Fishtown is a place split by the El churning overhead, the Delaware River to the east, and Girard Ave. and Frankford Ave. acting as compasses when you forget where you parked your car after a late night. With new restaurants that seem to pop up as often as commercials while watching a long Youtube video, you may need a guide to navigate through the slanted streets. Here are 30 of our favorite sushi, ramen, Italian, and plant-based spots all within a few blocks of each other and The Fillmore.
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 head home. And since they do fluffy omelets and kebabs for brunch, you can always come back the next morning.
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. After their switch to a seafood-heavy menu in 2020, they have raw bar options including fresh oysters served with a house-made hot sauce and oniony mignonette and mussels in a coriander kosho. Outside of the seafood, they also have a Happy Hour if you’re looking to try a few small bites like littleneck clams before committing to a New York strip smothered in a sweet red wine sauce.
The Fin has a few more things to offer than the largest indoor TV in Philly. Although we do enjoy looking at a mega-sized screen when diving into a bowl of their jambalaya packed with andouille sausage and shrimp or a jumbo crab cake as big as a softball. The seafood spot and bar isn’t exactly a casual place to watch a game, as the menu includes things like a $70 seafood boil tasting menu. But when you don’t want to pay the price of a Flyers ticket, they also have some less expensive items like a $17 rum ham sandwich ripped straight from our It’s Always Sunny dreams.
Fishtown might have as many ramen and sushi spots as Michael Jackson has hits, but not all of them have a vegetable tantan mazeman ramen with a spicy miso broth that’s worth going out of your way for. The Frankford Ave. Japanese spot isn’t the type of place to bring a bunch of old friends for an impromptu high school reunion, as most of the tables can only fit a few people. But for a casual weeknight meal for two, they have a good rotation of small plates like their curry short rib bao, spicy yellowtail rolls, shrimp skewers, and a long sake list.
Due to a mix-up at the post office, you’ve suddenly received all twelve bottles from your “wine of the month club” at once. Bring the case and some friends to Ekta on Girard, where you can put a dent in your wine surplus (they’re BYOB) and eat some good Indian food at the same time. Between the big portions and family-style menu, this place works especially well for big groups. Go with the biryani and the spicy Goan shrimp curry, along with some extra naan to mop up the creamy sauce.
Sancho Pistola’s is a Mexican restaurant that has a TV within view of every table, which makes it the perfect place to have dinner while you watch anything else besides what’s stacked on your DVR. There’s never a huge crowd here, except during Happy Hour from 3-6pm when they have things like half-priced beers, $15 off pitchers of margaritas, and $8 nachos. So come here if you want to watch the Sixers lose in peace while you eat a bunch of chicken tinga tacos topped with queso fresco and crema and some guacamole with spicy tuna on top.
Whether your fantasy football team is looking more like a nightmare, or your gym just replaced your weekly vinyasa hour with another Zumba class, sometimes you just need something warm and delicious that’ll never let you down. These are the times to go to Stock in Fishtown. Their khao poon, a Lao-style coconut curry soup, is a cure-all for everything from a bad work week to mistakenly treating a Sunday like a Saturday. This BYOB on Girard is walk-in-only, and if you go with a friend, make sure to try the spicy pork dip– prahok katee–and bánh mì sprinkled with fried shallots, too.
Pizzeria Beddia is our go-to place for pizza in Fishtown. The shop 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 Philadelphians’ 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.
Joe's Steaks & Soda Shop
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-styled shop is like walking into 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.
Calling La Colombe in Fishtown a “coffee shop” is kind of like carrying a Swiss Army knife and only using the tiny saw—it’s not wrong, but it sort of misses the point. This place feels more like a brewery than wherever you normally go for your morning latte, with lots of space, plenty of seating, and a full food menu to go with all of the coffee you could ever want. Stop in for breakfast or pick up a warm ham and gruyere croissant after work when you suddenly remember you were supposed to go grocery shopping three days ago.
Front Street Cafe is basically always open, so regardless of whether you need to grab a second dinner or a quick bite before work, this place is here for you. It’s the neighborhood spot that everyone wishes they had, with good cocktails, patio seating, and bar food that’s just a little better than it needs to be. Make sure to get the buffalo chicken cauliflower and a fried chicken sandwich—both of which come with a peppery glaze that will make you happy.
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 serving up country meals like a PA cheese board, snapper soup, perogies, 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 bite into a few while looking at the painting of the countryside in the dining room.
Shackamaxon’s thin-crust pies are so good that they have people lining up outside their Girard Ave. shop. And since you can’t preorder a pie, you have to do it on the day of 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.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
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.
Where To Have A Group Dinner In Philly
Nunu and Cheu are from the same team, and also happen to be right next door to each other in Fishtown. They share an outdoor area, which is just a little alleyway with a few tables and a bar that looks into Nunu, that’s generally filled with lots of small groups throughout the summer. Although both serve Japanese food, you’ll find more small plates at Nunu— things like yakitori skewers and katsu sandwiches. The red, Blade Runner-esque lighting and secluded two-seater booths make it a really good first-date spot. Stop by for drinks and then stay for snacks if things go well.
If you were ever curious about alternative career paths for that art history degree, you should visit Pizza Brain. Part-restaurant, part-museum, the walls are covered with pizza memorabilia, which gives you plenty to look at while you wait for your pie. There’s limited indoor seating, but there are a few tables in the courtyard in the back, and their BYO policy lets you bring your favorite beer or wine along for the ride. When you stop by, go for the Buffy Ernst. It’s basically an oniony buffalo chicken pizza with a perfect blend of blue cheese that has almost replaced our wing cravings.
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.
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 big, 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 little sweet bitterness from the chocolate mixed in. They also have Neapolitan pizzas, like the double margarita pie topped with mozzarella and burrata.
Hiroki is an expensive (think Phillies tickets on the third-base line), omakase-only spot from the people behind Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. The restaurant, which is also located in the same building as Wm. Mulherin’s, 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.
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.
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 stop by 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.
Over Easy Breakfast Club is a place in Fishtown where you can get a diner-style breakfast–at least from Thursday through Sunday when they’re open for brunch. This bright and airy spot has a long bar and plenty of tables where you can sit, drink a cup of coffee, and be glad that you’re not at home trying to make a frittata. All of the food here is great, but the eggs benedict, breakfast burrito, and burger (which is covered in caramelized onions, bacon, and bleu cheese) are some of the best options.
Loco Pez brings together two of our favorite things: a neighborhood dive and Mexican food. If you happen to come here on any weeknight, you’ll find tacos for $4 and under, $4 flan, and a meal that’s only going to cost you $10 (including tip). Avoid Happy Hour if you’re trying to skip the crowds and make sure you have cash (they don’t take cards), but rest assured that the margaritas and nachos will be plentiful any time you go.
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.
Maybe you’re having people over for the Eagles game, or maybe you’ve been craving wings since you smelled them at a bar the other night. Either way, Andy’s is the best place in the neighborhood to go for fried chicken. Their double-fried recipe results in an audible crunch, and the sweet chili sauce adds just the right amount of heat. Call ahead, and make sure you stock up on paper towels on the walk home.
Everyone has a favorite bagel place in the city, and 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.
For one of the best grab-and-go lunch spots in the area, stop by Pom Pom. They have things like salads mixed with charred cauliflower, salty capers, and tahini sauce, along with their version of the cheesesteak’s distant cousin: the chopped cheese. It’s a great place to go when the wait for Suraya and Cheu nearby is too long and you just want to get a burger and some za’atar fries and head home.
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.
When your best friend is celebrating her dog’s birthday and you’re in charge of bringing the human treats, make a stop at Cake Life. It may be tough to choose from the display cases packed with things like pistachio kouign-amann and fruit tarts, but you can’t really go wrong. They’re open until 5pm on weekends and the sugar cookies will go faster than your interest in how old the dog is turning.