This lists my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. It's
shamelessly biased toward center city and the area around Penn, and
towards good food. All restaurants listed here are quite reliable,
unless otherwise noted. The absence
of a restaurant from the list might just mean I haven't made it there
yet, especially if it is on the Eastern side of Broad
-- but it often means something else. Many popular or well-known
restaurants are not listed here; See references at the bottom of the
page for more "commercial" guides and contact information for places
like the Chart House or cheesesteak or
* denotes a place recommended to take business guests/seminar speakers
Q is a quieter restaurant
L is a louder one
O indicates outside dining available
All phone numbers are area code 215.
Sbraga (Pine and Broad, 735-1913)
Nouvelle Italian. Get the tasting menu; The fois gras soup is justly
famous. Black cod with kim chi; apple and caramel mille-fuille. Yum.
jamonera (922-6061; 105 S. 13th St)
Wine bar, from the Lolita/Barbuzzo team. Small plates;
I really enjoyed it.
Monsu (440-0495, 901
Christian Street) BYOB, cash only
Great food. Atmosphere is a bit south philly tacky compared to, well,
anything else on this page. But I love the snails (rich!) and most
dishes were very good in a Sicilian "bistro" sort of way.
Amis, (732-2647, 412 S. 13th
Excellent "modern" Italian food at a
noticeably lower price point than Vetri or Osteria. Nice wine selection.
Tinto, (665-9150, 114 S 20th
Great wines and food. See also the sister Amada
(equally good, but farther from my house).
Koo Zee Doo (923-8080, 614 N. 2d St.) BYOB
Portuguese. Good vibes, good food. and good sized portions (Closed Tues., Wed.)
Modo Mia (203-8707,
161 W. Girard) BYOB, cash only
The $33 four course fixed price meal is a bargain, second only to Sbrago.
Modo Mia's food and service lacks the subtlety of a Vetri or Amada, but makes
up for it with enthusiasm. Try it!
Han Dynasty (3711 Market,
108 Chestnut, and in the burbs)
This doesn't fit the the above list, much cheaper and more casual, but
I've really been enjoying the new West Philly location; great spicy food; good
beer list there.
The Passayunk 3; all BYOB (plus one bonus restaurant)
Fond BYOB (551-5000;1617 East Passyunk Avenue)
I had a stellar meal!
Cochon BYOB (923-7675; 801 E Passyunk Ave)
We like pigs.
LeVirtu (271-5626, 1927 E
Passyunk Ave) Q
And the 4th, non-BYOB passayunk restaurant. Some truly *great* dishes (the lamb, the agnolotti), others less
exciting. Good wines. Annoying music on their web page.
They have an outside patio for nice weather.
Medium Expensive, Center City (reservations recommended)
Recommended for a great meal. These are where we take visitors;
See below for neighborhood restaurants. Listed roughly in
order of my current enthusiasm for the restaurant (price adjusted).
High end tapas. Comparable to Tinto (i.e., Truly excellent)
Talula's Garden (592-7787;
210 W Washington Sq)
A friend called it "precious", but I
really enjoyed the meal. Don't miss the cheese plate, of course.
My favorite of this batch of restaurants.
A.Kitchen (825-7030; 135 S 18th St)
I enjoyed dinner, but to my surprise, I like Talula's Garden better.
Note: I haven't tried lunch, but lunch reviews were not so good.
237 Saint James Place - near Society Hill Towers)
Very good, high end Israeli food. My Israeli friend thinks its
overpriced, but it is definitely well done.
Zama (568-1027; 128 S. 19th St.)
Japanese/sushi. One of many good ones in the city, but the closest
to my house. :)
Chifa (925-5555; 707
Chinese Peruvian dining; From the Amanda/Tinto/Distrito "chain".
Supper (592-8180; 926 South St)
Very good; nice atmosphere; small portions and expensive but I'll still go back!
Alma de Cuba (988-1799, 1623 Walnut)*Q
Excellent Cuban-inspired food.
Certainly better than anything I could find to eat in Cuba. On
good nights (which is not always), it is one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia.
(Why do we do we have four Cuban restaurants in Philadelphia?)
Matyson (564-2925, 37
S. 19th)* BYOB
Sometimes truly great. often not, but never
bad. Especially recommended for lunch.
Lolita(546-7100, 106 S. 13th St.)
Nouvelle Mexican. BYOTequilla. I like it.
company (574-1099, 1111 Locust) no reservations
The latest in the growing (Tinto, Amamda, Chifa, Village Whiskey,...) Garces
empire. Casual, limited menu. eat in or take out. PLCB wine shop on site.
Kanella (1001 Spruce,
Traditional Greek-Cypriot. I had a good meal, but not great, but
all my friends (and Craig Laban, too) *love* the place. BYOB
Parc(545-2262, 227 S. 18th St)
A little pricy for what you get, but still attractive, if not
creative. Can handle big groups. I prefer smaller restaurants, given
Russet (546-1521; 1521
Locavore restaurant. Very pleasant if not "knock your socks off".
Ela (267-687-8512, 627
S. 3rd St.)
Casual. Good, but seems overpriced for the food and ambiance.
(574-9440, 325 Chestnut St.)*
Nouvelle pan asian. Reliably good, if not stellar food, fun decor.
Cafe Apamate (1620 South St.; 790-1620) BYOB
Good. Not the level or Tinto or Amada, and not quite as good price performance as Bar
Ferdinand, but good to have around. Go there for the churros more
than the "real food".
Dandelion( 558-2500, 124 S. 18th St.) A fantasy of
What an English gastro-pub should be like. The starters were too
English (boring) for me (why pay that much for deviled eggs?), but
the mains (e.g. the pork belly) were great. Fun selection of beers.
Adsum (267-888-7002, 700 S. 5th St.)
Good, but not as good as the hype suggests.
Alla Spina (600
N. Broad St) Loud
Big disappointment from the Vetri restaurant family. Great beer
selection, but boring, expensive pub food. Ther are plenty of better
Tashan (777 S. Broad
High end Indian food from the Tiffin guys. Some of the
dishes were great. Many of them just tasted like overpriced Indian
food. Service was a bit uneven for the price point, but many people
More Expensive, Center City
(732-3478, 1312 spruce)*
The best Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. (Some say in the best
in the U.S.; others argue for e.g., ll Mulino in NYC. One friend likes
Osteria (763-0920; 640 N. Broad St.)
From the guys who brought you Vetri.
Not cheap, and an odd location (not really center city), but well worth the visit.
The Fountain (at the Four Seasons Hotel) (963-1500, 1 Logan Square) Q
I haven't been in years, but the reviews remain stellar.
Morimoto 723 Chestnut St
Cool decor, great sake. Great fancy
sushi and sashimi, but pretty much an expense account place.
Lacroix at The Rittenhouse (546-9000, 210 West Rittenhouse) Q
Fancy, sometimes excellent food, I've had great dinners (some of the best I've
had in Philadelphia), and some surprisingly mediocre lunches there. Recently it
has been good. Elegant food.
White Dog Cafe (386-9224, 3420 Sansom) *
Comfortable atmosphere, reliable; my standard on campus for visitors.
(Actually, I often eat at Picnic, or at the food trucks, but for fancier
fare, go to the dog.) Sadly losing a bit of its nice
quirkiness under the new management. I miss Judy's style.
(387-1803, 3636 Sansom)
The only restaurant in Philadelphia to make Wired magazine. Cool
lighting and cool pan-asian food. Good place for someone else to pay.
Distrito (222-1657; 3945 Chestnut St)
Fun. Pseudo-low end mexican decor. High end mexican food. Same chef as Amada/Tinto,
but not as good. With Tinto, I always want to go back again the next day; with
Distrito I enjoy the meal, but am in less of a hurry to return.
Han Dynasty (222 3711, 3711 Market St.)
The dynasty comes to the Penn area. Great Chinese food (much of it
spicy), reasonable prices, and a nice space.
Baby Blues BBQ (222-4444, 3402 Sansom St.)
Tasty ribs, good beer. Not recommended for vegetarians. :)
(823-6222, 3611 Walnut)
Decent food at the Inn at Penn. Not (by far) on my top Italian
restaurants in Philly, but a convenient place for lunch if you're tired of the 'Dog.
(382-8001, 3939 Chestnut)
Good Thai food, sometimes uneven (everyone has their
favorite Thai, and many people prefer Lemon Grass). Try the deserts (western, not Thai)
(382-0818, 4000 Chestnut)
Not your standard Thai; there is a good mix of upscale Europe
here, and to excellent effect. Yum. BYOB.
(222-8042, 3626 Lancaster Avenue)
A little farther from Penn, but perhaps worth the walk.
(382-6221, 3608 Chestnut St)
Korean Japanese Restaurant, quiet and affordable lunches.
The restaurant school
Occasionally unreliable, as one might expect, but always a pleasure, and the price is right.
(222-4200, 4207 Walnut Street)
University City - a little further from campus
Marigold Kitchens (222-3699, 501 S. 45th St.) BYOB
It was one of the the best restaurants in University City. I haven't
tried it since the cook changed (again). (Warning: not *so* close to Penn.)
Kilimandjaro Restaurant (387-1970, 4317 Chestnut St) BYOB
Senegalese; Not fancy (to put it mildly), but the fish yassa
I have not yet tried the competing Le Bercail Restaurant
Rx (222-9590, 4443 Spruce St)
Relaxed, yet very nice atmosphere. Excellent food.
Desi Chaat House (501 S
Indian street food. Fun! (very casual, cheap)
Further out are a bunch of restaurants I haven't made it to yet:
At 47th and Warrington (right off of Baltimore) are
Dahlak (Ethiopian), Vietnam (a branch of the Chinatown Vietname Cafe)
and Vientiane Cafe (Loatian) anda at 50th and Baltimore is.
(701 S. 50th S.)
Micro-brewery with surprisingly decent food.
Center City - West (Rittenhouse/Fitler Square)
See also the many restaurants on Restaurant Row in the "expensive"
section above. The bottom half of this section are perfectly nice local places, but not
worth crossing town for.
Pumpkin Restaurant 545-4448 1713 South St
I've had truely great meals at Pumpkin, and have been very happy with the
service (in spite of what others have said). BYOB, cash only
Melograno (875-8116, MOVED!!! to 20xx Sansom) L, O
Excellent neighborhood joint. The best Italian food
in Ritt/Fit; still excellent after the move. Highly recommended. BYOB (not "Melongrano")
(751-1175, 2048 Sansom) L
Nice neighborhood place - Italian, reasonably priced. Try the carpaccio. Owner is very friendly, but always
underestimates the wait. Cozy (read "crowded") Still it is well worth going! BYOB.
Le Castagne (1920 chestnut) 751-9913 *
Quite nice. Same price point as Caffe Costa Diva, more elegant (great
lighting design, but that swirly wall art does not help the
ambiance). Owned by the same people who brought you la Familia and
Panorama. Worth trying. They have a liquor license, but a good
Italian wine selection. Good place for talking - not too loud.
Friday Saturday Sunday
(546-4232, 261 S 21)
Neighborhood institution; pleasant informal atmosphere. Good wine prices. Still good after all these years.
Rouge (732-6622, 205 S. 18th) LL
Trendy place on Rittenhouse square. Excellent food and good wine
but the music is generally too loud indoors. The outdoor tables
are great when the weather is nice. (but not as trendy as neighboring Parc)
Mama Palma's (735-7357 2229 Spruce Street)
Fun collection of unusual pizzas. Although the waitresses are
nice, the man in charge can be a little nasty. Sells beer, but not wine.
Caffe Costa Diva (20th St)
Uneven. The best dishes are fantastic (great Veal Chop!),
others are a little dull for the price.
Monks Cafe (545-7005; 264 S. 16th St.)
Go for the classic Belgian basics and a great beer selection.
I haven't tried Eulogy Belgian Tavern (413-1918; 136
Chestnut St.), but they also have a good beer list.
(569-9585; 2013 Walnut)
Good (amazingly!) Irish food.
(731-1222; 20th and Spruce)
Pleasant neighborhood place, but slightly dull food. I always
have the Zuppa de Pesce, which I love. and the chocolate pot de creme.
BYOB, no credit cards.
Dimitri's (24th and Pine) LOUD!!!
Now supposed to have the same food (finally) as the S. 3rd street location, which has the best calamari
grilled octopus in Philadelphia, but much more convenient and shorter lines. Too noisy for me.
Seafood Unlimited (732-3663, 270 S. 20th St)
Reasonably priced and casual. Not worth crossing town
for, but nice to have in the neighborhood. (I never eat there,
but buy lots of fish from them.)
Center City - Central (moderate priced)
Valanni - 12 /& Spruce.
Convenient for pre-theater; I hear it is getting to be reasonably
good again. (Not a "destination" restaurant.)
Try also the many places in the Reading terminal market(922-2317) and in
Chinatown (see below). Also note that the expensive restaurants
listed above are mostly in this area.
Chinatown is full of reasonable restaurants; just wander
north of Market between 9th and 11th.
Vietnam (592-1163, 221 N. 11th St)
Great appetizers. my favorite place in chinatown. Certainly the best
Vietnamese food, at least for most American tastes (many Vietanmese
disagree, and some prefer Vietnam Palace, across the street)
Lee How Fook 219 N. 11th St., 925-7266)
Famous for their hot and sour soup.
(413-2531, 117 N. 10th St.)
Reasonable prices, fun. Malaysian (loosely defined). Same quality as the NYC original. No reservations. Cash only.
Chungking Garden (905 Arch St.)
A good place to go for banquets. (Imperial Palace remains reliable as well.)
(629-9939, 101 N 11th)
good thai food.
Sang Kee Duck House
(925-7532, 238 N. 9th)
Good authentic Chinese duck and noodle dishes. Cheap.
(829-8939, 112 N. 9th St)
Burmese. good soup.
A hip neigborhood on my "to try" list. I'm told
"Cafe L'aube at 1631 Wallace St is a
great crepe place run by a couple of French immigrants, they also make
a really good espresso. Lemon Hill at 747 N 25th St is a nice out of
the way French Canadian restaurant with a good drink selection. Also
as a lover of German food and beer I'd recommend taking a look at
Brauhaus Schmitz. It succeeds in replicating the Bavarian beer hall
experience, both the positives and the negatives."
There are a host of fun places in Northern Liberties; I wish I made it
there more often. This section is not really up to date.
the Standard Tap
(238-0630, 901 N. 2nd St.)
High end beers and good beer food
Il Cantuccio (627-6573, 701 N 3rd St
Italian, I'm told it is not as good as it was. BYOB.
Ortliebs Jazz House 847 N 3rd St
Good straight-ahead jazz, and the food southern/cajun is actually
not as good as Amada/Tinto, but not nearly as expensive, either.
Center City - East
This section is a rather less complete and less reliable than the others; I'm too
lazy to walk to that side of town. There are a huge number of
cool restaurants opening on Market Street east (near Fork and
(627-6273, 35 S 2nd)
yuppie Indian food. cool decor, decent food (no longer the best
Indian food in Philly, since Bindi, Ben, and Tiffan arrived)
Cuba Libre (10 S. 2nd St.)
Fun Cuban. O.K., its not really Cuban, but none of our main Cuban
xochitl (238-7280; 408 S. 2nd)
Yuppie mexican. Not bad, but not as exciting as many others.
La Familia (922-2803, 8 S. Front St)*
Upscale Italian. Recommendable food. It was off my list for a
long time after the waiters insisted they knew what wine I wanted
better than I did, but on my last visit the service was
excellent. but I go to Melograno or Sovalo instead.
Palace at the Ben (834 Chestnut St.; 267-232-5600)
recommended for "fancy" Indian food
(925-4950, 616 S. 2nd)
Lebanese; good and cheap. BYOB
(627-0833, 622 S. 2nd)
Chinese. Reasonably priced, good.
(625-0556, 795 S 3rd St)
Tiny place, always a line. The best calamari in Philadelphia,
and some of the best fish. No reservations. BYOB
(413-3464, 600 Catherine St)
tiny, fun, almost as good as Dimitris.
(627-9011, 760 S. 9th St.)
Real traditional south Philly cooking.
I don't make it out to Manayunk often, since there are so many
great places in center city, so this section under-represents
the area. My favorite there is:
(483-0444, 4365 Main Street, Manayunk)
Excellent food, very nice decor.
jarocho (1138 S 13th St - just south of Washington.)
Great traditional Mexican food, with a Seafood speciality. The usual
formica tables. Low prices. La mejor comdida mexicana de Philadelphia. BYOB.
La Calaca Feliz
(787-9930, 2321 Fairmount Ave)
I haven't been here yet, but the fish tacos are getting good reviews.
Taqueria le Veracruzana (465-1440, 908 Washington)
Sabroso, rico, autentico. Some English spoken. BYOB.
Pico de Gallo (772-3003, 1501 South Street)
Correctly billing themselves as "Pennsylvanias' Pennultimate Mexicon Food".
Marrakesh (925-5929, 517 S Leithgow).
Mama's Vegetarian (18 S 20th St, 751-0477)
Great falafel (takeout). Best Israeli food in the city, and best cheap vegetarian restaurant.
(119 S 13th St, 117 S. 20th St, 3925 Walnut St.) which has an amazing dark chocolate
gelato, along with some fun ones like lime/cilantro.
(468-3040, 1303 Dickenson, South Philly)
How can you not love a restaurant where the waiters stop every
now and then and sing an aria from their favorite opera? Even
if the food is terrible (to be very generous).
I often get asked where to take groups of people for work, parties, etc.
This is a bit out of my expertise, as I'm more of a small group person. Still,
I'll try to help. I tend to take people to Chinese banguets such as
ChungKing garde (915 Arch St)
Chinatown is always good for a big crowd.
Estia (1405 Locust St, 735-7700)
Greek food. Can handle bigger groups than most Phila restaurants, and
the food is good.
Water Works Restaurant (1 Boathouse Row--at the Art Museum, 236-9000)
I had terrible service. Really bad. Multiple times. and dull food. But some people seem to like it.
other options (described above) are Park, Rangoon and Cedar's
More On my list to try
I have not yet reviewed these, but I hear good things about them Well
some of them.
le Bec Fin (567 1000, 1523 Walnut)
Like the Phoenix rising from its ashes? But I tried the downstairs
bistro and was underwhelmed, and reviews suggest it isn't worth the
money. too bad.
Il Pittore, 2025 Sansom St.
The latest Stephen Starr; high end italian (Pricey!!); chef has a good track
record, but I'm hearing mixed reviews, to be polite
Zama (568-1027, 128 S. 19th St.)
Sushi. Craig likes it.
Chloe (629-2337, 232 Arch
I'm told "Always excellent food and reasonable prices." cash only.
L'Angolo for the mixed grill, just off Broad on Porter.
Salt & Pepper (746 S 6th St) 238-1920
(351-9901, 246 S. 11th St) *
Django (922-7151, 526 S 4th St)
Used to be my favorite restaurant in Philadelphia. I'm told
the quality went down. I'm so loyal to the previous owners that I
haven't managed to go back -- but I will.
La Lupe ( 551-9920, 1201 S. 9h St.)
Meze (922-1997 767 S. Ninth St.)
Jorge suggests: "Some other terrific NLs/Fishtown restaurants (in terms
of value for money) you might consider trying/adding
to your guide: Honey's; Modo Mio; Johnny Brenda's; A
Full Plate Cafe; Ida Mae's; Silk City (especially for
CLOSED!!! Salt (545-1990, 20th and Rittenhouse) Too bad!!
CLOSED!! Blue Angel
CLOSED!!!The Fish Market
CLOSED !!! Le Colonial
CLOSED !!! The Garden
CLOSED !!! Ciboulette
CLOSED !!! Vega Grill
CLOSED !!! Circa
Breakfast in Philadelphia
I don't eat breakfast out, since I like my own breakfasts better than those in
restaurants. Or I just grab a pastry and coffee near Penn e.g. at Picnic (warning: no espresso) or Buck's County
Coffee (34xx Sansom). The White Dog serves brunch; I don't know if they do breakfast on weekdays. If
you want to travel, Morning Glory 735 S 10th St 413-3999 is a highly recommended breakfast place (with lines on weekends).
Stephen Starr's group alma de
buddakan, continental, el vez, jones, morimoto, pod, tangerine, striped bass,
and washington square, and outposts in NYC and Atlantic City
Why must every site have a poinless flash intro?