In such a varied and diverse city, it’s no surprise that Philly is home to a long-thriving queer community. At a time where bars and restaurants are still struggling, it’s more important than ever to support queer-owned businesses in our community, especially as those that have been forced to close their doors have left neighborhoods without some long-time favorites. Whether you’re looking for a quiet cup of coffee, a killer lunch, or a wild night out, here are the queer-owned Philly mainstays to suit every need.
1119 Locust Street, Gayborhood
Owned by JonCarl Lachman, the chef behind the East Passyunk favorite (and sadly soon-to-be-closed) Noord, Winkel is a destination brunch spot in the Gayborhood. Come for the famous Jonnathan bread and Dutch specialties like the herring on rye, and stay for the laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff.
1516 Sansom Street, 2nd Floor, Center City
Daniel McLaughlin’s vibe-heavy taco joint above another Center City mainstay, Oyster House, is known for its tacos, margaritas, and more recently, its fair work environment. McLaughlin implemented a 20 percent service fee on all checks to pay for health benefits for all workers, as well as a 401(k) matching program, a rare find in most traditional restaurant environments.
1754 S Hicks Street, #2217, South Philly
This neighborhood gem in South Philly, run by Diana Widjojo and her sister Maylia, serves up Indonesian comfort food that will bring you back for more again and again. A favorite of carnivores and vegans alike, the menu is all hits and no misses. Do not skimp on any of the homemade sambals or you’ll definitely regret it later.
1306 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown
Right off Frankford Avenue in the heart of Fishtown is arguably the best queer-owned bake shop in the city. If you have a sweet tooth (and honestly, even if you don’t), Lily Fischer and Nima Etemadi’s Cake Life is unmissable. The Instagram-worthy cakes and cupcakes are top tier and don’t disappoint in the flavor department either.
511 S. 52nd Street, West Philly
A staple of the 52nd Street corridor, Mina’s World is one of the best queer-owned cafes in the area. Owners Sonam Parikh and Kate Egghart stock the shelves with art and accessories from local makers, and snacks include to-die-for samosas and pakoras from another West Philly staple, International Foods and Spices. Try the signature “pink drink,” although you really can’t go wrong with any of the high-quality coffees and teas on the menu.
123 W. Merchant Street, Audubon, NJ
Okay, so Dane DeMarco’s new burger spot, Burgertime, is technically in New Jersey. And not open yet. But that did not stop them from making this list. Catch Chef DeMarco popping up around the city in the meantime with their classic but perfectly executed burgers and, of course, Tater Tots. If you just can’t wait to eat Chef DeMarco’s food, find them at Sunny’s Cocktail Joint and Wine Dive as the countdown till the mid-December opening ticks down.
18 S. 3rd Street, Old City
An Old City favorite, April Nett’s Menagerie Coffee is a cozy cafe serving up Elixr coffee (in the absolute cutest cups) and an array of pastries and small bites. The soda bread is the unsung hero in the pastry case; pair it with a cup of tea from the wide tea selection.
206 Quince Street, Center City
Philly’s oldest gay bar has been an icon for the leather community since 1982 and is home to the Mx. Philadelphia Leather contest. Now, not just a leather bar, Robert Porter welcomes all with four levels, including dancing, sports viewing, and often events and fundraisers.
1516 Sansom Street, Center City
Now at the helm of a fixture of Philly’s restaurant scene for the last 40 years, Sam Mink took over the family business and continued the legacy of fresh seafood in Center City. Fresh oysters are obviously the move here, complemented by the thoughtful cocktails and wide array of wines and beers.
444 N. 3rd Street Lobby, Northern Liberties
Kyle Cuffie-Scott and Joe Loupe bake and sell giant brownies as well as breakfast, brunch, and lunch specialties like buttery biscuits and drool-worthy baked mac and cheese in Northern Liberties. And while being a one-stop-shop for some of the best baked goods and breakfast in the area is enough to make a community staple, Cuffie-Scott and Loupe didn’t stop there. The mission for Darnel’s is to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and support organizations that are working to fight the virus, so you know your money is going to a worthy cause in the community.