The Best Restaurants In Fishtown guide image


The Best Restaurants In Fishtown

There are a lot of restaurants in Fishtown. These are our favorites.

Fishtown is a place split by the El rumbling overhead, the Delaware River to the east, and Girard and Frankford Avenues acting as compasses when you forget where you parked your car after a late night. With new restaurants popping up as often as commercials in a YouTube video, you need a guide to navigate through the slanted streets. Here are 20 of our favorite sushi, ramen, Italian, and plant-based spots, all within a few blocks of each other and The Fillmore.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI

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4 West Palmer Street, Philadelphia
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Kalaya is the first place we think of when we’re craving fantastic Thai food, want to impress out-of-towners, or just need a lively night out with a few friends. The modern, palm-tree filled Fishtown spot is always packed, so it’s not a place to show up without a reservation. It’s no surprise—from the chewy sakoo moo dumplings and fragrant seafood dishes to the sweet and spicy khiaw waan kalaya, Philadelphians just can’t seem to get enough. They also serve towers of shaved ice and mango sticky rice for dessert, just in case you want to celebrate getting a reservation with something other than coconut milk cocktails.

Pizzeria Beddia is our go-to place for sit-down pizza in Fishtown. The modern spot has a long bar that’s usually filled with people at Pizza Camp–what they call their cooking classes–or someone having a solo pie and a glass of wine. They also have a private dining room where, for $75 per person, you can get an omakase experience filled with every Philadelphian’s dream: stacked hoagies, pizza, and creamy soft serve to end your meal. When we do stop in for a pie, we always order the No. 2. It’s one of their white pizzas that has a garlicky bite, and blends Calabrian cream, mozzarella, and gouda to create something that resembles a gooey mac and cheese on dough.

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Shackamaxon’s thin-crust pies are so good that they constantly have people lining up outside their Girard Ave. shop. And since you can’t preorder a pie, you have to do it live and in person. They also sell slices, so you don’t have to purchase an entire pizza for yourself to eat on your couch (unless you want to). Despite how huge these slices are, they hold their weight in toppings—meaning your pepperoni pizza won’t lose all of its perfect little grease pools as soon as you pick up a slice.

Hiroki is an expensive (think Phillies tickets on the third-base line expensive), omakase spot. The restaurant, which is located in the same building as Wm. Mulherin’s and comes from the same team, feels almost like a wine cellar. The barrel-shaped door leads into a small, dark room that’s almost entirely taken up by the sushi counter. To start, you’ll get a small tray of appetizers followed by things like soy-marinated wagyu short rib and crispy tilefish, and then around 12 pieces of sushi, a cup of miso soup, and a small dessert. Come here if you have something big to celebrate—it’s worth the $155 (plus another $65 for the sake pairing) price tag.

Between the coffee shop in the front and fresh pita constantly being baked in the back, Suraya smells exactly how you wish your house did. On the weekends, you can sit in the cafe and have a chai while going over your grocery list, or head to the dining room for dinner around 5pm. Their evening menu is especially excellent for a group dinner (just make sure you book in advance), where you should order things like charcoal-roasted beets, a charred baba ganoush spread, and a tender slow-roasted lamb that’s cooked so well that you won’t want to leave. Luckily, they do fluffy omelets and kebabs for brunch, so you can always come back the next morning.

Wm. Mulherin’s Sons looks like it belongs in the Catskills, or at least the part of the Poconos where people talk about NFTs before noon. The part-boutique hotel, part-restaurant has large round tables and a fireplace in the middle of the dining room. On top of looking really nice, the cocktails and Italian food are also excellent. There are lots of things to choose from, but what they do best is pasta (always get the pappardelle). It’s made up of a savory duck ragu that gets a touch of sweet bitterness from the chocolate mixed in. They also have Neapolitan pizzas, like the double margarita pie topped with mozzarella and burrata.

With massive picture windows and bright green signage, it’s hard to miss this Kensington pasta bar and wine shop. But even if you don’t notice the couples sharing bottles of merlot as you walk by, the unmistakable scent of lamb ragu will draw you in. From perfectly blended cocktails and unique, affordable wines to pastas so good that you’ll consider proposing to the chef, this intimate corner restaurant should be your go-to for date nights, small group dinners, and every occasion in between. Tulip serves up modern takes on Italian classics, like cacio e peperoncini, Thai-inspired linguine and mussels, and our favorite, the Chesapeake Bay crab ravioli–perfectly doughy pouches stuffed with a creamy sweet-savory blend of crab and honeynut squash, finished with an irresistible crab butter.

In the past, when we wanted a little fun and games with our meal, we had to settle for losing quarters to a Pac-Man machine and the forgettable food at Barcade. Now we can shoot a few rounds of pool while biting into a breaded chicken caesar from Middle Child Clubhouse. This all-day spot serves breakfast sandwiches with short rib and pillowy eggs in the morning, club sandwiches during the day, and shareable dishes like steak frites smothered in a smoky tamarind sauce at night.

At Omakase by Yanaga, sashimi gets plated with gold Louis Vuitton chopsticks. That’s just one detail that makes this spot in Fishtown feel like a more-glamorous-than-usual omakase experience, even compared to nearby Hiroki. They only do the $195, 25-course tasting menu (plus an optional $85 wine and sake pairing) from Thursday-Saturday, and it all happens in a private section of Izayaya by Yanaga. The fish is excellent, with small bites and nigiri that ranges from scallops coated with preserved lemon and a toro tartare served on crunchy milk bread to crispy yellowtail topped in a miso caramel glaze. Spend a night here the next time you have something worth celebrating, like a birthday, or you just want to have a casual conversation with the sushi master while he flames up some pieces of Alaskan king salmon. 

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Cher and ABBA. Fast And Furious movies and long flights. Some combinations, while unexpected, just work, which is exactly how we’d describe Cheu Fishtown. Here you can eat cheesy squash rangoons and savory brisket ramen alongside things like milk bread toast with a miso cheese dip. This former police stable is covered in wild artwork, both on the stools and walls, and it’s a great place to stop by for a cocktail and some ramen.

Primary Plant-Based is a spot where we head to get masa ball soup on a chilly day, a mushroom and eggplant umami burger, grapefruit spritzers, and a few other things we dream about at the beginning of the week. This is somewhere you should come for a casual weeknight dinner, and when you do, make sure you get the black bean udon noodles. They toss stewed zucchini, cabbage, eggplant, and a few other things from Old McDonald’s farm in a spicy sauce.

There are a lot of weird, cool things under the El: a dive bar with a heavy metal night, a high-end event venue attached to a high school, and at least three hidden rooftops. DAWA is also right under the El on Front Street, and this tiny, super casual 16-seat spot has some of the best sushi and ramen in Fishtown. If you want to do the 22-course and $125 omakase, you’ll have to book ahead, but you won’t find higher-quality fish for a better price.

When walking into Murph’s Bar, you might wonder why your friend suggested you try it for dinner. That is, until the aroma of garlic and tomato sauce hits you. This Irish pub serves some of the best Italian food in the city, and once you see platters of seafood manicotti and veal tortellacci being passed around the small dining room, you’ll be sold. Leave your expectations at the door and call ahead if you’ve got four or more in your party.

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If you’re looking to impress a date with something a little more interesting than bragging about owning a Tesla, take them to this BYOB. They're serving up country-inspired meals, like a PA cheese board, snapper soup, pierogies, and an $80 whole rabbit. They even have a tea service on weekends serving Pennsylvania-Dutch specialty cakes and snickerdoodles on antique plates, so you can snack on a few while looking at the painting of the countryside in the dining room.

While we love Fishtown for all the good, casual options, sometimes you just want somewhere that will give you an excuse to wear the one outfit that you mentally reserve for “special occasions.” Kensington Quarters is that place. Since their switch to a seafood-heavy menu in 2020, the two-floor industrial space has raw bar options like fresh oysters served with a house-made hot sauce and mussels in a coriander kosho. Outside of the seafood, they also have a Happy Hour if you’re looking to try small bites like littleneck clams before committing to a New York strip smothered in a sweet red wine sauce.

Like Larry’s and Pat’s, there are lots of places in Philly named after some guy serving up packed cheesesteaks. But at Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop, you can get one of those stuffed sandwiches along with burgers, a cheesy hot sausage, milkshakes, and a pineapple sundae topped with chunks of the refreshing fruit and fudge. The throwback-style shop is like walking onto the set of Happy Days, and it’s one of the few cheesesteak spots we seek out on a casual weeknight.

For your hoagie cravings in Fishtown, there’s nowhere better than Liberty Kitchen for a grab-and-go meal that’s $14 and under. The Front Street deli and market makes their sandwiches with a bunch of local products, like bread from Carangi Bakery and relish from Brine Street Picklery. They also do things like tomato pie, mac and cheese, and a vegetarian hoagie filled with marinated eggplant, provolone, and roasted red peppers.

When you’re having a bunch of people over or don’t plan on going grocery shopping for a week, consider La Chingonita’s Try It All Box. It’s like a greatest hits album for this Mexican spot that has two birria, two tinga vegana, and two suadero tacos, two stalks of street corn dripping in crema, two tacos dorados, and two classic tortas all for $55. Come here the next time you’re looking for an exciting quick meal, or stop by and look out on Girard Ave. while going knuckles deep in some brothy consomme.

Everyone has a favorite bagel place in the city, and one of ours is Philly Style Bagels in Fishtown. It’s a small corner spot off Frankford that usually has a line out the door on most weekend mornings. Their bagels aren’t the big fluffy kind you’ll find elsewhere— they’re a bit smaller and, in our opinion, that makes them more flavorful. The bagels are also boiled in beer, which we’re assuming is what makes them “Philly style.” Well, as long as they’re boiled in Yuengling.

Fette Sau serves everything from beef brisket to pulled pork to St. Louis-style ribs to family-style BBQ platters with sides like mac and cheese and burnt end baked beans. The cafeteria-style seating is first come, first served and there’s a spacious outdoor patio that’s ideal for drinking a whiskey flight while discussing the finer things in life, like your phone auto-filling passwords and your favorite Mean Girls lines.

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