Taste Test: How to Cool Down a Spicy Mouth
PlentyAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Cusco brisket sandwich
One of the few restaurants on the Ave that stays open for lunch (you can also score the gourmet fast-casual eats in the Rittenhouse and Queen Village location), Plenty makes globally inspired sandwiches, like the Barcelona with Serrano ham, chorizo, and Mahón cheese, or the Cusco with smoked brisket, peppers, and onions. The menu is balanced out with simpler options like Gruyère and fontina grilled cheese and avocado toast, and it only uses organic and locally sourced ingredients, right down to the Rival Bros. coffee.
Little Nonna'sAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Pan-seared potato gnocchi
Just because you’re in the middle of your workday doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself: Head to Little Nonna’s instead of opting for a quick sandwich, and you’ll be greeted with so many lunch-sized Italian options it’ll be hard to choose. That’s when you opt for the $20 three-course tasting menu, and clear your schedule for the rest of the afternoon.
The Quick FixxAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Steak and cheese flatbread
As you might expect based off the name, Quick Fixx is perfect for when you find yourself insatiably famished but don’t have the time (or money) for a long and lazy lunch. Try a pasta or flatbread here and you’ll feel re-energized, especially if you opt for the elevated cheesesteak, aka steak and cheese flatbread.
ChimaAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Filet mignon and salad bar
This Brazilian steakhouse can be pricey when you go for dinner, but try it out for lunch and you can get the same food for a fraction of the cost: choose the “express lunch” option and get your pick at the salad bar, plus a prepared meat of your choice, typically for under $20.
Couch TomatoAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Godfather pizza
You can opt for a quick bite on the go at CT’s first-floor cafe, or head upstairs to the bistro where you'll find grilled sandwiches, cheese boards, artisanal pizzas, and fresh pasta waiting for you.
TiffinAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Chicken vindaloo
When confronted with the possibilities of an Indian buffet, it can be hard to turn away without a seriously full stomach, but at Tiffin (which has several locations around the Philly area, all offering up legit Indian food) it’s somehow easy to find the balance between being satisfied and overstuffed. Maybe. Daily deals are offered every week, like $10 chicken dishes on Mondays and $8 veggie entrees on Tuesdays.
El ReyAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Comida Corrida lunch special
Stephen Starr’s Mexican spot serves one of the best lunch deals in the city, offering chips with salsa, an appetizer, and an entree for just $10 a person -- yes, seriously. You can also splurge a bit and opt for the guacamole sampler or available-all-day breakfast burrito.
Dock Street BreweryAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Panko-crusted fresh mozzarella
Dock Street has the perfect selection of pizzas, wraps, and small bites to pair with the six original beer taps rotating at the brewpub. Besides having what might be one of the best iterations of mozzarella sticks in Philadelphia, Dock Street offers a decent assortment of vegetarian-friendly options and lighter lunches, in case one of the 18 pizza options (which come in small or large) look too filling.
ClarkvilleAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Danger pie
Just a few blocks away and a neighborhood over, Clarkville is best for pizza (which is available by the slice for $2 from 11am-3pm daily). Pies come in with innovative flavor combos, like the meat-free eggplant with black kale and walnut pesto, or the pork roll à la the Trenton-born breakfast sandwich. The Danger pie keeps it simple with house-made mozzarella and tomato sauce, and you can also opt for a lighter salad or shared plate, and if you’re up for a midday buzz, there’s also wine on tap.
Front Street CafeAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich
Day-to-night, farm-to-table dishes are the name of the game at Front Street, and the daily lunch menu ranges from healthier salads and plates (tostada grain bowl or Buffalo cauliflower) to heartier sandwiches, like pimento and Mahon grilled cheese or buttermilk fried chicken on toasted brioche with bacon and sliced avocado.
The Belgian CafeAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Monk’s mussels
The sister location of Monk’s Cafe may be known for its expansive beer menu, but it’s also home to addictive pomme frites you can eat on their own or alongside savory salads, burgers, and mussels that just might trick you into thinking you’re in Belgium -- and not, y'know, on your lunch break.
Cuba LibreAddress and Info
What you're getting: Del Mar trio
Every weekday stop by Cuba Libre for lunch and enjoy one of the restaurant's "Rapido" lunch trios, with three dishes -- typically a soup, salad, and entree -- served together to get you moving. You can choose from seafood, veggie, or chicken trios, or opt for the Cuban bento box ($16.50) where you'll get three lunch favorites, plus dessert, also served simultaneously for maximum lunch efficiency.
Memphis TaproomAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Kielbasy grinder
Southern-inspired dishes come to Kenzo with local favorite Memphis Taproom, serving hearty burgers, sandwiches, and a surprising amount of vegan and vegetarian options (like a quinoa chickpea burger and broccoli rabe mac & cheese).
Chinatown SquareAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Poke bowl
The food hall finally came to Philly earlier this year with an array of cuisine to peruse and pick at your fingertips, from Korean tacos to poke to curry. The food center hasn’t quite lived up to its official promise of staying open 24 hours (at least not yet), but we can guarantee a happy visit during lunch hours, where you might wind up spending your entire break sampling from store to store.
Iron Hill BreweryAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Salmon burger banh mi
The local chain has several outposts outside downtown Philly, and the Chestnut Hill location offers its own food specials and events. At lunch you can dine in or take out one of the lighter fare, burger, or sandwich options, and if you opt for two take-out pizzas you’ll get a growler for a total of $25.
Hai Street KitchenAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Flamin’ tuna sushi burrito with avocado salsa
The made-to-order sushi burritos from Hai Street are among the best fast-casual options you can find that use fresh, daily ingredients and offer a unique alternative to your typical chain lunch stops. With a similar build-you-own setup like Chipotle, Hai Street lets you create your ideal giant sushi roll (or poke bowl or salad) with ingredients like like chicken katsu, spicy tuna, pickled jicama, green papaya salad, and tempura crunch. Say “dynamite” to have your burrito deep-fried like a chimichanga.
Trolley Car CafeAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Trolley Car panini
This quaint family spot with a welcoming outdoor deck offers soups, salads, sandwiches, and even fish tacos and portobello quesadillas on its daily lunch menu. Bonus: If you’re hoping to bring a furry friend along for a meal, you’ll find a menu for doggies too.
BufadAddress and Info
What you’re getting: Braised pork Neapolitan pizza
Bufad serves lunch Tuesday through Sunday, including daily specials of Roman-style square pizza, antipasti, small plates, and signature Neapolitan-style pies. A lunchtime pizza is perfect to split with your co-worker -- or if you’re sadly not in the mood for carbs and cheese, you can opt for a freshly prepared salad. We won't tell anyone.