NFT Philadelphia Restaurants

Philadelphia / Restaurants

Philly has the kind of restaurant-to-person ratio we could only dream about for teacher-to-student in our public schools--the kind that allows us to sample new flavors in new seating scenarios as often as we please. And still the restaurant scene continues to grow every day. From our slew of exposed brick BYOBs, our pizza meccas and cheesesteak musts, to a whole galaxy of Starr's, there isn't one good reason to eat where you pay the rent.

Madonna mia, where to begin? Vetri (Map 3) lives up to its reputation and has prices to match, along with other Marc Vetri offerings like Alla Spina (Map 18). For purists, Villa di Roma (Map 8) provides absolutely kick-ass pasta dishes in an atmosphere reminiscent of the house in All in the Family. Melograno (Map 1), the always buzzing BYOB, provides a hip milieu some of us might require. Branzino (Map 2), another BYOB, serves up fine Italian dining in their breathtaking garden or mansion turned restaurant. It's tough to choose the best Italian joint in the city, but Modo Mio (Map 19) may top the list--and we've got the elastic waistband to prove it. Little Nonna's (Map 3) gets our vote for date night, with Il Pittore (Map 2), Bistro Romano (Map 4), and Osteria (Map 18) also earning honorable mention.

Besides the people getting on the bus to New York, everybody else is in Chinatown for the food, and with excellent reason. Vietnam (Map 3) is the unconquerable champion here--and its West Philly sister site, the Vietnam Cafe? (Map 13) is pretty wonderful as well. The best banh mi goes to QT Vietnamese Sandwich Company (Map 3), which combines Philly's world famous hoagie bread with lovely Vietnamese fillings.

Moving on from Vietnam (as if that were possible), other Chinatown greats include the hipster-discovered Rangoon (Map 3), serving Burmese food with unflinching quality, not to mention oomph--try the calamari salad. Lee How Fook (Map 3) has a sophisticated Chinese menu and the dishes come large enough to share. If you can't make it to Chinatown but are craving a taste of the orient, Nom Nom Ramen (Map 2), Han Dynasty (Map 4, 14, 22), and Circles (Map 7, 19) can fill the need.

Our sushi awards go to Hikari (Map 19), Vic Sushi Bar (Map 1), and Fat Salmon (Map 3)--all small, relatively inexpensive, and stocked with beautifully fresh fish. And foodies flock to Morimoto (Map 3), for reasons having to do with lobster.

We don't want no trouble, we just want to share some of our favorite slices. Perhaps the most famous spot in Philly is out in Port Richmond, Tacconelli's (Map 20), which is so popular, they require you to reserve your dough in advance. Not good at planning in advance? Marra's (Map 10) is a South Philly legend, and you can't get that kind of exalted status unless you know how to twirl some dough. Lorenzo's (Map 8) has the Italian Market wrapped around its finger, and Mama Palma's (Map 1) definitely gets props for having the most variety. You want wood oven? Nomad (Map 8), Pizzeria Vetri (Map 17), Pizzera Beddia (Map 19), and Bufad (Map 18) all take the cake--or, uh, pie. Earthbread and Brewery (Map 25) and Dock Street Brewery (Map 13) put the yeast to work in both their pizzas and beer. Serious pizza enthusiasts/ninja turtles head to Pizza Brain (Map 20) for its creative, Brooklyn-style pies and a look-see at the world's first pizza museum.

For the best breakfasts in Philly, you have no choice but to buck up and wait--and the places that'll make you wait the longest, like Sam's Morning Glory Diner (Map 7), Sabrina's Cafe? (Map 8, 17), and Honey's Sit 'n' Eat (Map 6, 19), are where you should plant yourself along with the rest of us. At Morning Glory, the bright, homey feel gives way to creations no one's willing to execute at home--packed pancakes, exquisite frittatas. Sabrina's delivers similarly with a possible advantage of being in the vibrant Italian Market--or the advantage of a slightly shorter wait if you go to the Callowhill location. Honey's, meanwhile, combines Southern comfort food with Jewish fare for a result that'll leave you longing for latkes days after you've left. And (Map 2) is the place to be seen while nursing your Ketel One hangover. For a quieter, cheaper morning, Ida Mae's (Map 20) still has the right idea. Or you can start your day the farm-to-table way on the beautiful patio at Talula's Garden (Map 3).

Sadly, Le Bec-Fin is no more, though Lacroix (Map 2) and Fitler Dining Room (Map 1) both provide a fine French dining experience. Guests (and gawkers) of the Four Seasons enjoy the all-encompassing luxury of Fountain (Map 2), while Sbraga (Map 2) presents the fine dining experience with a bit more modern twist. The ubiquitous Stephen Starr's ritzy meat establishment Barclay Prime (Map 2) out-steaks some of the more stern (GOP Incorporated) competition.

For a city that's built its reputation on meat sandwiches, Philly offers a surprising number of vegetarian/vegan options. In fact, Vedge (Map 3), which combines vegetables and fine dining for an amazing eating experience, is so popular among herbivores and carnivores alike, that it can often take weeks to reserve a table. Hell, our baseball stadium even offers seitan cheesesteaks from Campo's Deli (Map 4)! For the lunch crowd, there's HipCity Veg (Map 2), Maoz (Map 3, 8), Govinda's (Map 7), and Pure Fare (Map 1, 7). Other excellent (though not necessarily healthy) veg options abound at Cedar Point (Map 20), Su Xing House (Map 2), Strangelove's (Map 3), Royal Tavern (Map 8), and Blackbird Pizzeria (Map 4). And on that note, stop by Monk's (Map 2) for the best vegetarian cheesesteak in the city.

One of Philly's most engaging traditions is its affinity for the inexpensive fine dining experience. Stop by a good wine store (say, in Jersey or Delaware) and head on over to one of these beauties. Lolita (Map 3) shoots to the top of our list, with its sultry fusion fare--meat and tofu cooked to smoldering perfection--terribly sexy (not to mention kind) waitstaff, and house-made margarita mixes, provided you bring the tequila (which we suggest you do). Old City's Chloe (Map 4) continues to be a perennial favorite amongst foodies and those trying to dodge Old City while in Old City. Francophiles with a nose for bargains flock to Bibou (Map 8), Will (Map 10), and The Pickled Heron (Map 20). Audrey Claire (Map 1) is a professed favorite of the Rittenhouse crowd. Finally, what would life be like without Dmitri's (Map 8) loving Mediterranean fare? We shudder to think.

Hoagies and Steaks
Did you think we forgot?! Can't go wrong with Paesano's (Map 8, 19), Chickie's Italian Deli (Map 7), Pastificio (Map 12), and the old standby, Primo's Hoagies (Map 1, 9) for hoagies that would make Cliff Huxtable proud. And while Pat's King of Steaks (Map 8) and Geno's Steaks (Map 8) still crank out awesome cheesesteaks, Jim's Steaks (Map 8), Tony Luke's (Map 11), and Campo's Deli (Map 4) hit the spot.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Da Vinci Ristorante
Yes. Hard to believe. A hearty Italian restaurant in the depths of South Philly. But at Da Vinci Ristorante, the spirit and flavor of Passyunk mingle with a smooth elegance more often found in Rittenhouse Square. Chef and owner Francesco Parmisciano grew up near Salerno, and his restaurant's palette manifests that Southern Italian heritage in deliciously complex combinations; so if it's traditional marinara "gravy" you're after, you may have come to the wrong place. Pasta and meat entrées alike balance delicate flavors such as white wines, capers, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes and gorgonzola and ricotta cheeses. If making a reservation, be sure they seat you downstairs (the upstairs seating is better for large parties, but lacks in ambiance) or, in good weather, sit in the spacious and mosaic-studded back patio. Stay for dessert and they'll treat you to a shot of chocolate-cello (a sweet, thick variation on traditional limoncello liquer).

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Old City Cheese Shop
The name's a misnomer. Not that they don't sell cheese--they do: a small but mighty selection of French, Italian and American cheese from Gouda to good Pecorino. But there's ever so much more. Best loved by this reviewer for their lunch special, you can pick up a sandwich and soup for $7 on weekdays. (Sandwiches are pre-made, and might on any given day include a choice of prosciutto & provolone, mozzarella caprese, or a ham & cheese croissant. On weekends, sidle in for the best-kept brunch secret in the city: a tiny outdoor garden, snug enough for four tables and a small trickling corner fountain, await your feasting pleasure. The prix fixe menu selections are accompanied by coffee or tea, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a fresh baked muffin. It's the best way, outside of a Eurorail pass, to escape your urban drudgery. In the end, maybe they're right. "Old City Cheese and Brunch and Sandwich Shop" might be a propos...but it just doesn't have the same ring.

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Carman's Country Kitchen
Carman's may very well embody the spirit of South Philly: it's rough and saucy, made to order, and straight from the heart. There's no messing around here at this homespun brunch storefront; sitting at the counter or at one of a few snug tables, you'll be served with mismatched silverware and mugs likely filched from your great aunt’s cupboard. The menu, hand-written on the wall, announces a small selection of seasonally inspired entrees that change weekly. You'll always have your choice between a sweet pancake, fruity French toast, seasonal omelette, or a special meat, fish or sausage served with eggs and toast. Sit at the far back table and you'll catch Carman hard at work in her tiny kitchen; she may even ask you how you enjoyed your meal as she fries up another omelette. In warm weather, you and your party of 6-8 can sit at the "chef’s table," a picnic table nestled in the bed of a curbside pickup truck. (Call ahead; it's available by reservation only.) The tables may be few, and the entrees fewer; but Carman proves that quality, not quantity, wins the day.

Posted By:  Sara Nye
Photo:  Sara Nye

Green Eggs Cafe
While eating breakfast at Green Eggs, one of the only other physical tasks I can accomplish is heaving great sighs of contentment. Not only because the French toast I order is perfectly portioned and manages to be both light AND rich, but also due to the ambiance here, a newly remodeled set of rooms that is full of warm dark woods, intricate ceilings, and images of the natural world. Each table even has a plant centerpiece. The cafe itself seems to be breathing deeply, so what choice do I really have to do otherwise? Get this: buying a glass of water for $1 helps conserve the planet's water ways. Now I'm wholly convinced this place is designed to satisfy the greener, more-in-touch-with-nature person trying to fight his or her way out of us all. While sating us silly, that is. A note on this French toast: it's brioche stuffed with fresh berries and ricotta and topped with more berries, Chantilly cream, and blueberry sauce. Next time I'm diving into the pancakes. A full stack is $6.50, a short $4.50. And I can get poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and lavender honey on them. For no. Extra. Charge.

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Isgro Pastries
Of South Philly's great bakeries--Termini Brothers, Varallo Brothers, Cosmi's--Isgro is one of the best known, not only because of their delectable sweets but because of their proximity to the oft-traversed Italian Market and (inimitable) Sabrina's Cafe. Isgro's delivers all that one dreams of in a traditional Italian bakery and sweet shop: pignoli, biscotti and sfogliatella; tortes, tarts and eclairs; and--of course--cannoli (the store's website, lest we wonder, is ""). What's more, you don't even have to walk into the store to get a little dash of bakery bliss; thanks to the fans cooling the basement ovens, the bakery's singular aroma wafts up and down Christian street, a siren song calling out to the deepest caverns of your olfactory senses. What's the use in resisting? The "best" ricotta cheese cannoli in South Philly awaits.

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Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
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Federal Donuts
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Jovan's Place
Kisso Sushi Bar
La Rosa Pizzeria
Lee's Deli
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Lil' Pop Shop
Little Pete's
Lorenzo & Sons Pizza
Magic Carpet
Mama's Vegetarian
Melrose Diner
Miles Table
Modo Mio
Monk's Café
National Mechanics Bar and Restaurant
Nodding Head Brewery & Restaurant
Nomad Pizza
Nomad Romana
Phileo Yogurt
Pizza Brain
Pizzeria Beddia
Pizzeria Vetri
Positano Coast
Primo Hoagies
QT Vietnamese Sandwich Co.
Royal Tavern
Sabrina's Cafe
Sam's Morning Glory Diner
Sidecar Bar & Grille
South Philadelphia Tap Room
South Street Philly Bagels
Standard Tap
Tacconelli's Pizza
Thai Singha House to Go
The Corner Foodery
The Dandelion
Vic Sushi Bar