PHLGuide

The Best Restaurants In Fishtown

There are a lot of restaurants in Fishtown. These are our favorites.
The Best Restaurants In Fishtown image

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Ah, Fishtown restaurants. Can't live with 'em. Can't live without 'em. New places pop up in this neighborhood as often as commercials in YouTube videos. So it's reasonable to want the 411 on where to eat around here—otherwise you'll have to spend money at every single restaurant with a neon sign to figure it out yourself. Here are our favorites, all within walking distance of each other (oh, and also The Fillmore).

THE SPOTS

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

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Thai

Fishtown

$$$$Perfect For:Impressing Out of TownersSmall PlatesCatching Up With MatesPeople WatchingSpecial OccasionsLiterally Everyone
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Kalaya is the first place we think of when we want Thai food, a place to impress out-of-towners, or a big night out with friends. The giant, palm-tree filled spot is always packed, so we wouldn't suggest showing up without a reservation. 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. Neither can we. It's one of the Best 25 Restaurants in Philly for a reason.

Liberty Kitchen's breakfast sandwiches, cutlets, and hoagies will have you cosplaying as a tiger. Even something simple will be full of little surprises, like chianti provolone spread on a roast pork sandwich. The attention to detail makes eating these sandwiches (and tomato pie) feel like you're having bread with meat and cheese for the first time again. And, in Philly, that accomplishment should come with a key to the city.

Between the coffee shop in the front and pita flying out of the ovens in the back, this giant Lebanese restaurant smells exactly how you wish your house did. It's useful for just about any dining situation. Come by yourself for a couple pastries in the mornings, or bring 20 people for a big group brunch or dinner. We usually go for dishes like charcoal-roasted beets, charred baba ganoush, and a tender, slow-roasted lamb.

This all-day American spot in Fishtown is one of the rare places that works for everything from a laptop lunch to a drunken night out. It's a little bananas inside: picture Princess Diana posters and toilet seats designed with Peanut Chews. And the booze and spins on diner classics are just as thoughtful and fun. Come for a light, syrup-slicked stack of pancakes in the morning, reliable sandwiches for lunch, some of the city's best cocktails all day, and a great burger at night.

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This Portuguese cafe on Girard makes airy pasteis de nata that would be worth crossing the city to eat. But they also have great breakfast sandwiches with housemade linguiça and a fried egg, as well as lunchier things like salads and a platter that comes with fries and grilled chicken slapped with piri piri. Meet someone here for coffee or a daytime date. Or just bee-line for a blistered, sweet egg tart when you wake up at 9am on a Saturday after a sh*tty week.

Shackamaxon’s pizza is so good that they constantly have people lining up outside their Girard Ave. shop. These crispy pies have a ton of char—don't call them burned, it's just part of the thin-crusted-but-not-exactly-New-York style. The team only serves four options: plain, pepperoni, tomato, and a rotating weekly special. And you'll have to walk right up to their window to order any of them (though you can call if you a whole tomato pie or email if you're getting at least four pies).

If you’re looking for a sushi omakase with over-the-top party energy, Sushi Suite has taken the Philly count to one. And while you can’t always put a price on fun, this place has, and it’s ​$185 per person for 17 courses. Expect nicely executed straightforward courses like otoro sprinkled with shichimi salt as well as some hit-or-miss creative attempts like manilla clams in white wine. But you’re mostly coming for the amped-up show of it all: the glowing backdrop behind the counter, taking sake shots with the chefs, and figuring out if the flirty duo next to you knew each other before they walked through door.

Pizzeria Beddia is where we go for sit-down pizza and good wine in Fishtown. The space itself looks like a sleek and industrial garage, with a smiling cloud lamp hanging over their u-shaped bar. Get the No. 2, which is topped with calabrian cream, mozzarella, and Old Gold gouda. It sort of tastes like a gooey mac and cheese on top of expertly baked dough. Beddia also has a private "hoagie room" where, for $75 per person, you and five friends can get the omakase experience of every Philadelphian’s dream: stacked hoagies, pizza, and soft serve.


Wm. Mulherin’s 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, a fireplace, and . a near-infinite number of Italian dishes. Stick to pasta, especially the pappardelle. It’s made with savory duck ragu that gets a touch of sweet bitterness from the chocolate mixed in. They also have decent Neapolitan pizzas, like the double margarita pie topped with mozzarella and burrata.

At this tiny sushi omakase restaurant, you exchange $155 for precious raw fish. It's located in the same building as Wm. Mulherin’s and comes from the same team. 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 to celebrate.


This casual Italian restaurant is a collaboration between people who like flour and eggs, and Waywine Vineyards. That means you come here to eat tagliatelle with lamb ragu and drink something made in PA. Nothing costs more than $30 and the room is dark enough to make you look a little mysterious. Bring a date, or a book and sit at the counter.


Meet the neighborhood's vegan spot. Primary Plant Based is where we head for masa ball soup, a mushroom and eggplant umami burger, grapefruit spritzers, and a few other things we dream about at the beginning of the week. Come for a casual weeknight dinner and 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. Then there's DAWA, a reliable sushi and ramen spot. The restaurant is split into two separate experiences: there’s a room with 16 tables where people order shoyu ramen and yellowtail handrolls, and then there’s a seven-seat sushi bar where the owner serves 15- to 24-piece omakase meals all by himself. And aside from feeling like you’re part of his crew, you’ll get to eat fatty tuna, king salmon rolls, and lemon-spiked scallops. They only offer the omakase Thursday through Saturday. And you have to call to book your spot.


If you've never been to Murph’s Bar, you might be wondering what the hell is going on inside. This Irish pub plastered with sports memorabilia and Jameson posters serves old-school, red-sauce Italian dishes. The food—like platters of seafood manicotti and veal tortellacci—is just fine, but it's still fun to hang in the divey space.


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If you’re looking to impress a date with something a little more interesting than bragging about driving a Tesla, take them to this BYOB. The menu is inspired by the food historically eaten in Pennsylvania—picture a PA cheese board, snapper soup, pierogies, and an $80 whole rabbit. They even have a tea service on weekends with 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.


Kensington Quarters is a two-floor industrial restaurant with good raw bar options like oysters served with a house-made hot sauce or scallop crudo. They also have one of our favorite Happy Hours in the neighborhood, with deals like buck-a-shuck oysters and $8 glasses of wine.

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 consomme.


Like Larry’s and Pat’s, there are lots of places in Philly named after some guy serving cheesesteaks. This throwback soda shop-themed spot across from Johnny Brenda's makes cheesesteaks with what's essentially cheesy provolone lava pouring out of them. But at Joe’s, you can get one along with burgers, a cheesy hot sausage, milkshakes, and a pineapple sundae topped with fudge and chunks of fruit.


This Mexican restaurant works for friends who want to put some tostadas in their tummies before going out in Fishtown. It's a Starr restaurant, which means it's going to be loud, themed within an inch of its life, and everyone around you will be taking photos for their dating profiles. Get the loaded shrimp nachos and the green aguachile.


Cheu Fishtown likes to mess with unexpected combos like cheesy squash rangoon and savory brisket ramen, or maybe even miso cheese dip. Not all of the Japanese mash-ups work, but this is still a useful restaurant to drink a beer and eat $8 wings during Happy Hour.

This is a spread of panzerotti, breakfast sandwiches, and pastries from Paffuto.

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