There’s a lot to love about Philly, from its fascinating history, beautiful culture to its vibrant music scene. Renowned for its wide range of historical landmarks including the Liberty Bell, Fairmount Park, and Independence Hall, the city is also famous for its flourishing food scene. There has been a growing transformation in Philly’s foodscape, creating a sensational dining scene that attracts locals as well as visitors from across the world.
We asked local experts to share their top choice for the best places to eat in each neighborhood in Philadelphia. Read on to learn how to eat like a local in the ‘city of brotherly love’.
Old City, the birthplace of American independence, is a part of the historic district in Philadelphia. After a long day exploring the historical landmarks around the district, such as the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, Ben Franklin’s house, and others, you’ll probably be starving.
The food scene in Old City does not disappoint. For a sumptuous dinner, Zahav holds a special place in our hearts. It’s a middle eastern restaurant owned by Michael Solomonov, an Israeli chef and restaurateur. He owns many great dining spots in the city including Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Percy Street Barbecue, and Federal Donuts (fried chicken and donuts). All his restaurants are awesome, so if you can’t get into Zahav, you can try another. Buddakan also comes highly recommended with its unique and adventurous Asian fusion cuisine.
Philadelphia’s famous South Street is situated just a few blocks away from Old City, and it’s full of vibrant colors and sounds. It’s an exciting place, home to a variety of popular restaurants and cafés. Most importantly, South St. is home to our favorite cheesesteaks, Jim’s Cheesesteaks. It was opened in 1939 and since then, Jim’s has kept the Philadelphia tradition alive with mouth-watering chopped steak. Live like a native Philadelphian and ask for “whiz wit” (cheese whiz and fried onions) for a true experience.
If happy hour is your vibe then check out Tattooed Moms, they have great deals such as half-price drafts from 5-7 pm and from 10-11 pm every day, and meatless Mondays with vegetarian options half off from 1-11 pm. Check out their website for a full list of their weekly deals. Lastly, if you’re in the mood for some authentic Italian delicacies, check out The Saloon at 7th St. and Bainbridge established in 1967, full of artwork showcasing Philadelphia folklore and tradition.
*Bonus Spots: Check out Isaiah Zagar’s gorgeous outdoor mosaic experience at Magic Gardens, off the 10th St. Additionally if you’re feeling sore from so much walking or anxious about being in a new city, check out the one-of-a-kind CBD coffee shop/dispensary, Hip Hemp Cafe, off the 7th St.
Philadelphia’s popular downtown area, Center City is packed with historical and cultural landmarks as well as dining and entertainment hotspots. You’ll find more restaurants and bars in this neighborhood than the other parts of the city.
Our favorite locality for great food is the 13th Street in Philly’s Gayborhood. Check out Barbuzzo for Middle Eastern, Lolita for Italian, El Vez for Mexican, all phenomenal options depending on your mood.
A little further down towards City Hall is Reading Terminal, an indoor market from 1893 with some of Philly’s best finds. From fresh produce to homemade Beiler’s donuts (try the incredibly indulgent s’mores), Bassetts Ice Cream, and roast pork sandwiches from DiNic’s.
*Bonus Spot: If you’re craving some ramen check out Terakawa Ramen by the famous arch in Chinatown just a few blocks from Reading Terminal.
Rittenhouse is one of Philly’s most popular neighborhoods and a great place for dining, relaxing, walking and strolling. It features a public park – Rittenhouse Square, a great place to have a picnic and spend some time with friends and family. If you’re looking for a place to indulge in Italian cuisine, you can grab a take away at Di Brunos Bros, which has been serving the community from 1939.
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For a vegan option check out Hip City Veg, a go-to lunch spot if you are in the area. If the weather isn’t perfect, don’t worry, head to Parc, the french bistro on the edge of the park, and enjoy your meal with a view of the Rittenhouse from the restaurant.
If you have spent the day running up the steps like Rocky at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and now need to relax and recharge, Fairmount and Brewerytown have some great options. Find a unique dive bar experience which combines 10/10 Ethiopian food and billiards at Era, on Poplar St. Or for some southern food, hospitality and live music head to South Jazz Cafe on Broad St.
Northern Liberties / Fishtown
Visit the new up and coming area of Northern Liberties and Fishtown, which is home to wide-ranging restaurants, bars and micro-distilleries as well as live-music venues.
If you want to slow down and enjoy good food with your friends after spending the day exploring the neighborhood, check out Suraya. A Lebanese market, cafe, restaurant and garden all in one; created by two siblings, Nathalie and Rolland, raised in Beirut, Lebanon by their grandma, Suraya. You can also find a great brunch spot here, Honey’s, boasting a Southern and Jewish fusion menu.
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If you’re a coffee-lover, check out La Colombe, a Philadelphia based roastery with a large menu for both breakfast and lunch. For some of the city’s best barbeque go to Fette Sau, located off Frankford Ave. Next door is Frankford Hall, a fun bar with games and the best soft pretzels.
South Philly is also a popular neighborhood in the city reputed for its culinary scene. You’ll find a variety of top-notch restaurants cluster along East Passyunk Avenue, serving from Italian and French delicacies to Fried chicken & BBQs as well as tacos and satay. Passyunk Ave is perfect for dinner and a stroll.
Our favorite places to wine and dine in South Philly include Barbacoa for some lamb barbacoa and pancita tacos, Stina for some tasty pizza and Mediterranean food, and Bing Bing Dim Sum serves Jewish-American inspired Chinese food that you’ll definitely love. For any sports games, check out Xfinity Live! by the stadiums – a massive bar with four different rooms, one with a mechanical bull. The Italian Market also has a lot of gems, a great area to explore.
It’s not a surprise that the food scene in Philadelphia is thriving. Whether you are after savory breakfast, delicious brunch or tasty fast food, the city of brotherly love is a foodie paradise. This list should give you a good idea of where to eat in Philadelphia when you visit.
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