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18 Ethnic Desserts To Try Before You Die

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These desserts are all worth the hike.
Philly's reputation as a food town extends beyond juicy roast pork sandwiches and high-end pizza into a vast and varied selection of unique desserts. In fact, one of the strongest genres that gets little to no ink is our extensive collection of ethnic sweets, which runs the gamut from sticky-sweet baklava to flaky, buttery halvah.

For those of you with an insatiable sweet tooth, we've put together a list of the best and most unique sugary treats from all over town. Best of all, almost every culinary corner in Philly is represented here, with some boasting two or three list-makers. Without further ado, here are The 18 Ethnic Desserts to Try Before You Die.


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Bitar's

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This Middle Eastern restaurant/grocery store has a giant dessert case bursting with fresh pastries from what’s called “fingers” - crushed cashews wrapped in fillo dough - to knafe, cheese pastry soaked in syrup and sprinkled with ground-up pistachios.

Bread Top House

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For authentic and affordable Chinese pastries, Chinatown’s Bread Top House is a solid bet. Fragrant sesame red bean balls and fluffy pineapple custard buns are favorites.
The baklava at South Philly's Mediterranean Mazza is gooeyer than average, literally dripping with honey.

Baklava Cafe

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This South Street spot’s thing is Mediterranean pastries, but it's not just baklava. Try the sesame pistachio cookies called barazik or the Lebanese maamoul, stuffed date-orange cookies.

Yummy Yummy

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Ridiculous name aside, this Chinatown eatery dishes up delicious egg-shaped Chinese waffles made to order, either original or green tea white chocolate.

Heung Fa Chun Sweet House

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Head here for authentic douhua, silky tofu pudding topped with ginger sugar and red bean.

Jamonera

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The buneulos, Spanish donuts, are served doughy and warm with espresso dulce de leche, spiced chocolate ganache and sea salt.

Alma De Cuba

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The chocolate cigars get all the attention but the creamy vanilla flan - vanilla bean custard, candied cherry puree, and almond praline - is equally satisfying.

Jamaican Jerk Hut

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Conclude your island meal with traditional Jamaican Rum Cake infused with dark rum. Wash it down with Jamaican pineapple soda or carrot milk.

Kamal's Middle Eastern Specialties

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It’s not just delicious spanakopita at this Reading Terminal stall. They’ve got several varieties of halvah and baklava, each better than the last.

Taqueria La Veracruzana

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The homemade flan and pastel tres leches at this Washington Ave taco shop are as tasty as the widely-applauded tacos al pastor.

Isgro Pastries

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They’re Marc Vetri’s favorite cannoli for a reason. The shells are crisp, the ricotta strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory - and their URL is bestcannoli.com.

Koo Zee Doo

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Don’t leave without trying the bolo de bolacha, a cake composed of stacked coffee-soaked wafers with buttercream and a tangy fruit compote.

Moctezuma Mexican Restaurant

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The traditional sweet, cinnamony sopapilla is a great ending to a Mexican meal in Bella Vista.

Modo Mio

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Where better than Chef Peter Andrews’ Italian cult favorite to get luscious, not-too-sickly-sweet tiramisu?

Desi Chaat House

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Head to Baltimore Avenue for creamy mango lassi, lahori kheer rice pudding, and spongy gulab jamun.
Kulfi, Indian ice cream, is a cardamom-spiced frozen dessert, not quite gelato, not quite ice cream. Tashan dishes it up in three flavors: mango, kesar-pistachio, and rose.

Kanella: Greek Cypriot Kitchen

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Kanella's homemade galatopoureko, fillo pastry filled with a light semolina custard and drizzled with hot orange-cinnamon syrup, is a standout.

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Bitar's

This Middle Eastern restaurant/grocery store has a giant dessert case bursting with fresh pastries from what’s called “fingers” - crushed cashews wrapped in fillo dough - to knafe, cheese pastry soaked in syrup and sprinkled with ground-up pistachios.

Bread Top House

For authentic and affordable Chinese pastries, Chinatown’s Bread Top House is a solid bet. Fragrant sesame red bean balls and fluffy pineapple custard buns are favorites.

Mazza

The baklava at South Philly's Mediterranean Mazza is gooeyer than average, literally dripping with honey.

Baklava Cafe

This South Street spot’s thing is Mediterranean pastries, but it's not just baklava. Try the sesame pistachio cookies called barazik or the Lebanese maamoul, stuffed date-orange cookies.

Yummy Yummy

Ridiculous name aside, this Chinatown eatery dishes up delicious egg-shaped Chinese waffles made to order, either original or green tea white chocolate.

Heung Fa Chun Sweet House

Head here for authentic douhua, silky tofu pudding topped with ginger sugar and red bean.

Jamonera

The buneulos, Spanish donuts, are served doughy and warm with espresso dulce de leche, spiced chocolate ganache and sea salt.

Alma De Cuba

The chocolate cigars get all the attention but the creamy vanilla flan - vanilla bean custard, candied cherry puree, and almond praline - is equally satisfying.

Jamaican Jerk Hut

Conclude your island meal with traditional Jamaican Rum Cake infused with dark rum. Wash it down with Jamaican pineapple soda or carrot milk.

Kamal's Middle Eastern Specialties

It’s not just delicious spanakopita at this Reading Terminal stall. They’ve got several varieties of halvah and baklava, each better than the last.

Taqueria La Veracruzana

The homemade flan and pastel tres leches at this Washington Ave taco shop are as tasty as the widely-applauded tacos al pastor.

Isgro Pastries

They’re Marc Vetri’s favorite cannoli for a reason. The shells are crisp, the ricotta strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory - and their URL is bestcannoli.com.

Koo Zee Doo

Don’t leave without trying the bolo de bolacha, a cake composed of stacked coffee-soaked wafers with buttercream and a tangy fruit compote.

Moctezuma Mexican Restaurant

The traditional sweet, cinnamony sopapilla is a great ending to a Mexican meal in Bella Vista.