Food & Drink

The Best Thing to Eat in Our Favorite Philly ‘Hoods

MICHAEL PERSICO COURTESY OF SBRAGA

Sure, you can eat cheap around Philly. Hell, you can even eat fancy. But what is the absolute best thing you can devour in the city? While that specific question is a little too vague (and controversial) to actually answer, we’ve broken it down and are giving you the single best thing can eat in our most beloved Philly neighborhoods. That way, no matter where you are in the city, you know exactly what to get.

Avenue of the Arts: pork chop for two

Sbraga

Avenue of the Arts: pork chop for two

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.

Chinatown: soup dumplings

Dim Sum Garden

Chinatown: soup dumplings

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

Stargazy

East Passyunk: beef and onion pie

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

Fairmount: guacamole

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

Fishtown: KFC (Korean fried chicken)

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.

Gayborhood: the salted caramel budino

Barbuzzo

Gayborhood: the salted caramel budino

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.

Graduate Hospital: crawfish pot pie

Rex 1516

Graduate Hospital: crawfish pot pie

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

Helm

Kensington: skirt steak

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.

Pizzeria Vetri

Logan Circle: rotolo

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.

Lucky’s Last Chance

Manayunk: Mak Attack

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.

 

This is how the #jerkchicken is looking today at #woodfordtennisclub #theexperience #ifyouneedtheaddressusegoogle

A photo posted by Side Of The Road Jerk Chicken (@jerkchickenman) on

Side of the Road Jerk Chicken

Northern Liberties: jerk chicken

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.

Han Dynasty

Old City: Dan Dan noodles

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.

Point Breeze: rendang sapi

Hardena Resto Waroeng Surabaya

Point Breeze: rendang sapi

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

Rittenhouse: chopped liver

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

Queen Village: lamb dumplings

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.

Zahav

Society Hill: pomegranate lamb shoulder

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.

Mole Poblano

South Philly: mole tamales

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.

Bud & Marilyn's

Washington Square West: Marilyn’s fried chicken

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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Dan McKay is planning an epic day filled with everything on this list -- most likely followed by an overnight stay at CHOP. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram @dannypageviews.