The Best Restaurants In Queen Village guide image


The Best Restaurants In Queen Village

There are a ton of restaurants around Queen Village. Here are our 15 favorites.

Queen Village isn’t very large. You could walk the entire neighborhood and your smartwatch would still ping you later asking if you’re getting off the couch today. But running a marathon isn’t the reason we all head there. It’s because they have some amazing BYOBs, Italian spots, and sushi restaurants where you can dive into hamachi hand rolls topped with caviar or Detroit-style pizza. When you want to get a good meal in the area, these are the 15 best places to go.  

The Spots

Royal Sushi & Izakaya

Royal Sushi & Izakaya two distinct moods. In the izakaya section, you can sit in a booth and watch anime, pay as little as $4 for a beer, and eat things like chili beets covered in miso or pan-seared pork gyoza. But when you want to have a night where you're catered to like Oprah’s favorite spaniel, try their 17-piece omakase menu. It includes things like Washington state kumamoto oysters and their chutoro caviar–a mix of fatty Spanish bluefin and Osetra caviar. Each option works for different occasions, but they’ll both give you a memorable experience.

If breakfast for you means a bagel stacked with smoked fish, you should start your morning at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. The Jewish deli is one of the best in Philly, and definitely our favorite place for brunch in Queen Village. It can get as loud and busy on weekend mornings as 30th Street Station, but you can always order your enormous pastrami specials, challah French toast, or matzah ball soup to go. 

If the city held an America's Next Top Model-style competition for the next great BYOB, Tyra would be doing a dramatic photo reveal of Mawn. The intimate Cambodian restaurant only has 10 or so tables inside, so while you can walk into the Queen Village restaurant without a reservation, we wouldn’t recommend it. They have a lengthy menu of unforgettable Southeast Asian dishes, but the soft shell shrimp, oysters with a black pepper mignonette, juicy whole fish, and Thai crab fried rice is the perfect lineup for a casual weeknight dinner, date night, or group catch up with your friends surrounded by whatever bottles you agreed on. 

When the seasons change, one of the first things you want is a bowl of hot soup to warm you up. Neighborhood Ramen, one of the best ramen spots in the city, has you covered. When you stop by the cozy noodle shop, try the shoyu ramen. Each bowl has a couple of juicy pieces of pork chashu seeping with flavorful chicken broth, house shoyu, and toppings like scallion, menma, and ajitama. It’s a comforting blend that will make you feel almost grateful that the temperature dropped below 50 degrees. Almost.  

There’s gas station sushi (get over it, we’ve all done it), and then there are high-quality omakase meals that can cost as much as a pair of over-ear headphones. Sakana is the latter. The BYOB sushi restaurant in Headhouse Square is the perfect place to bring a bottle of sake to pair with one of their two omakase options ($98 for 13 courses or $148 for 20 courses). All the raw fish is stellar, whether you’re eating Japanese scallops, toro topped with caviar, or sweet shrimp with gold leaves.

This cozy French spot in Queen Village works just as well for a casual Friday night dinner with friends or for a first date on a weeknight. There’s a long bar that’s usually lined with diners sharing carafes of natural wine or sipping on seasonal cocktails. When it comes to the menu, rotating specials make up nearly half–and they’re always stellar. Their duck of the day, like the crispy duck wings, tender duck breast served with herby lentils, and sunchokes fried in rich duck fat, are good enough to have you planning a Parisian vacation you can’t afford. But the core menu–full of steak frites and mussels in a shrimp bouillon wine sauce–is just as exciting as the specials that appear on the chalkboard every night. 

Little Fish is a small corner BYOB with a menu made up mostly of seafood like monkfish, grilled octopus in a hot mustard vinaigrette, sashimi platters with a house soy glaze, and whole branzino. And although the dishes on their rotating a la carte menu can be hit or miss, it kind of feels like you’re a part of a test kitchen—where everything you’re eating is coming straight from the chef’s mind (or the sea) and going onto your plate.

Saloon is an Italian restaurant, but it’s also a quintessential South Philly dining experience. It’s been around for 55 years, and is still outfitted with dark wood walls and candlelight, stained glass windows, and paraphernalia from 19th and 20th century Philadelphia. The staff has as much personality as the building itself (and most have been around just as long). The menu ranges from traditional steakhouse dishes like clams casino and petite filet with mashed potatoes, but we’re partial to the Italian house specialties, like the linguine pescatore with jumbo shrimp and a buttery lobster Francaise (and if Rocky were real, he would be, too).

Other than being a tongue twister, Fiore Fine Foods is an Italian spot on Front Street that does everything from incredible pastries for weekend brunch to brick-oven pizzas and a perfectly crispy fluke milanese at dinner. You could eat at Fiore three times on the same day and get three totally different experiences. In the end, you’ll be excited to head back–and the friendly employees will know your life story. 

Cry Baby is one of the only places in Queen Village that you can walk into on a weeknight with friends for plates of crab linguine, rigatoni with smoked chicken, and great wine. It’s in an absolutely made-up category we like to call “Nice Looking Places To Eat Pasta With Your Friends On A Tuesday'' (NLPTEPWYFOAT). Unlike a lot of other spots in this category, Cry Baby has a big personality–the walls are lined with leather jacket-printed wallpaper and a banner reading “I’m so tired of being good” printed in black gothic script.

Emmy Squared, a restaurant that hails from New York, is one of the best places for pizza in the neighborhood. They focus on crispy Detroit-style pan pizza, with options like a margarita with piles of creamy burrata, and the hot chicken (which packs enough heat to have you reaching for a few extra sips of your sangria), topped with white barbecue sauce and Nashville-style hot chicken. Arguably the best thing on the menu, though, is the “Le Big Matt” burger. It’s a double patty with American cheese, pickles, and something called “sammy sauce,” and it’s our favorite burger in the entire neighborhood.

Like vegan meatballs and Happy Hour during spin class, Passyunk Avenue’s Square Pie isn’t quite what it seems. Their pizzas come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter what your personal preference is, you’ll always get a pizza with a sweet and savory sauce and crispy edges. Since there’s no wrong answer here, try the pancetta with leeks and rosemary potatoes, or the spinach that’s dotted with Calabro ricotta.

There are a few places where you can eat outside in Queen Village, but nowhere has a better patio than Southwark. The French-American restaurant has a plant-filled backyard where you can order things like savory crab and corn hushpuppies, buttery shrimp and clam bucatini, or the juicy 26oz dry-age ribeye. Inside, there’s a large bar area that serves impressive cocktails named after famous lines from movies, and a dining room for when you want to share a bunch of their half-sized pasta dishes in the AC. For a date night that feels both casual and intimate, Southwark hits the spot.

Ambra is Southwark’s sister restaurant–right next door and owned by the same people– but this one serves Italian food and is much more upscale. The tiny 16-seater only has one option–a four-course tasting menu for $86, with things like squid-ink spaghetti and Sicilian lamb breast. Plus, you get a complimentary glass of champagne when you arrive. If you want to continue drinking wine after you finish the free glass, they have one of the better lists in the city (with a focus on Italian reds).

Marrakesh, Queen Village’s Moroccan restaurant, has been a stalwart of Philly’s dining scene for over three decades. Come here to recline on low couches and admire the traditional Moroccan decor while eating things like spicy cumin chicken, eggplant and carrot salads, and Moroccan pastries (and on Fridays and Saturdays, watch belly dancers do their thing). You’ll have to make a reservation at least a week out, especially if you’re coming with a big group, but for a birthday dinner or reunion with friends, there aren’t many places in the city where you’ll have more fun.

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photo credit: GAB BONGHI

The Best Restaurants In Queen Village guide image