Food & Drink

The Best Thing to Eat in Our Favorite Philly ‘Hoods

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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.

Flickr/Alpha

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

Barbuzzo

Address and Info

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

Helm

Address and Info

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.

Flickr/stu_spivack

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Zahav

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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

Address and Info

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.

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1. Sbarga 440 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19146 (Rittenhouse)

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 (Fairmountart Museum)

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 (Fishtown)

The wings here are full of flavor....like 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 ("buzzo" meaning Italian for belly, bar meaning...bar) is a narrow Mediterranean-looking joint with metal seating surrounding an Italian marble bar/counter and a wall made rustic-chic with a light blue barn door and a bunch of raw wooden chun

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7. Rex 1516 1516 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (G Ho)

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 (Kensington)

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 (Spring Garden)

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 (Manayunk)

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 (Point Breeze)

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 (Rittenhouse)

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 (Society Hillqueen Village)

Get the Ha'yom for Two at Zahav: a shareable ribeye plus four small plates, including house-smoked sable on challah and Jerusalem kugel w/ brisket.

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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 (Midtown Village)

Bud & Marilyn’s has a retro vibe and serves up the classics. Take on the meatloaf, hot buns, or a pu pu platter.

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