PHLReview

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

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8.6

Best New Restaurants

2023

Tabachoy

Filipino

Bella Vista

$$$$Perfect For:Small PlatesCatching Up With MatesKeeping It Kind Of HealthyLiterally EveryoneVegetariansCasual Weeknight DinnerDate NightBYOBFirst/Early in the Game Dates
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Philadelphians are lining up for Tabachoy. And that's saying a lot, considering we’d only line up for a photo-op with Joel Embiid, free water ice, or when the Broad Street run begins. What started as a food cart serving rice bowls, cheesesteaks, and chicken sandwiches is now a funky Bella Vista brick-and-mortar serving a Filipino menu of life-altering dishes.

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

If you’re dining solo, grab a seat at the chef’s counter next to the saint-like drawing of Anthony Bourdain. The casual dining room has a neon yellow glow thanks to the pig-shaped strip light hanging above the open kitchen. After cracking open a bottle at the BYOB, you might wonder if the pig is dancing along to the T-Pain tracks playing overhead, or if he’s just excited by the plates of aromatic crispy chicken that keep whizzing by. There are only a handful of tables and it’s always packed, so the space feels super cozy—you’ll likely overhear someone on a date wondering if that shade of yellow should be their wedding color. There’s a community fridge in case you forgot a bottle, the chef/owner brings food to your table, and the warmth and hospitality makes you feel as special as appearing on the jumbotron at the Wells Fargo Center.  

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

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The menu includes shareable small plates like shrimp and carrot fritters and hearty, comforting mains. But calling them “small plates” is misleading—they can feed four or more. From the pancit noodles to pork belly, there’s an element to each dish that’s surprising, like the spiced vinegar glaze giving each bite of pork a hint of sourness. We like everything here, but you can’t miss the spring rolls or Chance’s twice-fried chicken. Just try to save room for the rotating soft serve ube sundae we think about daily. 

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Tabachoy image

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

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You may begin the night curiously looking up which wine pairs with pickled green papaya (FYI: it’s a Chenin Blanc). But by its end, you’ll have eaten excellent, filling food in a space as laidback as your best friend’s house (and just as hard to leave).

Food Rundown

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Tabachoy Caesar

This is one of our all-time favorite salads. And after one bite, it got us thinking: what if every salad had mustard greens, cured duck yolk, chili, fried shallot, scallion, and sesame? Well, the fruit salad business would be dead. But if that means we could have more earthy salads like this one, we’d be okay with it.

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Lumpia

Served with a chili and caramelized sugar sauce, these pork spring rolls pack a subtle spice. The hint of garlic and tender pork inside the crisp wrapping make each bite more satisfying than the last.

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Pancit Palabok

Before these noodles are steeped in broth at the table, it’s just a mound of ingredients that nearly overflows from the plate. Once they’re drenched, it becomes a savory blend of shrimp, minced pork, bonito, scallion, Thai basil, and cilantro, all topped with a poached egg. Luckily, the tangy and spicy broth doesn’t rob the noodles of their slight crunchiness.

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

South Philly Laing

You, like us, might spend the entirety of your dinner wondering how they got rid of broccoli rabe’s natural bitterness in this dish. We imagine it has something to do with the juicy and fragrant mixture of coconut milk, garlic, ginger, and chili it’s tossed in. It’s creamy and delicious.

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Chance’s Fried Chicken

This is the best thing on the menu. You’ll want multiple pieces of the incredibly tender, lightly fried, and crispy chicken (think Peking duck rather than breaded cutlets). It comes with a bowl of savory brown gravy that’s perfect. No notes.

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photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Pork Adobo

These chunks of tender braised pork shoulder are bathing in a soy and vinegar sauce. It’s a salty-sweet must order.

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