With one of the strongest sandwich games around and a diverse array of casual neighborhood spots, Philly is an eating destination even — and sometimes especially — for diners on a budget. It would be impossible to name all of the most affordable dishes that keep this city running, but to start, here are some of Philly’s best bets for cheesesteaks, pho, falafel, burgers, banh mi, jerk chicken, and much more.Read More
Philly’s Best-Value Restaurants, Mapped
Great deals on pho, falafel, fried chicken, roast pork sandwiches, tomato pie, and more
Jamaican D's Caribbean & American Restaurant
If you love leftovers, future you will thank past you for ordering a platter of jerk or curry chicken from Jamaican D’s on Chelten Avenue for lunch or dinner. Here, a large platter comes with two sides — the plantains and the collards are a must — and for under $20, you’ll have enough food to last you through at least two meals.
One of the best things about Philly is that you can get a cheesesteak pretty much anywhere and it’ll never break the bank. One of the worst? Spending $10 on a cheesesteak that doesn’t hit the spot. At Dalessandro’s in Roxborough, you’re unlikely to have that problem. Enormous, juicy steak sandwiches with onions, mushrooms, and Whiz go for under $15.
Love & Honey Fried Chicken
After getting Questlove’s seal of approval, Love & Honey was an instant Philly hit. For $10, enjoy 7 buttermilk-fried chicken tenders, or for $12.50, get a crispy Nashville hot chicken sandwich with slaw and sweet pickles. Sides include Nashville tater tots and Southern-style potato salad. The shop at the border of Northern Liberties and Fishtown only does takeout.
Open only for breakfast and lunch, Johnny's is a quintessential Fishtown stand for breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs, and even cheesesteaks. Only a truly hefty meal here will break the $10 mark. The hot sausage is always a good move, and for a Philly original, grab a combo — that's a hot dog and a fish cake on the same bun — and make sure to add some pepper hash.
Siddiq's Real Fruit Water Ice
A Philly classic, water ice may not fill you up like a falafel or a banh mi, but Siddiq’s Real Fruit Water Ice in Cobbs Creek will make you forget you had lunch plans. Flavors like mango lemonade, white grape, and cantaloupe are all made with real fruit and a large goes for only $5. Add on a funnel cake for an additional six bucks because why not?
Also featured in:
West Philly is a treasure trove of excellent eats, including flavorful fare from Ethiopia and parts of West Africa. Kilimandjaro, a Senegalese favorite in University City that has moved from Chestnut Street to join forces with Youma on Baltimore Avenue, serves whole grilled fish, rotisserie chicken, lamb chops, and more in portions that are much bigger than you’d expect for the cost.
Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House
Come for the hand-pulled and -shaved noodles, served in soups or stir-fried dishes, in a number of combinations that should satisfy almost any taste — and then keep coming back to eat through the rest of the menu. Portions are bountiful and prices are affordable across the board, making Nan Zhou one of Chinatown's many must-tries.
Saad's Halal Restaurant
It’s easy to see why Saad’s Halal Restaurant is a West Philly favorite, between its Middle Eastern halal dishes and student-friendly prices. The vegetarian side of the menu trends toward $9, while other items like hearty sandwiches (shawarma, kebabs, falafel, and more) mostly come in just above $10. Beyond falafel and kebabs, Saad's also makes a good cheesesteak.
Manakeesh Cafe Bakery & Grill
Manakeesh is a Lebanese bakery and cafe specializing in, of course, manakeesh. The filling flatbread (which has a few spellings in English) comes with a choice of toppings at this West Philly halal eatery, like za’atar and labneh or spiced ground beef, with prices hovering around $10. You can round out a meal here with hummus, falafel, kebabs, sweet and savory crepes, pastries, and fruit smoothies.
At Jezabel Careaga’s eponymous cafe, diners fill up on empanadas, alfajores, and more Argentine delights. Try a variety pack of four crispy empanadas filled with the likes of spicy vegan lentils or chicken with olives for $18 or the breakfast pastry box, a chef’s selection of eight delicious pastries such as croissant-like vigilantes with custard and quince for $32.
Reading Terminal Market
From Bassetts Ice Cream to Beiler’s Donuts to El Merkury’s pupusas and Hershel’s pastrami sandwiches, Reading Terminal Market is a giant destination for affordable eats. There’s no wrong choice between a roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s or an Amish-style soft pretzel from Miller’s Twist — the only mistake would be showing up here already full. The iconic market is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and you can check the website for an updated list of vendors.
Goldie (multiple locations)
Goldie, the falafel spot from the team behind the award-winning Zahav, has a tight menu of sandwiches, fries, and some of the city’s coolest drinks: tehina shakes. The few flavors are delicious, dairy-free, and cost just $7. For under $20 you should be able to walk out of any of the mini chain’s four locations, including in Franklintown, Fishtown, University City, and Center City West. Another good Center City West option from the same owners is Dizengoff, where hummus is a full-on meal with meats and seasonal vegetables plus fresh-out-of-the-oven pita, Israeli pickles, and chopped salad.
Tomato pie is a perfect food: You can eat it at any time of the day, take it on any excursion near or far, and it will practically always fill you up. It’s pizza, simplified. At old-school Sarcone’s Bakery in South Philly, you can get a $4 slice of tomato pie alongside seeded Italian rolls and $6 pepperoni bread — cash only.
On Washington Avenue in South Philly, this popular Indonesian restaurant serves Sumatra-style house-made egg noodles, satay, pork and rice platters, and seafood soups for not much more — and sometimes less — than $10.
Philly has no shortage of excellent pho and other Vietnamese specialties, but for a full-service all-around winner, South Philly’s Nam Phuong is a local’s go-to. The huge menu includes all kinds of soups, broken rice platters, noodle dishes, and much more, with tons of generous options under $15.
Also featured in:
Ba Le Bakery
A banh mi is a beautiful thing: crusty bread with pickled veg, cilantro, and flavorful meat or tofu. It’s easy to find a great one in Philly, and Ba Le Bakery’s options are as endless as the prices are low. From steak to pork kebab to lemongrass chicken, every sandwich lands under $10, and you can preorder them on the South Philly shop’s website. Even adding a drink like boba or a smoothie shouldn’t put you over $20.
A great neighborhood bar is important. A great neighborhood bar that serves an outstanding $6 burger is indispensable. And the price tag at this South Philly gem is really just icing: For fans of classic backyard-style burgers, Fountain Porter’s is arguably the best in the city.
Among the bounty of restaurants on East Passyunk Avenue sits this little British pie shop serving traditional savory pies. Keep it classic with beef and onion or try whatever filling chef-owner Sam Jacobson is making special for the day — just be sure to order a side of mashed potatoes in a parsley liquor. You can also get sausage rolls and sweets.
John's Roast Pork
John's remains the go-to recommendation for Philly's signature sandwiches, whether it’s the namesake roast pork with sharp provolone or a great cheesesteak. This cash-only shack is out of the way if you’re not already in South Philly, but worth the trip. It’s also a fantastic option for breakfast sandwiches.