With vaccination rates against the coronavirus are rising and the city fully reopened, notable new restaurants are opening all the time in Philadelphia. Each spot on this list offers an extremely good mix of indoor, outdoor, and takeout options, though if you’re dining indoors, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated protects both you and the restaurant staff serving you. Be patient as changing times have been tough on restaurants and their staff — and don’t forget to tip well.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.
Philadelphia, PA 19144
Salam Cafe in Germantown has a little bit of everything: Mediterranean platters with hummus and falafel; spicy chicken Ethiopian stew and spongy injera; coffee drinks and smoothies; and even a small market of essentials if you’re running low on home goods. You’ll be happy with whatever you get (tubes of toothpaste included) but you can’t go wrong with the lamb platter, spicy beef stew, and the chicken kabobs. Bonus: There’s Ethiopian firfir for breakfast on the weekends.
Banh mi sandwiches at the new Vietnamese coffee shop in Kensington, Càphê Roasters, are made with house-made chả lụa Vietnamese sausage from chef Jacob Trinh — what’s not to love? Trinh and Thu Pham, the shop’s owner, make strong coffee, thoughtful lattes, and sweetened condensed milk drinks to accompany the breakfast and lunch menu, and those who prefer to brew at home can still pick up Pham’s beans, which are sourced from farmers around Asia.
Owned by the folks behind Jet Wine Bar, and with Alexis Tellez as executive chef, Sor Ynez offers fresh Mexican cuisine with a focus on sustainability. Try the “alt pastor,” a spit-roasted cauliflower alternative to al pastor that can be ordered on a taco, burrito, or torta, or root vegetable ceviche. Plus: vegan churros with oat milk champurrado are a great after-dinner treat.
Izakaya By Yanaga
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Another great dining destination comes to — where else? — Fishtown. Izakaya by Yanaga arrived on Frankford Avenue by way of Kevin Yanaga, an alum of Double Knot, Pod, and Morimoto, where he is delivering his take on sushi, ramen, sashimi, gyoza, and a range of hot and cold dishes. For now, the experience at Izakaya by Yanaga is a full service restaurant of appetizers, sashimi, and mains, though later on, Yanaga will build out a special omakase tasting menu space with 12 seats. Don’t wait, though: walk-ins to the already bustling spot are available now.
Stephen Starr’s new hybrid bookstore-restaurant-music venue-art gallery has been in the works for a long time: the pandemic pushed back its April 2020 open date until over a year later. This October, the wait is over — Baja dishes like tostadas, aguachiles, and adobado tacos are all served up in the restaurant’s main dining room, centered around a live fire grill. Not satisfied with ceviche and whole roasted snapper? Check out the bookstore and vinyl listening room for a change of pace.
SUYA SUYA West African Grill
For flavors found in Nigerian cuisine, Suya Suya West African Grill — the latest fast-casual spot to open in Philly — can’t be missed. Brought to you by restaurateur Dera Nd-Ezuma, Suya Suya’s mix-and-match bowls can be paired with jollof rice and sides of plantains, and all the grilled meats are done in a perfectly piquant peanut spice. Even better: you can select your heat level if you want to go even spicier.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
At La Chinesca on Spring Garden Street, Northern Baja cuisine melds with Chinese-American dishes to make something unique to Philly. Baby corn elote, fried peppers and cilantro, and mushroom tacos are all menu standouts, plus the cocktails are very refreshing. The colorful and comfortable outdoor space will make you feel like you’re on a vacation in some sunny faraway place, too. Reservations can be made on Resy.
Hop Sing Laundromat
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Hop Sing Laundromat — the Chinatown speakeasy run by a mysterious owner known only as Lê — closed in March 2020 as the coronavirus spread, and has remained closed as a measure to protect its staff ever since. In September, Lê announced that he’d be reopening the dimly lit bar at limited capacity and the wait for the interesting and elegant cocktails (as well as Lê’s outsized personality) was worth it. Just remember: All guests must bring a proof of vaccination card and ID, and it’s cash only.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
There are countless reasons to stop by Reading Terminal Market (and no, you don’t have to be a tourist to go) but with the addition of Tambayan, the Filipino restaurant run by chef and owner Kathy Mirano, there’s another reason to hit up the bustling 12th Street market. Tambayan is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for Filipino dishes like longanisa sausage fried rice, lumpia spring rolls, ube fries, and Mirano’s amazing pandesal rolls. Don’t forget to try the macarons in flavors like ube, matcha, and mango — they’re unlike any macaron you’ve ever tasted.
Huff and Puff BBQ
Opened by South Jersey restauranteur Luke Patrick, Philly’s latest barbecue venture, Huff and Puff, has options for carnivores and herbivores alike, from pit platters of St. Louis-style ribs and yardbird wings to pulled jackfruit sliders and vegan mac and cheese. A “flight” of pit meat includes a quarter pound of brisket, pulled pork, smoked watermelon, wings, ribs, coleslaw, and your choice of traditional barbecue sides. Don’t miss the fried pickles. Preorder online or walk in.
After being closed since March 2020, Jose Garces’s fine dining establishment Volvér at the Kimmel Center is open again with a new focus: For 12 months, Volvér will host seven guest chefs, starting in October with Poi Dog founder Kiki Aranita, who will cook dishes from her Hawaii roots. The program highlights minority chefs who have been impacted by the pandemic in some way, and diners will have the chance to donate to each chef at the end of every meal to help raise money for their next venture, with the Garces Foundation contributing a matching donation. Reservations can be made online.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
It was Chloe Grigri’s dream for years to open an intimate bar à vins, inspired by wine bars around France where diners snack on charcuterie and drink good wine. When she finally took the plunge to open Le Caveau upstairs from her French tavern The Good King in October of 2019, it was bustling for only six months before the pandemic shutdown. To our good fortune, Le Caveau is open again after staying closed for over a year. Celebrate this très cool date night spot by drinking natural wine and ordering the French hot dog, which comes served on half a baguette.
Sakana Omakase Sushi
Like a handful of Philly restaurants, beloved Queen Village omakase restaurant Sakana closed in July to perform renovations, leaving South 2nd Street without one of Philly’s most trusted and pleasurable dining experiences. The restaurant reopened at the beginning of August, and though it’s been a destination since 2019, with this latest refresh in the waning days of summer, it’s worth coming back to for the fresh sushi and sashimi from chef and owner Xiang Yu Lin, who goes by Sam. Sakana is BYOB and reservations for two different omakase tastings — one small and one large — can be made on Resy.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Before Philip Korshak began holding bagel pop-ups in Philly, there was a notable lack of poetry-enamored bagel-makers in the city. Now that Korshak’s first storefront is officially open on South 10th Street, the unlikely combination of poetry and bagels is finally a reality, with Gemini bagels (half poppy seed, half sesame seed) on offer and hand-scrawled poems taped to the door. Preorders can be made online but if you forget, come early — there are typically lines.