Philadelphia’s Best Puerto Rican Restaurants

From crispy empanadas to the best rice and beans, these are the six essential spots for Puerto Rican food in Philly.
Philadelphia’s Best Puerto Rican Restaurants image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

When you think of Philadelphia’s best eats, you probably think of cheesesteaks, hoagies, Zahav, and South Philly Barbacoa—just a handful of the icons that can’t be missed in the City of Brotherly Love. What you probably don’t know is that Philly’s Latin/Hispanic community is over 50% Puerto Rican, and there are some iconic Borinquen restaurants that are must-tries in their own right. Whether you’ve never had Puerto Rican food before or you’re looking for a mofongo that transports you back to abuela’s kitchen, these are the six essential Puerto Rican restaurants in Philly.

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

Puerto Rican


$$$$Perfect For:Walk-InsDinner with the ParentsCasual Weeknight DinnerDeliverySerious Take-Out OperationBYOB
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Walking into Freddy and Tony’s is like walking into your tía’s house. There are two options here—order takeout at the front register or head a few steps over and seat yourself in the dining room. It’s bustling with the sounds of families chatting, reggaeton, and the hum of a blender mixing up tastiest non-alcoholic piña coladas in town (but don’t forget to bring your own rum). The decor transports you to Old San Juan—the walls are painted in the style of the bright, multi-colored row homes that line the streets of the capital city, complete with roosters and no less than two Puerto Rican flags on each faux house front. Come here for the tender roasted chicken covered in garlic sauce and pasteles de guineo.

El Sabor is kind of elusive—there’s no physical menu and they don’t keep consistent hours, so you really should call ahead or drive by if you’re looking to dine in or takeout. But it’s so good you’ll find yourself peering around the corner of Diamond and North Hancock streets hoping they’re open. If you’re hungry and in a hurry, grab and go from the hot food case; try the chuleta or crispy fried chicken leg, yellow rice, and whatever you do, DO NOT forget a side of white rice and habichuelas. If you have time to dine in, order the bistec encebollado. On your way out, pay homage to some of Puerto Rico’s finest: headshots of Marc Anthony, Tito Puente, and Jennifer Lopez cover the back of the restaurant.

When you’re in the mood for delicious pastries or quick takeout, head to I street in Harrowgate to check out El Coqui Panadería (just a couple blocks away from Càphê Roasters). El Coqui’s hot food bar is stocked with tasty, affordable PR staples, including morcilla, pastelón, and plenty of alcapurrias de guineo and yuca. What makes El Coqui so special, though, is the bakery. They’re serving up sweet treats like bizcocho de almendra, creamy quesitos, and more. They also make their own pan sobao, a delightfully soft and slightly sweet typical Puerto Rican bread. This is the primary reason a Tripleta sandwich is a must-have here. Its tri-meat combination includes pan-seared bistec, pernil, and ham. FYI—they’re undergoing renovations so there’s no seating at the moment, so call ahead or order online.

Your immediate reaction to your first bite of macaroni salad at Boricua 2 will be “Ay Dios Mio!” (whether you’re Puerto Rican or not). The Port Richmond restaurant has classic Puerto Rican fare for a super reasonable price—try the $16 “Boricua Special” to get a hefty portion of food, including your choice of two sides and one main entree. While neither the tuna macaroni salad nor potato salad are uniquely Puerto Rican, you must get a side of both—they’re so good you’ll find yourself eating those before you’ve touched your mains. The entire place is covered in tropical florals reminiscent of El Yunque, with an upbeat Latinidad soundtrack, including Selena, Santana, and Willie Colón. If you’re in Northern Liberties, check out their original location on N. 3rd Street for takeout.

If you’re at the Cherry Hill Mall and you’re craving something other than Seasons 52 or a Costco hot dog, stop at Lorenzo’s Cabana—a casual Puerto Rican, Mexican, and American food spot just 30 minutes from Center City. A quarter of the menu is dedicated to American breakfast items, but they’re also serving up some pretty delicious Mexican food. The Puerto Rican menu, meanwhile, features pulled-pork style pernil, made in a slow cooker on the back counter, as well as bistec, pollo guisado, and chuletas. There’s a line of walk-ins for takeout and the phone is constantly ringing for pickup orders (your best bet is to call ahead and make sure they have the protein of your choice), but you can always snack on empanadas while you wait.

This restaurant is the reason to go to Camden (besides Carool’s Discount Liquor). Old San Juan has an expansive menu with a ton of variety, whether you’re grabbing from the hot/cold takeout section or sitting in their large and modest dining room. They specialize in whole fish dishes and seafood salads, but their mofongo with shrimp in garlic sauce is an absolute must-try. The shrimp is so tender it’ll make you recall finer dining spots that haven’t come close to doing it this right, and the ajillo sauce is so deliciously garlicky that no vampire could physically come near you for at least 24 hours after consumption. Whatever you order, you can smell the combination of fresh herbs and spices as soon as your food hits the table.

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