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An Eater’s Guide to Philadelphia

Unofficial, highly opinionated information about eating and drinking in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection

Ah, Philadelphia. It wasn’t long ago that a disgraced U.S. president said that bad things happen here, but like any attempt outsiders make to diminish this place, its loyal residents turned what was intended as an insult into an opportunity to further shout about the city’s greatness. Philly is, after all, the sixth biggest city in the nation. Its population is as diverse as it is passionate — and Philly has the cuisine, about which everyone here has a strong opinion, to match.

You may know Philly as home to the cheesesteak, the Tastykake, and the figure-eight soft pretzel (oh, and the Phanatic and Gritty), but to really know Philly is to explore its legendary Ethiopian food, its tongue-tingling Thai dishes, its rich Mexican consommés and barbacoa tacos, its exceptional Chinatown, and its wealth of delicious vegan meals of all stripes. Philly is a city of allegiant neighborhoods, colorful and memorable, each with something different to offer.

This regularly updated guide will show you how to eat in Philly like a local, which if you’re a visitor here, you’ll quickly learn is a very good thing to be.

[Cue “Eye of the Tiger”]

Reader, Welcome to Philadelphia

Jogging up the Rocky steps, a cheesesteak in each hand, might fulfill a tourist’s Philadelphia fantasies, but focusing on the city’s most famous foodstuffs (cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, hoagies, water ice) would mean missing out on all the epicurean splendor this city has to offer. Philly boasts Italian dishes from every part of the Boot, nationally acclaimed Israeli and vegetarian and vegan fare, Asian cuisines from Japan to Thailand to Indonesia to Korea to Cambodia and more, new American standouts, elegant French bistros, iconic and historic soul food with a side of jazz, amazing Mexican tacos, cozy Ethiopian restaurants, sandwiches as big as your head, the freshest seafood, and much more. Philly has been home to immigrants from regions all over the world throughout its 339 years, and that shows in the food in Pennsylvania’s biggest city.

phillie phanatic shooting t-shirts out of a hot dog canon Getty Images

As the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and which stands on traditional Indigenous territory known as Lenapehoking, Philly’s deep historical roots draw scores of tourists every year. But the city is for more than just American history buffs: It’s a cultural destination with world-class museums, theaters, and lively neighborhoods with independent characters all their own. (To some, it’s known as the Mural City because we have the most murals of any city in America.) Our neighbors north of us have been known to call Philly “the sixth borough,” but that descriptor will elicit the heaviest of eye-rolls if uttered here. The only thing the term succeeds at communicating is how a weekend trip to Philly from anywhere in the Northeast is approachable and guaranteed to be delicious. A weekend trip or a night out in Philly can mean hitting up a local dive to sing off-key karaoke, bringing an inexpensive bottle of wine to a cozy neighborhood cafe, or dressing up for a sought-after reservation at a James Beard Award winner’s hotspot. As far as that cheesesteak goes, take your pick.

a hand reaching for two pizza pies, one with peppers and mushrooms and another with cheese and stripes of red tomato sauce
Down North Pizza.
Gab Bonghi/Eater Philly

Where to Start on Eater Philly's Best Maps

Eater Philly is the place to go for frequently updated guides about everything from the most exciting restaurants, cafes, and pop-ups offering takeout, delivery, indoor and outdoor dining. Try out our latest favorites or take in the view with a citywide special (a shot and a beer) at the best rooftop bars or a fancy cocktail at our essential cocktail bars. Short on time? Here are some of the top destinations on Eater’s most popular maps.

Hottest Restaurants: Check out this map for a look at the hottest new restaurants in Philly, among them Honeysuckle Provisions, Kura Sushi, Pearl and Mary Oyster Bar, and more.

Essential Restaurants: Since eating at all 38 essential restaurants in Philly in one fell swoop isn’t an option, you can’t go wrong with Gabriella’s Vietnam in East Passyunk for the open-faced dumplings and perfect gourd-steamed branzino with vermicelli noodles. Jerk chicken at Jamaican D’s on Chelten Avenue will change your life. You can also never go wrong with an empanada or alfajor from Jezabel’s Argentine Café. Plan a date night at Friday Saturday Sunday, pick up a jerk chicken platter at Jamaican D’s, eat excellent Neapolitan sourdough pizza at Eeva, and don’t forget French-inspired pastries at Machine Shop Boulangerie.

Bars: From neighborhood dives to candlelit cocktail spots, it’s not hard to find a bar in Philly. Want to bring a libation home? Try the proliferation of bottle shops popping up everywhere. There are even local table wines being made in Kensington that are truly not to miss. Try the iconic Tattooed Mom for their signature pickletini. In the warmer months (or cooler ones, if you’re brave), outdoor drinking on a rooftop or patio or in a beer garden is the thing to do, or cool off with a frozen cocktail. In fall, look forward to getting cozy inside a bar with a fireplace.

Metal Steve sings Coldplay’s “Yellow” at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar Friday Karaoke with DJ Lars as a crowd of people sing along
Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar.
Natalie Piserchio

BYOBs: Thanks to prohibitively strict liquor laws, many restaurants in Philly choose to forgo liquor licenses altogether and let customers bring their own bottles. It’s worth it for the full Philly experience.

Breakfast and Brunch: Bagels are the latest obsession in Philly right now, and while scrambled eggs don’t translate to very good takeout, pastries, donuts, and breakfast sandwiches sure do. You cannot miss Korshak Bagels for the best bagel of your life, Crust Vegan Bakery for a sweet pastry breakfast fix, and Middle Child for its legendary egg sandwich. Donuts abound. Weekend lox and smoked fish boards are a must at Biederman’s Specialty Foods, an appetizing shop in Bella Vista. No matter what your craving, you’ll never have a bad breakfast in Philadelphia.

cookies and pop tarts in a glass pastry case at crust vegan bakery
Crust Vegan Bakery.
Gab Bonghi

Vegetarian and Vegan: Despite Philly’s commitment to roast pork and provolone sandwiches, herbivores have no trouble finding dedicated options here. Philly restaurants catering to vegetarians and vegans range from retro diner The Tasty to Latin flavors at Bar Bombón. Try the fine dining restaurant Vedge for fancier vegan fare and The Nile Cafe for a soul food spin. Here’s an illustrated guide to eight essential vegan dishes in Philly to get you started, and a guide to the best veggie burgers in the city.

Cheesesteaks: The debate over which cheesesteak shop puts out the best version will last forever. In the meantime, diners won’t go wrong at Jim’s Steaks on South Street or Dalessandro’s in Roxborough. Even those avoiding meat or dairy, or both, can get a cheesesteak.

Sandwiches: Cheesesteaks and sandwiches are two different things, and Philly is serious about both. The classic is the roast pork with broccoli rabe and provolone, found at DiNic’s in Reading Terminal Market and John’s Roast Pork in South Philly. Calabrese salami sandwiches at Martha and pastrami sandwiches at Hershel’s are all great options for lunchtime. But this list will help you find a sandwich for every fancy. Looking specifically for a hoagie? Don’t worry, we can help.

Philadelphia Food Neighborhoods to Know

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and many are associated with certain styles of food. Read on for details of the key restaurant hotspots in Philly — and where to eat in each.

Center City:

The heart of the city, also called Downtown, includes the Historic District (locally known as Old City), the swank Rittenhouse Square area, the overlapping, restaurant-packed Gayborhood, Midtown Village, and Washington Square West neighborhoods, and the business district. In Washington Square West, start with breakfast pastries or lunchtime sandwiches on ridiculously good bread at High Street Philly. At night, try spicy Sichuan dishes at Han Dynasty or Israeli mezze and lamb at Zahav. Either should be followed by an ice cream cone from the charmingly old-timey Franklin Fountain. Moving west to the Gayborhood/Midtown Village, choose from five restaurants from Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, including retro Midwestern fare at Bud & Marilyn’s. In Rittenhouse Square, expect a lunchtime line for falafel sandwiches at Goldie. Come evening, take a classic cocktail to-go at the speakeasy-esque Franklin Bar before dining streetside or indoors at James Beard Award winner Greg Vernick’s eponymous restaurant.

South Philly:

This huge, primarily residential neighborhood south of Center City is divided up into several sections. Large pockets of it are historically Italian, and there are enough red gravy Italian-American restaurants in Philly to overfeed a person for life (that’s a good thing). Sandwich shops and pizzerias offering cheesesteaks, hoagies, and slices dot the neighborhood. Vietnamese pho shops and bakeries cluster along Washington Avenue, Cambodian restaurants are farther south, and Mexican eateries are scattered throughout the area. At the southern end of South Philly is where to find the sports stadiums — grab a dog or a thing of crab fries at the Linc or Citizens Bank Park. But most visitors venturing south of South Street in search of food and drink will find themselves in Bella Vista, Queen Village, or Passyunk Square. Within Passyunk Square is one of Philly’s hottest restaurant strips: East Passyunk Avenue, a diagonal stretch lined with restaurants and cute independent shops for about half a mile. Hit up Laurel for classy cocktails and dinner, or Fountain Porter for beers and a truly excellent $6 burger before sitting for a trendy Sicilian dinner at Irwin’s on the roof of Bok Building, an old school on South 9th Street. Other standouts include Perla, also a BYO restaurant, for modern Filipino fare, Le Virtù for Italian, Juana Tamale for excellent birria tacos, and Gabriella’s Vietnam for Vietnamese. Fish and chips are worth carrying out at British outpost Stargazy.

West Philly:

The area of West Philadelphia (born and raised) just over the Schuylkill River from Center City is University City, home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University — which means a lot of fast-casual eateries catering to the college crowd, including a food court with outposts of Goldie, Dizengoff, and the stellar pizza truck Pitruco. Also in University City, the bright, airy Walnut Street Cafe is a solid choice morning, noon, or night. Moving away from the river, the options get more diverse. Go for Ethiopian platters at Abyssinia, Laotian and Thai curries and rice dishes for takeout at Vientiane Cafe, or Senegalese-style fish and grilled chicken at Kilimandjaro. Get breakfast sandwiches with black-eyed pea scrapple at Honeysuckle Provisions.

a steve powers mural that says open your eyes i see the sunrise in front of a philadelphia skyline Mural Arts


Philly’s Chinatown is relatively small for a major city, but it packs a lot in. Make your way through Chinese hand-pulled noodles at Nan Zhou, dumplings at Tom’s Dim Sum, Japanese ramen at Terakawa, Vietnamese spring rolls and tiki cocktails at Vietnam Restaurant, or Korean sundubu jjigae at Dae Bak inside food hall Chinatown Square. At a loss for where to go? Let the real experts guide you.

Spicy fish soup dumplings in red broth with herbs in a white bowl Chinatown Dumpling House/Facebook

Fishtown, Kensington, and Northern Liberties:

Historically a blue collar neighborhood, Fishtown’s rapid gentrification has earned it comparisons to trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods, though you’ll always eat well there, with Lebanese flatbreads and kebabs at market/cafe/restaurant Suraya, inventive riffs on Asian dumplings and noodle bowls at Cheu Fishtown, and sandwiches and more at Middle Child Clubhouse. Sustainable seafood at Kensington Quarters, pizza at Pizzeria Beddia, drinks at Fishtown Social and International Bar are also reasons to make a Fishtown stop. Then there are bagels at Eeva, and well, a lot of everything all around in Kensington. Head slightly farther north to Port Richmond for an amazing bottle of natural wine and veggie burger at the combined Tiny’s Bottle Shop/Lunar Inn and a hand pie and coffee at Little Susie’s. Between Fishtown and the Historic District lies Northern Liberties, another gentrifying area with a 70,000-square-foot brewery and taproom courtesy of Philly’s Yards Brewing Co. for outdoor seating. Get an amazing pastry at Kettle Black and great brunch at Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat.

Northeast Philly:

This sprawling neighborhood is broken up into several smaller sections with a wide range of cuisines — Eastern European, Jewish, Indian, Italian, Vietnamese, Portuguese, and more. One of the biggest draws for food-seeking outsiders in this neighborhood is Brazilian barbecue at casual spots like Taste of Brazil, but don’t stop there: we’ve got a Brazilian food crawl for you right here. For American barbecue, head to Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse. In Northeast Philly and craving a cheesesteak? Swing by Steve’s Prince of Steaks (there’s another location in Center City) or Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop (there’s also one in Fishtown).

a pita split in half stuffed with yellow and red tomatoes, purple cabage, and a chickpea burger
All the Way Live Cafe.
All the Way Live Cafe

Northwest Philly:

In the Northwest, Germantown, Mount Airy, and Chestnut Hill are all oriented around a long stretch of Germantown Avenue, divided by the massive Wissahickon Valley Park with neighborhoods Manayunk, Roxborough, and East Falls closer to the river. Get coffee from Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books, and tart cider with vegetarian hand pies at the laid-back Young American Cider in Germantown. Plus, there is no shortage of good vegan food at the Nile Cafe and All the Way Live. In Mt. Airy, the pub grub at Mount Airy Taproom is a highlight and for date night, check out Jansen. For excellent Tibetan, there’s White Yak in Roxborough, and for high-demand pizza, try Pizza Jawn. Oh, and you can’t miss locally-famous cheesesteaks at Dalessandro’s, right off the park in Roxborough. Just expect a crowd — they’re that good.

wissahickon valley park and a bridge over the creek
Wissahickon Valley Park.
Universal Images Group via Getty

Reservations to Make in Advance

A booking made in advance, especially for a primetime outdoor table on a weekend, is a must at Zahav, Laurel, Vedge, River Twice, Irwin’s, Friday Saturday Sunday, and Vernick Food & Drink. But sitting at the bar at least a handful of those places is a great option for walk-ins.

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2001 Ed Bluestein Boulevard, , TX 78721 (737) 529-8441 Visit Website

Bar Bombón

133 South 18th Street, , PA 19103 (267) 606-6612 Visit Website


261 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (215) 790-0103 Visit Website


1901 South 9th Street, , PA 19148 Visit Website


500 Prospect Place, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (917) 442-0100 Visit Website


4317 Chestnut Street, , PA 19104 (215) 387-1970

Lost Bread Co.

1313 North Howard Street, , PA 19122 (215) 739-2904 Visit Website

Crust Vegan Bakery

4409 Main Street, , PA 19127 (215) 532-7867 Visit Website

Kalaya Thai Market

922 South 9th Street, , PA 19147

Salam Cafe

5532 Greene Street, , PA 19144 (215) 660-9780

Reading Terminal Market

1136 Arch Street, , PA 19107 (215) 922-2317 Visit Website


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Fountain Porter

1601 South 10th Street, , PA 19148 (215) 305-8338 Visit Website

Chinatown Square

1016-18 Race Street, , PA 19107 (267) 250-3621

Dae Bak

1016 Race Street, , PA 19107 (267) 457-5876 Visit Website

Vernick Food & Drink

2031 Walnut Street, , PA 19103 (267) 639-6644 Visit Website

Friday Saturday Sunday

261 South 21st Street, , PA 19103 (215) 546-4232 Visit Website

Middle Child

248 South 11th Street, , PA 19107 (267) 930-8344 Visit Website


310 Master Street, , PA 19122 (267) 687-7910 Visit Website

High Street Philly

101 South 9th Street, , PA 19107 (215) 625-0988 Visit Website

La Chinesca

1036 Spring Garden Street, , PA 19123 (267) 838-9688 Visit Website

Pizzeria Beddia

1313 North Lee Street, , PA 19125 (267) 928-2256 Visit Website

Le Virtù

1927 East Passyunk Avenue, , PA 19148 (215) 271-5626 Visit Website

Kensington Quarters

1310 Frankford Avenue, , PA 19125 (267) 314-5086 Visit Website


229 South 45th Street, , PA 19104 (215) 387-2424 Visit Website


1911 East Passyunk , Philadelphia, PA 19148


7402 Germantown Avenue, , PA 19119 (267) 335-5041 Visit Website


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1528 Frankford Avenue, , PA 19125 (215) 302-1900 Visit Website


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Pizza Jawn

4330 Main Street, , PA 19127 Visit Website

Biederman’s Specialty Foods

824 Christian Street, , PA 19147 (215) 392-9229 Visit Website

White Yak

6118 Ridge Avenue, , PA 19128 (215) 483-0764 Visit Website


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Han Dynasty

3711 Market Street, , PA 19104 (215) 222-3711 Visit Website

Tattooed Mom

530 South Street, , PA 19147 (215) 238-9880 Visit Website


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102 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 309-3435

Italian Market

South 9th Street, , PA 19147 (215) 278-2903 Visit Website


1225 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 922-3835 Visit Website


1601 North Front Street, , PA 19122 Visit Website

The Nile Cafe

6008 Germantown Avenue, , PA 19144 (215) 843-6453 Visit Website

The Wayward

1170 Ludlow Street, , PA 19107 (215) 258-9430 Visit Website

Kampar Kitchen

1901 S 9th St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19148 Visit Website


1221 Locust Street, , PA 19107 (215) 320-7500 Visit Website

The Tasty

1401 South 12th Street, , PA 19147 (267) 457-5670 Visit Website

Cheu Fishtown

1416 Frankford Avenue, , PA 19125 (267) 758-2269 Visit Website

Walnut Street Cafe

2929 Walnut Street, , PA 19104 (215) 867-8067 Visit Website

Vietnam Restaurant

221 North 11th Street, , PA 19107 (215) 592-1163 Visit Website

Càphê Roasters

3400 J Street, , PA 19134 (215) 690-1268 Visit Website

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