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Amada in Old City, Philadelphia
Amada [official photo]

Eat Your Way Through Philadelphia’s Historic District

Where to dine in Old City, from morning pastries through after-dinner drinks

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Amada in Old City, Philadelphia
| Amada [official photo]

It comes as no big surprise that the birthplace of American democracy — home to the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin’s print shop, Betsy Ross’s flag-making studio, and the very same building where the U.S. Constitution was signed — just so happens to be Philly’s tourist epicenter. Fortunately, in lieu of lining the streets with middling cheesesteak joints geared toward school groups and the vacationing set, the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia is full of all-day dining options frequented by locals and visitors alike. From storied taverns and modern hot spots to 19th-century ice cream shops, Old City’s top eating and drinking destinations are steeped in their own fascinating histories.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Bourse

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111 S Independence Mall E
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 625-0300
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With vendors selling loaded fries, gussied up grilled cheeses, Korean tacos, Egyptian shawarma, fried chicken, Filipino lumpia, Chinese dumplings, and more, the hard part is narrowing down what to order at the new food hall inside the historic Bourse building.

Mighty Melt [official photo]

2. High Street on Market

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308 Market St
Philadelphia, PA

It takes a talented crew to engineer sandwiches good enough to impress a town as tough as Philly. Whether it’s an eye opener of Lancaster bologna and egg on a house-baked poppy roll or a reimagined favorite like pork with provolone and fermented broccoli rabe, High Street’s sandwich game is on point. Later in the day, the dining room lights dim and the restaurant transitions from counter service to a sit-down spot.

Chaucee Stillman

3. Amada

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217-219 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 625-2450
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Iron Chef Jose Garces’ first restaurant remains a Philly favorite after more than a decade serving traditional Spanish tapas in Old City. Shrimp in garlic sauce and bacon-wrapped dates are among the go-tos at this stylish spot.

Amada [official photo]

4. Fork

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306 Market St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 625-9425
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This Old City institution has been on the cutting edge of fine dining for more than 20 years, embracing the farm-to-table ethos long before it was trendy. These days Fork is as worth a visit as ever, thanks to a wealth of skill and creativity in both the front and back of house. The $78 set menu is a four-course affair that allows tables to sample a luxe selection of starters, pastas, mains, and desserts.

5. Sonny's Famous Steaks

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228 Market St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 629-5760
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If a cheesesteak is an absolute must, this Old City fave has garnered its fair share of national accolades for its rib eye and Whiz sandwiches. Bonus points for a 3 a.m. last call on weekends. Another good option in the neighborhood is Campo’s, which, along with the cheesesteaks, grilled chicken sandwiches, and hoagies, has several vegan items on the menu.

Sonny’s [official photo]

6. City Tavern

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138 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 413-1443
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City Tavern hasn’t actually been around since Ben Franklin was singing the praises of beer, but it sure looks like it has — with good reason. Opened in 1976, the restaurant is modeled after the original City Tavern on the same spot, built in 1773 and frequented by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and crew. Head to this historic watering hole for a hearty meal of “Colonial turkey pot pie,” or just go right to the bar for beers brewed with the Founding Fathers’ recipes, delivered by waitstaff outfitted in tricorner hats and other period garb.

7. Khyber Pass Pub

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56 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 238-5888
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With neon craft beer signs illuminating its windows, it would be easy to assume that Khyber is just another Philly beer bar. But while its draft and bottle offerings are among the city’s best, what sets this former dive apart is its menu of New Orleans-inspired fare. Philly might be miles from the Big Easy but the po’ boys and étouffées here are no joke. There are also a lot of vegan options.

8. Royal Boucherie

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52 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(267) 606-6313
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Every neighborhood should have a solid French restaurant. In Old City, it’s Top Chef winner Nick Elmi’s lively brasserie Royal Boucherie. Pop in for glass of vin or a full meal. Either way, snagging a seat under the string lights on the hidden deck and starting with charcuterie or selections from the raw bar is the move.

9. Han Dynasty

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123 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 922-1888
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A tiny Chestnut Street restaurant was the beginning of Philly’s love affair with Sichuan cuisine. Han Dynasty is now a mini-empire with satellites in three states. These days the flagship operation in Old City has moved across the street to statelier digs with more space to enjoy fiery dan dan noodles, cumin lamb, and twice-cooked pork belly.

10. Ariana Restaurant

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134 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 922-1535
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Ariana has been serving Afghan food in Old City for two decades. The cozy restaurant is BYOB, so bring along a bottle of wine to go with the lamb kebabs, kofta, and sautéed pumpkin.

11. Buk Chon

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132 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 925-9998
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Korean BYOB Buk Chon, with its exposed brick walls and comfy banquettes, is where to go for double-fried chicken with chili sauce, a plate piled with bulgogi, or sizzling bibimbap.

12. Zahav

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237 Saint James Pl
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 625-8800
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Who knew that something as humble as hummus could change the way the nation views Israeli eating? Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook of Zahav — the best restaurant in the country — have cultivated a masterful crew to run the open kitchen from which diners are treated to multi-course meals featuring smart takes on classic Middle Eastern flavors. Order al la carte or go for one of the two prix fixe options — either way, kick off the meal with that game-changing hummus.

Alexandra Hawkins

13. The Franklin Fountain

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116 Market St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 627-1899
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History buffs and antiquarians Eric and Ryan Berley’s old-timey soda fountain doesn’t mess around when it comes to ice cream authenticity. From period-perfect decor to classic Philadelphia-style scoops and fizzy phosphates and floats, desserts here are Wonka-level over-the-top and timelessly tasty. It does get busy, especially in high season, but good news: The brothers’ Franklin Ice Cream Bar on the same block almost always has a shorter line. Head there for a slightly smaller selection of ice cream, plus chocolate-dipped ice cream bars with colorful toppings.

14. Panorama

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14 N Front St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 922-7800
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Philadelphia’s wine scene has been flourishing as of late, thanks in no small part to Panorama’s longtime sommelier, Bill Eccleston. At this dark-wood wine bar, guest can sample 120 wines from the world’s largest preservation and dispensing system, either by the glass or incorporated into fanciful flights with themes like “wines for beer lovers” and “future cult classics.” To eat, chef Matthew Gentile’s menu features house-made pastas.

15. Tuna Bar

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205 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 238-8862
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Chef-owner Ken Sze honed his skills at his family’s sushi restaurant in South Jersey before heading to Old City to open Tuna Bar. The stylish spot has a full bar with wine, beer, and cocktails and serves both lunch and dinner.

Tuna Bar in Old City Philadelphia - for Eater Rebecca McAlpin

1. The Bourse

111 S Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Mighty Melt [official photo]

With vendors selling loaded fries, gussied up grilled cheeses, Korean tacos, Egyptian shawarma, fried chicken, Filipino lumpia, Chinese dumplings, and more, the hard part is narrowing down what to order at the new food hall inside the historic Bourse building.

111 S Independence Mall E
Philadelphia, PA 19106

2. High Street on Market

308 Market St, Philadelphia, PA
Chaucee Stillman

It takes a talented crew to engineer sandwiches good enough to impress a town as tough as Philly. Whether it’s an eye opener of Lancaster bologna and egg on a house-baked poppy roll or a reimagined favorite like pork with provolone and fermented broccoli rabe, High Street’s sandwich game is on point. Later in the day, the dining room lights dim and the restaurant transitions from counter service to a sit-down spot.

308 Market St
Philadelphia, PA

3. Amada

217-219 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Amada [official photo]

Iron Chef Jose Garces’ first restaurant remains a Philly favorite after more than a decade serving traditional Spanish tapas in Old City. Shrimp in garlic sauce and bacon-wrapped dates are among the go-tos at this stylish spot.

217-219 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

4. Fork

306 Market St, Philadelphia, PA

This Old City institution has been on the cutting edge of fine dining for more than 20 years, embracing the farm-to-table ethos long before it was trendy. These days Fork is as worth a visit as ever, thanks to a wealth of skill and creativity in both the front and back of house. The $78 set menu is a four-course affair that allows tables to sample a luxe selection of starters, pastas, mains, and desserts.

306 Market St
Philadelphia, PA

5. Sonny's Famous Steaks

228 Market St, Philadelphia, PA
Sonny’s [official photo]

If a cheesesteak is an absolute must, this Old City fave has garnered its fair share of national accolades for its rib eye and Whiz sandwiches. Bonus points for a 3 a.m. last call on weekends. Another good option in the neighborhood is Campo’s, which, along with the cheesesteaks, grilled chicken sandwiches, and hoagies, has several vegan items on the menu.

228 Market St
Philadelphia, PA

6. City Tavern

138 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA

City Tavern hasn’t actually been around since Ben Franklin was singing the praises of beer, but it sure looks like it has — with good reason. Opened in 1976, the restaurant is modeled after the original City Tavern on the same spot, built in 1773 and frequented by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and crew. Head to this historic watering hole for a hearty meal of “Colonial turkey pot pie,” or just go right to the bar for beers brewed with the Founding Fathers’ recipes, delivered by waitstaff outfitted in tricorner hats and other period garb.

138 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA

7. Khyber Pass Pub

56 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA

With neon craft beer signs illuminating its windows, it would be easy to assume that Khyber is just another Philly beer bar. But while its draft and bottle offerings are among the city’s best, what sets this former dive apart is its menu of New Orleans-inspired fare. Philly might be miles from the Big Easy but the po’ boys and étouffées here are no joke. There are also a lot of vegan options.

56 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA

8. Royal Boucherie

52 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Every neighborhood should have a solid French restaurant. In Old City, it’s Top Chef winner Nick Elmi’s lively brasserie Royal Boucherie. Pop in for glass of vin or a full meal. Either way, snagging a seat under the string lights on the hidden deck and starting with charcuterie or selections from the raw bar is the move.

52 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

9. Han Dynasty

123 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA

A tiny Chestnut Street restaurant was the beginning of Philly’s love affair with Sichuan cuisine. Han Dynasty is now a mini-empire with satellites in three states. These days the flagship operation in Old City has moved across the street to statelier digs with more space to enjoy fiery dan dan noodles, cumin lamb, and twice-cooked pork belly.

123 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA

10. Ariana Restaurant

134 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Ariana has been serving Afghan food in Old City for two decades. The cozy restaurant is BYOB, so bring along a bottle of wine to go with the lamb kebabs, kofta, and sautéed pumpkin.

134 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

11. Buk Chon

132 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Korean BYOB Buk Chon, with its exposed brick walls and comfy banquettes, is where to go for double-fried chicken with chili sauce, a plate piled with bulgogi, or sizzling bibimbap.

132 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

12. Zahav

237 Saint James Pl, Philadelphia, PA
Alexandra Hawkins

Who knew that something as humble as hummus could change the way the nation views Israeli eating? Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook of Zahav — the best restaurant in the country — have cultivated a masterful crew to run the open kitchen from which diners are treated to multi-course meals featuring smart takes on classic Middle Eastern flavors. Order al la carte or go for one of the two prix fixe options — either way, kick off the meal with that game-changing hummus.

237 Saint James Pl
Philadelphia, PA

13. The Franklin Fountain

116 Market St, Philadelphia, PA

History buffs and antiquarians Eric and Ryan Berley’s old-timey soda fountain doesn’t mess around when it comes to ice cream authenticity. From period-perfect decor to classic Philadelphia-style scoops and fizzy phosphates and floats, desserts here are Wonka-level over-the-top and timelessly tasty. It does get busy, especially in high season, but good news: The brothers’ Franklin Ice Cream Bar on the same block almost always has a shorter line. Head there for a slightly smaller selection of ice cream, plus chocolate-dipped ice cream bars with colorful toppings.

116 Market St
Philadelphia, PA

14. Panorama

14 N Front St, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia’s wine scene has been flourishing as of late, thanks in no small part to Panorama’s longtime sommelier, Bill Eccleston. At this dark-wood wine bar, guest can sample 120 wines from the world’s largest preservation and dispensing system, either by the glass or incorporated into fanciful flights with themes like “wines for beer lovers” and “future cult classics.” To eat, chef Matthew Gentile’s menu features house-made pastas.

14 N Front St
Philadelphia, PA

15. Tuna Bar

205 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tuna Bar in Old City Philadelphia - for Eater Rebecca McAlpin

Chef-owner Ken Sze honed his skills at his family’s sushi restaurant in South Jersey before heading to Old City to open Tuna Bar. The stylish spot has a full bar with wine, beer, and cocktails and serves both lunch and dinner.

205 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

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