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Outside of Philly, The Victor Cafe is known for its role in the films Rocky Balboa and Creed
Victor Cafe/Facebook

Tourist Trap Restaurants in Philly That Are Actually Good

Time to loosen those beltpacks

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Outside of Philly, The Victor Cafe is known for its role in the films Rocky Balboa and Creed
| Victor Cafe/Facebook

As the home of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and other important historical sites, Philly has always attracted tourists. More recently, a revitalized downtown has made the city a hotter destination than ever, with leisure travel here increasing by more than 60 percent over the last 20 years — and those 42 million annual visitors have to eat.

The hard part is separating the good from the bad. Chain restaurants? Skip. Cheesesteaks? Know that any cheesesteak in Philadelphia is better than any abomination with cheddar and peppers on a bun in the rest of the country.

Due to their ubiquity in guidebooks and national publications, the following 12 eateries attract their fair share of tourists. But that’s just fine because they’re actually worth going to (at least once). Use this guide to explore Philly’s popular restaurants and dishes at the places where locals and visitors happily converge.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Deck on the Moshulu

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401 S Christopher Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 923-2500
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The Moshulu lands on this list not for its fine dining restaurant, which has long drawn out-of-towners to dine on the world’s oldest and largest four-masted tall ship, but for its fresh and fun outdoor space. The Deck — open May to September — is known for its frozen wine pops, DJ nights, fireplaces with S’mores kits, elaborate ice cream concoctions, and fitness events.

2. Franklin Fountain

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116 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 627-1899
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One of the newest Philly classics, Franklin Fountain opened in 2004. The old fashioned ice cream parlor and soda shop is conveniently located in Old City, just blocks from Philly’s historic landmarks. It’s known for ice cream made with local ingredients, egg creams, milkshakes, historically inspired sundaes, and banana splits. Hit the jackpot by going on a day when a milkshake blended up with a hot slice of fruit pie is on the specials board.

3. City Tavern

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138 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-1443
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You’re more likely to be surrounded by visitors than locals at this meticulous recreation of a 1773 restaurant, open since 1976. But where else can you sip beers brewed with the Founding Fathers’ recipes and dig into pepper pot soup and Colonial-style turkey pot pie? Servers are decked out in period garb, of course.

City Tavern / Facebook

4. Buddakan

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325 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 574-9440
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It’s been 20 years since Stephen Starr opened his modern Asian mainstay Buddakan in Old City. A 16-foot-tall golden Buddha sets the scene in the swanky restaurant, which is known for its edamame dumplings, pork buns, and Kobe beef satay. The kitchen has been fusing together Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian cuisine in elegant ways since before Asian fusion was cool.

5. Lorenzo & Sons Pizza

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305 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 800-1942
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For decades, South Street has drawn visitors for its unconventional shops and bar scene. After a long night, Lorenzo’s is the spot for $4 jumbo pizza slices — so large they’re served on two paper plates — until 3 a.m. Step it up from there by building a “Philly Taco”: wrap a Lorenzo’s slice around a cheesesteak from Jim’s (located across the street and conveniently also open until 3 a.m.).

6. Ralph's Italian Restaurant

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760 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 627-6011
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Open since 1900, Ralph’s is one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the country. The two-story Italian Market joint is a favorite haunt among celebrities visiting town — from Frank Sinatra to Taylor Swift — for its old school pasta covered in red gravy (tomato sauce), sausage and peppers, and chicken parmigiana. Ralph’s is still run by the same family, now in its fourth generation of ownership.

7. Pat's King of Steaks

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1237 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 468-1546
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Philly tourism is often synonymous with cheesesteaks. Sure, there are lots of places to get Philly’s best-known sandwich, but credit where credit is due: Pat’s late founder Pat Olivieri invented the steak sandwich back in 1930 (or so the story goes). The famous 24/7 cheesesteak stand sits across from frenemy Geno’s, making it an experience that every Philadelphian and visitor needs to try at least once. Pro tip: Google how to order before getting in line.

Caviar

8. Geno’s Steaks

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1219 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 389-0659
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While Pat’s lays claim to inventing the steak sandwich, legend has it that neighbor/rival Geno’s late founder Joey Vento first added the cheese that perfected the combo. Geno’s lights up the intersection with its bright outdoor dining area and neon signs that shine 24/7. Grab an order of cheese fries with a cheesesteak — it’s not like this was ever going to be a healthy meal.

9. Reading Terminal Market

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51 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 922-2317
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Philly’s historic Reading Terminal Market is a must-visit for first-time visitors and also a standby lunch and grocery spot for locals. Open since 1892, it has over 80 vendors selling an incredible variety of food. Top picks include roast pork sandwiches at DiNic’s, deli sandwiches at Hershel’s, doughnuts from Beiler’s, cannoli at Termini Bros., apple dumplings at Dutch Eating Place, soft pretzels at Miller’s Twist, scrapple at Down Home Diner, and sweets from Mueller Chocolate Co.

Justin Blasi

10. The Victor Cafe

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1303 Dickinson St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 468-3040
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Fans of the Rocky franchise might recognize Victor Cafe: It stood in for Adrian’s. But there’s another reason to visit this classic Italian-American restaurant in South Philly. The servers are all opera singers who do double duty, dropping off plates of pasta and also serenading the diners.

11. Parc Restaurant

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227 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 545-2262
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Right on Rittenhouse Square, Stephen Starr’s tribute to a Parisian bistro has been one of Philly’s most popular restaurants since it opened a decade ago. Be prepared to wait for a table, particularly in the coveted sidewalk seating area that faces Philly’s picturesque park. Parc is open early for coffee and pastries, all day for classic French plates like omelets and steak frites, and until midnight for digestifs and bubbly.

12. Chickie's & Pete's (multiple locations)

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1526 Packer Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145
(215) 218-0500
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The destination that was named the best sports bar in North America by ESPN started as a small corner bar, but has ballooned to 15 locations thanks to its signature menu offering: Crabfries. Decades ago, owner Pete Ciarrocchi perfected his recipe for the crinkle-cut French fries coated in a secret blend of spices and served with a creamy white cheese sauce. He even trademarked his creation. The famous fries are also available at the airport, the Jersey Shore, and all three professional sports stadiums.

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1. The Deck on the Moshulu

401 S Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106

The Moshulu lands on this list not for its fine dining restaurant, which has long drawn out-of-towners to dine on the world’s oldest and largest four-masted tall ship, but for its fresh and fun outdoor space. The Deck — open May to September — is known for its frozen wine pops, DJ nights, fireplaces with S’mores kits, elaborate ice cream concoctions, and fitness events.

401 S Christopher Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106

2. Franklin Fountain

116 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

One of the newest Philly classics, Franklin Fountain opened in 2004. The old fashioned ice cream parlor and soda shop is conveniently located in Old City, just blocks from Philly’s historic landmarks. It’s known for ice cream made with local ingredients, egg creams, milkshakes, historically inspired sundaes, and banana splits. Hit the jackpot by going on a day when a milkshake blended up with a hot slice of fruit pie is on the specials board.

116 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

3. City Tavern

138 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
City Tavern / Facebook

You’re more likely to be surrounded by visitors than locals at this meticulous recreation of a 1773 restaurant, open since 1976. But where else can you sip beers brewed with the Founding Fathers’ recipes and dig into pepper pot soup and Colonial-style turkey pot pie? Servers are decked out in period garb, of course.

138 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

4. Buddakan

325 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

It’s been 20 years since Stephen Starr opened his modern Asian mainstay Buddakan in Old City. A 16-foot-tall golden Buddha sets the scene in the swanky restaurant, which is known for its edamame dumplings, pork buns, and Kobe beef satay. The kitchen has been fusing together Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Indian cuisine in elegant ways since before Asian fusion was cool.

325 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

5. Lorenzo & Sons Pizza

305 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

For decades, South Street has drawn visitors for its unconventional shops and bar scene. After a long night, Lorenzo’s is the spot for $4 jumbo pizza slices — so large they’re served on two paper plates — until 3 a.m. Step it up from there by building a “Philly Taco”: wrap a Lorenzo’s slice around a cheesesteak from Jim’s (located across the street and conveniently also open until 3 a.m.).

305 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

6. Ralph's Italian Restaurant

760 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Open since 1900, Ralph’s is one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the country. The two-story Italian Market joint is a favorite haunt among celebrities visiting town — from Frank Sinatra to Taylor Swift — for its old school pasta covered in red gravy (tomato sauce), sausage and peppers, and chicken parmigiana. Ralph’s is still run by the same family, now in its fourth generation of ownership.

760 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

7. Pat's King of Steaks

1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Caviar

Philly tourism is often synonymous with cheesesteaks. Sure, there are lots of places to get Philly’s best-known sandwich, but credit where credit is due: Pat’s late founder Pat Olivieri invented the steak sandwich back in 1930 (or so the story goes). The famous 24/7 cheesesteak stand sits across from frenemy Geno’s, making it an experience that every Philadelphian and visitor needs to try at least once. Pro tip: Google how to order before getting in line.

1237 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147

8. Geno’s Steaks

1219 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

While Pat’s lays claim to inventing the steak sandwich, legend has it that neighbor/rival Geno’s late founder Joey Vento first added the cheese that perfected the combo. Geno’s lights up the intersection with its bright outdoor dining area and neon signs that shine 24/7. Grab an order of cheese fries with a cheesesteak — it’s not like this was ever going to be a healthy meal.

1219 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

9. Reading Terminal Market

51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Justin Blasi

Philly’s historic Reading Terminal Market is a must-visit for first-time visitors and also a standby lunch and grocery spot for locals. Open since 1892, it has over 80 vendors selling an incredible variety of food. Top picks include roast pork sandwiches at DiNic’s, deli sandwiches at Hershel’s, doughnuts from Beiler’s, cannoli at Termini Bros., apple dumplings at Dutch Eating Place, soft pretzels at Miller’s Twist, scrapple at Down Home Diner, and sweets from Mueller Chocolate Co.

51 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

10. The Victor Cafe

1303 Dickinson St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Fans of the Rocky franchise might recognize Victor Cafe: It stood in for Adrian’s. But there’s another reason to visit this classic Italian-American restaurant in South Philly. The servers are all opera singers who do double duty, dropping off plates of pasta and also serenading the diners.

1303 Dickinson St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

11. Parc Restaurant

227 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Right on Rittenhouse Square, Stephen Starr’s tribute to a Parisian bistro has been one of Philly’s most popular restaurants since it opened a decade ago. Be prepared to wait for a table, particularly in the coveted sidewalk seating area that faces Philly’s picturesque park. Parc is open early for coffee and pastries, all day for classic French plates like omelets and steak frites, and until midnight for digestifs and bubbly.

227 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

12. Chickie's & Pete's (multiple locations)

1526 Packer Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145

The destination that was named the best sports bar in North America by ESPN started as a small corner bar, but has ballooned to 15 locations thanks to its signature menu offering: Crabfries. Decades ago, owner Pete Ciarrocchi perfected his recipe for the crinkle-cut French fries coated in a secret blend of spices and served with a creamy white cheese sauce. He even trademarked his creation. The famous fries are also available at the airport, the Jersey Shore, and all three professional sports stadiums.

1526 Packer Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145

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