast is cooked so precisely you'll want to read it a bedtime story and kiss its forehead. Come here to celebrate an anniversary or a fancy birthday—in addition to a la carte service, the restaurant still offers a tasting menu for around $100—but the mirror-lined space is also casual enough to walk in with a few friends.

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

$$$$Perfect For:Coffee & A Light BiteLunchCasual Weeknight DinnerBrunchBYOBBreakfast

At this Mexican, the whole menu is worth exploring, but the Pueblan cemitas are essential. We usually go for the Clásica stacked with crispy chicken milanesa, avocado, chipotle peppers, and stringy, salty quesillo cheese—all on puffy housemade rolls. Come to the plant-filled corner space for coffee and conchas on a lazy morning or bring a casual date to share some choriqueso tacos, a cemita, and some beer you bought at the ACME nearby.

Come to this West Passyunk Vietnamese daytime spot on a Monday at 2pm and you'll see a room full of restaurant industry people, bands on tour, college students, and everyone else in South Philly who knows the power of Nhan's bún bò huế. The classic, bright-red soup from the owner's hometown balances pungent star anise, lemongrass, fish sauce, and Sichuan chilis, with fatty brisket, pig's feet, and housemade blood cubes. Throw in a limeade and an order of crispy chicken wings, and you'll be converted to a regular in no time.

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Here are some things you’ll find at East Passyunk’s coolest restaurant: grilled arctic char with spicy butter, people who have 5k followers on Instagram drinking batched martinis, white tablecloths, a branded Mish Mish candle that makes the bathroom smell like a costly ayahuasca retreat. This reliably good Mediterranean spot only has 30-ish seats, so we don’t recommend bringing a huge group. Instead, bring a friend or a date and share the baby octopus with muhammara and the grilled chicken with a slightly sweet pomegranate glaze and crispy skin.

On nights you’d rather not sit in a dining room for 90 minutes, get takeout from Hardena in West Passyunk. They serve Indonesian food that changes daily and usually comes over a big pile of rice. Mix and match whatever looks good to you, but we highly recommend the beef rendang that’s caramelized and slow-cooked in coconut milk, along with the collard greens. There are a few tables where you can sit inside, but there’s no shame in taking yours to go and eating it while watching reruns on your couch.

​​When you first sit down at River Twice, you’ll notice that every table has built-in utensil drawers. Everything at this East Passyunk corner spot is that thoughtful, especially their $75 tasting menu that changes every single night. It's all interesting—dishes use ingredients and combinations that you won’t see at a lot of other restaurants. We’re talking about things like halibut with smoked scallop butter or heirloom corn grits with peekytoe crab and crab fat sofrito. While most of the menu focuses on seafood, but you can (and should) add on The Mother Rucker burger, which is the best in the city.

We’d eat the wild boar rigatoni ragu at Irwin’s in a Wawa parking lot if we had to. But thankfully, this glam Sicilian restaurant is located on the eighth floor of the Bok Building. In addition to their great gnocchi sardi and spaghetti alle vongole, Irwins serves juicy whole fish topped with citrusy salsa and half a sticky, agrodolce chicken—both of which are just as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. If it's nice outside, try to get a seat on their outdoor patio.

Juana Tamale makes great birria tacos, but they also use the stewed beef in ramen with mounds of queso and an oniony consomme that we drench everything in. With all the piles of melty cheese in the ramen, it has super gooey strands each time you get a forkful. And the queso birria taco that comes with each order has corn tortillas that are flavorful from being cooked on the same grill as the meat and crispy enough to sop up the broth without losing any of their texture.

Messina is a 30-seat members-only club serving some of the most innovative food and drinks in South Philly. Nestled in a century-old townhouse, the menu is part-American, part-European, and all experimental. It spans from small plates, like the silky poached scallops with apple and braised beef toast, to the larger gemelli with pungent vadouvan and crispy Elysian lamb schnitzel. There are still some old-school touches, but it feels more like a modern dive bar. While the vibe is decidedly casual, every plate is thoughtfully and beautifully composed, making it the perfect balance for an impressive date or Saturday night with friends.

If your main reason for coming to Fountain Porter is the $6 burger, you’re not alone. But this East Passyunk bar also has great wine. The list rotates all the time, but you'll usually find some natural stuff from places like Slovenia, Germany, and Spain for around $13-$16 a glass.

Le Virtu is where you go in East Passyunk when you want to eat comforting, thoughtful Italian food in a room that's larger than a closet. The regional-specific menu highlights food from Abruzzo, which means you'll eat a lot of rustic lamb dishes, pasta shaped like tiny wizard hats, some homemade ricotta, and maybe Abruzzese sausage with polenta. Come on a Sunday night when you don't feel like cooking or whenever the weather is nice enough to sit outside in their massive garden.

East Passyunk’s Townsend is dark, romantic, and has more candles than the set of Charmed. There’s an upstairs dining room that works well for a nice date night (they’ll even customize special occasion menus for you). From roasted striped bass served with a creamy potato pave to tender pork belly, the menu here is what you might expect from a nice French-ish spot. There’s also a bar downstairs that’s open until 2am.

This East Passyunk barbecue spot makes excellent pulled pork sandwiches and some notably creamy gouda mac and cheese. But our favorite thing here is the juicy brisket that's been smoked for 14 hours. You can order it plain or covered in their sweet Carolina barbecue sauce. Both options are great, especially when the weather gets cold and you’re having summer BBQ separation anxiety.  

West Passyunk Ave’s Stina makes consistent, reasonably priced Mediterranean food, but it's also just a fun place to hang out. The BYOB feels like a small dinner party in a friend’s apartment since everyone walking in is carrying their favorite bottle of wine. Although this is technically a pizzeria, almost everything else coming out of Stina’s wood-burning oven works better than their pies. Go for an enormous, boat-shaped pide. Stina makes three different kinds, and while they’re all incredible, the one filled with merguez, mozzarella, and tabbouleh is the one we’d take home to meet our parents. 



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With a mezcal and tequila list as long as the line around the Rocky statue, and a kitchen that stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, La Llorona Cantina is where we go for margaritas and late-night Mexican food. Come on a casual weeknight and start with things like scallop aguachile verde, then move on to a quesadilla or a pan-seared branzino.

This tiny Filipino BYOB is one of the only places in the city serving a kamayan feast. For $50 per person, you'll get a crispy whole fried fish, lemony chicken inasal, jasmine rice, a few other proteins and soy-drenched vegetables. It's a ton of food, and therefore a good option for a group.

There’s a lot to like about Barcelona Wine Bar. The food is good, the wine list is better, and their massive outdoor patio sets it apart from most other restaurants on East Passyunk. They serve mostly tapas like eggplant caponata, patatas bravas, and steak paillard covered in peppery vinaigrette, which makes it a perfect spot to go with a bigger group of people. Stop by for a glass of wine before bar hopping around the neighborhood.

Ricci’s has been in Passyunk Square since the 1920s, and they’ve spent the last century perfecting their hoagies. The small counter-service spot is where you can get a stacked hoagie full of things like smoked turkey, corned beef, and salty ham for under $10. The bread here is perfect for piling on lots of toppings and still holding the weight of a very meaty sandwich. Grab the Old Fashioned Italian and make all your coworkers jealous.

There are few things that get us out of bed when we’d rather be sleeping: a fire alarm because our neighbors can’t make toast, avoiding a long line at the carwash, and an order of huevos motuleños especiales from Café y Chocolate. Bathing in spicy salsa verde, each tortilla comes packed with refried black beans, a poached egg mixed with ham and mozzarella cheese, roasted poblano rojas, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. Besides that, the West Passyunk spot’s menu includes staples like enchiladas, tortas, crispy churros, and an unforgettable Mexican hot chocolate sprinkled with cinnamon.

Rosario’s Pizzeria in Passyunk Square makes Mexican pizzas in varieties like al pastor, which gets a kick from the guajillo pepper base, marinated pork, and pineapple, and the avocado and sausage-topped Mexicana. If you’re in the mood for a pie with lots of cheese, a garden’s worth of chilis, and hefty chunks of quality Mexican meat, this is the place. (Also, if you're drunk.)

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