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Dim Sum at China Gourmet
Nick Deezy

16 Essential Restaurants in Northeast Philly

Uzbek kebabs, Italian hoagies, Chinese dim sum, burgers and milkshakes in a 1950s diner, and more things to eat just up I-95

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Dim Sum at China Gourmet
| Nick Deezy

For a lot of Philadelphians, the northeast section of the city isn’t a big draw. But though the sprawling, working class collection of neighborhoods may not be much to look at, Northeast Philly has always been a place proud of its food.

In the 20th century, European immigrants brought their culinary traditions to the area and some of their bakeries, delis, and diners still exist. Over the years, families from Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe have contributing to turning Northeast Philly into an international village. The neighborhood also boasts a favorite cheesesteak shop, impressive American barbecue, and bars serving craft brews, boozy milkshakes, and frozen tropical cocktails.

Within a few miles, it’s possible to take an eating tour through some of Philly’s most diverse and delicious restaurants. Start here — with this mix of old and new spots — to get to know the classic and contemporary Northeast.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Shish Kabob Palace

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1683 Grant Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19115
(215) 856-3404
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For decades, Northeast Philly has been home to a large population of immigrants from Russia and its neighboring Eastern European countries. Restaurants that serve their native cuisines — including Suzani Art Cafe, Uzbekistan, Georgian Bread, and Chaikhana Uzbekistan — are numerous, particularly in the Far Northeast. A great place to try Uzbek food is Shish Kabob Palace, where the specialties include kebabs, the rice pilaf dish plov with lamb, cheese-filled puff pastry, and bread that’s both crusty and doughy at once.

Jack Kapenstein

2. P Square

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9315 Old Bustleton Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19115
(215) 464-3040
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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.

3. Nifty Fifty's

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2491 Grant Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19114
(215) 676-1950
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Make like a Happy Days character at this long-running 1950s-themed diner. The family-friendly neighborhood favorite sells dozens of milkshake varieties, more than 100 soda flavors, burgers, fresh-cut fries, and breakfast. Settle in to an oversized red booth in the morning for a plate of French toast paired with a French toast milkshake, or stop by at lunch for a chili cheeseburger and a vanilla root beer.

Nifty Fifty’s [official photo]

4. Moonstruck

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7955 Oxford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19111
(215) 725-6000
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Not much has changed in Moonstruck’s four-decade existence, making dinner here a nostalgic trip back in time. White tablecloths, formal place settings, and mirrored walls create an old fashioned supper club atmosphere. The menu is traditional Italian cuisine with veal, pasta (the spinach gnocchi in a creamy gorgonzola sauce is popular), and a fresh fish of the day.

Moonstruck [official]

5. Dattilo's Delicatessen

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8000 Horrocks St
Philadelphia, PA 19152
(215) 725-2020
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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.

Sarah Maiellano

6. Burger Bar at Gallo's

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3013, 8101, Roosevelt Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19152
(215) 333-0484
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Gallo’s Seafood is one of those decades-old restaurants, known for its crab cakes and grilled salmon, that families in the neighborhood go to for birthday dinners. In 2010, the Galloway family added the modern Burger Bar to the back of the restaurant. In addition to more than a half-dozen juicy burger options, this is the place to go in the Northeast for boozy milkshakes, like caramel spiked with Makers Mark.

Burger Bar at Gallo’s [official photo]

7. Culture on the Circle

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2859 Holme Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19152
(267) 538-4788

It’s been a long road for chef Kris Serviss in this boisterous Holme Avenue strip mall space that started as the popular Blue Duck. It closed, then reopened as Taqueria del Norte, which recently closed, then reopened as Culture on the Circle. In that time, he and former business partner Joe Callahan opened a couple of Center City spinoffs that also closed quickly — it got confusing. What hasn’t changed is Serviss’ solid — and often whimsical (Fruity Pebbles French toast, anyone?) — cooking. Blue Duck’s popular pork roll burger and duck fat fries are on the menu, along with new dishes like burrata with heirloom tomato and a turkey burger with avocado and bacon on brioche.

8. Three Monkeys Cafe

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9645 James St
Philadelphia, PA 19114
(215) 637-6665
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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 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.

9. Dutch Country Farmers Market

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2031 Cottman Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149

Cottman Avenue has changed a lot in the last few decades, but the Dutch Country Farmers Market remains a delicious destination. The collection of vendors includes Stoltzfus Soft Pretzels, which hand twists its pretzels and then dips them in butter to order. The whole chickens with sides of carrots and potatoes at Dienner’s Poultry & BBQ make a pretty perfect dinner, and the succulent rotisserie wings shouldn’t be missed.

10. Steve's Prince of Steaks

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7200 Bustleton Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149
(215) 338-0985
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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.

11. China Gourmet

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2842 St Vincent St
Philadelphia, PA 19149
(215) 941-1898

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.

12. Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse

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6501 Castor Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149
(215) 402-6966
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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, newcomer Broncos Brazlilian Steakhouse is worth trying too, especially for just $25 a person.

Picanha [official]

13. Mayfair Diner

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7373 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19136
(215) 624-8886
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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. 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.

14. Pho 75

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823 Adams Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19124
(215) 743-8845

Over the last several years, Adams Avenue near Roosevelt Boulevard has become home to an impressive collection of Vietnamese eateries. Though bare bones inside, Pho 75 is a destination for its noodle soup that comes out piping hot with all the accompaniments for customizing: basil, lime, cilantro, hot sauce, bean sprouts, and jalapeños. You won’t go wrong with “#1” on the menu, which comes with a few cuts of steak, plus brisket and tripe — upgrade to a large bowl for just a few cents more.

15. Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse

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7500 State Rd
Philadelphia, PA 19136
(215) 333-9663
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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.

16. Grey Lodge Pub

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6235 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19135
(215) 856-3591
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Before craft beer was everywhere, Mike “Scoats” Scotese filled the two dozen taps at his Grey Lodge Pub with picks from small breweries. It’s still a great place to try unusual brews and also serves a recommendable cheesesteak. Sister restaurant Hop Angel Brauhaus, set in a 17th-century stone building, offers an interesting beer selection too, along with German eats like spaetzle and schnitzel.

1. Shish Kabob Palace

1683 Grant Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19115
Jack Kapenstein

For decades, Northeast Philly has been home to a large population of immigrants from Russia and its neighboring Eastern European countries. Restaurants that serve their native cuisines — including Suzani Art Cafe, Uzbekistan, Georgian Bread, and Chaikhana Uzbekistan — are numerous, particularly in the Far Northeast. A great place to try Uzbek food is Shish Kabob Palace, where the specialties include kebabs, the rice pilaf dish plov with lamb, cheese-filled puff pastry, and bread that’s both crusty and doughy at once.

1683 Grant Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19115

2. P Square

9315 Old Bustleton Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19115

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.

9315 Old Bustleton Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19115

3. Nifty Fifty's

2491 Grant Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19114
Nifty Fifty’s [official photo]

Make like a Happy Days character at this long-running 1950s-themed diner. The family-friendly neighborhood favorite sells dozens of milkshake varieties, more than 100 soda flavors, burgers, fresh-cut fries, and breakfast. Settle in to an oversized red booth in the morning for a plate of French toast paired with a French toast milkshake, or stop by at lunch for a chili cheeseburger and a vanilla root beer.

2491 Grant Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19114

4. Moonstruck

7955 Oxford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19111
Moonstruck [official]

Not much has changed in Moonstruck’s four-decade existence, making dinner here a nostalgic trip back in time. White tablecloths, formal place settings, and mirrored walls create an old fashioned supper club atmosphere. The menu is traditional Italian cuisine with veal, pasta (the spinach gnocchi in a creamy gorgonzola sauce is popular), and a fresh fish of the day.

7955 Oxford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19111

5. Dattilo's Delicatessen

8000 Horrocks St, Philadelphia, PA 19152
Sarah Maiellano

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.

8000 Horrocks St
Philadelphia, PA 19152

6. Burger Bar at Gallo's

3013, 8101, Roosevelt Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19152
Burger Bar at Gallo’s [official photo]

Gallo’s Seafood is one of those decades-old restaurants, known for its crab cakes and grilled salmon, that families in the neighborhood go to for birthday dinners. In 2010, the Galloway family added the modern Burger Bar to the back of the restaurant. In addition to more than a half-dozen juicy burger options, this is the place to go in the Northeast for boozy milkshakes, like caramel spiked with Makers Mark.

3013, 8101, Roosevelt Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19152

7. Culture on the Circle

2859 Holme Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19152

It’s been a long road for chef Kris Serviss in this boisterous Holme Avenue strip mall space that started as the popular Blue Duck. It closed, then reopened as Taqueria del Norte, which recently closed, then reopened as Culture on the Circle. In that time, he and former business partner Joe Callahan opened a couple of Center City spinoffs that also closed quickly — it got confusing. What hasn’t changed is Serviss’ solid — and often whimsical (Fruity Pebbles French toast, anyone?) — cooking. Blue Duck’s popular pork roll burger and duck fat fries are on the menu, along with new dishes like burrata with heirloom tomato and a turkey burger with avocado and bacon on brioche.

2859 Holme Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19152

8. Three Monkeys Cafe

9645 James St, Philadelphia, PA 19114

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 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.

9645 James St
Philadelphia, PA 19114

9. Dutch Country Farmers Market

2031 Cottman Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19149

Cottman Avenue has changed a lot in the last few decades, but the Dutch Country Farmers Market remains a delicious destination. The collection of vendors includes Stoltzfus Soft Pretzels, which hand twists its pretzels and then dips them in butter to order. The whole chickens with sides of carrots and potatoes at Dienner’s Poultry & BBQ make a pretty perfect dinner, and the succulent rotisserie wings shouldn’t be missed.

2031 Cottman Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149

10. Steve's Prince of Steaks

7200 Bustleton Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19149

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.

7200 Bustleton Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149

11. China Gourmet

2842 St Vincent St, Philadelphia, PA 19149

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.

2842 St Vincent St
Philadelphia, PA 19149

12. Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse

6501 Castor Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19149
Picanha [official]

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, newcomer Broncos Brazlilian Steakhouse is worth trying too, especially for just $25 a person.

6501 Castor Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149

13. Mayfair Diner

7373 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19136

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. 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.

7373 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19136

14. Pho 75

823 Adams Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19124

Over the last several years, Adams Avenue near Roosevelt Boulevard has become home to an impressive collection of Vietnamese eateries. Though bare bones inside, Pho 75 is a destination for its noodle soup that comes out piping hot with all the accompaniments for customizing: basil, lime, cilantro, hot sauce, bean sprouts, and jalapeños. You won’t go wrong with “#1” on the menu, which comes with a few cuts of steak, plus brisket and tripe — upgrade to a large bowl for just a few cents more.

823 Adams Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19124

15. Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse

7500 State Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19136

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.

7500 State Rd
Philadelphia, PA 19136

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16. Grey Lodge Pub

6235 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19135

Before craft beer was everywhere, Mike “Scoats” Scotese filled the two dozen taps at his Grey Lodge Pub with picks from small breweries. It’s still a great place to try unusual brews and also serves a recommendable cheesesteak. Sister restaurant Hop Angel Brauhaus, set in a 17th-century stone building, offers an interesting beer selection too, along with German eats like spaetzle and schnitzel.

6235 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19135

Related Maps