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Three different hoagies dressed up with various meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Liberty Kitchen

The Essential Restaurants of Olde Kensington

Explore these trendy restaurants, unassuming cafes, laid-back bars, and hidden gems in South Kensington

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West of Fishtown and north of Northern Liberties, Olde Kensington (often used synonymously with South Kensington) is characterized by its large collection of rehabilitated industrial buildings and factories, as well as its blossoming arts corridor. The dining scene in this neighborhood is always evolving, inclusive of establishments with longstanding histories as well as those with well-known chefs at the helm. Ripe for exploring, this list, full of trendy restaurants, unassuming cafes, laid-back bars, and hidden gems, showcases the rich history and changing landscape of this beloved neighborhood.

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The Ground Coffee, Plants & Gifts

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Pop-culture-inspired lattes and bubble teas, and a small collection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches, make this playful cafe (which doubles as a plant and gift shop) worth the visit. One of its most beloved menu items, the croffle, has quickly gained fame. It is made from a French croissant that has been baked as a waffle and topped with whipped cream and the customer’s choice of fruit compote, dulce de leche, or chocolate.

Sor Ynez

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Mezcal flights, a new chef’s tasting menu, and a top-notch happy hour with best-in-class margaritas (offered Thursday through Sunday) are just a few of the winning aspects of this charming Mexican restaurant. Here you can savor tantalizing tortas, tacos, and ceviches (with both seafood and vegetarian options), as well as fan favorites like the Alitas de Pollo (baked chicken wings stuffed with queso chihuahua, serrano, and corn).

Buzz Cafe

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At Buzz Cafe, owner and artist Terrance Laragione gets to showcase his artwork and love of memorabilia alongside an ‘all-day breakfast menu’ that features a handful of egg sandwiches, signature specials like the huevos rancheros wrap, and a considerable list of cold and hot coffee drinks, lattes, and teas.

Sutton's Bar

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Sutton’s relaxed, neighborhood vibes, comfort food staples (like the classic burger and shepherd’s pie), and easy-sipping cocktails (with a drinks menu that changes seasonally) are what make it the choice spot to unwind after a long day or to catch up with friends. For some extra fun, check out its weekly entertainment calendar full of events like bingo, quizzo, and live music.

Luna Café

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Luna Cafe reimagines brunch favorites with flavor-packed entrees, breakfast sandwiches, salads, and sandwiches ranging from fried chicken with pancakes and tofu scrambles to chicken salad-stuffed avocados and sun-dried tomato and turkey paninis. In addition to its cafe and coffee bar, the establishment also features a small wine shop selling a mix of natural, biodynamic, and organic wines.

Alamodok

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Alamodok is a restaurant and hookah bar serving up Mediterranean fare. The menu runs the gamut, featuring a generous amount of options (including several for vegetarians) like the popcorn falafel, savory baba ganoush, and a hummus and meat platter featuring halal lamb.

Pasha's Halal

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What started as a long-standing food truck specializing in halal dishes previously served the Temple University community for decades before opening up a storefront at 2nd and Cecil B. Moore in 2021. Its menu offers hearty meat and seafood platters, filling gyros and wraps, and satisfying salads, all made with halal ingredients.

Gryphon Coffee

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With three locations across the Philadelphia area, Gryphon Coffee’s Olde Kensington location brings a mellow ambiance and is full of industrial charm. But coffee-based drinks aren’t the only thing to love here; its menu of scrumptious snacks and sandwiches offers options like the fig and brie toast, roasted red pepper sandwich, and the Sugartown (a Philly muffin topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers).

Poe's Sandwich Joint

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This brewery and sandwich shop partnership is a match made in heaven, where Human Robot’s award-winning lagers (like the Czech 10, a Czech-style pale lager) and IPAs (like the hoppy Single Axis: Mosaic) can be enjoyed alongside Poe’s Sandwich Joint’s larger-than-life sandwiches (try the Birdman made with chicken cutlet, sharp provolone, parmesan, and broccoli rabe).

Que Chula Es Puebla

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This family-owned restaurant and bar offers some of the best Mexican food in Philly, boasting a menu of chimichangas, grilled burritos, quesadillas, tacos, tortas, and generous entrees like the chiles rellenos, mole poblano, and enchiladas.

This casual BYOB opened its doors in 2015 as a partnership between chefs Kevin D’Egidio and Michael Griffiths, who were seeking to bring to life contemporary dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. The prix-fixe menu includes 3 courses (with the option for additional sides) and is always changing, offering visitors something new to enjoy each time they visit.

Laser Wolf

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The dynamic duo of CookNSolo, Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook, opened Laser Wolf in 2020. Fashioned after an Israeli skewer house, diners here can enjoy a bounty of grilled dishes including Romanian beef kebabs, shawarma-spiced cauliflower, and whole dorade as well as hummus, pita bread, and a selection of salatim (cold dips and salads) like broccoli with chickpeas and harissa, and braised fennel with oranges.

A spread of Israeli small dishes Laser Wolf

Reggae Reggae Vibes

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Enthusiasts of classic Jamaican dishes won’t be disappointed by Reggae Reggae’s sizable menu of flavorful dishes, featuring options like brown-stewed chicken, fried red snapper, braised cabbage, and rice and peas. Undecided on what to try? Order the Jamaican Sampler, a platter of stewed oxtails, spicy jerk chicken, curried goat, and fried plantains.

Middle Child Clubhouse

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When this infamous Philly sandwich shop created its sister location, it turned the idea of all-day dining on its head, transitioning from a buzzing coffee shop and cafe by day into a sleek and trendy restaurant at night. Its eclectic menu is as impressive as it is delicious, featuring dishes like the Olivia’s Big Pancake (an 8-ounce malted buttermilk pancake topped with honey butter), an inventive take on latkes (that come with dill cream and the option to add salmon roe), and a cornflake-crusted buffalo tofu sandwich (which can be made both vegan and gluten-free), as well as both day drinks and night drinks.

Liberty Kitchen

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Liberty Kitchen’s full-service kitchen serves up a score of loaded hoagies, fresh salads, tomato pie, and more. But the excitement extends past its menu items, its deli, and market offer locally sourced cheeses, meats, and fan-favorite pantry staples showcasing their devotion to supporting other food entrepreneurs in Philly.

The Ground Coffee, Plants & Gifts

Pop-culture-inspired lattes and bubble teas, and a small collection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches, make this playful cafe (which doubles as a plant and gift shop) worth the visit. One of its most beloved menu items, the croffle, has quickly gained fame. It is made from a French croissant that has been baked as a waffle and topped with whipped cream and the customer’s choice of fruit compote, dulce de leche, or chocolate.

Sor Ynez

Mezcal flights, a new chef’s tasting menu, and a top-notch happy hour with best-in-class margaritas (offered Thursday through Sunday) are just a few of the winning aspects of this charming Mexican restaurant. Here you can savor tantalizing tortas, tacos, and ceviches (with both seafood and vegetarian options), as well as fan favorites like the Alitas de Pollo (baked chicken wings stuffed with queso chihuahua, serrano, and corn).

Buzz Cafe

At Buzz Cafe, owner and artist Terrance Laragione gets to showcase his artwork and love of memorabilia alongside an ‘all-day breakfast menu’ that features a handful of egg sandwiches, signature specials like the huevos rancheros wrap, and a considerable list of cold and hot coffee drinks, lattes, and teas.

Sutton's Bar

Sutton’s relaxed, neighborhood vibes, comfort food staples (like the classic burger and shepherd’s pie), and easy-sipping cocktails (with a drinks menu that changes seasonally) are what make it the choice spot to unwind after a long day or to catch up with friends. For some extra fun, check out its weekly entertainment calendar full of events like bingo, quizzo, and live music.

Luna Café

Luna Cafe reimagines brunch favorites with flavor-packed entrees, breakfast sandwiches, salads, and sandwiches ranging from fried chicken with pancakes and tofu scrambles to chicken salad-stuffed avocados and sun-dried tomato and turkey paninis. In addition to its cafe and coffee bar, the establishment also features a small wine shop selling a mix of natural, biodynamic, and organic wines.

Alamodok

Alamodok is a restaurant and hookah bar serving up Mediterranean fare. The menu runs the gamut, featuring a generous amount of options (including several for vegetarians) like the popcorn falafel, savory baba ganoush, and a hummus and meat platter featuring halal lamb.

Pasha's Halal

What started as a long-standing food truck specializing in halal dishes previously served the Temple University community for decades before opening up a storefront at 2nd and Cecil B. Moore in 2021. Its menu offers hearty meat and seafood platters, filling gyros and wraps, and satisfying salads, all made with halal ingredients.

Gryphon Coffee

With three locations across the Philadelphia area, Gryphon Coffee’s Olde Kensington location brings a mellow ambiance and is full of industrial charm. But coffee-based drinks aren’t the only thing to love here; its menu of scrumptious snacks and sandwiches offers options like the fig and brie toast, roasted red pepper sandwich, and the Sugartown (a Philly muffin topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers).

Poe's Sandwich Joint

This brewery and sandwich shop partnership is a match made in heaven, where Human Robot’s award-winning lagers (like the Czech 10, a Czech-style pale lager) and IPAs (like the hoppy Single Axis: Mosaic) can be enjoyed alongside Poe’s Sandwich Joint’s larger-than-life sandwiches (try the Birdman made with chicken cutlet, sharp provolone, parmesan, and broccoli rabe).

Que Chula Es Puebla

This family-owned restaurant and bar offers some of the best Mexican food in Philly, boasting a menu of chimichangas, grilled burritos, quesadillas, tacos, tortas, and generous entrees like the chiles rellenos, mole poblano, and enchiladas.

Helm

This casual BYOB opened its doors in 2015 as a partnership between chefs Kevin D’Egidio and Michael Griffiths, who were seeking to bring to life contemporary dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. The prix-fixe menu includes 3 courses (with the option for additional sides) and is always changing, offering visitors something new to enjoy each time they visit.

Laser Wolf

The dynamic duo of CookNSolo, Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook, opened Laser Wolf in 2020. Fashioned after an Israeli skewer house, diners here can enjoy a bounty of grilled dishes including Romanian beef kebabs, shawarma-spiced cauliflower, and whole dorade as well as hummus, pita bread, and a selection of salatim (cold dips and salads) like broccoli with chickpeas and harissa, and braised fennel with oranges.

A spread of Israeli small dishes Laser Wolf

Reggae Reggae Vibes

Enthusiasts of classic Jamaican dishes won’t be disappointed by Reggae Reggae’s sizable menu of flavorful dishes, featuring options like brown-stewed chicken, fried red snapper, braised cabbage, and rice and peas. Undecided on what to try? Order the Jamaican Sampler, a platter of stewed oxtails, spicy jerk chicken, curried goat, and fried plantains.

Middle Child Clubhouse

When this infamous Philly sandwich shop created its sister location, it turned the idea of all-day dining on its head, transitioning from a buzzing coffee shop and cafe by day into a sleek and trendy restaurant at night. Its eclectic menu is as impressive as it is delicious, featuring dishes like the Olivia’s Big Pancake (an 8-ounce malted buttermilk pancake topped with honey butter), an inventive take on latkes (that come with dill cream and the option to add salmon roe), and a cornflake-crusted buffalo tofu sandwich (which can be made both vegan and gluten-free), as well as both day drinks and night drinks.

Liberty Kitchen

Liberty Kitchen’s full-service kitchen serves up a score of loaded hoagies, fresh salads, tomato pie, and more. But the excitement extends past its menu items, its deli, and market offer locally sourced cheeses, meats, and fan-favorite pantry staples showcasing their devotion to supporting other food entrepreneurs in Philly.

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