The best restaurants in Philadelphia

Philly food, I will miss you.  You surpass Chicago in a lot of ways (and admittedly fall short in a lot of ways too). I’ve had some great food here, and as a bit of a foodie, I’ve asked chefs, managers, co-workers and long-time residents some of their favorite spots. Here’s a list of some of the best places in the city (according to me) to catch a bite along with their best dish.

Breakfast/Brunch:

Ida Mae’s Bruncherie, Tulip and Norris Sts, Fishtown: Try the tofu scramble and the Huevos Rancheros. Breakfast burrito is great, too.

Hinge Cafe, Somerset and Thompson Sts, Port Richmond: Full breakfast including coffee or juice for under $5 until 10 a.m. on weekdays. ALWAYS try one of the specials on weekends.

Honeys Sit ‘n Eat, Fourth and Brown Sts, Northern Liberties: Some say overrated, but I love it. Try the latkes with sour cream and apples sauce. Single pancakes great too. NEVER go on Sunday (1 hour wait minimum).

Acapulco Restaurant, 1144 S. 9th St. ,South Philly: Any traditional breakfast (sandwich, scrambled eggs, etc.) is less than $5. Try a breakfast Torta with ham and fried eggs. Seriously.

Cafe Estelle, 4th and Spring Garden Sts, Northern Liberties: fresh squeezed OJ, corn beef Reuben sandwich, stuffed French toast. *Update: Now closed

Located in the lobby of a condo building

Oregon Diner, 302 W. Oregon Ave., South Philly: Belgian waffle, French onion soup (best in city).

Pete’s Clown House, 3878 Frankford Ave.,  Kensington: One Egg, Toast, Potatoes or Grits bacon or sausage coffee or tea, $2.95 Seriously good stuff.

Looks can be deceiving

Sandwiches:

Paesano’s, 152 W. Girard Ave., Fishtown: The Arista (suckling roast pork sandwich)

(Check it: http://www.trazzler.com/trips/paesanos-in-philadelphia-pa)

Chickie’s Italian Deli, 1014 Federal, South Philly: Italian Hoagie

Shank’s, 901 S. Columbus Blvd, South Philly: Eggplant parmesean, Roast Pork hoagie

* Memphis Market, Memphis and Huntingdon Sts, Fishtown: $4 footlong hoagie special of day, includes 20 oz. soda

*denotes best kept secret. 2 meals, one sandwich!

Q.T. Vietnamese Sandwich, 48 N. 10th St., Market East: BBQ Pork or House Special sandwiches. Won’t run you more than 5 bucks.

Best Burgers:

Standard Tap, 901 N. 2nd St.

Sketch, Girard Avenue next to Bank of America, Fishtown: Add avocado and grilled onions. Get fries w/side of chipotle aioli.

The gals and I at Sketch

Grace Tavern, 2229 Greys Ferry Ave., Greys Ferry: House burger, mid-rare.

PYT, Piazza at Schmidt’s, Northern Liberties: BBQ Bleu Cheeseburger, Adult Milkshake.

Asian/Chinatown:

Pho Hao, 1111 S. 11th St., South Philly: Any Pho. So cheap, so good.

Han Dynasty, 2nd and Chestnut Sts, Old City: Dan Dan Noodles

Ken’s Seafood, 1004 Race St, Chinatown: Steamed Full Striped Bass. They’ll even catch it in a net at the aquarium in the front of the restaurant and carry it flopping back to the kitchen for its imminent death. SO awesome.

Sang Kee Peking Duck House, 238 N. 9th St, Chinatown: Clearly, the Peking Duck is excellent. Good for 2.

Banana Leaf, 1009 Arch St., Chinatown: Roti Telur, Satay Tofu, Pearl Noodles, Any steamed fish.

*David’s Mai Lai Wah, 1001 Race St., Chinatown: Jellyfish appetizer, Beef Chow Fun with Satay Sauce

*Open suuuuper late everyday of the week. Always a good crowd, even at 1 a.m. Monday morning.

Mexican food:

Plaza Garibaldi, 935 Washington Ave., South Philly: Have the Alambre: Bistek, pollo, y tocino grilled steak, chicken, bacon, with onions, bell peppers, melted cheese, sauteed cactus, rice, pico de gallo, guacamole and beans for $11.

Que Chula Es Puebla, 2nd and Master Sts, Old Kensington: Guacamole, Chorizo burrito.

Loco Pez, Intersection of Norris, Cedar and Susquehanna Sts., Fishtown: Nachos, Pez Tacos, Beans Diablo.

Pez taco on the right. Flash fried Grouper

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/ Indian/Ehiopian: 

Alyan’s Restaurant, 603 S. 4th St., Society Hill: Falafel Sandwich

South Street Souvlaki, 507 South St., South Street District: Combo platter ( tzatziki, baba ghanoush, houmus, dolmades, feta, olives, skordalia & taruna), any kabob platter (everything here very cheap. Carafe of white wine only $7!)

Byblos Restaurant and Bar, 114 S. 18th St, Center City: Cheap everything, delicious post-meal hookahs.

Sitar India, 60 S. 38th St., West Philly: Well-maintained buffet w/ anything you want for lunch and dinner. Around $12 for dinner buffet.

Sahara Indian Cuisine, 517 W. Girard Ave., Fishtown/Kensington: Vegetable Samosa, Tandoori Chicken, Saag Au Paneer, Baigen Bharta.

Abyssinia, 229 S. 45th St, West Philly: Kifto (rare minced beef), Ye’ Misir Alicha Wot (green lentils, onion, garlic, ginger), Yedoro Alicha (curried chicken with turmeric sauce).

Food Trucks/Random Bites

Guapos Tacos, usually parked at Love Park, 17th and JFK, Center City: Carnitas Tacos, Chipotle Short Rib tacos.

Memphis Taproom Hot Dog Truck, Cumberland and Memphis Sts, Fishtown: Sriarcha and bacon wrapped hot dog (only available in summer in beer garden), deep fried pickles w/ garlic aioli (available all year round). GREAT beer selection.

Rocco’s Italian Sausage, outside of Home Depot on Aramingo Avenue, Kensington: Sweet Italian sausage sandwich with sautéed onions and peppers.

Franco’s, Tulip and Huntingdon Sts, Fishtown: Garlic knots: they are like 35 cents a piece and the best goddamn things in the world.

Rocket Cat Cafe, Frankford and Norris, Fishtown: Everything bagel with housemade veggie cream cheese.

Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th St, Center City: Just about anything. Special mentions: Amish Apple Dumplings *best thing in the world. Get it a la mode*, DiNic’s roast beef and pork sandwiches, Profi’s Creperie.

Photo Courtesy Bethany Kozak

Believe it.

One thought on “The best restaurants in Philadelphia

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