1. Shoo Fry, Philadelphia
2. Underdogs132 S 17th St, Philadelphia
3. Little Pete's219 S 17th St, Philadelphia
4. BRÜ Craft & Wurst1318 Chestnut St, Philadelphia
5. The Little Lion243 Chestnut St, Philadelphia
6. MilkBoy401 South St, Philadelphia
7. Little Baby's Ice Cream2311 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia
8. Federal Donuts1219 S 2nd St, Philadelphia
Poutine -- the Montreal-born, gravy-soaked, and cheese-covered improvement on French fires -- gets a home-away-from-home in Shoo Fry, serving the venerable and caloric dish late-night from the space formerly occupied by hot dog mecca Underdog. You can customize the type of fry you use as the base -- be it curly, classic or wedges -- select a sauce flavor, topping, and lay on the cheese. Because Philadelphia knows no other way, a cheesesteak poutine is on offer, as well as a fried scrapple-cheddar-egg version. Supplement your loaded fries with a side of sliders or a frothy milkshake made with local purveyor Little Baby's Ice Cream.
Underdogs in name only, this hot dog and sausage spot was popular when still in operation for its unwillingness to be satisfied with serving just average dogs. Their menu not only covered the traditional, but went wild with takes like a spicy merguez lamb dog with harissa mayo.
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.
BRU Craft & Wurst brings the German a biergarten-like experience to Washington Square West in a block-deep craft beer retreat, from the team behind Finn McCools and Prime Lounge. An impressive beer list draws sud hounds, with Austrian, German and Belgian imports accompanied by American craft ales on a lengthy list. iPads mounted on a copper backboard control taps that you can pour yourself, allowing you to self-serve by the ounce. And all that beer needs to be soaked up somehow: here, Bavarian pretzels are dipped in smokey gouda fondue, veal cutlet is slathered in mushroom gravy, and doner kebab gets doused in spicy yogurt.
There's an irony in the fact that this American tavern in historic Old City is titled after a cutesy name for Alexander Hamilton: the man did champion a whiskey tax in his day, after all. Nonetheless, the atmosphere at the 19th-century multi-story stop across from the Museum of the American Revolution is spot on, with lots of wood work, large arched windows, and bright red colonial chairs next to banisters painted black. The food is filling and true to American tastes: barbecue chicken is heaped on slaw and mac & cheese gets served in a hot skillet. Cheers to the fact that the Revolutionary War was won with a historically inspired cocktail menu, which you can sip in the mezzanine bar.
Milkboy’s second Center City location sits on funky South Street, where an eclectic coffee shop/bar/music venue fits right in. Expect the same mixology chops and elevated bar food takes, from deviled eggs and tacos to fried shrimp and “hangover burgers” with thai-chili mayo, egg, and bacon. The first floor opens up with big glass garage doors that lead to a small bar with 12 stools and six taps that pour Pennsylvania beers exclusively. Upstairs is twice as big with space for live music acts.
The World Headquarters of Little Baby's Ice Cream is the epicenter of its weird and wild takes on America's favorite cold and creamy treat. We're not joking about the wild part: delectables coming out of this creamery include gluten-free macaroon ice cream sandwiches filled with dairy-free Thai Iced Tea ice cream. Flavors are out-of-this world, from unconventional takes like mulled wine, chocolate-chipotle, or Earl Grey Sriracha to tried-and-true versions like crushed candy cane, plain, and pizza... okay, so they're not so conventional.
With several locations around the city, Federal Donuts has grown into a sugar-coated Philly favorite. FD's secret weapon is a "Donut Robot," a mechanical monster-mastermind that handles all the dough dispensing, frying, and flipping. The deep-fried dough rings are sweet, sinful, and eminently scarf-able -- coming in flavors like maple-bacon, lemon bar, spicy PB&J, Turkish mocha and, of course, classic glazed. Because specializing in just one caloric indulgence doesn't cut it, this spot slings famous fried chicken in a changing lineup of rubs and sauces (coconut curry, anyone?).