Where To Eat When You're Visiting Philly

Yes, you’re going to have a cheesesteak. But there’s so much more to eat and drink in Philadelphia.
Where To Eat When You're Visiting Philly image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Are you visiting Philly soon? Obviously, we have some opinions. First, check where you parked that rental car—you're gonna want to avoid the PPA at all costs. Second, be prepared to get the middle finger (and don't take it personally). Third, get ready to eat. What you see before you isn’t meant to be a definitive list of this city’s best restaurants or hottest new places. It's just what we'd do if we were in your shoes. So welcome to the City of Brotherly Love, and let this jawn lead the way.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI



$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysBreakfastDate NightDrinking Good CocktailsDrinks & A Light Bite
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Middle Child Clubhouse is an essential place to check out when visiting Fishtown. Yes, it’s an all-day hangout, but we recommend starting your morning here. Some people live and die by the house-smoked pastrami, egg, and cheese, while others are all about the cinnamon-y babka french toast. Whether you're team meat or sweet, just make sure your order includes a stack of the malted buttermilk pancakes in a moat of citrus syrup for the table.

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

If breakfast for you means a bagel stacked with smoked fish, you should start your morning at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen in Queen Village. This Jewish deli is an institution—it’s been serving enormous pastrami specials, matzah ball soup, and challah french toast for over 100 years—and definitely one of the best places for brunch in Philly. They don’t take reservations, so expect a wait on the weekends, but there’s no one in town stacking corned beef higher or spreading cream cheese thicker.

K’far, an Israeli cafe and bakery in Rittenhouse, is another place that will likely have a wait on the weekends, but it’s worth it. We’d recommend almost anything on the menu, whether that’s the thick, buttery kubaneh toast topped with whipped brown sugar ricotta, egg sandwiches on crispy Jerusalem bagels, or delicious pastries like chocolate babka and gluten-free walnut cake. Your best bet is a weekday visit, but if there are no seats available, take your spread to Rittenhouse Square. The Michael Jackson impersonator is usually covering Billie Jean by 9am.

There are plenty of dim sum options in Philly, but if you only have time for one, it should be Nom Wah. Head to this Chinatown spot for shrimp dumplings, roast pork buns, and spicy beef wontons. They also have a lengthy tea menu, with nine blends like chrysanthemum, oolong, shou mei, and jasmine. But if you’re in the mood to pair your pan-fried chicken and cabbage dumplings with a breakfast beer, there's always Tsingtao.

Eating in the Reading Terminal Market is a Philadelphia dining rite of passage, and if you’re there for breakfast, you’ll need to begin the ceremonies at the Dutch Eating Place. It's one of the market's most historic eateries, and they serve everything from blueberry pancakes and stacks of French toast to Pennsylvania Dutch-style chicken pot pie. Everything is heavy on butter, sugar, or meat, but as long as you’re not expecting to get a pre-workout smoothie here, you’ll be very pleased.


Blue Corn is one of the first places we send people for Mexican food in Philly. Almost everything here is made on site—from the two salsas that appear on every table, to the corn tortillas used for their tacos, quesadillas, and huaraches. And while you might find al pastor tacos and ceviche on lots of menus in Philly, Blue Corn does the basics better than almost anyone else. Bring cash or plan on using the ATM inside. And yes, it’s lunch time, but you’re going to want a margarita (they make some of the best in the city).

Vietnamese food is Philadelphia food, and we’re damn proud of it. Little Saigon is home to several great spots for everything from pho and bún bò huế to ​​bánh mì and broken rice, but none are as essential as Pho 75. This straightforward corner shop is always packed with families, friends, and solo diners eating meals in under 30 minutes. Pho is the only thing on the menu, but there are at least 50 different combinations you can make with the meat alone, and we swear that the broth—which is light and savory, meaty and herbal—has healing properties.

photo credit: Gab Bonghi



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Parc is an iconic Philly restaurant, and for good reason. It holds prime real estate on the east side of Rittenhouse Square, is open all day, everyday, and looks like a Parisian bistro designed for Epcot Center. On a nice day with a cold martini, a dozen oysters, and the right pair of sunglasses, their sidewalk is one of the most glorious places you can sit in the neighborhood to watch people walk their tiny dogs. You can’t go wrong with the steak frites or the warm shrimp salad, but it’s their gruyere-topped French onion soup that made the cheese pull what it is today.

Pizzeria Beddia used to be a counter-service spot where you had to stand outside in a two-hour line for a chance at a slice. Now, it’s a chic, modern Fishtown restaurant with a funky u-shaped bar, Italian small plates, and some of the city’s best pies. It’s difficult to get a table for dinner, but they serve the same irresistibly crispy yet bubbly-doughed ‘za at lunch time. Our favorite is the No. 2, topped with calabrian cream, mozzarella, gouda, and fresh greens.

Vietnam is a one-two punch. The first floor of the dimly lit, wood-paneled restaurant has been serving huge vermicelli bowls, peppery pork claypot, and the city’s best spring rolls for over 40 years, while the second floor is a tiki bar, complete with flaming punch bowls and Mai Tais in colorful glasses. It’s a great option in Chinatown for groups looking to share huge portions of incredible food, but it’s cozy enough for a solo broken rice platter (or Polynesian Punch, if that’s your thing).


You may have heard that dining at Zahav is as crucial on a visit to Philly as seeing the Liberty Bell or gyrating with the Phanatic. The rumors are true—the silky tehina hummus, pomegranate-glazed lamb shoulder, and endless salatim are worth fighting Gritty. This Israeli spot in Society Hill is notoriously difficult to get into, but April through September you actually have a shot—during the warmer months they open up the patio and serve the entire $85 tasting menu (reservations open up eight weeks ahead of time).

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Thanks to its extravagant seafood towers, modern French mains, and caviar-topped everything, this buzzy Rittenhouse restaurant works just as well for a martini-fueled group dinner as it does for a romantic night out on the town. It comes from the same team as Her Place Supper Club, but it’s easier to snag a table at this louder, boozier spot. My Loup serves technically impressive food and cocktails without any of the pretension that usually comes with it (plus they have a killer soundtrack).

For excellent and exciting Thai food in a chic and sexy package, look no further than Kalaya. The Fishtown restaurant's 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 unforgettable dishes like umami-rich wok-fried pork belly, flower-shaped dumplings, and fiery curries, it's an experience unlike anywhere else in the city.

Saloon is an Italian restaurant and chophouse, 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 includes traditional steakhouse dishes like clams casino and petite filet, but we’re partial to the Italian house specialties, like the linguine pescatore with jumbo shrimp and a buttery lobster Francaise.

If you’re lost in Chinatown, just look for the friendly cartoon duck in a chef’s hat. He’s the welcome committee at Sang Kee, which has been serving the best Peking duck in the city since 1980. The restaurant is usually packed, but service is fast so wait times tend to be short. Of course you’ll need to order the glistening, crispy-skinned duck with scallions and hoisin sauce, but the understudies here are just as impressive as the star of the show. Sang Kee also makes excellent Hong Kong-style BBQ, noodle soups, and stir fry in huge portions, perfect for sharing.


If you’re looking to get weird, head to South Street. From art galleries and music venues to sex shops and tattoo parlors, South Street is a world of its own. And nowhere encapsulates the chaos better than Tattooed Mom. The walls of this dive are covered in years of stickers, spray paint, and Sharpie, and it's possible you'd pass out before finishing a game of "I Spy." In addition to serving classic dive drinks, Tattooed Mom has a menu of over-the-top cocktails with things like cotton candy and Pop Rocks. They also make good burgers and vegan sandwiches, and host poetry readings, craft nights, and comedy shows.

Bok Bar is the only rooftop you should be drinking at when you visit Philly for the first time. It’s on the top floor of the Bok Building, which is a converted school in South Philly, and you have to walk through a gym and a bunch of graffitied hallways just to get to the elevator. But that’s all a part of the charm. Once you get up there, you’ll have incredible views of the city, plus great drinks and small plates like za’atar fried chicken bites and quinoa fritters. If you want a more substantial meal or just want to sit down somewhere less crowded, Irwin’s is right across the hallway and has excellent, shareable Sicilian food.

Besides being one of the oldest bars in Philly, McGillin’s in Midtown Village is also the entire city’s favorite place to day drink and watch sports. If you’re in Philly during football or baseball season and can’t get tickets to the real thing, there’s no better place to be. The beer hall has rows of long picnic tables, projector screens playing whatever game is currently on TV, and no matter what time of year it is, you’ll see big groups cheers-ing each other with pints of whatever’s on draft. They also have a fireplace, so it’s especially useful in the winter when all of the outdoor beer gardens are closed and day drinking options have dwindled.

Yes, Friday Saturday Sunday is known for their over-the-top tasting menu, but it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation. Luckily, the first floor of their Rittenhouse brownstone is home to a sophisticated first come, first serve bar that serves excellent signature cocktails and menu items a la carte. Come by at 5pm for a drink and a snack (fingers crossed for the sweet potato agnolotti) and head elsewhere in the neighborhood for dinner.

Fishtown’s R&D cocktail bar is a great place to pass time while you’re waiting to get into Kalaya, or if you just want to unload your airport pat down story over a crème brûlée and black cherry vodka cocktail. Outside of the eight rotating specialty cocktails (that can range from Paloma Milk Punch to smoky and lemony Oaxacan Penicillin), they also have a small beer list with drafts from local breweries and bar snacks like hummus, whipped ricotta, and a charred longshot labne. It’s a dark, mid-century modern space filled with two-tops, candles, and a lot of velvet—making it one of the better places to take someone if you’re on a romantic weekend away.


One business selling some of the city’s greatest cheesesteaks, pizzas, and hoagies should result in a historical marker, or a shoutout on Abbott Elementary (at the very least). This cash-only spot in Bella Vista is as Philadelphian as William Penn himself, and makes, hands down, Philadelphia’s best cheesesteak. They layer shredded steak and melted cooper sharp into a crackly, warm housemade seeded roll. On the weekends it gets busier than Walmart on Black Friday, but it’s always worth the wait. Try calling ahead (over and over again) to place your order, or take your chances by lining up outside after you’ve walked the entire Italian Market.

Speaking of the Italian Market—if you’re here and have a hankering for hoagies (and assorted small plates), Paesano’s is the place to be. They’re known for their loaded sandwiches, like the spicy chicken breast, salami, roasted tomato, sauteed broccoli rabe, sharp provolone, and herby cheddar spread-stuffed Diavolo, but they also happen to do old-school Italian food better than most in the neighborhood. Eat your crispy arancini, lasagna bolognese, and Daddy Wad (their version of an Italian hoagie) while taking in the action on 9th Street.

Bánh mì lovers worship at the altar of Ba Le. The Little Saigon sandwich shop and market is a city institution, packed to the brim with everything from prepared deli meats to boba smoothies. But it’s the bánh mì—served on housemade crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside baguette—that’ll change your life. The warm bread is slathered in rich mayo and layered with things like pate, lemongrass chicken, or prawn patty. There’s no seating and the service is a bit chaotic, but one bite of #4 (stuffed with BBQ char xiu pork, pickled carrots, cucumbers, jalapeños, and cilantro) is worth a little turmoil.

If you did any research before planning your trip, you probably learned that we have a lot of great roast pork sandwiches. The combination of slow roasted pork, garlicky greens, and melted provolone is as satisfying as watching an early 2000s romcom in jammies on a rainy day. Tommy Dinic’s in the Reading Terminal Market makes two versions: one with sliced meat and the other with Italian-style pulled pork. Though we prefer the latter, both are beautiful, juicy messes topped with broccoli rabe, provolone, and long hots. And if you need something sweet before you continue your touring, the oldest ice cream shop in Philly is on the way out.

They’re crispy. They’re crunchy. They’re never, ever greasy. These are Philly’s best chicken cutlet sandwiches, from one of the city’s best all around sandwich shops. The Queen Village corner store is takeout only, so call ahead to reserve (at least one) Damien, topped with hot soppressata, fresh mozzarella and pepper shooters, and the Bronco, if you like garlicky, sauteed spinach. Enjoy them in Headhouse Square before a stroll through the farmer’s market.

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