Food & Drink

Where Philly's Top Chefs Head for the Best Late-Night Eats

Published On 05/26/2016 Published On 05/26/2016
Michael Sultan of Little Pete's in Philadelphia
Courtesy of Revolution Taco

Michael Sultan, chef at Revolution Taco and 33rd Street Hospitality

His go-to: Little Pete's (address and info)

"[I’ll head] to Little Pete's on 17th St for their chicken parm. I am a chef, so late-night or not, I want something delicious and satisfying. They always make it fresh, fried to perfection, moist, and not over-sauced. It’s one of my favorite late night spots as it's 24/7, which is great after a long day at events and in the kitchen. Plus, it’s some of the best diner food in the city."

Serpico Philadelphia

Peter Serpico, owner and chef at Serpico

His go-to: Tai Lake (address and info)

"Tai Lake for late-night eats. I love getting the whole Dungeness crab with garlic sauce and the whole steamed fish with ginger scallion sauce. I love it because it's simple for a larger group of people to share. It's the perfect place to take people that are visiting Philly if they get in late."

Courtesy of Starr Restaurants

Benjamin Dayag, executive chef at Morimoto

His go-to: Tai Lake (address and info)

"I like Tai Lake because they have fresh seafood in their tanks. They’ll cook it up any way you like, but you have to ask for the Chinese menu to get the good stuff."

Courtesy of Starr Restaurants

Mark Twersky, executive chef at Barclay Prime 

His go-to: barbuzzo (address and info)

Midtown Village
"Along with good cocktails, barbuzzo offers a late-night menu that has chef-driven dishes, fresh pastas, and wood-fired pizzas. I’m always happy to end up there, hungry and thirsty, after a long day and night in the kitchen."

Courtesy of Vernick Food and Drink

Jennifer Sokoloff, executive pastry chef at Vernick Food & Drink

Her go-to: La Calaca Feliz (address and info)

"If I’m looking to go out after work, I’ll head to La Calaca Feliz in Fairmount. I love the Three Chili Margarita (made with blanco tequila, fresh lime juice, and house chili blend) and chicken tacos (chicken tinga, avocado, queso fresco, red cabbage). Their secluded, perfectly lit, outdoor patio area makes for the perfect neighborhood spot to unwind."

Courtesy of The Little Lion

Andre Davis, chef at The Little Lion

His go-to: David’s Mai Lai Wah (address and info)

"David's Mai Lai Wah in Chinatown is my favorite place to grab some late-night grub, especially after a few rounds of karaoke at Yakitori Boy around the corner. David's has great cheap eats like soups and noodles, but you've gotta try the salt & pepper chicken wings. Who doesn't want chicken wings at 2am?"

Courtesy of Uptown Beer Garden

Jonathan Petruce, executive chef at Uptown Beer Garden

His go-to: Ken’s Seafood Restaurant (address and info)

"My favorite food to eat late-night is the fresh prawns from Ken's Seafood in Chinatown. Ken takes the prawn out of the tank in the window when you order it. They take the tails off and do them sashimi-style with soy and hot peppers. Then, they take the heads and fry them. Not only is this one of my favorite dishes ever, but you can also get it at 3am. The rest of the food is no joke, either."

Courtesy of La Peg

Peter Woolsey, chef at La Peg

His go-to: CafĂ© Soho (address and info)

North Philly
"Eating late is such a rarity for me now. When I was in full tilt late-night eating, I was a fan of Café Soho’s Korean fried chicken, on Cheltenham Ave and 5th St. They serve the crunchiest wings I’ve ever had. Even after being soaked in sauce, the skin would retain its unbelievable crunch."

Courtesy of Opa

Bobby Saritsoglou, chef at Opa and Drury Beer Garden

His go-to: Penang (address and info)

"Chinatown is where I go for late-night eats. It’s usually my wife and I and [almost always] a few friends show up, often other chef buddies. There are many choices, but we end up at Penang a lot. The dish I order most is 'mee siam.' I always crave noodles for some reason, and I love this version because it's spicy and and has a little bit of the everything, from shrimp to tofu, even an egg. It’s like a kitchen-sink dish!"

Courtesy of Buckminster’s

Rob Marzinsky, chef at Buckminster’s

His go-to: Rosario's Pizzeria (address and info)

South Philly
"I try not to eat late anymore, but, when it does eventually happen, it seems I’m always thinking tacos or pizza, or ideally a combination of both. With the advent of the online delivery services, it’s easy to order late from some of the local Mexican pizzerias, Rosario's being my favorite. Their Al Pastor pie is a superlative example of the taco/pizza mash-up, with all the things that make the namesake taco great (pineapple, roast pork, jalapeños, al pastor sauce, and crema). However, when veering strictly towards tacos, Prima Pizza is the best by far for late-night authentic Mexican. Incidentally, they don’t actually serve pizza at all, which can confuse any newcomers to the late-night taco game…"

Michael Persico

Yehuda Sichel, chef at Abe Fisher

His go-to: Prima Pizza Taqueria Mexicana (address and info)

Queen Village
"I head to Prima Pizza Taqueria Mexicana (more commonly known just as Prima Pizza) in South Philly.  People go there for the tortas. I usually go with a couple friends after work and order a torta, a burrito, and tacos to share. The Torta de Lingua is amazing. And the burritos are great too because they have that good, melty Mexican cheese throughout. It comes with a delicious cactus situation on the side, fried onions, and jalapeños. And you know the place is legit because after work, it's filled with Spanish-speaking industry people who make restaurants run. Open 'til 4am and back at it at 8am."

Courtesy of LP Steak

Luke Palladino, chef at LP Steak and Fianco

His go-to: Fountain Porter (address and info)

East Passyunk Crossing
"Fountain Porter in South Philadelphia -- they have a delicious burger that is only $5. They griddle the meat and it gets a nice crust, which is perfect after a long day in the kitchen. The bun is soft and it’s easy to eat one (or two, or three)." 

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1. Little Pete's 219 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

For over 30 years, this 24-hour establishment has been keeping the gritty diner dream alive on the corner of 17th and Chancellor. The institution has carved a place out in Center City hearts, mostly for offering a late-night, post-bar sanctuary for comfort food like gyros, beef brisket, meatloaf, and ribs. Constantly challenged by zoning conflicts in recent years due to the planned coming of a boutique hotel, Little Pete's remains one of the last of its kind in its part of the city. Long live the gritty diner. Long live Little Pete's.

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2. Tai Lake Restaurant 134 N 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Tai Lake Restaurant, located in downtown Philadelphia, is a Chinese BYOB spot, serving authentic Cantonese seafood specialities. This casual restaurant has been a neighborhood favorite for some time now, has a fresh seafood tank, offers vegetarian options, and is decorated with a banquet style dining room. Plus, it's open late night.

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3. Barbuzzo 110 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Barbuzzo is a Mediterranean haven built of beautiful re-purposed Mid-Atlantic woods -- floor boards from Maryland dock pilings, refurbished church pews from a West Philly church, tabletops cut from local dam wood. White-washed brick walls meet a marble-topped bar, which leads into an open kitchen almost as narrow as the restaurant itself, but the space constraints certainly have no bearing on the quality of the food. The restaurant offers everything from small plates -- heirloom pumpkin and mushrooms over polenta with sage brown butter -- to pizzas and pastas -- slow-roasted pear pizza with sweet gorgonzola, prosciutto, and toasted walnuts -- and of course, meatier entrees like the house ground short rib and pork meatballs with pickled peppers and fresh oregano. The cocktail menu is equally inventive and just as exhaustive, and then there's dessert...

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4. La Calaca Feliz 2321 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130

If you’re tired of the standard, homestyle taqueria fare and are looking for something more inventive, head to Fairmount’s Las Calaca Feliz. The menu, from former Garces chef Timothy Spinner, focuses on contemporary Mexican food with choices like plantain crusted tilapia tacos and soy chili glazed pork tacos.

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5. David's Mai Lai Wah Chinese 1001 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

David's is serving up food way past your bedtime and just when you need it most.

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6. Ken's Seafood Restaurant 1004 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Ken's Seafood in Chinatown is a casual low-key restaurant that stays open late, plus has private rooms for karaoke, should the mood strike you. This spot is considered by many to have the best seafood in Chinatown, with options like fresh prawns served sashimi style with soy and hot peppers.

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7. Cafe Soho 468 W Cheltenham Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19126

Cafe Soho in North Philly is an Asian fusion restaurant known for its Korean fried chicken wings which are soaked in sauce, retain a perfect crunch, and come in all varieties of spiciness. The decor inside is super mod and colorful, with pops of bright red at every corner. Plus, it's open late night.

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8. Penang Malaysian Cuisine Restaurant 117 N 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Penang is a large and spacious Malaysian eatery in Chinatown, with an industrial cool interior. This spot has an open kitchen that serves dishes from the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Penang, like homemade Roti Canai (Indian pancakes), crispy pork intestines, and Kerabu (treated duck web in sweet & spicy Thai sauce).

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9. Rosario's Pizza 1256 S 15th St, Philadelphia, PA 19146

Because they're just that crazy and awesome, fresh-into-Point Breeze Rosario's is offering pizzas, burgers, and a full Mexican menu loaded with everything from burritos to a sirloin sandwich w/ black bean spread & caramelized onions, plus a corn truffle/ poblano/ Oaxaca quesadilla called the Huitlacoche, which was presumably invented by eight Craig T. Nelsons.

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10. Prima Pizza Taquiera Mexicana 1104 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

This place serves pizza, stromboli, pasta, hoagies, and seafood, tacos, tamales, and Mexican sodas -- because all of that in one restaurant totally makes sense (??). But it is some of the best Mexican in the city, so definitely check out the taco menu.

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11. Fountain Porter 1601 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19148

This classic little corner spot in Dickinson Narrows doesn't bother much with aesthetics: it's wood-paneled walls remains almost bare after years, and its short, simple menu barely lays claim to the restaurant's brand at all, but that's the charm of Fountain Porter. You always know what you're getting here, and the taste speaks for itself. The daily happy hours will get you a tall, frosty local brew and one of the city's best burgers for just a couple bucks.