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A cheesesteak sliced in two alongside a bottle of champagne.
$140 cheesesteak at Barclay’s Prime.
Barclay’s Prime

The Most Iconic Philly Dishes

The best places for cheesesteaks, water ice, cannolis, and other iconic Philly foods

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$140 cheesesteak at Barclay’s Prime.
| Barclay’s Prime

Everyone knows what you’re supposed to eat in Philadelphia: a cheesesteak, right? Of course. But there’s way more to Philly’s always-evolving food scene. The city’s most iconic dishes are rooted in Italian-American traditions, original Americana recipes, and the contributions of Philly’s many immigrant communities. Yes, get a cheesesteak or two — but this map highlights many more iconic Philly dishes everyone needs to try, from uniquely flavored water ice and tomato pie to nationally known lamb barbacoa tacos.

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“Dolla” Hoagie at Honeysuckle Provisions

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West Philly hoagies are some of the absolute best in the region — so for a newcomer to best several longstanding choices is paramount. Meet the “Dolla” Hoagie at Honeysuckle Provisions: Omar Tate and Cybille St.Aude-Tate’s dynamic $12 hoagie that’s made with expertly baked spelt flour rolls and vegan mayo from benne seed (with either turkey or turnip for vegans).

Empanadas at Jezabel’s

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No trip to Philadelphia is complete without a visit to Jezabel’s in West Philly, where chef Jezabel Careaga offers some of the best empanadas outside of her home region of northwest Argentina. Order an empanada pack with a mix of meat, vegetarian, and vegan fillings and enjoy them with the spicy sauce of the day. Go ahead and tack on some alfajores for dessert while you’re at it.

Tomato Pie at Cacia's Bakery

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Depending on geography, the words tomato pie mean different things. In Philadelphia, it’s a stripped-down take on pizza — Italian bakery-made dough, tomato sauce, and, depending on who’s asking, a pit of cheese. With a vibrant, lightly sweet tomato sauce and soft crust, Cacia’s textbook tomato pie comes by the rectangular slice, alongside another Philly original: the pizzaz pie, topped with banana peppers, sliced tomatoes, and American cheese.

A whole tomato pie.
Tomato Pie at Cacia’s Bakery
Cacia’s Bakery

$140 Cheesesteak at Barclay Prime

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The legendary cheesesteak at Barclay Prime is extravagant on purpose. For $140, you get hand cut wagyu, black truffle shaved right on top, with foie gras, fried onions, and cooper sharp served on a freshly baked sesame roll alongside a ½ bottle of champagne. It’s fancy, but still Philly.

Oysters at Oyster House

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For the last three generations, the Mink family has been in the oyster business. The current Center City location of Oyster House, which has been around since the 1940s, is polished, modern, and known for its happy hour. All of the seafood is served within 24 hours of being taken out of the water.

Salted Caramel Budino at Barbuzzo

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Made with vanilla bean pudding and topped with caramel, sea salt, and crumbled dark chocolate crust — there’s nothing that compares to the salted caramel budino at Barbuzzo. Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s unique take on the classic Italian pudding parfait has been a dessert show-stopper for years in a city often known for water ice and cannolis.

Square Pizza at Santucci’s (multiple locations)

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The square pie from Santucci’s has been a local favorite for many years, starting in the 1950s in Northeast Philly. It’s currently available at several spots throughout Philly and beyond. The pizza is well-charred in cast-iron pans and piled with “upside-down” toppings, meaning the sauce is on top.

Tacos at South Philly Barbacoa

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Cristina Martinez’s lamb barbacoa tacos regularly draw national attention to this casual Italian Market eatery. The lamb is marinated and cooked overnight before tender chunks, chopped to order, are served on house-made tortillas. South Philly Barbacoa is open incredibly limited hours so prepare for a wait.

Cannoli at Termini Brothers Bakery (multiple locations)

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South Philly is known for its picture-perfect family-run Italian bakeries, spilling over with sweets like torrone, lobster tails, zeppoli, and cannoli. One must-try spot is the century-old Termini Brothers Bakery, whose cannoli are integral to the Philly experience.

Cheesesteak at Angelo's Pizzeria

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There’s plenty of debate about where to eat a cheesesteak, but the point is simple: Eat one. There is no more iconic food in this city than the cheesesteak — the rest of the world calls it a Philly cheesesteak for good reason. In South Philly, Angelo’s version is a showstopper. The key factors are a fresh, locally baked roll; flavorful (if moderately greasy) meat; Cheez Whiz (or American); and optional sauteed onions. For a bright twist on the formula, try the cheesesteak torta with serranos, chipotle mustard, and fresh pico de gallo at Mexican favorite Café y Chocolate, also in South Philly.

Water Ice at John's Water Ice

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While Philly has many places to get good water ice, John’s in Bella Vista is a longstanding favorite. The cold treat is made with only water, fruit, and sugar, just like when the South Philly takeout shop opened in 1945.

Edamame Dumplings at Buddakan

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Good dumplings in this town are in abundance, but the ones at Buddakan have been impressing diners for over two decades. Their signature edamame dumplings that are served in a truffled sauternes-shallot broth are the definition of iconic (and tasty) dining.

Lamb Shoulder at Zahav

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As a nationally renowned restaurant that’s been part of the charge for exceptional Israeli food in America, Zahav is a major point of Philly pride. The lamb, braised in pomegranate molasses and strewn with chickpeas, is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes.

Roast Pork Sandwich at John's Roast Pork

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Philadelphia may be best known for cheesesteaks, but locals know a little secret: Get the roast pork instead. The no-frills John’s Roast Pork in South Philly has been perfecting the sandwich since 1930, even earning a James Beard Award as an American classic. And if you must have a cheesesteak too, this is an excellent place to get one.

OG Fried Chicken Sandwich at Love & Honey Fried Chicken

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In a city known for it’s cheesesteaks, hoagies, and roast pork — Love & Honey made it clear that fried chicken shouldn’t be left out of the conversation. A remarkable buttermilk fried chicken breast topped with spicy slaw, sweet pickle, and buttermilk ranch on a toasted brioche bun might make one reconsider how they rank Philly sandwiches altogether.

“Dolla” Hoagie at Honeysuckle Provisions

West Philly hoagies are some of the absolute best in the region — so for a newcomer to best several longstanding choices is paramount. Meet the “Dolla” Hoagie at Honeysuckle Provisions: Omar Tate and Cybille St.Aude-Tate’s dynamic $12 hoagie that’s made with expertly baked spelt flour rolls and vegan mayo from benne seed (with either turkey or turnip for vegans).

Empanadas at Jezabel’s

No trip to Philadelphia is complete without a visit to Jezabel’s in West Philly, where chef Jezabel Careaga offers some of the best empanadas outside of her home region of northwest Argentina. Order an empanada pack with a mix of meat, vegetarian, and vegan fillings and enjoy them with the spicy sauce of the day. Go ahead and tack on some alfajores for dessert while you’re at it.

Tomato Pie at Cacia's Bakery

Depending on geography, the words tomato pie mean different things. In Philadelphia, it’s a stripped-down take on pizza — Italian bakery-made dough, tomato sauce, and, depending on who’s asking, a pit of cheese. With a vibrant, lightly sweet tomato sauce and soft crust, Cacia’s textbook tomato pie comes by the rectangular slice, alongside another Philly original: the pizzaz pie, topped with banana peppers, sliced tomatoes, and American cheese.

A whole tomato pie.
Tomato Pie at Cacia’s Bakery
Cacia’s Bakery

$140 Cheesesteak at Barclay Prime

The legendary cheesesteak at Barclay Prime is extravagant on purpose. For $140, you get hand cut wagyu, black truffle shaved right on top, with foie gras, fried onions, and cooper sharp served on a freshly baked sesame roll alongside a ½ bottle of champagne. It’s fancy, but still Philly.

Oysters at Oyster House

For the last three generations, the Mink family has been in the oyster business. The current Center City location of Oyster House, which has been around since the 1940s, is polished, modern, and known for its happy hour. All of the seafood is served within 24 hours of being taken out of the water.

Salted Caramel Budino at Barbuzzo

Made with vanilla bean pudding and topped with caramel, sea salt, and crumbled dark chocolate crust — there’s nothing that compares to the salted caramel budino at Barbuzzo. Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s unique take on the classic Italian pudding parfait has been a dessert show-stopper for years in a city often known for water ice and cannolis.

Square Pizza at Santucci’s (multiple locations)

The square pie from Santucci’s has been a local favorite for many years, starting in the 1950s in Northeast Philly. It’s currently available at several spots throughout Philly and beyond. The pizza is well-charred in cast-iron pans and piled with “upside-down” toppings, meaning the sauce is on top.

Tacos at South Philly Barbacoa

Cristina Martinez’s lamb barbacoa tacos regularly draw national attention to this casual Italian Market eatery. The lamb is marinated and cooked overnight before tender chunks, chopped to order, are served on house-made tortillas. South Philly Barbacoa is open incredibly limited hours so prepare for a wait.

Cannoli at Termini Brothers Bakery (multiple locations)

South Philly is known for its picture-perfect family-run Italian bakeries, spilling over with sweets like torrone, lobster tails, zeppoli, and cannoli. One must-try spot is the century-old Termini Brothers Bakery, whose cannoli are integral to the Philly experience.

Cheesesteak at Angelo's Pizzeria

There’s plenty of debate about where to eat a cheesesteak, but the point is simple: Eat one. There is no more iconic food in this city than the cheesesteak — the rest of the world calls it a Philly cheesesteak for good reason. In South Philly, Angelo’s version is a showstopper. The key factors are a fresh, locally baked roll; flavorful (if moderately greasy) meat; Cheez Whiz (or American); and optional sauteed onions. For a bright twist on the formula, try the cheesesteak torta with serranos, chipotle mustard, and fresh pico de gallo at Mexican favorite Café y Chocolate, also in South Philly.

Water Ice at John's Water Ice

While Philly has many places to get good water ice, John’s in Bella Vista is a longstanding favorite. The cold treat is made with only water, fruit, and sugar, just like when the South Philly takeout shop opened in 1945.

Edamame Dumplings at Buddakan

Good dumplings in this town are in abundance, but the ones at Buddakan have been impressing diners for over two decades. Their signature edamame dumplings that are served in a truffled sauternes-shallot broth are the definition of iconic (and tasty) dining.

Lamb Shoulder at Zahav

As a nationally renowned restaurant that’s been part of the charge for exceptional Israeli food in America, Zahav is a major point of Philly pride. The lamb, braised in pomegranate molasses and strewn with chickpeas, is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes.

Roast Pork Sandwich at John's Roast Pork

Philadelphia may be best known for cheesesteaks, but locals know a little secret: Get the roast pork instead. The no-frills John’s Roast Pork in South Philly has been perfecting the sandwich since 1930, even earning a James Beard Award as an American classic. And if you must have a cheesesteak too, this is an excellent place to get one.

OG Fried Chicken Sandwich at Love & Honey Fried Chicken

In a city known for it’s cheesesteaks, hoagies, and roast pork — Love & Honey made it clear that fried chicken shouldn’t be left out of the conversation. A remarkable buttermilk fried chicken breast topped with spicy slaw, sweet pickle, and buttermilk ranch on a toasted brioche bun might make one reconsider how they rank Philly sandwiches altogether.

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