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Our Guide to  Philadelphia Restaurants


Article by City Lifestyle

Photography by City Lifestyle

Philadelphia may be known as the city of Brotherly Love, but it also has tons of excellent places to eat. As a major metropolitan center, there are thousands of delicious restaurants and eateries to choose from, which can get a little overwhelming.

Fortunately, you don't have to wander around blind. We've compiled a list of the top types of eateries you can find so that you can narrow your selection and get the best meal ever.

Here is your guide to restaurants in Philadelphia. 

South Philadelphia Restaurants

One thing you'll notice about Philadelphia is that each section of the city feels fresh and unique. According to locals, South Philly is the city's heart and soul, complete with some of the best restaurants to match. Some of the best include Alma del Mar and Stina Pizzeria. While the border is not exactly official, residents consider anything south of Washington Street to be part of this district.

Although the eateries here can be world-class, they have a pared-down style that makes it seem like you're right at home.

Check Out Northeast Philadelphia Restaurants

As a major urban city, The City of Brotherly Love has its fair share of diversity. However, most of the mixing happens in the Northeast section, so the area is considered Philly's melting pot.

Locals call it "The Great Northeast," and it comprises roughly 40 percent of the city itself. Thanks to its blend of cultures and backgrounds, the dishes here are as eclectic as the people. You can a taste of the world without traveling too far. 

West Philadelphia Restaurants

While this area was made popular by the hit show "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," West Philadelphia is also home to the University of Pennsylvania.

Because the school is such a massive part of the neighborhood (this place is called University City), it draws tons of different people. Like Northeast Philly, the west side is home to many different types of cuisine. Best of all, since these places are catering to broke college students, many are quite affordable. 

Head Downtown: Your Pick of the City’s Restaurants

Although South Philadelphia is considered the city's spiritual center, downtown is where all of the action is.

Restaurants here range from the uber-trendy to more modest fare, depending on where you look. The best way to break the area down is by the following sections: old city, Chinatown, and Rittenhouse Square. Here's what you can find in each place. 

  • Center City and Old City - Here is one of the best places to do a pub crawl, provided that you have the funds to make it through the night. If you're feeling extra fancy, try one of the Four Seasons restaurants. 
  • Chinatown - As the saying goes, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." In Philly's Chinatown, you want to eat as the locals do. Some of the best Asian dishes are right here. 
  • Rittenhouse Square - Like Old City, Rittenhouse is full of high-end, fancy establishments. One of the best options is the new(ish) restaurant called The Love. The food here is divine, and you're guaranteed to love it (pun intended). 

Chinatown Restaurants in the Area

This area is one of the oldest in the city, with the first Chinese establishments opening in the late 1800s. One of the best things about eating is that there is a nice blend of old and new construction, particularly in this part of town.

The sights, sounds, and smells that waft from Chinatown eateries are almost impossible to resist. Get some sizzling meat or street food so that you can experience the city while chowing down. 

Top Streets for Philadelphia Restaurants

While certain areas are culinary hotspots, Philly has quite a few streets that are a hotbed of activity. If you're trying to do a tasting tour of the city (or you don't know what you want to eat), a stroll down any of these avenues will yield some incredible results. 

  • South Street - This street runs right between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Some of the oldest spots are right here, ready to welcome you. 
  • Thirteenth Street - Running by the old City Hall, 13th street is home to an eclectic blend of restaurants, including farm-to-table eateries and old-fashioned steakhouses. 
  • Walnut Street - Those who want trendier dishes should walk along Walnut Street. Vegetarian, sushi, and organic restaurants are par for the course. 
  • Chestnut Street - If Walnut isn't delivering the right vibes, hop one street over to Chestnut. Here you'll find plenty of meat and comfort food. 

Airport Restaurants

Typically, airport food is designed to be quick and convenient, not luxurious or life-changing.

Fortunately, travelers coming in and out of PHL have many different world-class offerings, from Italian trattorias to fine dining to a good old-fashioned German beer garden. This may be one occasion where getting a long layover is a good thing since it will give you plenty of time to nosh. 

Italian Market Restaurants in Philly

If you're looking for a decidedly old-world culinary experience, you have to check out the famous Italian Market on 9th street.

These days, the name is a bit misleading, as vendors of all kinds (including Souvlaki and Mexican) call the market home. However, as one of the oldest open-air markets in the country, it is a place like no other. Grab a bite and be sure to browse the aisles for some extra-tasty treats to take home. 

Restaurants Near Forrest Theater

Built in 1928, the Forrest Theater in the heart of Philadelphia is a sight to behold. The musical Hamilton has been showing here, as have countless world-class plays and shows.

Whether you're planning for a night of entertainment or you just happen to be in the area, check out the high-end restaurants nearby. Moriarty's Restaurant is a particularly good choice for both pre and post-show drinks so that you don't have to pay theater prices. 

Eat Out at Restaurants Near the Philadelphia Art Museum

If you've seen the film "Rocky," then you know the steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There is even a statue commemorating the fictional hometown hero and his achievements.

The whole area is splendid and running up those steps will work up an appetite. You can find tons of restaurants, including Mexican, American, fine-dining, and more. Just tell them that Rocky sent you. 

Italian Cuisine: Restaurants Specializing in Pasta, Bread and More

Since Philly is an old city, you can find some incredible Italian restaurants around here such as Little Nonna's. Some of them are original locations - places where you can imagine old-school Italians eating out while munching on a plate of spaghetti.

Most places will serve the favorites, but there are a few trendy and chic ristorantes as well. Depending on where you go, you can expect to pay a pretty penny too, but it's worth it. 

Restaurants with Vegan Options

Although the City of Brotherly Love is known for its meats and cheeses (cheesesteak, anyone?), the city is warming up to the idea of vegan food.

The number of vegan restaurants has expanded significantly in recent years, and many offer online ordering and delivery. Best of all, you can still get high-class cuisine, all without the guilt of eating anything from an animal. The meat-free revolution is here, and it will be televised. 

Mexican Restaurants

As with most other major urban centers, Philly has a mix of traditional and trendy Mexican eateries. If you're tromping around the Northeast or South neighborhoods, you can find some of the best authentic meals around.

However, those who stick to the fancier parts of town will be impressed by the high-class menus at some of the hippest Mexican restaurants. Be sure to wash your meal down with tequila. 

Fresh Seafood Options: Restaurants

Although the city is not next to the ocean, the Atlantic is just a hop and a skip away. Also, thanks to the two rivers that cut through the city center, you can still get a view of the water with your meal.

Some of the best seafood restaurants in the country are located in Philly. Whether you want oysters, lobster (fresh from Maine), shrimp, or anything else, you can find it here. 

Chinese Restaurants in Philadelphia

We've already discussed what Chinatown has to offer, but there are tons of Asian eateries throughout the city like Sang Kee Peking Duck House.

They range from high-class cafes to more urban spots where a meal won't set you back a week's salary. Philadelphia is also home to some of the best Chinese dishes, including Peking duck and dim sum. 

Vegetarian Restaurants

As with vegan food, the local area is starting to warm up to the idea of going meatless. Obviously, all of the city's vegan restaurants are perfect for vegetarians, but you do have many more options if you don't mind cheese and other animal products.

Most restaurants offer at least a few healthy vegetarian dishes, so your choices are bountiful and endless. 

Kosher Restaurants

Because Philadelphia is an old-world city, it is home to plenty of immigrants from various parts of the globe.

If you're looking for a kosher meal, you can find plenty of original delis and Israeli restaurants from the old days. Even better, many modern restaurants are adopting kosher menu items as the tastes of the city change. However, not all of them are certified, so check their credentials before ordering. 

Great Thai Restaurants

When it comes to Asian food, Thai is one of those that never seem to change. Almost all of the Philadelphia restaurants offer the same classics (i.e., Pad Thai, curry, and soups), but some are nicer than others.

The city is also home to some Thai fusion restaurants if you're looking for something a bit trendier. 

Soul Food Eateries

Thanks to the city's strong diversity, you can find all kinds of meals, including some of the best soul food out of the south. Speaking of Southern comfort, South Jazz Kitchen is one of the best places to curb your cravings.

Not only does the restaurant offer traditional dishes like etouffee and fried chicken, but it's one of the best spots to listen to live jazz. 

Tried and True French Restaurants

As a rule, French cooking is all about decadence and excess. Most of the French bistros and restaurants adhere to this mantra, including Parc. This is a Stephen Starr eatery, meaning that it's both trendy and authentic.

The meals are delicious, and the atmosphere is surprisingly relaxed. Perfect for a night on the town or a celebratory dinner. Bon appetite. 

Greek Restaurants

Philadelphia has a sizeable Greek population, so you can find tons of restaurants within the city. Souvlaki is one of the primary specialties you can find almost anywhere, thanks to its portable design and tasty flavor.

Even non-Greek eateries often sell Souvlaki, just to give you an idea of how popular it is here. Overall, you can find a blend of high-class Greek restaurants and places where street food is the main course. 

Amazing Korean Restaurants

In the order of Asian food, Korean is usually below Chinese and Thai. However, the local area has plenty of excellent Korean restaurants, including those specializing in barbecue and those that offer a simpler dining experience.

You can find some of the best kalbi and bulgogi outside of Southeast Asia if you know where to look. 

Vietnamese Restaurants

Typically, if you want Vietnamese food, your two options are Pho and Banh Mi. Philadelphia has its fair share of both options, so pick up a baguette for lunch and a bowl of tasty beef noodle soup for dinner. Or vice versa, if you prefer. 

Japanese Restaurants

For the most part, Japanese restaurants are often synonymous with sushi houses. However, if you are not into raw fish or sushi rolls, there are other options available. You can try some noodles or Japanese stir fry. Most of the eateries in Philly have both options so that all diners have something to eat. 

The City’s Signature: Philadelphia Cheesesteak Restaurants

No tour of restaurants would be complete without mentioning cheesesteak. As the home of this titular sandwich, you will find some of the best cheesesteaks in the world right here.

As a rule, the top cheesesteak eateries are named after someone, such as John's Roast Pork or Jim's South St. Also, keep in mind that while you can order your sandwich without peppers, you will get some dirty looks if you do. 

Steak Restaurants: Protein Heaven

This city loves its meat, as evidenced by the huge surplus of butcheries and meat-friendly restaurants.

However, if you want something thick, juicy, and bloody, try one of Philly's top-tier steakhouses. While dinner at one of these places will set you back a bit, the culinary experience is worth the cost, particularly if you are celebrating a milestone or anniversary. 

American Restaurants Around the Metro

Although "American" food is kind of hard to pin down, Philadelphia has plenty of diners and greasy spoons to whet your appetite.

Most of these places are perfect for breakfast, as nothing beats a huge plate of sausage, eggs, bacon, and hash browns. We also recommend trying one of Philly's many fast-casual joints like Shake Shack or Night Owls Fast Food

Sushi Restaurants for All Occasions

As we mentioned, most Japanese eateries specialize in sushi, so it's not hard to find this dish anywhere in the city. Philadelphia residents know a thing or two about high-quality rolls and sashimi, so you can get some of the best cuts of fish anywhere on the East coast.

Some of these restaurants are extra fancy, too. 

Unique Cuban Restaurants

Since Philadelphia doesn't have a huge Cuban population, these restaurants are relatively few and far between.

Most of them also serve as rum bars so that you can get a taste of the island life. Typical Cuban dishes include Cubano sandwiches, shredded pork, and plantains. We also highly recommend Cuban coffee if you need a kick of adrenaline. 

German Restaurants

Philly is known for drinking, so you can find plenty of places to knock back a few German beers. Most of the restaurants here are authentic old-world style places, complete with antique decorations and traditional dishes. German food is perfect for both lunch and dinner, as well as eating on the go.

Bringing Middle East Vibes at Mediterranean Restaurants

Mediterranean dining is always a fresh and fun experience, particularly when going to a traditional restaurant. Typical dishes include hummus, pita bread, falafel, and expertly seasoned lamb. Philly has some excellent Mediterranean/Middle Eastern eateries, both for fast service and fine dining.

New Restaurants Across Philly

Because Philadelphia is such a booming and eclectic city, there is always something new to try. Thanks to its diverse population, all kinds of eateries are opening up throughout the city, including vegan restaurants, pizzerias, diners, Italian places, and plenty more.

With so many options to choose from, there is no way that you can sample them all. 

Michelin-Star Restaurants

If you want the creme-de-la-creme dining experience, you have to eat at a Michelin-rated restaurant. The more stars it has, the better (and more expensive) the food.

As you can imagine, most Michelin eateries in Philly are Euro-centric, with French dishes and high-class menus. One of the most famous is Lacroix, although it has nothing to do with the sparkling water of the same name. 

Great Romantic Restaurants

With so many eating establishments in the city, there are plenty of options for lovers at any stage of their relationship.

First dates can be at casual diners or street food vendors, while anniversaries can take place at a steakhouse or fish restaurant. Don't forget about dessert, too, as many of these places have extravagant sweets and pastries for you and your boo. 

B.Y.O.B. Restaurants

One recent trend that has taken Philly by storm is the concept of "Bring Your Own Bottle." The reason this concept took off is that liquor licenses are notoriously expensive in the city.

Thanks to old Prohibition rules, many restaurants don't want to pay these fees, so they encourage guests to bring their own booze. Fortunately, these places are often great for groups and couples, complete with a relaxed atmosphere and delicious dishes. 

Outdoor Restaurants

When the weather is nice in Philadelphia, nothing beats eating outside. The best patio restaurants with outdoor seating are along either river that snakes through the city. However, some of these places have gorgeous views of older parts of Philly, giving you a slice of history with your meal. 

Parents: Check Out Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Technically speaking, any restaurant can be kid-friendly if your little one behaves enough. However, some places in the city go a step further by accommodating children with a laid-back, family-friendly vibe. Most kid-friendly restaurants have a mix of comfort food and trendy dishes, and many are BYOB. 

Dog-Friendly Restaurants

If you have fur babies instead of human children, it's nice to know that Philadelphia can accommodate your little ones too.

Typically, you have to sit outside, although some eateries are a little more relaxed. However, considering how easy it is for dog fur to float through the air, we're sure that other diners will appreciate keeping Fido as far away from the kitchen as possible. Some of these restaurants even serve dog-friendly meals, so your pup doesn't have to watch you eat in agony. 

Rooftop Restaurants: See the Historic Area

If you really want the best outdoor views of Philadelphia, you have to experience rooftop dining. Again, the best spots are those that overlook each of Philly's rivers since they will be perfect for watching the sunset.

We also recommend those overlooking the Old City, since you can see many of the original buildings in all their glory. Some of these places are ideal for pre-show drinks, as you can see the city's sparkling lights before catching a movie or play. 

Philadelphia Restaurants FAQ

What are some must-visit restaurants in Philadelphia?

It's almost impossible to narrow down the list to a handful of must-visit restaurants. Anything that Stephen Starr touches is exquisite, and you have to try at least one cheesesteak spot before you leave. We also highly recommend sampling some street Souvlaki while you're here since that is an essential Philly experience. 

How many restaurants are in Philadelphia?

Although the number is always fluctuating, Philadelphia has roughly 6,000 restaurants within the city limits. This is a far cry from New York's 24,000-plus figure, but Philly has one important distinction. There are more eateries per capita than almost any other city in the country, including NYC. Only Boston has more.