Where to Eat in Philadelphia Right Now
A luxe fried chicken joint, hearty vegan comfort food, and everything in between.
Outdoor temperatures (and spirits!) are up in Philly as we transition into the summer months. And now as the vaccine rollout continues, our favorite restaurants can welcome more guests.
Newcomers to the dining scene are making their mark with fresh ideas and creative solutions for hospitality in the age of COVID-19, from vegan comfort food to kitschy burger spots. We’ve collected all the latest and greatest restaurants in Philly you need to know about, as well as some dining staples that have made their mark in the city for several years. Check out our picks for where to eat right now, whether you’re on the hunt for takeout, delivery, or dining in a restaurant.
Down North Pizza
The gist: Saucy square slices and comfort food comes served with a community-driven mission.
The food: Down North Pizza is the project of childhood friends Muhammed Abdul-Hadi and Chef Kurt Evans, offering up Detroit-style square pies alongside mango habanero wings, spicy crab fries, apple pie milkshakes, and more. Even better, Down North is on a mission to reduce recidivism rates by offering culinary career options for the formerly incarcerated.
The cost: Pizza starts at $18, wings $12, sides start at $4.50
How to order: Walk-in only
The gist: Hearty pasta and cheesesteaks you’d never guess are vegan.
The food: Proof that you can go vegan and still indulge in foodie pleasures, Monster Vegan offers plant-based dishes that could fool even the most devout carnivore, from sandwiches like cheesesteaks and banh mis to mac n’ cheese bites and vegan bolognese pasta.
The cost: Sides range $3-11, salads start at $7, sandwiches and pasta $13-17
The Burger That Ate Philadelphia
The gist: Horror-themed burgers and fries from restaurateur Stephen Starr.
The food: Starr’s latest concept operates out of Frankford Hall and takes the form of burgers, fries, and dips, all of which have snappy horror-themed names. The All Work And No Play is a double patty covered in grilled red onions and cheddar, while the Jaws-sized Gonna Need A Bigger Boat has three patties and comes topped with lots of pickles. Finish it all up with waffle fries and dips like wasabi mayo and jalapeño cheddar.
The cost: Burgers $7-14, fries $4, dipping sauces $2
The gist: Fried chicken and champagne dreams.
The food: It’s a pretty simple concept that feels completely unexpected. Bar Poulet calls itself the world’s fanciest fried chicken joint, featuring a menu of fried chicken, sauces, sides, and an exclusively French wine list with lots of bubbles. You can also get draft cocktails and other pours, and starter dishes like the cheese plate of Pennsylvania and French fromage selections. It’s comfort meets bubbly.
The cost: Starters $5-20, half or whole chicken $18-32, wines start at $10 a glass
The gist: Natural wines and wood-fired sourdough pizza .
The food: Taking the space of the former Mama Palma’s (and later, Palma Cucina), Sally uses the same brick oven to serve 12-inch sourdough pies that range from the mushroom and egg to the pizzazz (which comes topped with house-made American cheese, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, pickled banana peppers, black pepper, and oregano). The menu is also knee-deep with natural wines, cider, and beer.
The cost: Pizzas go for $15-18, with wines starting around $30.
How to book: Make a reservation via website or walk in
The gist: The Schulsons’ buzzy Rittenhouse destination for pasta and caviar.
The food: Via Locusta gives you the buzz and view of dining on Rittenhouse Square Park without being on its most hectic thoroughfare. If a brunch menu featuring pasta and caviar isn’t enough to tip you off, a lunch and dinner menu featuring focaccia-focused starters and pretty cocktails sets the tone for a touch-of-glam dining experience.
The cost: Small plates are $10-16, entrees start at $24, cocktails $13-15
TBD. The Breakfast Den
The gist: American-Vietnamese breakfast dishes in a cozy corner spot.
The food: The mingling of American and Vietnamese-style breakfast plates and comfort food at TBD means you can find fried egg rice bowls topped with crispy pork belly or panko-crusted chicken, banh mi with fried eggs, bacon, and sausage, and smaller bites like spicy popcorn chicken and egg rolls with chili sauce.
The cost: Sandwiches and breakfast plates range from $9-14, salads/small bites $7-9.
The gist: A quick and casual pasta bar with extravagant taste from Marc Vetri.
The food: A cheaper alternative to the chef’s eponymous Italian destination, Fiorella is Vetri’s pasta-focused casual eatery in the Italian Market. The menu features rotating monthly antipasti like pork ribs and tuna crudo, as well as pasta specials like ricotta gnocchi with figs and goat cheese triangoli and sweet gelato to top off your meal.
The cost: Antipasti starts at $12, pasta at $18, and dolci at $5.
How to book: Via Tock
The gist: Relaxed Israeli grill from the team behind Zahav.
The food: It’s all about skewers and other grill-worthy foods at Laser Wolf, which is modeled after a traditional Israeli skewer house. Outfit a variety of chicken, eggplant, tuna, and Bulgarian beef kabobs with branzino or ribs for the table, or scale back with hummus, fresh pita, grilled veggies, and fries with tahini ketchup.
The cost: Score hummus, salatimi, one grilled item, and dessert for $35 per person. A la carte sides start at $6 and larger sharable entrees will run you from $88-136.
The gist: A famous pizzeria in Philly and beyond from Joe Beddia.
The food: Perfect hand-tossed pizza is the obvious star here, with a small menu of red and white pies (plus a vegan option) that you can personalize with sides of basil, extra olive oil, anchovies, oregano—you name it. This all comes with a carefully curated menu of wines by the bottle and local brews.
The cost: A classic tomato and mozzarella pizza starts at $18, with other options reaching $25. Wines typically hover in the $30-40 range.
The gist: Central American street food inspires an eclectic menu.
The food: Churros are the big spectacle of El Merkury, which come warm over vanilla soft serve, but there’s so much more to try before dessert. The Chicharron pork pupusas are a must, as well as the savory taquitos and flash-fried tostadas weighed down with guacamole, salsa, and refried beans.
The cost: Most things on the menu range from $7-10, with sides and desserts in the $5-8 range.
The gist: All-day Lebanese fare made for sampling and sharing.
The food: Get a taste of the busy all-day cafe, market, and restaurant that recently rolled out new takeout, delivery, and garden dining options. Suraya became a quick local favorite thanks to its modern-day approach to family Lebanese recipes, serving tasting menus that sample a bit of everything: pita, baba ganoush, fried kibbeh, roasted lamb, grilled branzino, and dessert.
The cost: Tasting menus feeding two run for $65, or $130 to feed four. Kebabs and entrees run in the low twenties range, while desserts go for $5-15.
South Philly Barbacoa
The gist: Famously delicious slow-cooked tacos from chef Cristina Martinez.
The food: Tacos are the name of the game here, always complete with a heaping of toppings: salsa, nopales, and flavored stock. The titular slow-cooked lamb is the star, but you won’t want to skip the house tortas either.
The cost: A typical taco meal with consummé runs for $12.
How to book: Walk in
Kalaya Thai Kitchen
The gist: Southern Thai fare in the heart of South Philly.
The food: James-Beard-nominated Kalaya has become a must-visit destination in Philly since opening in 2019. The menu features stir-fry-centric entrees, like the Kang Pu Bai Cha Plu, with crabmeat curry, wild betel leaves, rice vermicelli, cucumber, cabbage, long beans, and jasmine rice, and smaller delectable apps like the gorgeous Shaw Muang, purple flower-shaped chicken dumplings.
The cost: You can get a restaurant sampler for about $60, or go a la carte for salads and entrees in the $25+ range. Appetizers usually go for around $14-18.
How to book: Reservations via Tock