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It’s true, cheesesteaks and hoagies are heavy-hitters in Philadelphia’s food scene, but we just can’t overlook all the city’s eclectic variety of cuisines: vegan fare, confections, and beloved BYOB restaurants. Warning, do not read this on an empty stomach. This guide will explore where to eat in Philadelphia, highlighting the city’s top breakfast, lunch, and dinner spots in all its foodie glory.
From cozy cafes to glorious alfresco dining, these are our top choices for the best restaurants in Philadelphia.
There’s plenty to do in Philadelphia, but the only way you can conquer it all (or at least try) is with a full stomach. Early bird or late sleeper? It doesn’t matter, these breakfast and brunch spots will have you ready to take the day.
We’ve got three words: Cannoli. French. Toast. The hype is real, y’all—one bite and you’ll sense a flavor bomb exploding in your mouth. Located in a restored historic factory in Philly’s Callowhill neighborhood, Cafe Lift is known for its cozy vibe and friendly service. Other menu delights include chilaquiles with runny eggs, avocado toast, and a warm grain bowl (all ingredients are sourced hyper-locally and from responsible growers). You’ll need to wear your stretchy pants for this one.
Feel free to bring your own beverage to Aksum, a Black-owned Mediterranean kitchen in Cedar Park. Whether you choose to dine indoors or outdoors, you’ll receive exceptional service and a warm welcome from the Aksum staff. Heads up, there may be a long wait. But rightfully so—Aksum’s Moroccan chicken and waffles and curry tofu scramble are highly regarded in West Philadelphia. If you plan to visit during the weekend brunch hours, make a reservation in advance.
Longing for a taste of Paris? Just follow the aroma of freshly baked bread and you’ll find Parc—Philly’s beloved French bistro. Dine outdoors (there’s comfortable seating for more than 75 guests) for a chic ambiance and view of Rittenhouse Square. There’s a lot to choose from on the brunch menu, but you can’t go wrong with an omelet or the flavorful quiche lorraine—don’t forget to order champagne and a croissant on the side for the ultimate French dining experience.
Expect to experience some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia during the hours of 12-2. Lunch just might be Philly’s favorite time of day because, in this city, the options are (seriously) endless. From vegan wings to cajun-style Po’boys, get ready to make all your lunch dreams come true. Let’s eat!
First things first. In Philly, it’s a hoagie. Don’t you dare walk in to Angelos Pizzeria South Philly, or any Philly restaurant for that matter, asking for a sub (seriously, spare yourself the embarrassment.). Now that we’ve got that tiny (but major) detail out the way, let’s talk about Angelos Pizzeria—arguably the best pizza and sandwich shop in the city. Locals have shed tears over the Upside Down pizza (the shining star on the menu), but the real gems are the Italian hoagie and its house-baked roll (the most important part of any hoagie) and the Pops hoagie, made with soppressata, dry-cured capicola, mortadella, and sharp provolone.
Some people visit Reading Terminal Market for the thrill of it. Others have different goals in mind—eat, eat again, and eat some more. Reading Terminal Market (one of the nation’s oldest and largest public markets) is an experience we strongly recommend. Walk inside and witness a melting pot (no pun intended) of locally owned, family-run vendors serving cuisines from America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and more. Order a pulled chicken sandwich from Dienner’s, an Amish-style rotisserie, or visit Beck’s Cajun Cafe—a can’t-miss-stop that dishes up all things New Orleans. Whether you get the beignets or Train Wreck Po’Boy (stuffed with andouille, steak, salami, cheese, and onion), your mouth will water.
You’ll know from the line wrapped around the block (order ahead and get there early) that you’re about to taste something special at Dalessandro’s. Locals from every corner of the city travel to the restaurant for large portions of soft bread, finely sliced rib-eye, and the cheese and toppings of their choice. We’re talking authentic Philly cheesesteaks. We highly caution against making plans afterward—it’ll be a while before your food coma wears off. Make a trip to the ATM before you go. Dalessandro’s is cash only.
If we told you Blackbird Pizzeria’s menu was 100% vegan, you wouldn’t believe us (consider this us telling you). Vegans from all over visit this warm storefront for its Root Beer BBQ “wings'' with a side of cucumber ranch. But along with the wings, try Blackbird’s take on the Philly cheesesteak (made with Seitan). Despite its name, Blackbird Pizzeria recently announced they are dropping their beloved vegan pizza from its menu—no worries, you can grab a slice from its sister restaurant 20th Street Pizza.
After a long day working, exploring, or relaxing, you’ll want to treat your tastebuds to a delicious evening meal. But we’ll warn you, with so many choices, deciding on where to eat in Philadelphia may be harder than you think. Luxury dining, small plates, Italian cuisine, and seafood dishes—dinner is the city’s love language.
If you want one of the best meals you’ll ever eat, you need to (quickly) make your way to Hiroki. Tucked in Fishtown, Philly’s trendy culinary, art, and music district, Hiroki is perfect for fine dining, business meals, or special occasions. Here’s the thing: there’s only one option for dinner—a 9-course omakase inspired by Chef Hiroki Fujiyama’s hometown Kyoto (trust us, your dinner’s fate is in great hands). We recommend you sit at the sushi bar for an up-close view of the sushi chef at work. Head’s up, this is fine dining so expect to pay at least $145 per person for this luxurious dining experience.
Make plans for a chill dinner experience at Dock Street Brewery—Philadelphia’s female-owned and first microbrewery. Visit the Baltimore Avenue (a century-old former firehouse) location for divine gourmet wood-fired artisan pizza, burgers (vegan options available), salads, and of course, a variety of draught beers (try the Dock Street Barracuda), bottled brews, and IPAs. You can find more unique bites at the Point Breeze location—think modern Mediterranean and European small plates.
Head to the heart of the Italian Market to find the Latinx-owned Alma Del Mar (also featured in Season 5 of Queer Eye!). The restaurant’s heated and spacious outdoor setup lends to ideal alfresco dining in the warmer months. On the menu, you’ll find a variety of Mexican and American cuisines. But for dinner, you can’t go wrong with the crab and corn chowder, Alma’s Branzino (grilled branzino, watercress salad, and cherry tomatoes), or the flavor-packed shrimp ceviche.
Indulge in flavorful (and inexpensive) Caribbean and American fare with a Cajun twist at Carl Lewis Sr.’s 48th Street Grille. Honestly, the entire menu is impressive, but we suggest you try the New Orleans-style blackened salmon and Rasta Pasta or the curry chicken for a taste of authentic Jamaican cuisine (expect large portions). Don’t be surprised if you receive a personal greeting from the chef—a testament to the restaurant’s attentive service and warm ambiance.
You’ll need to travel about an hour out of the city to West Chester, Pennsylvania for this one, but believe us when we say it is worth it. The warm and eclectic atmosphere (and open kitchen) invites you to sit back and enjoy watching the chef prepare your dish. At Andiario, food is art and executed with extreme detail. It’s truly in a league of its own. Bring your own beverage and be blown away by the Italian fare—fresh scallops, savory pasta, and pork so tender it’ll melt in your mouth.
If you’ve still got room for dessert, consider us impressed. Philadelphia’s love for sweets lends to a heavenly dessert experience. Lean into the taste of smooth ice cream treats and warm pastries that’ll make you leave your one-bite rule at home.
Go for a nightcap at A La Mousse, a quaint (and adorable) shop tucked in Chinatown (also located on South Street). These handcrafted desserts are made with globally sourced ingredients and have 35% less sugar than traditional recipes. Although you’ll have plenty of options, we recommend the Apple Tart (it really looks like a green apple!) and the Teapot Mousse, which also looks like a cute little teapot but once you cut into it, you’ll see this delight is an Earl Grey mousse with a peach center. Yum.
If you choose to end your evening in line at Termini Brothers Bakery, just know you’ve made a great decision. This family-owned pastry shop was founded in the 1920s and hasn’t looked back since. Serving up Italian pastries, cookies, and cakes, Termini does not disappoint. Especially if you try the Cannoli—bite into a fresh crispy shell with a not-too-sweet delicious cream filling.
So there you have it, a complete guide of where to eat in Philadelphia—ranging from takeout that won’t break the bank to splurge-worthy fine dining. While we’ve done our best to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information, we encourage you to check restaurant websites and call ahead for reservations, COVID-19 protocols, and indoor dining queries.