photo credit: GAB BONGHI
Opening a restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue is no easy task. It’s filled with some of the best restaurants in South Philly, so if somewhere doesn't get it right, all of the barbers, SEPTA drivers, and your friends in the neighborhood will tell everyone not to go there.
Philadelphia's Best New Restaurants Of 2022
Mish Mish doesn’t have to worry about any of that because it’s the only Mediterranean spot on the restaurant-filled block where the dishes are consistently excellent. Not to mention it gave the area a spot for nearly every situation, whether that's a romantic dinner, a bright place for a catch-up session with your friends, or even occasions like “fried string cheese Fridays” that we made up just so we would have an excuse to come back.
Mish Mish fits into the neighborhood so seamlessly partly because of the space. They have a cozy dining room that’s packed tight with candlelit tables that all have a great view of busy Passyunk Ave. The crowd shifts between people who live in the neighborhood, duos on dimly-lit date nights, and small circles of friends taking up the two tables here that hold more than three people. With bare walls and a few plants inside, it’s a restaurant that’s centered on simplicity. And you can find this principle reflected in basically all of their dishes.
Philadelphia's Best New Dishes Of 2022
The menu leans heavily on the small plates, but also has a lot of seafood and one or two shareable mains that are big enough for a couple of people to split. That leads to a lot of flexibility on how to approach a meal here. On a night where you want to keep things light, you can go for dishes like their tangy golden beet salad with ricotta salata, grilled baby octopus, and juicy swordfish skewers that come served over a creamy parsley puree. When you’re a bit hungrier, they have potatoes with chili aioli, fried Armenian string cheese, and tender pomegranate-lacquered grilled chicken that has just the right amount of crunch to it. All of the sauces tend to be the highlight of each dish, like pistachio butter sauce that asparagus gets tossed in, and we appreciate that we can pair it all with an interesting wine list that includes bottles of Andalusian grenache, Sicilian frappatto, Turkish whites, and Lebanese rosés.
Once something glorious enters your life, like GPS and heated blankets, it’s pretty hard to live without it. That’s how we feel about Mish Mish. We’ll be coming here for casual weeknight dinners, date nights with people we like enough to introduce to our dogs, and every other day in between.
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Fried Armenian String Cheese
Most of the time, we order string cheese because our inner child can’t resist pulling it apart like Stretch Armstrong. But this dish stands out because of its perfect balance of light and crunchy breading, melty cheese, and a sweet tomato sauce that counters the smoky black pepper. Order it.
Marinated Mussels With Lobster-Buttered Bread
They serve mussels here just like we like them, marinated in a blend of olive oil, cinnamon, garlic, sherry, sun-dried tomatoes, and a few other things. The mollusks are also already out of the shells so you don’t have to do any of the work. The bread it comes with is super thick, has nice smoky and crunchy edges, and comes topped with creamy zigzags of lobster butter that make each bite smooth garlicky perfection.
Asparagus With Pistachio Butter, Spring Greens, Sweet Onions, And Capers
One of two vegetable sides on the menu, the sauteed asparagus has strips of sorrel tossed all over it like confetti. It’s a buttery and refreshing plate that goes with any main.
Grilled Baby Octopus With Muhammara And Chilis
The first thing you’ll taste in this dish is the peppery and sweet muhammara. It’s something that we’d scoop on anything, so the fact that it gets paired with tender baby octopus is a bonus.
Grilled Shrimp With Tomato, Lebnah, And Aleppo Chili Crisp
You’ll generally find a skewer dish on Mish Mish’s menu depending on what they have that’s fresh. This one comes with three pieces of jumbo shrimp that get coated in an Aleppo chili crisp that’s more smoky than spicy. The skewers are layered over a bed of tangy and sweet crushed tomatoes that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful.
Pomegranate-Lacquered Chicken With Soft Leeks And Lebnah
This entree has been on the menu ever since they opened, and we can see why. The three pieces of charred breast and thighs have glorious grilled lines on them, plus the sweet and syrupy pomegranate glaze makes this dish a must-order.