Food & Drink

The Best Thing to Eat in Our Favorite Philly ‘Hoods

Published On 11/01/2015 Published On 11/01/2015

Avenue of the Arts: pork chop for two


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Since Sbraga was just featured as one of the best restaurants in the city, and it serves up an unrivaled pork chop for two; this one is a no brainer. Brined for four hours, the Berkshire pork is served alongside grilled peaches, black eyed peas, corn, and Swiss chard.

Dim Sum Garden

Chinatown: soup dumplings

Dim Sum Garden

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To be clear, we’re talking about the original Dim Sum Garden at the new location on Race Street. Not the Original Dim Sum Garden on 11th, which occupies the original physical location, but is under new ownership. It’s totally confusing, but what’s not hard to understand is why Dim Sum Garden’s Soup Dumplings are so popular. They're delicious, dirt cheap, and the best you’ll find in Chinatown.

East Passyunk: beef and onion pie


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This was a difficult decision: given the choices in East Passyunk, you’d be hard pressed to find something that isn’t one of the better items you can eat in the city. But since we have to choose, we’re going with the beef and onion pie (with optional parsley sauce, of course) from Stargazy. You won’t be disappointed.

Fairmount: guacamole

La Calaca Feliz

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Gotta go with guac. You’d think it’s just avocado, tomato, onion and jalapeño -- just like any other guacamole -- except it isn’t. Not even close. They assemble it tableside, and while you could go with the fig & bacon or crab options, stick with the traditional.


Fishtown: KFC (Korean fried chicken)

Andy’s Chicken

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If your menu is focused almost exclusively on fried chicken, it had better be good. And not surprisingly, the KFC (Korean fried chicken) at Andy’s is as good as it gets. Double-fried, the chicken is available with a choice of seven different sauces -- or plain if that’s your thing. Go with our favorite, the honey garlic sauce.

Barbuzzo Restaurant

Gayborhood: the salted caramel budino


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Ah, the salted caramel budino. We’ll call this the Meryl Streep of Philly desserts. It’s been so good, for so long you almost forget how amazing it truly is. Need more convincing? It was named one of the best desserts in Philly.

REX 1516

Graduate Hospital: crawfish pot pie

Rex 1516

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Have you ever had come across something that makes so much sense you can’t believe you didn’t think of it sooner? Yeah, we sort of feel that way about the crawfish pot pie at Rex 1516. It’s a such a simple combo (flaky pie crust filled with shrimp etouffee) that we’re kicking ourselves for not starting a crawfish pot pie food cart last year.

Kensington: skirt steak


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At the Kensington BYOB, you can get one of a dozen dishes that would be one of the best in the neighborhood. And because we can’t pick em all, you’d be hard pressed to go wrong with the skirt steak, potato, and jalapeño. Get it while you can, though, because the menu at Helm is always subject to change.


Logan Circle: rotolo

Pizzeria Vetri

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How good is the rotolo at Pizzeria Vetri? Good enough that uber-chef David Chang will wax poetic about it on a recent trip to Philly. In a place known for pizza, Brad Spence’s cinnamon bun-like creation of dough, mortadella, and ricotta stuffed, pistachio pesto topped delight is the real draw.

Manayunk: Mak Attack

Lucky’s Last Chance

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Let’s be honest: the ‘Yunk doesn’t always get its fair share of props when it comes to food talk (although the bar scene’s pretty solid). And this is unfair, especially if we overlook the Mak Attack from Lucky’s Last Chance. It's mac and cheese. On a burger. Stupid smart idea, stupid good.

Northern Liberties: jerk chicken

Side of the Road Jerk Chicken

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It’s late, you have the munchies, and you’re in Northern Libs. Where do you go? There’s only one good answer: Side of the Road Jerk Chicken, James Leggett’s roadside jerk chicken stand. It’s sort of hard to find, and the waits can be long, but it will definitely hit the spot, even if you are stone cold sober.

Old City: Dan Dan noodles

Han Dynasty

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With eight locations across three states (and a recent, non-affiliated spinoff Dan Dan), there are clearly some great things coming out of Han Chiang’s kitchens. And despite what the critics at the New York Times think, it all starts with the signature Dan Dan Noodles. Spicy and savory, it’s the dish that built the Dynasty.

Hardena/Waroeng Surabaya

Point Breeze: rendang sapi

Hardena Resto Waroeng Surabaya

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If you’ve never had Indonesian food before, do yourself a favor and head to the incredibly easy to pronounce Hardena Resto Waroeng Surabaya for authentic cuisines served in a no-frills atmosphere. It’s comically cheap and unbelievably delicious, especially if you go with their rendang sapi (beef rendang).

Rittenhouse: chopped liver

Abe Fisher

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Go straight for the chopped liver. Seriously, you’re going to get it, and you’re going to love it. You’re probably going to Instagram it, tweet it, sing to it. Then call your grandparents and let them know what you just ate. They’ll be proud.

Queen Village: lamb dumplings

Kanella South

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As much as we miss the old Kanella, the new Queen Village location still serves the same great Cypriot food sans BYO wine... Then again, we’ll (begrudgingly) give up BYOW if it means that we can still get those lamb dumplings on demand.


Society Hill: pomegranate lamb shoulder


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Granted, you can get a stellar meal at Zahav any time of the year, but come February, there should only be one thing on your mind: pomegranate lamb shoulder. Once a year, the restaurant will close up standard operations for Lamb Shack, a pop-up restaurant featuring the 48-hour smoked, 8-hour braised hunk of perfection.

South Philly: mole tamales

Mole Poblano

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If you’re in South Philly (especially near the Italian Market) you might be thinking we’d pick something Italian. But If you've had the mole tamales at Mole Poblano, there isn’t any other reasonable choice for best dish on S. 9th street. Served hot right out of the steamer, they’re slightly spicy and authentic enough to make Trump’s toupee implode like a kind of annoying supernova.

Washington Square West: Marilyn’s fried chicken

Bud & Marilyn's

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Despite being open for just a few weeks, there’s one dish that can’t be missed in Washington Square West -- Bud & Marilyn’s Fried Chicken served with buttered biscuits, pickles, honey butter, and homemade hot sauce. I could talk more about it, but I think that picture says it all.

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1. Sbarga 440 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19146

The tasting menu is your best bet when dining here, at $45 dollars a person you will get to enjoys seasonal dishes like their sunflower risotto, escargot, and gruyere popover.

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2. Dim Sum Garden 1020 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Located on an obscure corner in Center City, Dim Sum Garden is a diamond in the rough. Its kitchen is dedicated to handmade food that far exceeds than its humble setting. Dim Sum Garden makes all its own noodles, hand-rolling and cleaver-slicing the dough into chewy, thick strands. Try the skewered shrimp, crisp with seasoning but soft inside.

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3. Stargazy 1838 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148

This cash only stop stays open until they run out of pies. Grab a traditional beef & onion pie as quickly as possible.

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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. Andy's Chicken 2001 Memphis St, Philadelphia, PA 19125

The wings here are full of the honey garlic, golden soy, and sweet chili. Also, order the bulgogi here, it's an unexpected yet delicious surprise.

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6. 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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7. Rex 1516 1516 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

From the crew behind Jet Wine Bar, Rex 1516 is a breezy 35-seater that pairs an interior reminiscent of a derelict mansion (wrought iron chandeliers, antique mirrors, distressed woodwork) with a Mobile-bred, chef-prepped menu that covers all the Deep South culinary bases. With ongoing whiskey specials and a killer burger (and a home run mac n’ cheese), you get both killer food and drink under one roof.

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8. Helm 1305 N 5th St, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Having just opened in March, Helm debuted at number 10 on Philadelphia Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2016, and are already planning their second restaurant. The blackboard menu is ever-changing thanks to Helm’s promise to use only fresh, local and seasonal ingredients in their New American dishes. The BYOB policy adds to its relaxed, fun atmosphere.

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9. Pizzeria Vetri 1939 Callowhill St, Philadelphia, PA 19130

According to Pizzeria Vetri, authentic pizza-making is something of a lost art. At this popular Philly spot, pizza artists spend three days mixing each batch of pizza dough from rich whole-grain flour, only adding fresh local cheese and house red sauce right before shoveling the pies into their wood-fired oven. In the interest of paying homage to the delicacy of pizza prep, the restaurant has an open kitchen, where guests can watch the chefs toss mozzarella lovingly onto their homemade wheels of dough. In addition to the expertly constructed pies, Pizzeria Vetri serves a full list of craft beers and a selection of wines on tap. Decked with white string lights and cedar wood panels, the place is in the business of making pizza great again. The pizza-making outpost of acclaimed local chef Marc Vetri slings enormous calzones, wood-fired pizzas, and bottled cocktails for two.

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10. Lucky's Last Chance 4421 Main St, Philadelphia, PA 19127

Lucky's brought pub-height two-tops into the former Yunkers while covering the walls with a rose-vine mosaic and sweet vintage beer posters, serving serious burgers prepped with local ingredients and a tidy roster of craft brews.

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11. Side of the Road Jerk Chicken 2nd Ave and Laurel St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Authentic Jamaican jerk chicken -- quarters, wings, and boneless breast -- can be found at the unassuming, popular food stand.

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12. Hardena Waroeng Surabaya Restaurant 1754 S Hicks St, Philadelphia, PA 19145

This Indonesian restaurant is very much no frills—we're talking styrofoam plates, but the food here is amazing. Ethnic comfort dishes like beef rendang, jackfruit boiled in coconut milk, and corn fritters are just some of the items you will see on the menu here.

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13. Abe Fisher 1623 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Inspired by the food of the Jewish diaspora, Abe Fisher breathes new life to typical Center City cuisine with small plates incorporating a creative range of goods, from shrimp fried rice to veal schnitzel tacos.

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14. Kanella South 757 South Front St, Philadelphia, 19107

This Queen Village Mediterranean restaurant is perfect for large groups. Get something shareable like the whole fish, manti, and lamb kofta.

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15. Zahav 237 St. James Pl, Philadelphia, PA 19106

The interior of this modern Israeli restaurant is designed to resemble Jerusalem's network of hidden courtyards, with floors and walls built of gold limestone and tables hand-carved in dark wood. Zahav's food is equally reminiscent of the promised land: fresh laffa bread is baked to order in a wood-fired oven and lamb skewers are roasted over hardwood charcoal. The menu's true star is its hummus, a silky spread in which the key ingredients, chickpeas and tahini, share the flavor spotlight equally and aren't overshadowed by garlic, lemon, or olive oil -- though those three ingredients are surely present. The lengthy wine list includes a full section for wines with Israeli or Palestinian origins, and house cocktails incorporate Mediterranean notes like za'atar and pumpernickel-infused whiskey.

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16. Mole Poblano 1144 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

This is a cash-only hole in the wall joint that serves up flavorful, authentic Mexican dishes. When you come here get the tamales. They are huge and full of flavor. Get their signature mole poblano sauce as well to really kick up the flavor of your dish.

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17. Bud & Marilyn’s 1234 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

In spite of all of the rising and falling trends in restaurant culture -- pressed juice, fermented veggies, rainbow bagels -- Bud & Marilyn's is a restaurant with a very simple mission: good food and good drinks. Named after owner Marcie Blaine Turney's own grandparents, the Houston locale offers an immediate sense of old school hospitality. The dining room is styled to resemble a classic Midwestern diner, complete with vinyl booth seating, warm lights, and a retro red neon sign hung above the front door, and the menu is filled with simple, well-prepared comfort food to complete the picture. Rather than bone soup or aged beets as appetizers, Bud & Marilyn's serves plates of pork and pickles, stacks of buttermilk pretzel rolls, and plain old cheese and cracker spreads (no need to pronounce charcuterie to the waiter). For main courses, they serve everything from pork belly buns and fried chicken to meatloaf and pierogies, and of course, a variety of marvelously indulgent deserts. There's a time and a place for posh, instragrammable meals, but at Bud & Marilyn's, it's all about great food, served in a place that feels like home.