When you think of Philadelphia food, we know what comes to mind—the toasted, buttery hoagie, the savory meat, and the oh-so melty Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Yes, the cheesesteak is a delicious Philly staple but believe it or not, there’s more to the Philadelphia food scene than just cheesesteaks. From South Philly and West Philly to Chinatown and Fishtown, you can find the best restaurants in Philadelphia all around.
In fact, Philadelphia is frequently ranked amongst the best cities for foodies in America.1 It’s home to a diverse range of cuisines, from Middle Eastern to Italian, and a number of regional delicacies. Philadelphia’s got their own style of bagels, an abundance of roast pork sandwiches, and some of the most unique restaurant concepts in the country.
Consider this your primer on the best eats in Philly—bon appetit!
This Spring Garden neighborhood favorite offers up soul-satisfying comfort food made with local ingredients. Highlights from the menu include honey-drizzled fried chicken, boneless beef short ribs, and cornbread that’s baked fresh daily.
Plus, South is also a jazz club. Enjoy your soul food with accompaniment from some of the most talented musicians in the neighborhood (and beyond).
South is located within walking distance of Common Living at Broadridge. Is there anything better than fried chicken and good music? Maybe returning home to Common’s Broadridge homebase for a dip in the rooftop pool.
#2 Down North Pizza
Philadelphia has a reputation as a sandwich town more than a pizza town, but don’t tell that to the pie purveyors at Down North Pizza. Down North is one of the best places to visit in Philadelphia. The restaurant serves pies done Detroit-style—that means they’re cooked square and “pan-style” on a thick, breadlike dough that carmelizes with cheesy goodness at the edges. Their signature “Norf Sauce” is delicious, but don’t sleep on their “Bodega Sauce” that contains tamarind and Malta soda.
Down North is also a mission-driven restaurant that hires formerly incarcerated people at a fair wage.2 Pizza tastes a little bit better when you know each slice is also helping the community.
#3 Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies
We won’t make you wait any longer—it’s time to talk about one of the most well known facts about Philadelphia, cheesesteaks. Deciding who has the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia is a constant source of local debate. Some swear by Pat’s or Geno’s, but others claim those two spots are for tourists. Even with the help of Philadelphia’s dedicated cheesesteak researcher, who has eaten 1,000 different versions of the famed sandwich, we’re no closer to a definitive answer.3
We’ve chosen to highlight Dalessandro’s because, while it might not be the indisputable best in Philadelphia, everyone at least agrees that it’s very, very close to it.
If you’re new to the Philadelphia area, one of the first things you should do after settling into your Common space is to get your cheesesteak order squared away. The options are:
- Cheese – Whiz? American? Provolone? Really depends on how much chemical content you want in your cheesesteak.
- Fried Onions – “Wit” onions or “witout” onions?
- Add-ins – Mushrooms? Hot peppers? Spicy mayo? The options are as endless as the restaurants slinging Philadelphia’s favorite sandwich.
#4 Kensington Quarters
Formerly a meat-forward restaurant that did butchering right in the restaurant, Kensington Quarters made a recent transition to a more seafood-oriented menu. The restaurant believes in sustainable seafood and seasonal produce. The menu changes frequently, but customer favorites include the squid ink bucatini and the scallops with Nduja butter.
And what better place for a seafood restaurant than Fishtown? Kensington Quarters is located in the same vibrant neighborhood as Common Frankford. Great food, art galleries, and distilleries will be right outside your door.
#5 Philly Style Bagels
If you’re looking for a go-to breakfast spot, the folks at Philly Style Bagels are going to be your new best friends. The unassuming bagel shop was recently named one of the 50 best in the country by Food & Wine.4 Is Philadelphia ready to steal the bagel championship away from New York City? Maybe!
Wondering what exactly makes a bagel “Philly Style”?
- The bagels are fermented and boiled in a mix of beer and water.
- Then, they’re baked on a wood plank in a very hot oven, similar to how you’d bake a pizza.
- This leads to a tighter and smaller bagel than one traditionally expects.
The Philly Style Bagels location in Fishtown makes it a favorite of residents of Common Frankford.
#6 Cafe La Maude
If you’re in the mood for a sit down brunch that’s available seven days a week, Cafe La Maude in the Northern Liberties neighborhood has you covered.
With its marriage of French and Lebanese cuisine, La Maude epitomizes Philadelphia’s diverse culinary scene. It’s the perfect spot to warm up with some shakshuka or dig into a version of chicken cordon bleu made with waffles.
#7 Juana Tamale
Chef Jennifer Zavala had a devoted following when she was dishing out her unique brand of Mexican cuisine from a graffitied van. When she finally opened a brick-and-mortar location in 2021, Juana Tamale quickly became one of coolest and most delicious restaurants in Philadelphia.
The must-try dish here is the birria tacos. Birria is a Mexican stew traditionally made with hot peppers and goat meat. Don’t worry—you aren’t going to be eating soup that’s sloshing out of a taco shell. The birria tacos at Juana Tamale are assembled and then pan-fried in the fat skimmed from the top of the birria, creating a unique taste and texture.
#8 Casa Mexico
Casa Mexico gives Juana Tamale some stiff competition for Philadelphia’s best Mexican restaurant. The James Beard award committee seems to agree as Casa Mexico’s chef Cristina Martinez brought the award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic home to Philadelphia in 2022.5
If Philadelphians can manage to keep a few hundred cheesesteak stands in business, then there’s more than enough room for two delicious Mexican spots. Try them both!
#9 South Philly Barbacoa
If you’re looking for weekend plans, this South Philadelphia restaurant may be calling your name. Another masterpiece by Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa is only open on the weekends, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait in line with others eager to dine here. This Mexican restaurant features a small yet tasty menu.
#10 White Yak
If you’re in the mood to try something unique, head up to Roxborough and visit the White Yak. The husband-and-wife team here serves Tibetan food in a tranquil atmosphere. Tibetan cuisine is like a hybrid of Indian and Chinese, which makes sense considering where the tiny country is located.
Some quick Tibetan food definitions to help you decide what to order:
- Momo – These are bite-sized dumplings, usually steamed but sometimes fried.
- Butter tea – Traditionally made with yak butter, it’s a traditional drink of the chilly region.
- Shatrak – This traditional Tibetan stir fry includes beef, ginger, garlic, onion, bokchoy, and peppers. It’s a staple at the White Yak.
#11 Her Place Supper Club
Imagine getting invited to a James Beard nominated chef’s house for dinner. That’s a bit like the experience you get at Her Place Supper Club located in Center City. Chef Amanda Shulman has created a restaurant that functions like a dinner party—the menu is prix-fixe and constantly changing. If you were to show up this week, for instance, you’d be dining on five courses that include tomato panzanella, corn and truffle profiteroles, and roast chicken leg.
That menu was old before we even finished jotting it down, though. Shulman changes what she’s serving on the fly, which means this spot is for those who savor the unexpected. The fact that you need to book reservations at least two weeks in advance shows that, even with the mystery menu, this is one dinner party people are excited to attend.
A modern twist on classic Spanish tapas, Amanda is perfect for a date night or a happy hour. The restaurant has a variety of sharable small plates, like calamari and empanadas, plus more bountiful larger plates like their lamb porterhouse or the cod with walnut crumble.
With so many options, it’s easy to get lost in this menu, ordering plate after plate and sampling everything the chef has to offer.
Looking for an Italian restaurant? For a truly unforgettable night on the town, try the five-course tasting menu at Vetri. This quaint staple of Italian dining is one of the finest restaurants in Philadelphia and offers some of the best pasta dishes around.
Vetri is located in Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood. With a Common building planned there in the near future, keep an eye on this Italian oasis as a place to celebrate finishing your move.
Cuisine, Culture, and Coliving at Common
Old City, West Philly, Rittenhouse Square, Chinatown, Washington Square, wherever you are, Philadelphia is not short on diverse options of eateries. Twelve restaurants barely scratches the surface of what the thriving Philadelphia food scene has to offer. Once you’re part of the Common community, you’ll no doubt find your own neighborhood favorites. And we haven’t even gotten into the best places to grab a cocktail…
If you need a break from trying all of the top restaurants in Philadelphia, each Common apartment features a modern kitchen. Get to know your roommates by cooking up a meal inspired by Philadelphia’s best food.
And remember, in Philadelphia, there’s no better icebreaker than asking how a person orders their cheesesteak.
- The Daily Pennsylvanian. Philadelphia ranked 19th best foodie city in the United States. https://www.thedp.com/article/2019/10/philadelphia-penn-upenn-foodie-city-food-ranking-coffee
- Bon Appetit. How I Went From Prison Cook to Pizza Chef at One of Philly’s Best New Restaurants. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/heads-of-the-table-michael-carter-chef
- Eater Philadelphia. Have You Heard the One About the Guy Who Ate 1,000 Cheesesteaks? https://philly.eater.com/2022/1/12/22879349/jim-pappas-philadelphia-cheesesteak-adventure-1000
- Philly Voice. Philly bagel shop lands in Food & Wine’s top 50 in United States. https://www.phillyvoice.com/philly-style-bagels-food-wines-top-50-united-states-2021-fishtown/
- Eater Philadelphia. South Philly Barbacoa’s Cristina Martinez Wins Best Mid-Atlantic Chef Prize at the 2022 James Beard Awards. https://philly.eater.com/2022/6/14/23165743/james-beard-awards-philly-2022-winners-south-philly-barbacoa-cristina-martinez