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A cast iron dish with roast chicken in a yellow walnut sauce.
Shqmeruli, or chicken in garlic sauce, at Gamarjoba.
Shawn Ralston

16 Essential Restaurants in Northeast Philly

Georgian khachapuri cheese boats, plentiful dim sum, burgers and milkshakes in an old-school diner, and more things to eat just up I-95

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Shqmeruli, or chicken in garlic sauce, at Gamarjoba.
| Shawn Ralston

Though the Northeast has long been home to many immigrant populations, the past several years have brought an influx of new cultures to the area, with plentiful new restaurants and businesses to match. Toward the far Northeast there is no shortage of Georgian and Uzbek restaurants, and Brazilian cuisine stands out in Oxford Circle. Lawncrest is where to go if you’re looking for a Vietnamese dish, but you’ll discover some of the best Chinese restaurants in Mayfair. Scattered among these cultural pockets you’ll still find classic and well-known restaurants as well as new restaurants that don’t fit any specific category.

Neighborhoods such as Lawncrest, Bustleton, and Holmesburg are just a few of the areas contained within the region area most known as Northeast Philadelphia, but each contain their own distinct cultures, traditions, and cuisines.

A guide to the excellent restaurants in the Northeast could easily feature dozens of dining destinations, but the list below gives a snapshot of the diversity of culinary delights the area has to offer and hopefully it will encourage Philadelphians to do some exploring.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Restaurant Gamarjoba

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Among the numerous Eastern European offerings in Northeast Philadelphia, Georgian cuisine has been rapidly growing. Located in the building formerly occupied by Cafe Lava, Gamarjoba stands out for its size and outdoor patio — open all year round and heated in the winter. Well known for their baked goods and breads, the khachapuri ajaruli (cheese boat) is a must have in Georgian cuisine as well as their walnut stuffed peppers. For Uzbek, Suzani Restaurant on Welsh Road — with its patchwork tapestry ceiling — should also be on your list. 

Macaroni’s/P Square

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Like the rest of Philly, it’s easy to find Italian restaurants in the Northeast, but P Square stands out. Set behind upscale Italian standby Macaroni’s, this attractive glass-enclosed patio lounge has its own large bar and a menu of Neapolitan-style fare, including wood-fired pizzas and wings, and polished entrees featuring local fish and handmade pasta.

Joseph's Pizza Parlor

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Originally established in 1898, Joseph’s recently underwent an ownership change with the owners of Gaul and Co. taking over this classic Northeast Pizza Parlor. Only recently reopened, owner Matt Yeck spent months working on the recipe for every aspect of his pies while also maintaining the antique interior which includes ceiling mounted stained glass. You won’t go wrong with a pie topped with pepperoni that turns into cups in the oven, topped with a hot honey drizzle.

The Fox Chase area has recently had several long tenured restaurants close — goodbye, Moonstruck and the Hop Angel — but it has also had newer arrivals Originally located in the Roosevelt Mall, Bishos moved to its new location to serve Palestinian  dishes, like shawarma on a thin “saj” style wrap resembling more a crepe than slice of pita. Bishos serves many other items, but the lemonana (lemon slushy) should be at the top of your drink list.

Dattilo's Delicatessen

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Call ahead or be prepared to wait at Dattilo’s, a corner store full of imported and house-made Italian delicacies. Behind the cases of marinated artichokes, roasted peppers, and mushrooms is where the hoagie magic happens. Chewy, seeded rolls are baked in-house and stacked with generous layers of thinly sliced deli meat, fresh mozzarella, and Dattilo’s dressing. Don’t skip the filled-to-order cannoli. Dattilo’s also serves up one of the best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia.

Café Carmela

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Occupying the location of the former Blue Duck and subsequent Culture on the Circle, Café Carmela has quickly become one of the most popular restaurants in the area. While their pizza is some of the best in Northeast Philadelphia and pasta dishes like the bolognese will satisfy your palate, it’s their cheesesteak that has arguably made the biggest splash of all their dishes and is made with Cafe Carmela’s own creamy cheese mix.

Asadero Los Tios

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Until recently, there were few options for those seeking Mexican Food in the Northeast outside of area favorite Las Margaritas. That has recently changed with restaurants such as Asadero Los Tios opening to fill the void. Although there isn’t much indoor seating, Asadero has a nice outdoor patio area where you can enjoy an order of their popular birria tacos. Don’t forget to grab an order of elotes and finish your meal with cajeta (caramel) churros. If your diet requires halal, head  to nearby Don Panchitos for the city’s only halal friendly Mexican restaurant.

Three Monkeys Cafe

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Just steps from the Torresdale train station, Three Monkeys serves a large menu of gastropub fare in a few different “habitats,” including a Victorian dining room, a turn of the century hand carved bar, and a kitschy-fun outdoor area. The colorful, Key West-themed Tree Bar and Monkey Court stay open late on weekends for all your tropical drink needs or early weekend mornings for brunch.

The Better Box

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In 2019, the Better Box owner Tamekah Bost decided to expand her unique food-truck cuisine into a brick-and-mortar location in the Holmesburg section of the Northeast. The menu centers on a variety of delicious crunchy eggrolls such as the firecracker salmon roll and the cheesesteak inspired Philly twist. Although the egg rolls take center stage, the sweet potato cheesecake dip is an item you can’t miss. When available on weekends, you also can’t go wrong with the breakfast sandwiches served on a sweet potato biscuit and drizzled with a cinnamon sauce.

Steve's Prince of Steaks

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Steve’s is easily the top cheesesteak shop in Northeast Philly and consistently ranks highly among its counterparts citywide. Thin slices of beef (not chopped!), melted American cheese or whiz, and a good roll have made this small, window-service eatery a go-to for locals since 1980. Get your steak to go or take it to the shop’s long counter and do the Philly lean. Pro tip: Get a side of thick-cut, crispy cheese fries.

Tio Pepe Restaurant & Bar

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Located in the lower Northeast, Tio Pepe showcases both Portuguese wine and fine dining. While also a pub, the upstairs area is where the restaurant area is located and the decor and experience take you far away from the busy sounds of Castor Avenue. Dishes such as  robalo grelhado (or whole Branzino) and chorizo served over a flaming plate pair well with one of the many Portuguese wines.

China Gourmet

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During the day, dim sum is the name of the game at China Gourmet, where rolling carts pass out all manner of colorful dumplings, buns, rice dishes, and more. For dinner at this big, bustling Cantonese restaurant, the kitchen specializes in entrees like Peking duck and seafood, including lobster, from tanks that line the walls. For a smaller, more intimate dinner, nearby Jade Harbor on Bustleton has some of the best Peking duck in the city.

Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse

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This Brazilian-style churrascaria, with its barbecued steak and other meats cut table-side from large skewers, draws in the crowds thanks to its price point (in the $30 range), big salad bar, and BYO policy. Nearby, Broncos Brazilian Steakhouse is worth trying too, especially for just $25 a person.

Mayfair Diner

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The heydey of great diners in the Northeast has ended, but the Mayfair Diner is still kicking. This 24-hour eatery is the place to go for breakfast all day, matzo ball soup, and old school classics like french dip sandwiches. Founded in 1932, Mayfair Diner is celebrating 90 years  in business. Rubbing elbows with a national politician is a possibility here — ever since President Kennedy dropped in during his 1960 campaign.Other public figures have been known to visit, including President Obama in 2008 while campaigning in Philly.

Phở Ha Saigon

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In the lower area of Lawncrest, bordering Olney, you will find no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants such as Pho 75, Café Saigon, and Pho Viet. Of the numerous eateries to choose from,though, Pho Ha Saigon offers a modern feel while still serving traditional Vietnamese dishes such as one of their “rare steak” pho dishes. There’s also an attached banh mi café for take out dishes.

Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse

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Serving some of the best American barbecue around, Sweet Lucy’s has been going strong just off I-95 for almost 15 years. The hickory-smoked meat is cooked low and slow to create crave-able pulled pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, and sausages. Add in some vinegary barbecue sauce, spicy collards, and mashed sweet potatoes for an ideal Southern meal right in the Northeast.

Restaurant Gamarjoba

Among the numerous Eastern European offerings in Northeast Philadelphia, Georgian cuisine has been rapidly growing. Located in the building formerly occupied by Cafe Lava, Gamarjoba stands out for its size and outdoor patio — open all year round and heated in the winter. Well known for their baked goods and breads, the khachapuri ajaruli (cheese boat) is a must have in Georgian cuisine as well as their walnut stuffed peppers. For Uzbek, Suzani Restaurant on Welsh Road — with its patchwork tapestry ceiling — should also be on your list. 

Macaroni’s/P Square

Like the rest of Philly, it’s easy to find Italian restaurants in the Northeast, but P Square stands out. Set behind upscale Italian standby Macaroni’s, this attractive glass-enclosed patio lounge has its own large bar and a menu of Neapolitan-style fare, including wood-fired pizzas and wings, and polished entrees featuring local fish and handmade pasta.

Joseph's Pizza Parlor

Originally established in 1898, Joseph’s recently underwent an ownership change with the owners of Gaul and Co. taking over this classic Northeast Pizza Parlor. Only recently reopened, owner Matt Yeck spent months working on the recipe for every aspect of his pies while also maintaining the antique interior which includes ceiling mounted stained glass. You won’t go wrong with a pie topped with pepperoni that turns into cups in the oven, topped with a hot honey drizzle.

Bishos

The Fox Chase area has recently had several long tenured restaurants close — goodbye, Moonstruck and the Hop Angel — but it has also had newer arrivals Originally located in the Roosevelt Mall, Bishos moved to its new location to serve Palestinian  dishes, like shawarma on a thin “saj” style wrap resembling more a crepe than slice of pita. Bishos serves many other items, but the lemonana (lemon slushy) should be at the top of your drink list.

Dattilo's Delicatessen

Call ahead or be prepared to wait at Dattilo’s, a corner store full of imported and house-made Italian delicacies. Behind the cases of marinated artichokes, roasted peppers, and mushrooms is where the hoagie magic happens. Chewy, seeded rolls are baked in-house and stacked with generous layers of thinly sliced deli meat, fresh mozzarella, and Dattilo’s dressing. Don’t skip the filled-to-order cannoli. Dattilo’s also serves up one of the best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia.

Café Carmela

Occupying the location of the former Blue Duck and subsequent Culture on the Circle, Café Carmela has quickly become one of the most popular restaurants in the area. While their pizza is some of the best in Northeast Philadelphia and pasta dishes like the bolognese will satisfy your palate, it’s their cheesesteak that has arguably made the biggest splash of all their dishes and is made with Cafe Carmela’s own creamy cheese mix.

Asadero Los Tios

Until recently, there were few options for those seeking Mexican Food in the Northeast outside of area favorite Las Margaritas. That has recently changed with restaurants such as Asadero Los Tios opening to fill the void. Although there isn’t much indoor seating, Asadero has a nice outdoor patio area where you can enjoy an order of their popular birria tacos. Don’t forget to grab an order of elotes and finish your meal with cajeta (caramel) churros. If your diet requires halal, head  to nearby Don Panchitos for the city’s only halal friendly Mexican restaurant.

Three Monkeys Cafe

Just steps from the Torresdale train station, Three Monkeys serves a large menu of gastropub fare in a few different “habitats,” including a Victorian dining room, a turn of the century hand carved bar, and a kitschy-fun outdoor area. The colorful, Key West-themed Tree Bar and Monkey Court stay open late on weekends for all your tropical drink needs or early weekend mornings for brunch.

The Better Box

In 2019, the Better Box owner Tamekah Bost decided to expand her unique food-truck cuisine into a brick-and-mortar location in the Holmesburg section of the Northeast. The menu centers on a variety of delicious crunchy eggrolls such as the firecracker salmon roll and the cheesesteak inspired Philly twist. Although the egg rolls take center stage, the sweet potato cheesecake dip is an item you can’t miss. When available on weekends, you also can’t go wrong with the breakfast sandwiches served on a sweet potato biscuit and drizzled with a cinnamon sauce.

Steve's Prince of Steaks

Steve’s is easily the top cheesesteak shop in Northeast Philly and consistently ranks highly among its counterparts citywide. Thin slices of beef (not chopped!), melted American cheese or whiz, and a good roll have made this small, window-service eatery a go-to for locals since 1980. Get your steak to go or take it to the shop’s long counter and do the Philly lean. Pro tip: Get a side of thick-cut, crispy cheese fries.

Tio Pepe Restaurant & Bar

Located in the lower Northeast, Tio Pepe showcases both Portuguese wine and fine dining. While also a pub, the upstairs area is where the restaurant area is located and the decor and experience take you far away from the busy sounds of Castor Avenue. Dishes such as  robalo grelhado (or whole Branzino) and chorizo served over a flaming plate pair well with one of the many Portuguese wines.

China Gourmet

During the day, dim sum is the name of the game at China Gourmet, where rolling carts pass out all manner of colorful dumplings, buns, rice dishes, and more. For dinner at this big, bustling Cantonese restaurant, the kitchen specializes in entrees like Peking duck and seafood, including lobster, from tanks that line the walls. For a smaller, more intimate dinner, nearby Jade Harbor on Bustleton has some of the best Peking duck in the city.

Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse

This Brazilian-style churrascaria, with its barbecued steak and other meats cut table-side from large skewers, draws in the crowds thanks to its price point (in the $30 range), big salad bar, and BYO policy. Nearby, Broncos Brazilian Steakhouse is worth trying too, especially for just $25 a person.

Mayfair Diner

The heydey of great diners in the Northeast has ended, but the Mayfair Diner is still kicking. This 24-hour eatery is the place to go for breakfast all day, matzo ball soup, and old school classics like french dip sandwiches. Founded in 1932, Mayfair Diner is celebrating 90 years  in business. Rubbing elbows with a national politician is a possibility here — ever since President Kennedy dropped in during his 1960 campaign.Other public figures have been known to visit, including President Obama in 2008 while campaigning in Philly.

Phở Ha Saigon

In the lower area of Lawncrest, bordering Olney, you will find no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants such as Pho 75, Café Saigon, and Pho Viet. Of the numerous eateries to choose from,though, Pho Ha Saigon offers a modern feel while still serving traditional Vietnamese dishes such as one of their “rare steak” pho dishes. There’s also an attached banh mi café for take out dishes.

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Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse

Serving some of the best American barbecue around, Sweet Lucy’s has been going strong just off I-95 for almost 15 years. The hickory-smoked meat is cooked low and slow to create crave-able pulled pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, and sausages. Add in some vinegary barbecue sauce, spicy collards, and mashed sweet potatoes for an ideal Southern meal right in the Northeast.

Related Maps