Chances are you’ve spent more than one weekend chasing the best brunches in Philly, but what about the rest of the week? What about the best lunches in Philly? Seriously, the weekday grind shouldn’t keep you from feasting like it’s Sunday -- whether you need a quick bite on the go or want to sit down and stay awhile -- and it won’t, as long as you’ve got our list of the best midday eats in 14 Philadelphia ‘hoods.
What you’re getting: Texas brisket sandwich
One of 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 locations too), Plenty slings sandwich options inspired by countries around the world, but takes pride in only using organic and locally sourced ingredients -- right down to the Rival Bros. coffee served there.
What you’re getting: Spencer’s Slammin’ Grilled Pork Sammie
Turns out Sabrina’s doesn’t just peak at that mile-long brunch line you see every weekend. Besides its signature challah-stuffed French toast, Sabrina’s offers up a balanced variety of sandwiches, burgers, salads, and even a fairly generous vegetarian lunch menu.
What you’re getting: Catfish po-boy
Cedar Point offers Fishtowners tons of American fare (with a twist!) to satisfy whatever craving you’ve got come noontime. Comfort foods in the form of classic burgers and sandwiches, or vegan and vegetarian salad and side options, make it a suitable fit for any diet.
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 sweet lunch-size Italian options it’ll be hard to choose. That’s when you opt for the $20 three-course tasting menu.
What you’re getting: Steak & cheese flatbread
Quick Fixx is perfect for when you find yourself insatiably famished but don’t have the time or money for a long, lazy lunch. Try a pasta or flatbread here and you’ll feel re-energized, especially if you opt for the elevated cheesesteak that is the steak and cheese flatbread.
What you’re getting: Filet mignon & 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.
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 there’s a solid buffet, cheese boards, artisan pizzas, and fresh pasta awaiting you.
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 authentic Indian food) it’s somehow easy to find the balance between being satisfied and painfully overstuffed.
What you’re getting: Spicy sushi combo with miso soup
Somehow Cafe Square One created a place where you can get either a seriously sweet sandwich, or opt for authentic sushi and Japanese food, and any place that offers both a Buffalo ranch panini and a dragon roll is essentially a modern marvel.
What you’re getting: Pork roll and cheese
Breezy’s gets bonus points for offering breakfast items until 2pm every weekday, which means you can live like it’s still weekend brunch time even when you haven’t made it to hump day. Breezy’s can also accommodate most diets, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or even just looking to eat a cheesesteak but without all the carbs.
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. You can also splurge a bit and opt for the guacamole sampler or day-long breakfast burrito.
What you’re getting: Carne asada burrito
Nora’s offers authentic burritos, tacos, and other Mexican eats so good they'll please any Cali transplant, all at a price so good (burritos clock in around $7), they'll please... well, anyone.
Washington Square West
What you’re getting: Croque-madame with French onion soup
Opt for the Santa Maria Express lunch special at Jose Garces’ namesake eatery and you’ll score your choice of sandwich or pizza with a salad or soup for under $15, just like the typical soup-and-salad combos you’ve had a million times, except this one’s prepared at one of the best restaurants in Philly.
What you’re getting: Shrimp & grits with baked mac & cheese
Lunch at Kevin Sbraga’s Fat Ham is a welcome reprise from the day-to-day grind, offering all the best that southern comfort food has to offer with generous helpings of staples like fried chicken and shrimp & grits. For an extra kick choose something from the midday libations menu like the Memphis mule or the on-tap, rum-heavy low country punch.
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Marielle Mondon (follow her @MarielleMondon on Twitter) is a Philly-based freelance writer who thinks that lunch is the most important meal of the day… when everyone knows it’s actually bacon.
1. Plenty1602 Spruce St, Philadelphia
2. Sabrina's Cafe & Spencer's Too1804 Callowhill St, Philadelphia
3. Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen2370 E Norris St, Philadelphia
4. Little Nonna's1234 Locust St, Philadelphia
5. The QUICK FIXX1511 South St, Philadelphia
6. Chima Brazilian Steakhouse1901 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia
7. The Couch Tomato Café102 Rector St, Philadelphia
8. Tiffin710 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia
9. Cafe Square One50 S 3rd St, Philadelphia
10. Breezy's Cafe2011 Reed Street, Philadelphia
11. El Rey2013 Chestnut St, Philadelphia
12. Nora's Taqueria & Grill244 South St, Philadelphia
13. Garces Trading Company1111 Locust St, Philadelphia
14. The Fat Ham3131 Walnut St, Philadelphia
A popular lunch spot in the area perfect for midday coffee and a snack. The brisket sandwich is a favorite on the menu in this cozy little restaurant.
This spot is raved about for it's breakfast and brunch items. This New American restaurant offers delicious dishes like stuffed French toast and eggs Benedict in huge portions.
NoLibs southern bruncherie A Full Plate's reopened in Fishtown as Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen (don't worry, their plates are still full), where the ladies behind the soul-cooking Piazza BYO are serving an expanded menu of meaty comforts like brisket-stuffed johnnycakes and pimento cheeseburgers you can finally pair with full glasses of craft ales and 'tails.
Little Nonna's is a totally non-BYOB Italian eatery by the folks behind Lolita and Barbuzzo, and serves up hearty family-style fare in a rustic setting. And did we mention they have booze?!
Proving your girlfriend wrong in the whole "it's not good if it's fast" argument -- what is her deal with Cliffs Notes, anyway?! -- is QUICK FIXX, doling out grilled veggie orzos and a shrimp diavolo along w/ flatbreads like the bacon/gruyere/white sauce, plus "late night quickies" like goat cheese-stuffed Panzarotti Poppers and grilled artichoke with lemon aioli sauce.
This Brazilian steakhouse serves up meaty entrees like Picanha top sirloin, filet wrapped in bacon, and leg of lamb.
The Couch Tomato is more than your ordinary neighborhood pizzeria. The Manayunk café offers homemade soups and a stellar sandwich selection, including the Dirty Bird with all-natural chicken, fresh mozzarella, roasted red pepper, balsamic dressing, and roasted red pepper spread, as well as the Perky Turkey with Camembert, pear, organic arugula, and cranberry mayo. Pizzas come by the slice or by the pie and they always take on colorful and flavorful guises like the American Pie with grana padano, locally sourced honey, mozzarella, ricotta, roasted garlic spread, rosemary, and tomato, or the Italian Stallion with crushed tomato, provolone, fresh mozzarella, sausage, roasted fennel, and basil.
NoLibs' Tiffin is an Indian eatery whose fare is available for dine-in, takeout, or delivery -- and they're BYOB, too!
This quaint cafe with exposed brick walls serves traditional breakfast and sandwiches & sushi that is raved about by their customers.
Sometimes you find something great in an unexpected place. Other times you wonder if you're really old enough to be growing ear-hair already. But don't worry, this is one of the former times, because Breezy's Cafe is serving up next-level sandwiches, micro-roast coffee, and more in Point Breeze, of all places.
With El Rey, Stephen Starr continues to expand his Philadelphia restaurant empire -- he's already got Buddakan, El Vez, and Morimoto, among many others. Safe to say, this is another success. It's a Mexican restaurant with an interior that's modeled after the cantina in From Dusk Till Dawn, so it's got vintage movie posters, old instruments, and some prison art. Oh, and the food's not bad either, with a menu that offers meatballs in a spicy salsa, queso fundido, roasted red snapper, and more.
The Mexican fare here is fresh with good portions offered. Their tacos are loved amongst their diners and the price for their menu items are loved even more.
GTC's Iron Chef Jose Garces' first foray into culinary curation: an indoor cafe and marketplace modeled after outdoor European affairs stocked with goods and ingredients featured on his menus, from hand-selected coffee roasts and pastries to imported cheeses and prepared foods, with full-service high-top butcher's block tables plus the option to uncork 200+ bottles of vino (purchased from the PLCB's first wine boutique).
Southern-inspired eatery Fat Ham serves up pork pretty much any way you can imagine it: from ham and eggs to their charcuterie platter, you're bound to get your down-home, Southern fix here.