The Penn ’76

In Philly, we love independence. Between the ‘76ers, the Ben Franklin statue that presides over Penn’s campus, and flags strewn across Old City, all the way up to Independence Hall itself, a revolutionary spirit is always in the air. Now that we don’t have to worry so much about overbearing colonial powers, though, Philadelphians have grown fiercely independent in other ways, focusing on smaller but still significant endeavors—like food. 

Even though we want you to be independent, Penn Appétit compiled our favorite spots—a whopping 76 of them—to make discovering Philly’s best a bit easier, from far away Fishtown to South Philly to 40th Street. We want to remind students that there’s more out there than University City, and remind Philadelphians of our great city’s dynamicity, energy, and… well, flavor.


Penn Appétit


1 The Well-Rounded French-Lebanese Spot for Saying Goodbye To Boring Brunch

Café La Maude

Northern Liberties

And when we say well-rounded, we don’t mean to say that you are in for a well balanced meal, no. God no. Well-rounded here is used to describe the absolutely insane, beautiful, and harmonic blend of French and Lebanese cuisines that the people at Café La Maude manage to pull together in each of their dishes. They take dishes that may seem familiar at first, and then do their own thing to them, a twist so wonderfully executed that makes this Parisian looking café one of the best brunch spots in the city.

Order this green shakshuka, Gaufre Chicken Cordon Bleu, sweet potato Benedict, halloumi, and brisket huevos rancheros.

2 The Mexican Breakfast Place for Discovering a New Hangover Cure

Don Barriga

West Philly

Don Barriga’s menu takes you through an entire day of Mexican cuisine: morning scrambled eggs with chorizo, sopes, flautas, tostadas, and tortas. You can find chilaquiles and pozole—both of which are amazing for hangovers—served with classic Mexican drinks like horchata, hibiscus, and the very instagramable “Jarritos.” Last but certainly not least, they have tacos—which are insane. Even better, they come double tortilla’d, just like in Mexico.

Order this tacos de lengua, the house breakfast (chilaquiles, molletes, and beans), enfrijoladas, and tamales with salsa verde.

3 The Donut Shop for Guilt-Free Vegan Donuts That Are So, So Guilty

Dottie’s Donuts

West Philly

Dottie’s Donuts is an unassuming spot in West Philadelphia. Located behind a gas station, it’s easy to miss while walking down Baltimore Avenue. Once you find it, the sugar rush makes the journey worth it. The donuts are perfectly tender and just the right amount of sweet. Other desserts, such as brownies, are similarly balanced. With the amazing texture and flavor of the desserts, it’s hard to believe that everything is 100% vegan. Dottie’s has lots of specials, making it easy to justify frequent donut runs.

Order this raspberry, Boston cream, and cookies and cream donuts.

4 That One Hipster Coffee Shop for When You’ve Had Enough of The Library

Elixr Coffee

Rittenhouse Square

Located in an alley off a busy stretch of Walnut Street, Elixr Coffee is a quiet haven in the middle of the city buzz. Most weekend days, the shop is filled with people lounging, working, and chatting over delicious baked goods and espresso drinks. Hot coffee and tea is served in beautiful glass carafes. With free wifi, this spot is perfect for studying (just make sure you aren’t cramming because it’s loud—beware!). Get there early to get a table.  

Order this cappuccino, latte of the day, white peony tea, and a chocolate croissant.

5 The Jewish Bakery That Somehow Is Always Sold Out of Exactly What You Wanted

Essen Bakery


This little Jewish pastry shop is not for the faint of heart. Not only does it take almost forty minutes to get to, but once there, you might not have a place to sit. Yes, it is tiny, and in the mornings, a little crowded. But hey, as a consolation prize you get to stuff your face with their famed za’atar croissants and za’atar challah, and then order a sticky, chocolate rugelach and Jewish apple cake to go. Both of which you can inhale on your long (but at this point totally worth-it) trip back to Penn.

Order this za’atar croissants, za’atar challah, and chocolate babka.

6 It’s a Cafe… It’s a Gallery… It’s a Community Center… It’s Frieda


Old City

First you think it’s a gallery but no, there are people eating breakfast. You go, “It must be a café!” but then you stumble upon this month’s calendar of activities and you spiral into confusion again. Frieda is a multi-purpose space for people of all ages and backgrounds. However, the café is the primary attraction. Every order comes with a side of fresh fruit and the dishes are delicious, especially the pastries, such as the famous almond croissant. Don’t forget to compliment the lovely hostess—a lively 91 year old—on whichever one of her 497 brooches she happens to be wearing.

Order this French omelette (with add-ins of your choice), avocado toast, or the Continental Breakfast. Finish off with a croissant and a fresh almond pastry.

7 The Traditional Tofu “Deli” Your Chinese Grandparents Will Love

Heung Fa Chun


With a deli-styled interior and an eclectic assortment of sticky rice, chrysanthemum tea, and a menu featuring soy-based items, Heung Fa Chun is the perfect embodiment of an old-school Chinese tofu shop. While tofu typically has a bad rap of being bland and flavorless, Heung Fa Chun will change that impression. One of their main highlights is the sweet and savory tofu—a real treat for anyone who’s never had a tofu dessert. For a traditional Chinese breakfast experience, make sure to get the Chinese donut for dipping in soy milk–think cookies and milk, but with culture.

Order this sweet tofu, salty tofu, Chinese donut, soy milk, sticky rice, and chrysanthemum tea.

8 The Jewish-Meets-Southern Brunch Spot That’s Definitely Worth the Wait

Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat

Fitler Square and Northern Liberties

This small, cash-only brunch staple proves itself worthy of the long lines of people waiting outside every weekend morning. Get ready to become familiar with the people sitting around you in this informal restaurant, where it feels as though everyone is eating one communal meal. Everything that Honey’s makes, they make well, whether it be the perfectly-crisp fried chicken tucked inside a soft brioche bun, or the hollandaise-soaked challah smothered in cheddar cheese, which somehow proves itself as the best thing to have ever entered your mouth.

Order this toad in a hole, latkes, spicy fried chicken sandwich, fried cheese grilled cheese, and challah french toast.

9 The Family-Owned Italian Bakery Whose Cannoli Will Make You Want to Slap Your Nonna

Isgro Pastries

Italian Market

Dessert for breakfast, anyone? If you’re in the mood for something sweet, head over to Isgro’s for incredible cannoli, an assortment of cookies priced by the pound, and countless more pastries, from eclairs to tiramisu to key lime tarts. Once inside this tiny bakery that’s been around for over a century, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the pastries around you, but don’t worry. You’ll be back. Be sure to stop by around the holidays for seasonally themed treats, like Easter bread in the spring or apple pie for Thanksgiving.

Order this ricotta cannoli, tiramisu, and then some more cannoli (there’s a reason why their website is

10 The Turkish Restaurant That Goes Big for Brunch


Society Hill

When Turks do brunch, they go all the way. Isot is nothing shy of this. First you fill the table past its capacity with plates of cheese, pastries, and spreads. Then you order something for yourself—usually either an egg dish or a gozleme (a quesadilla-like pastry). Go with a big group of friends, stuff your face with delicious breakfast food until you can eat no longer, and then drink a round of Turkish coffee and try to read each other’s fortunes from the leftover coffee grounds.

Order this beef gozleme, Turkish breakfast spread, menemen, and Turkish sausage with eggs.

11 You’ve Definitely Seen Their Rugelach on Instagram—It’s Time to Swipe Right

K’Far Cafe

Rittenhouse Square

This Israeli all-day cafe and bakery tops the cake of Philly’s bakeries. Inspired by the energy of Jerusalem bakeries, this new addition to the Solomonov-Cook Empire offers tahini chocolate chip cookies and sticky pistachio buns. Not only do they offer freshly-baked pastries all day long, but K’Far’s menu encapsulates traditional Israeli cuisine in an effortless manner. Just north of Rittenhouse Square, you’ll be met with a line at the door, but fear not: the line never takes longer than 15 minutes. Besides, anyone will tell you that the food is definitely worth the wait.

Order this brown sugar ricotta toast, potato boreka, smoked salmon Jerusalem bagel, and of course the chocolate rugelach. Then come back for dinner.

12 The Place For Feeling Fancy But Still Eating Chicken and Waffles

The Love

Rittenhouse Square

The Love is the place you bring your parents when they visit. It is elegant and cozy, which makes it a great spot for a warm meal, be it chicken and waffles or risotto. Their menu items are very diverse, and it may be one of the last places on earth that doesn’t scream at you about their shared plate philosophy when you walk in the door. You can actually order one plate per person—like the good ole days! (Don’t worry—they still have amazing appetizers, such as buttermilk biscuits, to share until the mains arrive!)

Order this buttermilk biscuits, ricotta ravioli, lemon poppy pancakes, and the old fashioned shaved prime rib sandwich au jus.

13 The Diner for Pancakes 24-Hours a Day

The Melrose Diner


Craving homestyle diner digs? Look no further than the Melrose Diner in the heart of southwest Philly. A classic since 1935, and perfect for a casual breakfast, this diner is one of the best. The metallic cushioned booths, hightop bar, and neon lights create the ‘80s diner ambiance you want while eating some deliciously fluffy pancakes. Their breakfast (as a good diner’s should be) is the star of the show, but head here for late night snacks too and you won’t be disappointed. With amazing service, food, and energy 24-hours a day, the Melrose Diner is worth the trip.

Order this pancakes, pizza fries (French fries with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella), coconut cream pie, and onion rings.

14 The Café With An Ancient Sourdough Culture and the Only Bread You Need Ever Buy Again

Metropolitan Bakery

West Philly, Rittenhouse Square, and Chinatown

This is where your parents probably ate back in the ‘90s when the rest of Philly was serving fancy-schmancy caviar toast for breakfast. The bread is still some of the best in Philly, including their infamous Chocolate Cherry bread. It sounds weird, but so does a bread spot that does pizza—and Metro does this excellently too. While sipping a morning coffee, don’t forget to stock up on freezer goods or pantry staples from their extensive to go section.

Order this chocolate cherry bread, breakfast pizza, San Fran style sourdough, canelé, and a biscuit and egg sandwich.

15 The See-and-Be-Seen Restaurant to Take Your I’m-Too-Good-for-America, Give-Me-Paris-and-a-View-of-the-Eiffel-Tower Friends


Rittenhouse Square

If you’re taking a stroll around Rittenhouse Square, it’s hard to miss this charming establishment, with its quaint outdoor seating and French-looking façade. The high ceilings and intricate lighting fixtures, gold and maroon accents, and expansive park view create an elegant reprieve from your studies. Open all day every day, Parc is a great place to go after strolling around Rittenhouse with friends and visitors alike. If the weather is nice, sit outside and watch dogs and runners pass by while you stuff yourself with bread. The food isn’t revolutionary, but the ambience and location make it worth the splurge.

Order this avocado toast, smoked salmon tartine, any breakfast pastry, and French toast.

16 The Perfect Place for When You’re Craving an Authentic Bagel, but New York is Too Far Away

Philly Style Bagels


Nothing short of glowing reviews for this hip bagel shop right off the MFL in Fishtown.  Cranking out classic and specialty bagels such as the “Eggrything”—An egg-everything hybrid served only Sundays and Mondays, this tiny hidden gem has amazing service, great vibes, and a killer bagel. Baked fresh daily and boiled in beer, the bagels can be topped with one of their many housemade spreads—including vegan options. The square that the shop is located on is a perfect spot to drink your morning coffee and eat a delicious bagel. If you miss New York, this is a must.

Order this the Classic lox sandwich, everything bagels, specialty bagel of the day, and anything with scallion cream cheese.

17 The Brunch Spot Where Even Vegans Are Surprised It's Actually Vegan

P.S. & Co

Rittenhouse Square

This place might almost make you want to become vegan. Get the French toast—you’ll never guess it’s egg- and dairy-less. The coconut cream that comes with it is divine, as are the cinnamon apples. The staff is incredibly nice and conversational, bringing a welcoming vibe to the already hipster place. The whole environment is extremely charming and the price is the same as most brunch places, despite everything being made in house and organic. The food is Instagram worthy and tastes as good as it looks.

Order this brioche French toast, tofu scramble, and any smoothie bowl.

18 The Chinatown Coffee Shop That Will Make You Want to Call Your Mom

Ray’s Cafe & Tea House


Walking into Ray’s Cafe feels like entering your childhood home. An unassuming coffee shop in the middle of Chinatown, Ray’s is home to the only siphon-brewed coffee in Philadelphia, where coffee beans are ground right before your cup is made and water is passed upwards through the coffee before precariously dripping back down into a glass bulb. You’ll be greeted by the delightful Grace Chen, who has owned the cafe for over 30 years, and hear about her love for the teas she has imported and collected from Taiwan that adorn the shelves of the coffee shop. But if you’re not in the mood for caffeine intake, they also have dumplings made from scratch, authentic Taiwanese beef noodle soup, and shortbread cookies that will truly just make you close your eyes and smile.

Order this Jamaican Blue Mountain Siphon Coffee, 12-Hour Slow Drip Cold Brew, Tie Guan Yin Tea, Dumpling Sampler, Beef Noodle Soup, Siphon Coffee Jelly

19 The Philly Café That Offers a Slice of Home

Sabrina’s Café

West Philly

Sabrina’s Café is situated on an average West Philly city block corner, its elaborate Victorian façade offering a slice of New England within Philadelphia’s metropolitan streets. The café is like a familiar home, tracing out where the foyer, living room, and dining room might have been in another life. The breakfast is what truly shines. Sabrina’s aesthetic makes time halt; next thing you know, you’ll find yourself eating brunch all hours of the day. Located in Philly’s University City, where students from all reaches of the world are longing for a sense of home, Sabrina’s delivers.

Order this wild mushroom frittata, challah French toast, and a hot chocolate.


20 The Soupery to Slurp Up a Steamy Bowl of Pig’s Feet Noodles and Feel Like a Vietnamese Local

Café Diem

Italian Market

Bún bò Huế originated in the royal court of Vietnam. Luckily, you can enjoy an authentic iteration of this royal dish in a humble dining room right near the Italian Market. Once you place your order—small, medium, or large, and however much spice you can handle—the server will arrive within minutes balancing a tray with bowls filled to the brim alongside a generous platter of bean sprouts and basil (which are absolutely necessary!).This dish is truly a celebration of unexpected pork products, as every bowl contains at least one pork knuckle and foot.

Order this Bún bò Huế. That’s it. But it’s excellent.

21 The Boisterous Police-Station-Turned-Japanese-Jewish Restaurant You Didn’t Know You Needed

Cheu Fishtown


If you come to Cheu hoping for something classic like tonkatsu along with traditional gyoza, you’ll walk away disappointed. But Cheu does serve excellent ramen, if you’re able to expand your ramen horizons. If you can accept that the foreground is kimchi, the horizon line is brisket, and the sun is a matzo ball, then by all means this ramen is mind blowing. Other supposed Asian recipes have similarly Jewish themes (latkes cross Japanese cabbage pancakes = awesome), and somehow it all works. Make sure you rush down here before immediately deciding to have a B’Mitzvah and catering it with sushi.

Order this pastrami bing bread, butternut squash rangoons, potato latke okonomiyaki, miso ramen, brisket ramen, and the spicy Szechuan fat noodles.

22 The Restaurant for Eating Lunch in a Swing and Monkey Bar-ing Across More Cuisines Than You Thought Possible

The Continental Midtown

Rittenhouse Square

If you’ve ever wanted to be transported to an Austin Powers movie because big geometric shapes and groovy colors were your thing, then this restaurant is for you. Combine that with their global fusion menu and signature retro drinks and you’ll start feeling groovy too. Enjoy the atmosphere and a twist on your normal Philly cheesesteak in the form of dumplings from the comfort of a hanging basket chair, or kick back and take in the city from the rooftop patio—you can’t really go wrong here. 

Order this crab pad Thai, Szechuan fries, and the Philly cheesesteak spring rolls.

23 The Dim Sum Restaurant to Carbo-Load the Shanghai Way

Dim Sum Garden


This classic institution serves up the best soup dumplings in town—they’re also the closest to the variety you can get in Shanghai. The staff here will do their best to get dim sum into your mouth as fast as possible. You’ll wait the longest ten minutes of your life until you see your server arrive with a steaming hot spread of dim sum. Be patient with your dumplings or be ready to endure a bit of pain: remember, there’s scalding soup inside! The umami of the pork broth will make you forget about the tingly numbness on your tongue.

Order this steamed pork soup dumplings, pan fried pork soup dumplings, pork sauce noodles, and pumpkin cakes for dessert.

24 Like Zahav, but Just the Hummus


Fairmount, Rittenhouse Square, and West Philly

Dizengoff’s creamy reimagining of hummus as an entire meal deserving of its own restaurant has transformed many self-identified hummus-haters into hummus-obsessors. The restaurant is small and casual, with long benches for tables and walls plastered in colorful posters and images. The hummus is the focus of the meal, served in a large bowl, but this is not to say that the freshly baked pita and small side of Middle Eastern salads aren’t mouthwatering in their own right. If you come on weekends, make sure to try the shakshuka.

Order this hummus, and shakshuka on weekends. Don’t forget to order extra pita and add a beet-pickled egg.

25 The Bakery Where the Sandwiches Are Amazing but The Bread is Monumental

High Street On Market

Old City

Oh High Street, there’s something in that bread of yours… With a seasonal menu that features local ingredients such as Pennsylvania-made cheeses and classics like avocado toast and bacon egg and cheese, everyone can find something that tickles their fancy at High Street. Be sure to pop your name down early if you come for weekend brunch, and don’t forget to buy a loaf of bread for later. You can also find their bread and pastries at Head House Market on Sundays, &, High Street Provisions at Franklin’s Table, and Rival Bros. Coffee.  

Order this anything from their extensive bread and pastry selection, the Forager and Lancaster pork sandwiches, and the Kennett square salad bowl.

26 The Place for Feeling Like You’re Home in Thailand

JJ Thai Cuisine

Rittenhouse Square

You walk in to the warm and cozy restaurant and get greeted by the waiters with a huge smile. The dimly lit restaurant with wooden decorations is a cute spot for a hangout with friends or a casual date. They use the most authentic ingredients bought from small family owned companies in Thailand. From the Drunken Noodles to Chilean Sea Bass, you get a taste of traditional Thai food and a hint of French style cooking.

Order this tom yum koong, Chilean sea bass, vegetarian spring rolls, chicken saté, and shrimp drunken noodles.

27 The Place for Excellent Fried Chicken When What You Really Want Is Banana Cream Pie (Looking At You, Kid)

Love and Honey’s Fried Chicken


Yes, the fried chicken is the best in town. Yes, multiple members of Penn Appétit have had unhealthy obsessions with this spot. Yes, the cornbread muffin with honey butter will make you forget buttermilk biscuits forever. Yes, the pies change every month. So you better make sure you haul yourself up to Fishtown pretty often for your fried chicken and pie fix.

Order this “Nashville”-style fried chicken sandwich, wings or thighs by the piece, cornbread muffin with honey butter, and of course the pie of the month.

28 The Place to Have a Large Carnivorous Meal, Indulge in a Spread of Authentic Middle Eastern Food, and Finish With a Cup of Arabic Coffee

Manakeesh Cafe Bakery and Grill

West Philly

The name says it all. A twenty minute walk from campus (fifteen if you’re hungry enough), Manakeesh is simultaneously a restaurant, bakery, and café. Unlike restaurants that are too ambitious, Manakeesh’s name does not contain empty promises. When you walk into the store, you are greeted by the scent of heavily spiced meats on the grill, fresh pita being formed and pulled out of the oven, and the glistening display of assorted baklava. This is truly an all occasion restaurant, appropriate for family meals, dates, and study breaks.

Order this shawarmas, kebabs, baklavas, kanafeh, and just-baked pita bread.

29 The Faux-Retro Diner for Old School Vibes, Cloud-Nine Eggs, and Perfect Renditions of the Classic Philly Hoagie

Middle Child

Washington Square

Walking into Middle Child is like an acid trip. Neon green signs, tote bags with creepy green smiley faces, and never-ending honey bears filled with house-fermented jalapeño hot sauce stare you in the face. They make their scrambled eggs by pureeing them in a blender until practically whipped, and take customer suggestions for new tattoos for their employees. That’s probably all you need to know. Oh, and the sandwiches are terrific, ranging from recreations of a classic hoagie to unexpected vegan flavor bombs. No sandwich here is a good sandwich—they’re all great.

Order this the So Long Sal!, Phoagie, Shopsin Club, and Herschel Walker sandwiches. Eggs before 11:30.

30 The Mexican Neighborhood Restaurant that Runs a Secret Tamale Operation Out of the Back on Weekends

Mole Poblano

Italian Market

Tacos are often the talk of the town, but the underdog Mexican street food to be had in Philly is the tamale. Mole Poblano makes their’s weekends only, with fresh ground masa, lots of lard, chicken stock, and a host of classic fillings. If you get there on time, you’ll get them warm, still sweating in their husks. No one will fault you if you accidentally eat the whole dozen before making it home.

Order this Tamales (weekends only), and anything with the signature mole.

31 The Scruffy Vietnamnese Place Where The Pho Must Be Legit

Pho 75

Italian Market

You may be hesitant to enter the restaurant, or even the shaggy shopping plaza that it’s in, but trust us, you’re at the right place to taste supreme and authentic Vietnamnese pho. Although this place only accepts cash, the price for the quality is incomparable. This place offers many varieties of pho soups from vegetable-based to cuts of beef. Great place for any casual occasion, particularly if you are going solo. The place has a quiet feel for you to slowly enjoy your food in peace, and is beloved by everyone in the restaurant industry.

Order this chef suggestion number 1, 3, or 4.

32 The Smallest Slice Shop with the Biggest Slices

Pizza Shackamaxon


While its unremarkable curbside appearance may fool you into thinking this slice shop isn’t worth the trek to Fishtown, once you step foot into the small shop and are met with the line of regulars bidding for their slices, friendly cashiers, and playful graphics along the wall, you’ll be glad you did. The crust, cheese, and tomato sauce is thin and simple. The crust is crunchy and the cheese is well-melted. The pizza slices go for around $5 with tax, which makes sense given the monstrosity of their size—and their quality. Oh, and they make full pies too.

Order this follow your heart; it’s all good.

33 The Slice Shop Not for Neapolitan, Nor New Yorkian, but Roman Style Pizza


Rittenhouse Square

Roman style pizza is the love child between focaccia and pizza. Basically, Rione gives you super light focaccia—not dense and chewy—and minimal toppings. They source flour from Italy and have a closely guarded dough recipe-like (like basically every slice shop around), but that just means you’ll have to come to the shop to try it for yourself. You order by weight, and they’ll cut slices with scissors off of large rectangular pies before preheating them in a wood oven for you. Go classic with cheese and tomato, or modern with the best parts of pasta carbonara in pizza form.

Order this marinara, carciofi e spinaci, patate e rosmarino, carbonara, and diavola slices, and suppli (fried cheesy balls of rice).

34 The Spot that Convinced Us That Tacos for Breakfast Are Always a Great Idea

South Philly Barbacoa

Italian Market

If a sleep-deprived college student is willing to traverse the city before nine a.m. on a weekend, you know this sh*t is incredible. Need more convincing? Christina Martinez, owner and founder of South Philly Barbacoa, has been featured by Eater, Bon Appétit, Chef’s Table, and Ugly Delicious… yet somehow, the taqueria remains as homey and honest as ever.Show up on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday (for the shortest lines) to be captivated by the staff as they hand-craft tortillas, and by Christina herself as she chops up meats steeped in generations of Mexican tradition.

Order this lamb barbacoa. If you do it by the kilo, you get unlimited tortillas, toppings, and even a lamb consommé to start. Go for an horchata or sweet Mexican coffee to top it off.

35 The Place for Rugby and Actually-Good British Food



Nowhere in Philly has the feel of transporting you out of the country quite like this place. Considering we’re talking about England here, you might think that’s a bad thing—they do get kind of a bad rap when it comes to food. But blimey, Stargazy is British food at its absolute best. Meat pies are the star of the show—oh wait, that would be the sticky toffee pudding, a traditionally hated British dessert that here can only be described as sweet, sticky, and scrumptious. Don’t be daft, and get here as soon as possible. 

Order this beef and onion pie, broccoli cheddar pie, and sticky toffee pudding.

36 Feast Like a Chinese Emperor on a Budget At This Homey Chinese Spot

Tai Jiang “Chinese Restaurant”


The name Chinese Restaurant might come off as your typical Asian-American restaurant fast food joint, but the generic name is actually just a reflection of the simple but delicious dishes they make. Like most hole in the wall food spots, Chinese Restaurant doesn’t seem like much at first glance. The stools and tables seem lackluster in appearance because the main focus of Chinese Restaurant lies in the flavor. With an auntie wrapping dumplings less than four feet away from you, it’s hard not to appreciate the love and hard work that goes into everything here. 

Order this fried dumplings, steamed dumplings, taro cake, and “hot” noodles.

37 Just The Place To Fall in Love With A New Favorite Cuisine—Laotian Food

Vientiane Café

West Philly

Yelp images of hearty, heavily-spiced pad kee mao, mysterious yet enticing Aw Lao (a Laotian stew with eggplant and spices, served with sticky rice), and colorful Panaeng curry, will convince you to visit this spot. Vientiane Café does all its talking through the superb Laotian food, since the archaic purple awning and very minimal lighting (not in a romantic way) is unconventional for restaurant decor. This spot is perfect for adventurous eaters who are hoping to explore South Asian cuisine beyond Indian or Thai. However, their extensive vegan and vegetarian-friendly menu also sports well-executed dishes such as pad thai. 

Order this any of the Laotian specialties (King’s soup, aw lao), panaeng curry, and pad kee mao.

38 The Old Mafia Hangout for an Old-School South Philly Experience

Villa di Roma

Italian Market

At Villa di Roma, be prepared to act like a local, and don’t expect undue niceties from the staff. The servers have no patience for dumb questions, but will gladly talk to you about their grandmother growing up a block away when the area was still predominantly Italian. The food is arguably the best Italian food in the city, and the portions are BIG—as in, you should probably wear loose pants. Enjoy heaping bowls of traditional Italian fare, whether that be sauce-smothered linguini or authentic, rich meatballs, and feel like an old-school South Philadelphian. 

Order this fettuccini Alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parm, baked rigatoni, and eggplant parm.


39 The Spot for Epic Large-Format Meat and Delirious Pools of Schmaltz

Abe Fisher

Rittenhouse Square

When most people think Ashkenazi Jewish food, they either think latkes and lox, or have no idea at all. Abe Fisher is here to change that. Yes, they have latkes on the menu, but the hot move is to get the short rib extravaganza, indulgent in rye bread, pickles, condiments, and the main event, cured-then-smoked-then-confit’d short ribs. There’s no doubt you’ll have the meat schvitzes afterwards, but in the very dark, very loud, black-and-white tiled dining room, no one will be the wiser. Smaller plates are equally delicious, with strange surprises like yapchik and kreplach.

Order this Hungarian duck, Montreal short ribs, king salmon, poached chicken, veal schnitzel tacos, and bacon and egg cream.

40 The Place For Treating Yourself to Good Seafood, Steak, and Anything Inbetween


Midtown Village

Located in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton, Aqimero is a Pan-Latin restaurant that serves a wide range of small plates that satisfies everyone’s cravings. Sitting in an area with a high ceiling and elegant chandeliers, you’ll feel like you’re seated at a palace. It really is the place to feel like royalty with no responsibilities. If you need a meal to unwind and relax, treat yourself to this meal and luxuriate in the wood-burning grill flavours of their best dishes.

Order this yellowfin tuna, roasted scallops, potato poblano gratin, guacamole and spicy crab, and grilled Spanish octopus.

41 The ‘Undiscovered’ Vegan Brunch and Bar

Bar Bombón

Rittenhouse Square

Bar Bombón is all vegan, but you’d never guess after trying the food. The menu perfectly encapsulates a playful, yet sophisticated range of Mexican fusion cuisine. Their tiny dishes will leave you inching for more, but you’ll be buying into the unidentifiable ‘vibe’ — the bustling around Rittenhouse or embracing the ultimate pretension of overpriced, vegan brunch. The ambience plays off the brightness of the food — lime green shiplap walls adorned with plants, black-and-white portraits, and papaya orange benches. Come with friends for brunch or order a mimosa during happy hour for the full experience.

Order this Buffalo cauliflower tacos, Philly cheesesteak empanadas, Cubano club slider

42 The Fancy-but-Not-Too-Fancy Dinner Spot for Impressing Your Date With A Truffled Egg and Potato Pizza


Midtown Village

Barbuzzo’s menu is packed with creative Mediterranean-inspired dishes and even more creative pizzas. The flavors here prove Barbuzzo isn’t your typical Mediterranean spot, with unique small plates like the sheep’s milk ricotta and grilled spanish octopus. Save room for dessert and try their famous salted caramel budino with ice cream, or the tiramisu soaked in La Colombe espresso.

Order this uovo pizza, tonnarelli cacio e pepe, fall campanelle, salted caramel budino, and La Colombe espresso tiramisu.

43 The Best Place For When You’re Strolling the Italian Market but Actually Craving Mexican Food

Blue Corn

Italian Market

The perfect spot for delicious, authentic Mexican food, Blue Corn is sandwiched into a small, homey storefront along the Italian market. With colorful blue walls, bar seating, and tables close together, this casual spot that won’t break the bank serves up some big-time flavors. And to top it all off, the service is amazing; just some really friendly, passionate, food-loving people at this hole-in-the-wall Mexican food haven.  

Order this tacos al pastor, zucchini flour quesadillas, seafood soup, and gorditas

44 Big, Bigger, Biggest: Wine and Dine with Big Buddha


Old City

Upscale, trendy (~vibey~, if you will), grandiose. Buddakan is one of the best designed restaurants in Philly. With its ten-foot, gold-gilded Buddha and over-the-top chandeliers, stepping foot into the restaurant sets the tone for a fine dining experience. Every shared dish is extremely flavorful, with different Asian spices blending together perfectly, and the chefs seem to have mastered the art of mixing textures together, with crispy shells and meat that melts like butter. If you’re craving genuine, authentic Asian food, this isn’t necessarily that restaurant, but it definitely does scream glamour!

Order this dim sum sampler, crispy calamari salad, black pepper beef, sweet jumbo shrimp, bbq pork tenderloin, and “Dip Sum” donuts.

45 That Trendy, Upscale Place Where You Take Your Tattooed, Vegan Aunt

Charlie Was a Sinner

Midtown Village

When you enter the low-lit, narrow restaurant, it feels more like an old-jazz club than a vegan place. Their menu offers dozens of small dishes to share, each more creative than the last. Before you question our instructions to order as many dishes as you can muster, consider this: most of the items are super healthy. Fantastic vegan food is hard to find, but Charlie Was a Sinner offers mouth-watering plates that make you say “I Can’t Believe Its Not Real Meat.”  

Order this vegan ricotta, eggplant bao buns, bucatini and meatballs, and the mu-shu tofu. And if you’re feeling fun, every single one of the cocktails is phenomenal.

46 The Spot for the Best Indian in the City—Which Just So Happens to Be In the Back of a Grocery Store

Dana Mandi

West Philly

Sometimes you just need unpretentious and casual. Skip the takeout and head to the back of this grocery store for essentially a home-cooked Indian meal of fresh curries, breads, and fragrant rice. This is not heavy, cream-laden Indian food, but food that takes its spice and originality seriously. Potato paratha is uber-flaky, with layers of flour, ghee, and potato giving textural contrast. Spicy goat curry is an excellent way to try this protein if you’ve never had it before. You make your order by passing a written card behind a gold curtain. A first-place prize awaits.

Order this naan, paratha, and flatbread, goat and chicken curries, dal makhni, and saag paneer.

47 The Restaurant for Reminding You That The Most Amazing Things Come in the Smallest of Packages

Double Knot

Midtown Village

Double Knot presents a modern take on Japanese food. There is innovation in every bite as the menu allows for exploration of a contemporary take on symbolic east Asian flavors through sushi, robatayaki, and a wide assortment of small dishes. Do not underestimate the seemingly small portions that come out, because they’ll always have you begging for more. More than just the mouth-watering food, Double Knot has it all: a bar for a more casual setting, an irresistible happy hour, and a tasting menu that can be customized by the chef.

Order this edamame dumplings, crispy Brussels sprouts, broiled sea bass, braised short ribs, and the Double Knot big eye tuna roll. Don’t miss out on extensive happy hour deals.

48 The Upscale Dining Experience with a Dash of History for When Your Parents Visit

Friday Saturday Sunday

Rittenhouse Square

Friday Saturday Sunday has been around for a long time and has earned itself high-regard within Philadelphia’s dining scene, both past and present. If you’re looking to be around the most sleek and chic of Philadelphia diners, then Friday Saturday Sunday is for you– just be prepared to pay the price that accompanies the high class atmosphere. The bar downstairs is sexy and historic while the upstairs dining area is intimate and quiet, and the dishes are imaginative and delicious, with presentations worthy of phone-eats-first pictures, even though you’ll want to dig right in.

Order this potato gnocchi, beef tartare, grilled honeynut squash, smoked herring spaghetti, eggs and caviar, sweet bread katsu, and lobster.

49 The Chinese Restaurant with A Lot of Chili Oil and Even More Chili Oil

Han Dynasty

West Philly and Old City

When you enter, you are hit with the spicy aroma that you never thought was possible in Chinese cuisine. Taken to a world of Szechuan-based dishes, you will experience family-style dishes that bring not only families but also friends closer to each other. The restaurant also caters to those going solo, for you are able to order noodle dishes and appetizers as well. The vegetable and meat combinations are carefully seasoned so that you are able to taste the natural and unique essence of the ingredients. Open also during the holidays, so you know it must be good!

Order this hot sauce style fish, scallion pancakes, beef soup, Chinese cabbage with dry peppers, eggplant with garlic sauce, bok choy with black mushrooms, and mapo tofu with minced pork.

50 The Hot Pot Place for a Wholesome (and Perhaps Intimate) Experience

Hippot Shabu Shabu


You enter through a narrow doorway and suddenly you feel all the flurries of warmth that surround you. With the All-You-Can-Eat hot pot option, there is no doubt that there is something uncommon to try. Don’t skimp on the meat, thinly sliced for the quickest and most flavorful experience. The intimate booths create an ambiance for wholesome conversations, and there is no pressure to leave the restaurant even after two hours. By the end of the night, you have not only eaten a feast, but also possibly created a friendship of a lifetime. 

Order this all-you-can-eat hot pot ingredients, including frozen tofu, silky tofu, beef tongue, Angus beef, assorted vegetables, udon, and any herbal tea.

51 The All-Day Spot that Feels Like One of Your Own Dinner Parties, But Everything Is Perfectly Cooked

Fitz and Starts

Queen Village

Breakfast is great here too, with fresh pastries and fully loaded breakfast sandwiches, but at dinner this place is like one of your dinner parties if absolutely everything went right (it never does), the food was always awesome (you only get lucky sometimes), and you didn’t have to do any work (ah, the sad truth). If family style is your thing, preorder a massive lasagna for the table. Shared plates more your style? Order basically everything on the menu and get salads, pasta, and proteins to share. Solo dining? Order their massive pub cheeseburger with bacon-y taters, inundated in gravy.

Order this house-made bread with butter, Amalia oysters, a few items from their seasonal veg section, definitely the handmade pasta, ½ Keiser’s Pheasantry chicken, and the Dinner Burger.

52 The Place Where You Should Recheck Your Expectations of Thai Food and Definitely NOT Overestimate Your Spice Tolerance


Bella Vista

Kalaya does not have pad thai on their menu. You heard us right. Inspired by Thai home cooking, the dishes are whimsical yet authentic, using ingredients like tapioca and fresh river shrimp. Customize your spice level by choosing one to four x’s, and your server will give you a fair warning that this is “Thai spicy” and not “American spicy.” Play your cards right, and your taste buds will be greeted by the enlivening tang and crunch of a green papaya salad dressed with lime, fish sauce, and thai chilis, alongside cozy curries served with steaming coconut infused sticky rice.

Order this som tum, kang kai gao mun with coconut rice, and moo hong. Papaya salad is spicy but a classic, and don’t miss the bright purple sakoo sai hed dumplings.

53 The Place for Spice in Your Mouth… and Also in Your Soul

Karma Restaurant and Bar

Old City

While the journey to Second Street may seem daunting, the food makes the commute well worth it. What sets this restaurant apart, aside from the delicious food, is hospitality manager Mani Thaillai, who you’ll find waiting tables and memorizing orders every night. On the menu you’ll see everything from classics like chana masala and samosas, to more specialty items like malai kofta (vegetable meatballs cooked in curry). If you know anyone who might be iffy about Indian food, this is the place to change their mind.  

Order this chana peshawari, dal tadka, vegetable jalfreezi, and vegetable samosa.

54 The Quaint Italian Place for Classics Underneath Romantic String Lights

Little Nonna’s

Washington Square

Walking into Little Nonna’s feels like walking into your grandparents’ living room. Even with the outdoor lights strung inside the restaurant, Little Nonna’s gives off a cozy ambiance with the interior decoration and their menu of Italian favorites emanates the nostalgia of comfort food. Most items on the menu are familiar and stick to a traditional Italian menu, yet every bite is incredibly satisfying. Each dish attests to the fact that traditional dishes can have the power to newly amaze. The food are timeless classics and are a sure bet to satisfy all your Italian cravings.

Order this wild mushroom arancini, rigatoni alla vodka, spaghetti and meatballs, hazelnut cannoli, and pan seared gnocchi.

55 The Place for Pretending You’re Eating Dinner in Tokyo


Washington Square

Please don’t go to Morimoto on anything more than a completely empty stomach. You’ll need it to fully savor every bite in this beautifully decorated, Japanese-fusion restaurant with an omakase menu of eight courses with GENEROUS portions. Each dish is either a perfectly executed classic (think the best sashimi you’ll get outside of Japan) or something you never knew you needed (think yellowtail tartare). If the food and interior aren’t enough, just know that the staff are angels who genuinely want you to have the best dining experience. 

Order this tuna pizza, Japanese cheesecake (so light!! so fluffy!!), and carpaccio, along with the omakase menu.

56 The Teeny-Tiny Restaurant with a Kitchen Barely Bigger Than Your Dorm’s for The Most Seasonal, Local Food You Can Get



Chef Ari Miller has a huge smile, and given the tiny dining room at Musi, it’s likely you’ll see it first hand. No one is as connected to local food as Ari, leading to an ever-changing menu. This is not a gimmick. There’ll always be something unexpected, like sauce made from malted barley, pasta rolled with Zanzibar peppercorns, housemade sodas with funky foragings like shagbark hickory (???), or sweet truffles not for pasta but for dessert’s sunflower oil cake. Repeat: this is not a gimmick. Everything is always delicious, a new discovery of what local cuisine can be.

Order this the tasting menu, or a la carte pretzel with mustard, whole fish, and whatever pasta is currently on the menu.

57 The Place for a Bowl of Soul-Warming Bowl of Noodle Soup

Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle Place


Your noodles don’t get any fresher than this! Hand drawn noodles are always a special treat but the hefty servings of beef brisket add an additional flair to these seemingly simple dishes. If you’re like me and feel deprived of your mom’s homemade noodle soups in college, this place will blow your cravings out of the water (sorry mom!). For $11 you can get an overflowing bowl of soup that can last up two whole meals. It’s definitely worth the single trip.

Order this Beef Brisket Noodle Soup, Spicy Pig Ears (perhaps an… acquired taste), House Special Noodle Soup

58 Low-Key, High-Value: Come for the Ramen and Stay for the Mixtape

Neighborhood Ramen

Queen Village

Neighborhood Ramen is plain on first glance: a solid white exterior flanked by a hookah store on one side and private residences on the other, with the only marker coming in the form of blocky Japanese characters above the door: “ramen.” One step inside and this changes completely. Black-and-white graffiti’d walls, a letterboard menu, and a display window full of merch (including copies of their mixtape) greet customers. Order at the counter, seat-yourself, and BYO for a night out with friends. And, of course, a bowl of their flavor-packed, generously-portioned ramen will leave your stomach and heart feeling especially warm.

Order this tan tan is a classic, and don’t skip the appetizer gyoza or cucumber pickles. Check in on Instagram for specials like tsukemen (dipping noodles) or miso-clam.

59 We Didn’t Know We Needed the Paella Until We Had It, and You’ll Be In The Exact Same Boat


Washington Square

Oloroso is cooking up some of the most flavorful Spanish cuisine in Philly. They have seating for every type of occasion: small window-side tables, high tops, a beautiful bar, and larger tables in the back. With beautifully soft lighting and minimalist design, the spotlight is truly on their amazing flavors and spices. The real star—which cannot be recommended highly enough—is the paella. With creamy rice, soft and tender meat, and aromatic flavors, everything came together harmoniously in this family style dish. Finally, don’t sleep on dessert and save room for some interesting Spanish staples you can’t get anywhere else.  

Order this coca de pimientos, albondigas, charred eggplant, paella oloroso, and olive oil cake.

60 The Late Night Pho Spot to Nourish Your Night Out

Pho 20


Have you ever been hungover or had a late night out where you craved a warm bowl of soup that could remediate your body? Then Pho 20 is the place for you. Similar to other hangover spots in Chinatown like Ho Sai Gai, Pho 20 is open until two am on the weekends. The pho here is definitely the best you can find in Chinatown, but there are plenty of other dishes on the menu that will hit the spot on a late-night excursion, like their Bún bò Huế. 

Order this pho (of course!), Bún bò Huế, any of the rice plates, and vermicelli bowls.

61 The Place With a "Hoagie Room" Tasting Menu—and the Best Pizza in the City

Pizzeria Beddia


Philly locals used to wait for hours (like, 10 of them) to score one of the 40 pies Joe Beddia would make each day. As of early 2019, their new interior provides an elevated sit-down experience, but you should still go early if you don’t have a reservation. From the natural wine list, to the pies, to the service, everything is thoughtful yet easy and genuine—no gimmicks here, except for the smiling anime cloud chandelier above the bar. Bringing a group makes it cheaper to share a lot of pizza. Or, eat a full one yourself. Because it’s that good.

Order this tomato pie; tomato, whole milk mozz, galen’s good old pizza; arrabiata; and the special “white” pizza.

62 The Place for Watching Anime on Stone Brick Walls While Sipping Sake Until the Cows Come Home

Royal Izakaya

Queen Village

Royal Izakaya is Japanese bar food. They have an extensive sake and beer list, and the food does include sushi rolls but is for the most part cooked bar food. This includes seared and glazed mackerel, ever-popular pork buns, and fried tofu. The pro-move is coming for late-night (they’re open every night until two) and ordering the off-menu Industry Chirashi, a mound of sushi rice and prime leftover sushi cuts from the omakase counter hidden behind a curtain. It’s served in a plastic deli container for the mood. The restaurant has no sign. Just look for the red lantern.

Order this tuna guac, asari no sakamushi, chashu buns, saba shioyaki, agedashi tofu, any of the rolls, and industry chirashi (after 11 pm).

63 The Old-School Italian Place with Antique Philly Stuff Everywhere

The Saloon

Bella Vista

Despite opening back in 1967, The Saloon is a not a spot familiar to many. If you’re itching for a change of scenery and delicious Italian fare slightly off the beaten path, look no further. Intentionally old-school, the décor is full of kitschy details such as signs from old Philadelphia businesses, fading statues, and stained-glass windows. The whole family-run establishment has carved oak walls that match the stately oak bar. While some of the meat dishes can get a bit pricey, the pasta is fresh, authentic, and perfectly al dente. This classic combines Philly folklore with mouth-watering Italian cuisine.

Order this potato gnocchi, rigatoni sesso, and roasted peppers with mozzarella and provolone.

64 Yet Another Asian Fusion Spot That We Actually Need


Midtown Village

Take one step inside Sampan and you’ll forget you’re in the heart of Center City. The dark restaurant is backlit by bright neon glowing beneath wall cut-outs, creating a sexy ambience of intimacy despite the large size of the restaurant. Plates here designed for sharing, regardless of whether they’re designated as “small” or “large,” so make sure to order lots. Dishes are delivered as they’re ready, allowing diners to order more as they eat, which becomes helpful as you watch mouthwatering options delivered to the tables nearby. Sampan is incredibly dietary-restriction friendly, offering vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus. 

Order this chicken bao bun, tofu tacos, king oyster mushroom satay, pad thai, roasted broccoli.

65 The Suburban Korean Place with a Cult Following That Just Opened in Center City


Midtown Village

Seen those bright red spicy dishes commonly advertised by Korean restaurants? Seorabol is just the spot for trying those dreamy dishes. The fresh and modern ambience only modernizes the traditional dishes that the family-owned restaurant has to offer. With fun soju glasses for Instagram pictures, this is the perfect place not just for date night, but also for a night out with friends. The quality of the ingredients and the fine cooking by Chef Chris Cho really justifies the prices on the menu, especially during happy hour from 5-7 PM on certain weekdays. 

Order this ddukbokkie, ojingeo bokkeum, bulgogi, dolsot bibimbap, soondubu jjigae, and galbi tang.

66 The Authentic Indonesian Eatery that Survived a Fire

Sky Cafe

Italian Market

Sky Café, with its early logo reminiscent of early 2000s graphic design and simple yellow awning, is just another Asian restaurant within the plethora of Asian eats tucked away in South Philly. Not so fast. While their marketing is not robust, this small restaurant boasts a loyal customer base that vehemently supports the business after its former location burned down in 2015. And it’s easy to see why. Despite being an authentic Asian establishment, the staff are super friendly and will hold your hand if it is your first time trying Indo food. Every dish averages only $9, and every bite is an explosion of flavor and textures. From perfectly fried chicken to bouncy homemade noodles, there is something for everyone.

Order this N1 Mie Komplit, R1 Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng, R2 Nasi Lemak Rendang, R23 Nasi Bungkus

67 The Place to Take Your Friends Who Say They Hate Spicy Food

Spice Finch

Rittenhouse Square

When you think of “spicy,” you think of hot pepper, salsa, and reaching for the first glass of water you can find. But at Spice Finch, the spices that decorate each dish enhance the inner flavors of its diverse menu. This modern, Mediterranean restaurant is constantly innovating new dishes, showcasing their creative approach to the dozens of Mediterranean spices that exist on the other side of the world. When you walk into the bright and airy space, make sure you grab a seat near the bar, because their adventurous cocktails will prompt you to stay late for drinks. 

Order this flatbreads with spices, date truffles, roasted market vegetables, chicken kibbeh, and the lamb ribs.

68 The Lebanese Restaurant That Will Make You Want to Swim In A Pool of Its Hummus



Suraya is moreso a destination than a restaurant. It’s made up of a dining room, an outdoor courtyard, and a market selling spices, oils, and ceramics. The courtyard honestly looks like a wedding venue. Come in the morning for melt-in-your-mouth pastries like the rose pistachio cruller and come back at dinner to cover your table in small mezze plates. The hummus and baba ghanoush (tahini-eggplant dip) steal the show, but don’t ignore the delicious drinks, especially the chai and tehina hot chocolate. 

Order this batata harra, hummous, and arnabeet mekle are great to share. Abu sayf, djej meshwi, and the kafta kebab are great to finish.

69 Don Barriga’s More Low Key But Just As Delicious Cousin


West Philly

TacoTacoMexican has all the typical things you want from a Mexican place and more. Along with classic Al Pastor, steak, and chicken tacos, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot also offers shrimp and fish, vegetarian, and vegan options. Who knew you could fill a burrito with walnuts and make it taste good? Make sure to stop by for breakfast to feast on the large selection of breakfast burritos and tacos, and don’t forget to grab a bit of nachos to go. Its quick service only makes it easier for you to get seconds!

Order this Al Pastor burrito, shrimp tacos, walnut tacos, yucca burrito, chorizo burrito, nachos

70 The Charming Farm-to-Table Place with a Cozy-Meets-Nature-y Vibe

Talula’s Garden

Washington Square

A meal at Talula’s Garden is described as “stepping into an Impressionist painting” on the Zagat guide—and they aren’t wrong. Just off of Washington Square, Talula’s Garden is a green little hideaway of good taste and serenity. If you have plant babies at home, you won’t be disappointed by the floor-to-ceiling greenery, or the twinkly lights and mini lanterns to set the mood. Too cold to dine outside? Inside you’ll be greeted by blood-orange walls, lime-green couches, and plenty of flowers. And the menu is as eclectic as the décor—each dish is as garden-fresh as the restaurant’s appearance would suggest.

Order this ginger scented butternut squash soup, braised lamb pappardelle, kennett square mushroom risotto, and fried Brussels sprouts with delicata squash.

71 The Spot for Indian Food That’s a Far Cry From Typical Plastic Smiley-Face Bag Indian Takeout


Rittenhouse Square

Great Indian food and a nice, warm, romantic ambience don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If you’ve ever had a burning desire to take your date out for Indian food but also wanted to come off as a sophisticated individual, Veda is your spot. The food is presented in small, shareable portions, and each dish is flavorful and authentic yet comes with an unconventional twist and attention to detail. You might just have your lady and the tramp moment, but over a piece of naan instead of spaghetti. Also, remember to save space for dessert.

Order this pindi channa masala, paneer palak, chicken makhani, an assortment of breads, kulfi (Indian ice cream) with blueberries, and trio of desi-ice cream.

72 The Dinner Spot Where the Black Truffle Toast Is the Best Item On the Menu—Actually, Just Get All the Toasts

Vernick Food and Drink

Rittenhouse Square

Vernick is unassumingly squeezed between brownstones, totally unexceptional. But they are champions of small plates, raw food, and all things creative. The dining room is on the second floor, complete with a romantic, street-peering view, and the menu is divided into six delicious sections: toast, raw, veg, small, large, and roasted. Go with people who love to share so that you can try everything. The toasts are to die for, and every piece of fish on offer is exceptional (thus their new place Vernick Fish). If you’re contemplating dessert, stay for the panna cotta and some ice cream.

Order this pumpkin, crab, or scallop from the toast section, sea urchin and eggs, yellowfin tuna, or arctic char as your crudo, a broccoli steak because “vegetables,” and then some sort of pasta, a savory custard, and anything large, meaty, and roasted.

73 The Fishtown Spot That’s A Ski Lodge Doubling As An Italian Trattoria

Wm. Mulherin’s Sons


If you combined the interior of a ski lodge, the food of an Italian Trattoria, and the mood of a Game of Thrones scene, you’d end up with Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. Everything is heavy, so be prepared to be stuffed for a few hours (or days) after, but the richness of the pastas, pizzas, and meats are what you come here for. Not the best Italian in Philly, but it is worth the visit for a date night or drinks spot. Make sure to bring your outdoor voices because it is very, very loud.

Order this spicy jawn and leslie chow pizzas, cacio e pepe and porcini cavatelli pastas, grilled octopus to start, and the half brick chicken to finish.

74 It’s Really Good But You Can’t Get A Reservation Until After Your Graduation Date


Old City

You’ve heard about it from your roommate’s mom, your house mom, and your own mom: Zahav. It’s a Penn household name at this point, and it’s probably uttered as often as “VP” in the Penn student lexicon. While the popular tasting menu is pricey, the experience is worth every penny. The attention to sharp flavors in the rich vegetables and meats will have you daydreaming for weeks about the ways your notions of Middle Eastern cuisine were challenged and enhanced. You’ll probably see a group of Wharton students dining with their professor, because, again, it’s Zahav. 

Order this hummus, fried cauliflower, eggplant, kibbe naya, lamb merguez, and hanger steak. The menu changes all the time, and it’s always all good. Do not forget dessert.

75 A Carpenter’s Dream that Pairs Sushi and Sophistication


Rittenhouse Square

Sleek is the word to best describe this sushi lover’s haven in Rittenhouse Square. With the walls, booths, and tables made entirely of smooth wood panels, the aesthetic is simple and sophisticated. The unique dining atmosphere is complemented by inventive dishes and many twists on classic sushi rolls. Presentation is everything here, so come with both your eyes and your stomach. It may be difficult, but try to save room for dessert—the banana spring roll and fluffernutter dumplings will conjure up memories of banana splits and fluffernutter sandwiches from your childhood, but with an adult upgrade.

Order this black cod saikyoyaki, sesami salmon specialty maki, and NY strip strips. If you’re in the mood for sushi, ordering a la carte nigiri is a great move too.