The 25 Best Restaurants In Philadelphia guide image


The 25 Best Restaurants In Philadelphia

Meet our 25 highest-rated restaurants.

Have you ever woken up and thought, “Gosh, I’d love to eat at a second-rate restaurant today?” Of course you haven’t. Whether you’ve lived here your entire life or are visiting for the first time, it’s human nature to want to experience the best of the best. And that’s exactly why we wrote this guide.

These are the highest-rated restaurants in Philadelphia—the ones we’d sit in an hour of traffic to get to, the ones we pine for when we hear love songs, the ones we seek out on days off. Food and experience are both taken into consideration, and any type of dining establishment is fair game. On this list, you’ll find fancy spots, casual hangouts, walk-up windows, and numerous pizzerias. Every city has its classics and its hot new places, but these are restaurants where greatness is guaranteed.



What makes this French spot on East Passyunk the best restaurant in Philly? Well, it’s like a chameleon. For a special anniversary or milestone birthday, it’s a no brainer. The chic, mirror-lined space is romantic, but it’s still casual enough to walk in with a few t-shirt wearing friends, head to the bar for Happy Hour, and seamlessly blend in. But the real reason it’s at the top of the list is that no matter how many times we dine at Laurel, we’re always blown away by dishes—they’re brimming with so much originality that it's like eating the ingredients for the very first time. Be sure to try the oysters topped with pickled serrano and gelée, beautifully salted mussels, and scallops in a creamy broth that you’ll want to bottle and take home. They have an a la carte menu or a six-course, $98 carte blanche tasting, but whichever way you order, you’ll be met with stellar service and a blend of life-altering flavors that’ll be impossible to forget. 

When we want excellent Thai food, Kalaya is the first place we think of. The buzzy Fishtown restaurant's modern industrial space includes a full bar and lounge area, booths for large groups, and 14-foot Thai palm trees reaching up to an atrium glass ceiling. From their innovative cocktails to excellent dishes like umami-rich wok-fried pork belly, flower-shaped dumplings, and sweet-spicy-sour grilled squid, it's a show-stopping experience unlike anywhere else in the city. Sit back at a table with friends, order one of (almost) everything, and plan your next meal here before the end of the night. 

Few things in life will train you for the rejection you’ll face when trying to reserve a table at Zahav. Only going to the DMV on a Saturday can really come close. But when you do get a chance to eat at this Old City Israeli icon, you’ll get to taste a fantastic rotation of small plates like fried carrots, fluffy laffa bread, and silky hummus that will make you feel spontaneous joy. Everything on their rotating $75 five-course tasting menu is good, but their tender pomegranate-glazed lamb shoulder and juicy swordfish coated with earthy kale tzatziki are the headliners (when they’re on the menu). They also have a $45 wine pairing featuring all Middle Eastern producers. Zahav is worth the two-month wait for a reservation, even if you’re sitting next to a stranger on a corner stool at the bar. 

If you only have one night in the city, securing a meal at Vetri is just as necessary as booking a hotel room. The Center City Italian spot has a tasting menu that includes things like a Dungeness crab budino with a puffy gnocco fritto, a pasta lineup featuring spinach gnocchi and corzetti with pistachio tarragon, and a few mains like poached halibut. It’s the kind of place that starts to feel like home after a few courses, especially since the servers make you feel so at ease that you may end up telling them your life story. While a meal here will run you $165 (and more with the worthwhile $95 wine pairing), a night at the intimate spot is so worth it. Whatever they serve you, you’ll be replaying every bite in your mind all week like a highlight reel.

The idea of a supper club, in theory, is simple: fantastic food in an atmosphere that feels more like a friend’s dining room than a restaurant. And although places like this have been trending in almost every city, few really nail it. That’s where Her Place comes in. They serve a four-course, $85 tasting menu that changes every two weeks, and to get a reservation, you’ll need to be ready when they drop them on Sundays at 6pm. This is the only place in Philly where you can world-class food like lobster ravioli and brown butter profiteroles while harmonizing with the chef to a Destiny’s Child song—all while you watch her put the finishing touches on a gorgeous plate of housemade pasta. You'll feel more like you’re eating a meal at a chef’s house than at a cozy Rittenhouse restaurant.

This two-story Rittenhouse spot has a buzzy first-floor bar and a more formal dining space upstairs that's filled with candles, leather booths, and stained glass windows surrounded by worn-down shutters. It’s an atmosphere that’s somehow both relaxing and uber-sophisticated, and no matter where you sit you’ll have an unforgettable meal. They serve an eight-course, $150 tasting menu, and you can expect things like perfectly executed beef tartare, charred octopus, melt-in-your-mouth crudo with caviar, and New York Strip with cinnamony yams. When your meal is over, head back downstairs to the lively bar, try one of their excellent cocktails, and keep the night going.

Unlike the other excellent pizzerias on this list (Angelo's, Pizza Jawn, Down North, and Pizza Shackamaxon), Pizzeria Beddia is somewhere that you can actually hang out, drink natural wines, and enjoy some of the best pizza in the city. They have a massive dining room, a u-shaped bar that has a floating cloud hanging overhead, and a menu full of thin-crust pies, small plates like roasted vegetables drenched in miso and breadcrumbs, and a few salads. When choosing between pies, go for the No.2. The mix of Calabrian cream, mozzarella, and old gold creates a bunch of gooey mounds of cheese like there are mini fondue machines hidden in the edges of the crust. If you can, snag a reservation in their Hoagie Room, and have an incredible pizza and hoagie omakase experience for six.

This Kensington Israeli grill is from the team behind Zahav, and is almost as hard to get into as its sister restaurant. You’ll start your meal with a platter of ten rotating vegetable-based salatim like sweet carrots and beets, lemony gigante beans piyaz, and some fluffy pita and hummus. It’s big enough that you could make a meal out of these bites alone, but if you did, you’d miss out on things like charred branzino packed with ginger and tomato or the smoky Bulgarian beef kebab that’s dripping in an Aleppo pepper sauce. Pretty much anything they put over the flame is fantastic. This is one of the best group spots in the city, and thanks to that salatim tray, it’s as good for vegetarians as it is for people who love meat.

When you first sit down at River Twice, you’ll notice that every table has built-in utensil drawers. Everything at this East Passyunk spot is that thoughtful and detail-oriented—especially their four course, $65 tasting menu that changes every single night. Dishes use ingredients and combinations that you won’t see at other restaurants, and are some of the most interesting plates you've ever had. We’re talking about things like littleneck clam tartlet with sweet pea tapenade or charcoal-grilled soft-shell crab with crab fat sofrito and golden Ossetra caviar. While most of the menu focuses on seafood, you can (and should) add on The Mother Rucker burger, which is the best in the city.

Expect attentive service and white tablecloths at Rittenhouse's Barclay Prime, which makes the whole experience feel like you’re living in a real-life version of Billions. What really sets this above any other steakhouse in the city is their $140 cheesesteak that comes with wagyu beef, truffle whiz, and a mini bottle of champagne for the table. The soft and crispy bread and tender beef merge to make a sandwich that we, in no way, were prepared to believe is worth the cost—even though it 100% is. All of their steaks are always cooked to perfection, and they have dishes like lemony jumbo lump crab cakes and creamy truffle mac and cheese that make for the perfect accompaniments to your meat centerpiece. Head here for a pricey night out when you feel like celebrating, or just want to feel like the (totally made-up) Royal Family of Philadelphia.

When you can't decide on what type of pizza you're in the mood for but know it has to be incredible, head to Pizza Jawn in Manayunk. They have three kinds of pies—round, Grandma, and Detroit-style—and all three have crusts full of crispy dough bubbles and perfect char rings. You have to buy everything at this takeout-only spot by placing an order online. With 38 topping options, specialty menu items like lasagna sandwiches, and creative pies (like a take on a Big Mac that’s covered in Thousand Island dressing), you might be tempted to go wild with the wide-spanning menu. Any way you dress up your pie you'll get something unforgettable, but we still think the classic margherita is the way to go. 

Lark is Philly's best date night spot. The cozy booths, chandeliers, and candle light make this Bala restaurant perfect for a special evening, but the balcony elevates it to the most romantic place in the city. There’s a great view of the Schuylkill River, and while you can't have a full meal out there, you can still lounge at one of their outdoor fire pits and enjoy a cocktail. The Mediterranean menu changes often, but all of the bigger plates work well for two. Make sure to order things from every section of the menu, including a few plates of pasta and definitely a large entree—the grilled trout and strip steak are favorites. The next time your anniversary rolls around, ditch the lame Hallmark card and just book a table at Lark instead.

Between Beddia and Pizza Shackamaxon, people who live on Girard Ave. and search “pizza near me” are in good hands. At this slice shop, there are only four pizzas: plain, tomato, pepperoni, and a special that rotates as much as fantasy lineups during football season. You can’t preorder a pie here (unless you’re getting four or more), so you’ll just have to wait outside the takeout window like you’re a kid in line for the ice cream truck. The bonus of the whole system is that, even on a game day, you probably only have to wait 10 minutes to get your hands on a delicious thin-crust pizza. And although you never step foot inside, the community of people waiting in line still feels lively and special in its own right.

Suraya is an all-day spot that’s good for pretty much any situation. Whether you want a coffee and pastry on a Monday morning or you're looking for an outdoor space to have a birthday dinner, this Lebanese spot in Fishtown is somewhere you should seek out. They have plenty of large tables, so it’s a great place to bring a group of friends to pass around mezze plates like baba ganoush, smoky eggplant, and puffy pita. They also have one of the best brunches in the city, so let the smell of chai and cardamom kouign-amann beckon you through the boho, plant-filled space, and (if you can), get a seat in the dreamy back garden.

If you make one of the best pizzas and cheesesteaks in Philly, you deserve to have the key to the city. In this town, that title belongs to Angelo's. The cash-only South Philly spot is the only place you should go to when you want the best of both worlds, like their cheesesteak on seeded crackly bread (that they bake in-house), the signature Upside Down pie that buries a layer of cheese beneath mounds of tomato sauce, and a classic margherita with the creamiest fior di latte in the city. It might feel like you have to choose when you're at this takeout-only spot, but just go for one of each. People care a lot about cheesesteaks and pizza in this city, and after you eat at Angelo's, you'll understand why.

The next time you want to dive into a book, have a memorable breakfast or lunch, and forget the rest of the world exists, come to this Vietnamese coffee shop in Kensington. They even have long tables so you can bring a group of friends here to start your day with things like oniony broken rice porridge, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches on long rolls, cha fries that come covered with salsa roja and fried eggs, or crispy chicken ​​bánh mì that are coated with sweet gochu glaze. Pair any of them with a custard-layered egg coffee (made from beans sourced from Vietnam).

East Passyunk’s Townsend has all the elements of a typical fancy restaurant: white tablecloths, low lighting, and more candles than the set of Hocus Pocus. But where the romantic French spot sets itself apart is with the impeccable five-course, $95 tasting menu. From a foie gras custard with toasted brioche to the escargot swimming in a sweet potato, apple, and hazelnut chai cream, each dish is a surprising mix of flavors and textures that seamlessly works. Grab a reservation when you want a five-star dining experience and food that looks good enough to win Project Runway, all while comfortably dining in a t-shirt and jeans. 

While Philly has some great pizza, Down North in Strawberry Mansion is one of the rare spots that serves Detroit-style pies—and it’s by far the city's best option. Each bite is thick, pillowy, and can be covered in heaps of beef sausage, pepperoni, and a handful of other standout toppings. They have a dozen specialty pizzas, all named after songs by Philly rappers, but our favorite here is the Flip Side. It brings together beef bacon, jalapeños, a heavy layer of melted mozzarella cheese, and caramelized pineapple that's as crispy as the edges on the rim of each pizza. Something that makes us love this place even more is their empowering workforce development plan, which includes hiring only previously incarcerated individuals.

The dishes at this South Philly Italian spot are large, sharable, and rotate as often as mock NFL drafts in April. If we didn’t have any bills to pay, we’d order everything on the menu every time we went. Whether you’re inside at their narrow pasta bar or get a table on their heated outdoor setup, you can’t go wrong with the beef carpaccio, a chicory salad with vinegary boquerones, and all of the pastas. Although they have a few noodle dishes we can’t stop thinking about, like a lemony lobster-stuffed conchiglie or pumpernickel pappardelle with duck ragu, it’s the rigatoni with Fiorella sausage that we’d happily eat once a week. The blend of peppery sausage, chewy rounds of pasta, and a savory tomato sauce will even have your out-of-town friend looking at apartment listings near the Italian Market.

Some things just make sense when you think about them: if you rearrange the letters in Britney Spears it spells Presbyterians, pumpkins are fruits, and Royal Sushi & Izakaya makes great Japanese food. At the casual izakaya in front, you can sit down at a booth and watch anime, pay as little as $4 for a beer, and try an assortment of small plates like wagyu steak in a shiro dashi glaze and slow-braised chashu pork buns. But if you want to be catered to like you’re at the spa, go for the incomparable 17-piece omakase in the back. You might see Washington kumamoto oysters, velvety King Salmon sashimi, and their chutoro caviar (that’s a mix of fatty Spanish bluefin and osetra caviar). Each dining option works for different situations, but they’ll both deliver an experience you’ll be talking about until the next time you visit.

Fine dining places can, after a while, all start to mesh together. But Vernick Fish isn’t just any fine-dining restaurant—it comes from the team behind Vernick Food & Drink and serves some excellent, creative dishes. Located on the ground floor of the Comcast Tower, the dining room looks like it belongs in a Versace Home catalog. They have an impressive wine list, several crudo options that deserve streets named after them, and an incredible New York strip. Save it for a special anniversary dinner, or meet your in-laws there for a double date. No matter when you come, you’ll have an unforgettable, upscale seafood experience. 

The $155 omakase at this Japanese restaurant in Fishtown might cost more than a front-row ticket for The Lion King on Broadway. But it’s all worth it, since you’ll experience 20-courses of meat and seafood-focused dishes that will be some of the best in your life. You’ll be served things like an expertly cooked wagyu beef tongue covered in white bean foam and gold flakes, poached quail eggs, and spongy matcha tea cake to end your meal or birthday dinner. And whether you’re at the crowded sushi bar watching the chefs precisely slice each piece of fish or sitting at one of the intimately lit tables with a group of friends, you’ll feel like everybody working at Hiroki can somehow read your mind. 

Life is full of mysteries, like why some commercials get louder than the show and why we can’t effectively park our car without turning down the music. But there’s no mystery about where to find the best tacos in Philly. It’s at South Philly Barbacoa, where they only have a few items on the menu, including lamb, veggie, and pancita (made out of lamb and turkey) tacos, a quesadilla, and a tamale. But since they’re only open on the weekends (starting at 5am), you may have to wade through a crowd of people also waiting to order one of everything. The tacos are served on homemade corn tortillas that are thick and speckled with mini air pockets, come filled with fall-off-the-bone meat, and get topped with a thin layer of diced tomato and cilantro.

Mawn isn’t just a great Cambodian restaurant—it’s the best in the city. The cozy Bella Vista BYO has walls covered in old rugs, 1930s mirrors that the host of Antique Roadshow would drool over, and dishes that we think about more than the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. The menu is heavily influenced by the chef/owner’s childhood in Cambodia, but you’ll find dishes from all over Southeast Asia. They have a perfect blend of classics like papaya salad to more inventive dishes like head-on soft shell shrimp with fish sauce caramel. It’s all delicious and inventive—you won’t find a menu like this anywhere else in Philly. Come with a group of friends on a casual weeknight, bring a date, or anyone else needing a comforting meal that will be the best they’ve had in weeks.

This Fishtown restaurant is in our Best Burgers, Best Brunch, and Last Meal In Philly guides. Ok, the last one was made up, but that’s how much we love Middle Child Clubhouse. The casual spot is an all-day hangout where you can have unforgettable food and creative cocktails while staring at pictures of Princess Diana in Eagles gear. When it comes to the menu, they have a lineup of fluffy pancakes, pastrami burritos, housemade pasta, stacked deli sandwiches, and shareable mains like a peppery brick chicken, and each one is probably good enough to replace the logo in the state flag. It’s that rare fun place that works for everything from a lowkey morning to an exciting night out. And that’s why we (and most of the city) keep coming back. 

The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now guide image

PHL Guide

The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now

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photo credit: GAB BONGHI

The 25 Best Restaurants In Philadelphia guide image