Portuguese Cafes and Cambodian Noodles: The Best New Philly Restaurants
Here’s where to eat this summer.
Philly is a city of many dining experiences, from iconic eateries and top-tier brunch, to classic spots that define our culinary landscape like Zahav. The best part of this culinary range is the multitude of restaurants to fit your every whim, whether it’s a multi-course prix fixe or grab-and-go chicken sandwiches with an Ethiopian essence.
Even with all of these options, hot debuts with exciting offerings also continue to make their mark. From Fishtown to West Philly, here’s a glance at some of our favorites new restaurants in Philly, along with a few other new-ish top picks we recommend checking out.
Gilda Café & Market
Bringing the bustling energy of a Portuguese cafe to Fishtown, Gilda (pronounced Jil-da) is run by husband-chef team, Brian Oliveira and Brian Mattera, who met in this very space, while working at Girard. Whether you’re stopping by for a quick pastry with the signature Pastel de Nata and a coffee or want to take your time with the Char-Grilled Piri Piri Chicken, there are no bad options on the focused menu.
There’s nothing more romantic than a cozy BYOB where you’re sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow diners. That’s the exact vibe you’ll get at Illata, an unfussy neighborhood gem focusing on local seafood and produce. Start your meal with freshly baked sourdough via the Bread and Butter or opt for the Marinated Mussels with hakurei turnips, then fill up on Rigatoni Amatriciana before topping it all off with a Chocolate Cream Puff for dessert.
Darling Jack’s Tavern
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran expanded their Midtown Village dining empire (see: Barbuzzo, Bud & Marilyn’s, and Little Nonna’s) with the recent opening of Darling Jack’s Tavern. The menu is inspired by international taverns and features Coal Grilled Oysters, Steamed Mussels with housemade Portuguese sausage, a dedicated section of thin-crust Tavern Pizza, Coal Grilled Steak Frites, and Gochujang Glazed Lamb Ribs. Pair everything with signature martinis, natural wine, and craft beer.
Located in the space that previously housed Kalaya, Mawn is billed as a Cambodian noodle house with no rules. Its name translates to chicken in Khmer and the menu features plenty of it, whether via the Crispy Chicken Skin; braised within the Khao Soi, a Northern Thai curry; or the signature Fried Chicken with fish sauce caramel and Thai chili. For other proteins, go for the Grilled Mahope Samut with charred squid, Steak & Prohok with a 20 oz ribeye, or Thai Crab Fried Rice.
How to book: Via Tock
Amanda Schulman, of Her Place Supper Club, and her fiance, fellow chef Alex Kemp, opened this French-inspired restaurant that’s only open on weekdays. Within the cozy dining room, the menu highlights their past cooking experiences as well as seasonal ingredients with plenty of seafood and foie gras. Just a heads up: the “p” in My Loup is silent.
Opened last fall, Doro Bet marks the third local food venture for sisters Hayat Ali and Mebruka Kane. Located in West Philly, this Ethiopian chicken house Doro Bet is best known for their signature juicy and gluten-free fried Chicken Sandwiches served on a toasted brioche bun. The secret sauce (or spice, rather) is the lemon turmeric and berbere in the batter.
We could always use another wine bar. This new addition to Rittenhouse Square’s already formidable dining scene, from the team behind Good King Tavern and Le Caveau (which means they definitely know a thing or two about wine), has an eclectic wine list with bubbles, orange wines, and more on offer. What would wine be without a selection of charcuterie? You’ll find meats, cheeses, Steak Tartare, Tuna Crudo, a variety of tartines, and other elegant snacks here as well.
Nobody makes it quite like grandma, which is no more true than at this restaurant serving Northern Thai fare with locally sourced ingredients. Try Thai-style beef meatballs covered in a sweet-savory sauce, or the New York strip Steak made with grandma’s special steak sauce. The spot offers a collection of small plates so you can try a bit of everything, from Grilled Sticky Rice + Pork to Fish Cake made with coconut milk and brown sugar. Make sure to ask about the daily specials, because you never know what grandma may have whipped up.
How to book: Via SpotOn
Grace and Proper
Grace & Proper gives South Philly a piece of European bar culture, big on vintage feels and upscale comforts. The space is all about seasonal drink specials, well-crafted classics, and other approachable provisions, all curated to make you feel like you're at a corner cafe in Lisbon. Help yourself to a DIY meat and cheese plate with manchego and cured pork loin and tack on a few other dishes from a smattering array of delectable bites like burrata-topped meatballs, braised pork loin, and a must-try breakfast sandwich with the fluffiest eggs. Take note: it’s walk-ins only.
Kalaya Thai Kitchen
James-Beard-nominated Kalaya has been a must-visit destination in Philly ever since moving to a gorgeous, spacious location in Fishtown. With an ever-growing allure, the menu features curries like the signature Gaeng Jae with goat, lamb and Kalaya spice blend. Smaller delectable apps like the gorgeous Shaw Muang, purple flower-shaped chicken dumplings, also shine.
This paradise is a plant-first kind of place, focusing solely on produce from in and around Pennsylvania. Pietramala paves the way for a hyper-focus on seasonality, and you’ll find menus change often to ensure farm-fresh goodness. Regardless of what’s on the docket, you can universally expect a lovingly curated collection of vegan dishes and specialties, handled with care to put flavor front and center. It’s BYOB, so be sure to grab a bottle of natural wine to round out the meal.
How to book: Via Tock
Paulie Gee’s Soul City Slice
Too often, the best pizza in Philly can be notoriously hard to order, and often requires a bit of planning ahead of time. But pie lovers, rejoice: Brooklyn-born Paulie Gee’s has set up shop in Philly, and it’s everything you need to satisfy those spur-of-the-moment occasions. You can dine in at the retro-tinged space, featuring vinyl, pool tables, and a bar, or get one of the massive pies delivered. The slices are classic New York-style (beautiful for folding) and square, with vegan and gluten free options available too.
Saami Somi takes advantage of the undying, universal love for all things bread and cheese with Khach’ap’uri, a Georgian dish that boils down to a sourdough boat housing cheese, eggs, and all kinds of other good stuff. The rest of the menu includes Georgian dishes like hand-rolled Soup Dumplings, filo pastries, stuffed eggplant, and fresh bread.
Chef Alexandra Holt is offering an eight-course dinner tasting menu that showcases a thread of innovation rather than a single type of cuisine. The playful BYOB spot is equally casual yet elevated, serving the perfect whimsical atmosphere to match the meal. Past dishes have included Tomato Cannolis, Kombu Ice Cream, Basque Cheesecake, Raclette Cake with caviar, and more—take a peak at their Instagram to get a hint of what you might see during a visit.
How to book: Via Tock
Tulip Pasta & Wine Bar
Tulip Pasta & Wine Bar has been quick to charm Philly diners thanks to its intimate, neighborhood atmosphere and grade-A supply of Italian-focused fare and perfect companion wines. Stop in for seasonal dishes like Spaghetti & Ramps, Charcoal Roasted Beet Ravioli, and Gnocchi Sardi made with stone milled local grains. Created in collaboration with Wayvine Winery & Vineyard, the cozy corner restaurant also offers a well-curated list of wines by the bottle or glass, plus local beer and craft cocktails.