239 Best Dishes to Eat in Philly

From the sausage at Monk’s that you can’t not order (again) to the short-rib flatbread at Amada that became an instant classic, here are the restaurant dishes that define Philadelphia’s food scene. (And not one of them is a cheesesteak or hoagie!)


Here’s the problem with having an increasingly rich food scene like ours: It’s hard to know what to order. That’s why we ate (and ate and ate) to uncover the best meals that area restaurants have to offer. We polled in-the-know eaters, asked our readers (you’ll see the vetted picks from our online Restaurant Club (RC) members), reached out to chefs and bloggers, and even left some room for dining à la food truck. These aren’t seasonal tastes or trends; these are the tried-and-true dishes that our chefs wouldn’t dare take off their menus. (Some have tried — it wasn’t pretty.) So, did your favorite make the list? P.S.: Look for our recession-friendly dishes ($), which cost $10 or less.

Cobb salad at Union Trust — Good salads in this city are few and far between. Enter UT’s lunchtime Cobb, where rows of fresh tomato, crumbled bacon, snappy greens, herbs and a light dressing are just as tasty as the charred petite filet, which is cooked to your liking.
717 Chestnut Street, 215-925-6000.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese at Jones — It’s a Philly Mag tradition: On that first bone-chilling day of winter, the boss bulk-orders this decadent tomato soup and a pile of grilled white-cheddar sandwiches. Work stops, and we gather round a table to eat, like a big, happy, dysfunctional family.
700 Chestnut Street, 215-223-5663.

Meatloaf at Silk City — It’s wrapped in bacon. Do you really need to know more? 435 Spring Garden Street, 215-592-8838.

Baguette provençal at Parc — It’s heavily dressed with creamy Camembert, moistened with mustard, and layered with good coarse salami, but because it’s Parc, it’s somehow rather elegant, bien sûr.
227 South 18th Street, 215-545-2262.

Roast chicken at Fork — No gimmicks. Just chicken. Honest-to-goodness (emphasis on the goodness) chicken.
306 Market Street.

Mushroom soup at Friday Saturday Sunday — Iconic dishes can diminish with time. But more than three decades on, this cream of mushroom soup hasn’t lost one jot of its butter-laden, cognac-kissed suavity. “Soup” is too prosaic a term for the pungent, earthy silkiness in every bowlful. Fungi beg for the honor of giving their lives this way.
261 South 21st Street, 215-546-4232.

Trofie con funghi e patate at L’Oca — The little twists and turns of this al dente pasta create the perfect hiding spots for the barely-there but flavor-packed sauce, which gets its body from olive oil, potatoes, mushrooms, arugula and toma cheese.
2025 Fairmount Avenue, 215-769-0316.

Sopa de castaño at Tinto — If you could somehow squish a few acres of serene, mossy wilderness through a sieve, puree it to velvet and then heat it, you’d have this chestnut soup.
114 South 20th Street, 215-665-9150.

Cochinita pibil at Las Bugambilias
— Shreds of pork so tender and deeply spiced that you don’t even need to wrap them in the warm corn tortillas they come with.
148 South Street, 215-922-3190.

Bouillabaisseat Blackfish — With individually cooked local fish delicately placed in a saffron broth and served with crusty bread slathered in an olive-oil-based spread, this is the bouillie against which all others should be judged.
119 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, 610-397-0888.

Java pork tenderloin at 333 Belrose — Yes, bitter coffee grounds crust this perfectly cooked pork in an intriguing manner. But it’s really the way the coffee flavor mixes with the sweet yams and spicy salsa that makes this so memorable.
333 Belrose Lane, Radnor, 610-293-1000.

Polpo pizza at Osteria — Because when you’re in the presence of a pizza genius, you go for the menu’s oddest option, a thin crust spangled with charred octopus, dusted in fiery chili flakes, and graced with cool, rich mozzarella.
640 North Broad Street, 215-763-0920.

Kona dry-aged sirloin at the Capital Grille — It’s not easy to pass up one of -Capital’s velvety filets, but trust us on this one. A flavor-packed bone-in sirloin gets a distinctive, nutty taste from a Kona coffee rub; sweet caramelized -shallots complete the dish.
1338 Chestnut Street, 215-545-9588, and 2000 Route 38, Cherry Hill, 856-665-5252.

Polenta bread at Mama Palma’s — There’s an ingredient in this warm dish that you can’t quite pinpoint. So you take another bite. There’s something besides the polenta that makes it sweet and corn-y and savory and salty all at the same time. Another bite. The hint of rosemary is delightful. Another bite. It’s fluffy yet firm, rich but not too greasy. What is that? Another bite. The whole kernels of corn, the peppers … maybe you can try to replicate it at home? Oh, all gone.
2229 Spruce Street, 215-735-7357.

Tartufo pizza at Pizzeria Stella — Go ahead and savor the peppery bite, the truffle oil, and the buttery egg yolk (broken and spread at tableside). Just make sure to save enough crust for any sauce remaining on the pan.
420 South 2nd Street, 215-320-8000.

Pan-seared tilapia at Bourbon Blue — It’s not often that a fish dish is one of the most popular menu items at a casual resto-bar, but it’s understandable: The cinnamon-y char on the fish and a complementary sweet-potato hash make for a Thanksgiving dinner-like bite.
2 Rector Street, Manayunk, 215-508-3360.

Roasted potatoes at Southwark — These golden-brown wedges with their classic garlicky sauce illuminate why simplicity rules good cooking.
701 South 4th Street, 215-238-1888.

Pad Thaiat at Chabaa Thai — We pray that a Chabaa Thai will open in every Philly neighborhood, so we won’t have to go more than a day without its tangy and delicate pad Thai.
4371 Main Street, Manayunk, 215-483-1979.

Shrimp pil pil at Dmitri’s Pine Street — A spicy, crunchy, garlicky bonanza.
2227 Pine Street, 215-985-3680.

Stuffed veal chop at Catelli — Our award for sheer audacity goes to Catelli’s $44 “house signature” dish — 12 ounces of moist, crackling veal deviously concealing a sizeable creamy core of lobster tail, fontina and spinach.
Plaza 1000, Main Street, Voorhees, 856-751-6069.

#12 Tai Chin at Pho 75 — A steaming bowl of a hearty broth filled with rib eye that gently cooks in the soup, thin slices of tender brisket, doughy rice noodles, crunchy bean sprouts, and fragrant fresh basil. What’s so foreign about that?
1022 Race Street, 215-925-1231, 1122 Washington Avenue, 215-271-5866, and 823 Adams Avenue, 215-743-8845.

Lamb chops at Salt and Pepper — They might be paired with lemon risotto one week and basmati rice the next, but these chops — French-cut, then sliced into medallions — are always roasted to perfection, making them a prized perennial protein that can never be removed from the menu. (Locals would riot, seriously.)
746 South 6th Street, 215-238-1920.

Wedge salad at Bridget’s Steakhouse — This classic, refreshing salad is exactly what you want with your steak. ¸
8 West Butler Pike, Ambler, 267-465-2000.

Funghi Trentino at La Viola — If we could take this garlicky multiple-mushroom dish of awesomeness intravenously, we would.
253 South 16th Street, 215-735-8630.

Guacamole at Xochitl
— You know that dream you have of becoming a beach bum in Baja and eating fresh guac and fish tacos every day? This is as close as you’ll get.
408 South 2nd Street, 215-238-7280.

Prime rib at Prime Rib — While you can now get a half order of this well-aged, perfectly cooked hunk of juicy meat, there’s something so ballsy about ordering the whole thing that we can never quite resist. (After all, no one does prime rib better than Prime Rib.)
1701 Locust Street, 215-772-1701.

Big Daddy Mack burger at Continental — Thanks to the special sauce and crusty char, you won’t believe it’s meatless. (But they swear it is.)
138 Market Street, 215-923-6069; 1801 Chestnut Street, 215-567-1800.

Cheese cart at Four Seasons
— Just when you say you can’t possibly eat any more, up rolls this proper cheese trolley with so many triple creams and sheep’s-milks and honeys and jams and fruits and breads … that you apologize to your stomach and just give in.
1 Logan Square, 215-963-1500.

Lobster bisque at the Guard House Inn — Like the Guard House itself, the lobster bisque — lashed with apple brandy and fresh claw meat — manages to be elegant and hearty at the same time.
953 Youngsford Road, Gladwyne, 610-649-9708.

Veal sweetbreads at Modo Mio
— Chef Peter McAndrews makes pastas to die for, but it was a more exotic item that blew us away: The sweetbreads, crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, are tossed with an oh-so-simple sauce of capers, lemon and white wine. If you’ve never tried offal before, you must order this dish. ¸
161 West Girard Avenue, 215-203-8707.

Cheese and potato tart at Marshalton Inn/Four Dogs Tavern — Remember how delicious your first potato skin was, way back at the beloved mall eatery of your youth? The melted orange cheddar, the cool sour cream, the Bac-o bits? Chef David Cox took that memory and made it over with apple-smoked bacon, crème fraîche, locally grown Yukon golds and gruyère, in a phyllo crust — an epicure’s version of the best of your teenage years.
1300 West Strasburg Road, West Chester, 610-692-4367.

Lamb shoulder at Zahav — You’ll have to order the tasting menu to secure this scrumptious specimen of perfectly cooked meat, but with hummus and assorted mezze on that lineup, you’ll be happy to. Thanks to slow cooking and a char over coals, this is everything you could ever want in a piece of meat — fall-apart tender, just slightly caramelized, and crispy on the ends yet moist and magical in the middle. How do you say “Yum” in Hebrew?
237 St. James Place, 215-625-8800.

Pierogies at Snackbar — Filled with creamy potatoes, crisped in butter, and served with crème fraîche and caviar, this updated comfort food is made with love.
253 South 20th Street, 215-545-5655.

Chana masala chicken at Bindi — It’s the oh-so-tender morsels of white-meat chicken that keep us coming back.
105 South 13th Street, 215-922-6061.

Sopa de tortilla at Tequila’s — As you lean down to slurp, that spicy/sweet/minty/herby epazote fills your nose and carries you away to a Mexico you may or may not ever have been to before.
1602 Locust Street, 215-546-0181.

Seasonal pizzas at Sovana — Think summer menus get all the glory? How about a perfectly charred pizza topped with nibbles of sweet butternut squash, bits of applewood smoked bacon, sharp arugula and creamy gorgonzola? Take that, summer. (Although July’s local corn, salami and jalapeño version isn’t bad, either.)
696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, 610-444-5600.

Tagliatelle alla bolognese at Ristorante San Marco — The homemade ribbons of eggless pasta, draped in a meaty sauce that’s properly light on tomato and carefully simmered with thyme, oregano and nutmeg, is as good as the version we had sitting under the stars in Rome.
504 North Bethlehem Pike, Ambler, 215-654-5000.

Hanger steak at Alba — When you wood-fire-grill a hanger steak so well, season it so simply, and slice it just right, it becomes a permanent fixture. Sides may change with the seasons, but this flawless steak, thankfully, never will.
7 West King Street, Malvern, 610-644-4009.

Gnocchi with duck breast ragù at Sapori — In the best rustic cooking, every bite is an affirmation. So it is with this Collingswood trattoria’s root-sweet ragù, studded with ready-to-melt morsels of duck breast and gnocchi so smooth and light, you’ll swear they were held in suspension just long enough to get to your mouth. Resist the waiter’s kindly offer of grated parmesan — you don’t want to mask a single molecule of this long-simmered miracle.
601 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, 856-858-2288.

Mexican chopped salad at El Vez — A healthy bowl of spicy greens, pumpkin seeds, beans, corn and cheese in a light- -cumin-lime vinaigrette — with the addition of the perfectly grilled chicken, of course.
121 South 13th Street, 215-928-9800.

Pan-seared duck breast at Kaya’s Fusion Cuisine — Finished with a slightly sweet cherry sauce — you’ll need to keep invading forks at bay.
5 Brookline Boulevard, Havertown, 610-446-2780.

Mango butter and Cuban bread at Cuba Libre — We’d order any entrée to get another bite of this free-with-dinner homemade pressed bread and just-barely-fruity butter. (If no one were looking, we’d lick that butter cup clean.)
10 South 2nd Street, 215-627-0666.

Lavraki at Estia — All the swimmers here are cooked whole over a charcoal grill. But this European sea bass, with moist, large flakes, wins the prize.
1405 Locust Street, 215-735-7700.

Fried asparagus at Villa Di Roma — If only all veggies could taste this crispy and good.
936 South 9th Street, 215-592-1295.

Steamed mussels at Matyson: Warning: One bite of these lunch-menu mussels — steamed in fennel, white wine and garlic — and you’ll never go back to your regular options again.
37 South 19th Street, 215-564-2925.

Tuna mixed grill at Hamilton’s Grill Room — Because two types of tuna — one cooked through, one served perfectly rare — are always better than one.
8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, 609-397-4343.

Chicken teriyaki at Ooka — This incredibly moist bone-in chicken breast, served with a gorgeous pile of broccolini and a drizzle of sweet, salty sauce, is way too good to be compared to the standard sugary teriyaki. It’s on a level all its own.
764 Bethlehem Pike, Montgomeryville, 215-361-1119.

Grilled pizza at Chlöe — A harmonious combination of fig jam, bacon, gorgonzola and thyme makes this a true -perfect-all-year-long classic.
232 Arch Street, 215-629-2337.

Buffalo wings at North Third — We’ve seen even the politest eaters do unheard-of things for a pound of these wings: hunch over plates, raise arms up, push elbows out — as if to say, “These wings are mine! All mine!”
801 North 3rd Street, 215-413-3666.

Gnocchi at Blackbird — These dumplings practically levitate.
619 Collings Avenue, Collingswood, 856-854-3444.

Cevicheat Alma de Cuba — The ceviche sampler is a multifaceted, textural joyride.
1623 Walnut Street, 215-988-1799.

Peking duck at Sang Kee — Two courses of goodness — first, impossibly crispy-skinned duck-breast pancakes, and then tender, delicate tidbits tossed with green beans — make this like a delightful Peking tasting menu. ¸ Multiple locations; sangkee-asianbistro.com. Dumplings at Meritage — Whether she fills them with shrimp and steams them or stuffs them with pork or decadent foie gras and pan-fries them, new Meritage chef Anne Coll cooks up an exquisite dumpling. Her six years at Susanna Foo stand her in good stead.
500 South 20th Street, 215-985-1922.

Dumplings at Meritage — Whether she fills them with shrimp and steams them or stuffs them with pork or decadent foie gras and pan-fries them, new Meritage chef Anne Coll cooks up an exquisite dumpling. Her six years at Susanna Foo stand her in good stead.
500 South 20th Street, 215-985-1922.

Dessert cart at Le Bec-Fin — Two grand, gilt-rimmed, wheel-able, entirely flabbergasting tiers of exactly what you imagined dessert would be like when you grew up.
1523 Walnut Street, 215-567-1000.

Paccari all’amatriciana at Melograno — These oversized rigatoni pose problems: You’ll ignore your date once they arrive, and it’ll be a bit embarrassing when you lick your plate. But the fresh tomato, the kick of pepper, the crisp cubes of house-cured pancetta — they’re totally worth a few faux pas.
2012 Sansom Street, 215-875-8116.

Fish and chips at Pub & Kitchen — Both fish and chips are expertly fried in this version of a pub classic, but it’s the unusual sweet, creamy, mushy peas that really make the dish.
1946 Lombard Street, 215-545-0350.

Turkey reuben at Rachael’s Nosheri Deli — A more virtuous version of the truly naughty original, it’s still got the works — toasted rye, Swiss, Russian, lotsa ’kraut — but subs in house-roasted turkey for corned beef, so you can eat more and call it even.
120 South 19th Street, 215-568-9565.

Octopus at Saloon — Run to Saloon for this year-round special whenever the cooks there get their hands on it. It’s perfectly tender and tossed in a light, tangy dressing with our favorite ingredients — tomatoes and arugula.
750 South 7th Street, 215-627-1811.

Japanese sea bass at Fish — This delectable dish is a seafood magic trick: The skin is perfectly crisp in spite of the fact that it’s served in a fragrant clam broth with pops of heat and zings of citrus that sparkle on your tongue.
1708 Lombard Street, 215-545-9600.

Heirloom corn chowder at 10 Arts — Chef Jennifer, for this sweet and creamy, earthy and smoky corn chowder, you’ll always be Top Chef in our hearts.
10 South Broad Street, 215-523-8273.

Tuna tartare at SeaBlue — A modern take on the tableside tossed salad, this sesame-oil-infused, mint-muddled, pine-nut-mashed, pear-tossed mound of pure ahi protein is heaven for carbo-phobes. Try a $6 portion during happy hour.
The Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, 609-317-1000.

Square sushi at Zento — Ignore the wasabi. Unhand the soy sauce. Get a bite-size block of rice built around barbecued eel, sweet plum paste and avocado, and topped with a rosy slab of tuna (or salmon) and a squeeze of chili-touched mayo. Pop it, unadorned, onto your tongue, and experience two cubic inches of total umami.
138 Chestnut Street, 215-925-9998.

Falafel sandwich at Mama’s — Vegetarian Hoagies got nothin’ on this perfectly composed pita, in which hulking falafel balls add some crunch to a sprightly quintet of cabbage, cucumber, tomato, grainy hummus and tahini. (A splash of hot sauce, and you’ve got sandwich Nirvana.)
18 South 20th Street, 215-751-0477.

Meatballs at Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern — Legendary owner Sonny Mancuso died suddenly in April, but his plump meatballs live on at his Atlantic City red-sauce joint, in a recipe as closely guarded as the Colonel’s (and rightly so).
2300 Fairmount Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-344-2439.

Thai curry mussels at Grey Lodge Pub — Who says the best thing to drink here is beer? Use your now-empty mussel shells to spoon up every last drop of the aromatic sauce.
6235 Frankford Avenue, 215-825-5357.

Deluxe pig-out at Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse — Great barbecue deserves to be eaten in great quantities. And with this sampler, you won’t have to choose from all the sweet meats and mouthwatering sides.
7500 State Road, 215-333-9663.

Pork belly buns at Chifa — Save the fight and just order two.
707 Chestnut Street, 215-925-5555.

Cassolette of snails at Le Bar Lyonnais — An adventure, we know. But when you’re ready to leap, do so with this Perrier-concocted parachute. The nutty, garlic-buttery champagne sauce makes for the softest of landings.
1523 Walnut Street, downstairs, 215-567-1000.

Fried chicken at Resurrection Ale House — This newcomer wooed us with its twice-fried chicken, whose spicy honey drizzle made it an instant classic.
2425 Grays Ferry Avenue, 215-735-2202.

Tofu Aphrodite at Caffe Galleria — This bistro touts itself as “the place where the unapologetic carnivore and the dedicated vegan dine -together … happily.” Exhibit A is this swoon-worthy dish, topped with bold veggies, bathed in a simmering wine sauce, and served with a side of feta. (The carnivore can swap in chicken for the tofu.)
18 South Main Street, Lambertville, 609-397-2400.

Unagi tobiko roll at Sagami — This warm, earthy maki (right) with a satisfying fried crunch inside will surprise sushi-wary friends. Just don’t tell them it’s eel till after they’ve ordered their -second plate.
37 West Crescent Boulevard, Collingswood, 856-854-9773.

Churros with chocolate dipping sauce at Café Apamate — Four steps to happiness: 1) Dip. 2) Swirl. 3) Crunch. 4) Repeat.
1620 South Street, 215-790-1620.

Stuffed artichokes at Café 2825 — An artichoke like you’d cook at home — except better, because of its rich throwback filling: breadcrumbs, chopped egg, parmesan and onions.
2825 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, 609-344-6913.

Grilled cheese at Royal Tavern — It’s the way the trio of cheeses works -together — smoky, melt-y gouda, sharp provolone, tangy, denser goat cheese — that takes this sandwich (perfectly griddled on thick-cut French boule) to another level.
937 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-389-6694.

Carrot cake at Buddakan — The dip sum dough-nuts are great and all, but when pastry chef Kate Honeyman had the flash of genius to replace frosting layers with malted-milk panna cotta in her maple carrot cake, she stole our hearts forever.
325 Chestnut Street, 215-574-9440.

Dumplings at Margaret Kuo — These from-scratch morsels bring to mind fortune-cookie logic: The biggest successes come from the tiniest of things.
Multiple locations.

Octopus at Lacroix — On a menu that changes with the seasons, the one thing to remember is eight-limbed, salt-scrubbed, honey-glazed, and charred and crispy all over.
210 West Rittenhouse Square, 215-790-2533.

Blackbean and plantain burrito at Pico de Gallo — It’s that surprising tinge of sweet from the fried plantains that takes this otherwise savory street food from merely good to absolutely-gotta-have-it.
1501 South Street, 215-772-3003.

House-made bratwurst at Brauhaus Schmitz — Brauhaus woos skeptical diners with its fragrant, meter-long link of bratwurst, full of flavorful fat and perfumed with caraway. Pair it with braised cabbage and a pile of freshly made spaetzle for a meal so satisfying, you may not eat again for a week.
718 South Street, 267-909-8814.

Black-tea-glazed spare ribs at Honey — Offbeat, decadent perfection: A mildly spicy ginger ice cream tempers the ribs’ sweetness, emphasizes their smokiness, and makes one wonder if a T-bone could be topped with chocolate.
42 Shewell Avenue, Doylestown, 215-489-4200.

Valenciana paella at Amada — The whole mélange is a masterpiece — plenty of saffron rice, plenty of meat, plenty of heat — but you’ll fight over the lumps of spiced chorizo, forking right into that cast-iron pan to stake your claim.
217 Chestnut Street, 215-625-2540.

Tagliatelle with duck ragù at JamesWho’d have guessed that homemade pasta, dark chocolate and duck ragù (with accents of orange) would taste like this?
824 South 8th Street, 215-629-4980.

Pork paprikash and spaetzle at Yardley InnPeppery nuggets of pork generously ladled atop eggy dumplings are proof that comfort food is so much more than mac-and-cheese.
82 East Afton Avenue, Yardley, 215-493-3800.

Sweet-potato cass-erole at Marsha BrownPiping hot, smooth, flecked with crushed pecans and topped with a toasted, buttery crumble — this dish is really just a way to sneak in an extra dessert.
15 South Main Street, New Hope, 215-862-7044.

Turkey wing at Ms. Tootsie’s Soul Food CaféPacked with flavor (thanks to the herby sauce) and full of fall-off-the-bone dark meat. You’ll never look at puny chicken wings the same way.
1314 South Street, 215-731-9045.

Bahn mi at Q.T. Vietnamese SandwichCarnivore or vegetarian, you can’t go wrong here; the “house special” is caulked with a layer of porky pâté, and the -lemongrass-and-tofu version is crunchy and pungent with cilantro.
48 North 10th Street, 267-639-4520.

Shrimp and cheese grits at MélangeIf we called it “Southern polenta,” could we persuade more Yankees to try chef Joe Brown’s bubbling bit of heaven?
18 Tanner Street, Haddonfield, 856-354-1333, and 1601 Chapel Avenue West, Cherry Hill, 856-663-7339.

Macaroni and cheese at Rouge — The toothy fusilli, the rich fontina sauce tanged with local goat cheese, the generous sprinkle of herbed breadcrumbs — that’s craft, not Kraft.
205 South 18th Street, 215-732-6622.

Asian eggplant at Thai Basil — We never knew eggplant — eggplant! — could taste this meltingly tender and flavor-packed. Pick your own protein to go with the dish.
653 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, 856-833-0098.

Lemon tart at Mr. Martino’s — This homemade wedge of buttery pastry filled with the perfect lemon curd is guaranteed to make you pucker up. It’s for true lemon lovers only.
1646 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-755-0663.

Matzo ball soup at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen — Fact: We spend more on this soup each month than we do on our 401K. Partly because a bowl of Famous’s matzo is $6.50. But mostly because the return on our soup investment is much more consistent — and consistently delightful: a light, well–seasoned broth; big bites of sweet cooked carrots; loads of noodles; tender hunks of white-meat chicken.
700 South 4th Street, 215-922-3274, and 38 South 19th Street, 215-568-3271.

Chickpea fries at Noble American Cookery — These direct descendants of polenta fries come to the table resting atop a tomato preserve, in a twee little cast-iron bowl. And the first bite confirms what you thought from the menu description — deep-fried hummus is delish.
2025 Sansom Street, 215-568-7000.

Mussels in red sauce at Bomb Bomb BBQ Grill — The signature dish is all about the sauce, a garlicky, brothy marinara with a little red-pepper heat. Order an extra bowl of this sauce on the side — trust us, you’ll want it.
1026 Wolf Street, 215-463-1311.

Snapper soup at the Blue Ox –Bistro — This longtime (1683!) German staple in Fox Chase is famous for its beer selection. It should be famous for its tart, generously portioned, loaded-to-the-gills snapper soup, the best since Bookbinder’s heyday. (Call to make sure it’s one of the soups of the day.)
7980 Oxford Avenue, 215-728-9440.

Chocolate chip cheesecake at the Fitzwater Café — For the real taste of South Philly, try a slice of this cheesecake while sitting at the counter.
728 South 7th Street, 215-629-0428.

Jamaican BBQ seitan at Horizons — Sticky-sweet, barely charred and definitely meaty, the must-have item at this all-vegan eatery tastes like it came from a beach-top bonfire.
611 South 7th Street, 215-923-6117.

Yad sai mak-keur at Café Du Laos — Like a savory-strudel — one wherein velvety layers of eggplant stand in for pastry, a tangle of mild catfish and glass noodles (trust us) subs for filling, and instead of syrup there’s coconut-milk-touched red curry.
1117 South 11th Street, 215-467-1546.

Blackened green beans at Grace Tavern — These beans may be blackened, but they aren’t overcooked. Smoky Cajun spices give them their dark exterior; the beans themselves are sweet and bright and snappy.
2229 Grays Ferry Avenue, 215-893-9580.

Schmitter at McNally’s Tavern — Polish off this oddly airy sandwich — a doughy kaiser laden with steak, fried onions, tomatoes, American cheese, grilled salami and a mayo-based sauce — and experience culinary irony: You feel as if you’ve eaten nothing. And yet, you’ve eaten everything.
8634 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-9736.

Calamari and arugula at Paradiso — So familiar, so divine: a jumble of crispy, featherweight squid rings and bodies alongside lemon-and-cream-dressed arugula and a pair of lemon wedges. Squeeze. Spear. Devour.
1627 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-2066.

Gratin de pâtes “à la Peggy” at Bistrot La Minette — The twisty noodles floating freely in a loose, luscious white cheese sauce may just have put us off brick-like American mac-and-cheese forever.
623 South 6th Street, 215-925-8000.

Bacon Stack at Ants Pants Café — The Stack is a buttered and toasted slice of country white bread layered with four strips of crispy bacon layered with seasoned slices of Roma tomatoes layered with a handful of fresh arugula layered with two perfectly fried eggs.
2212 South Street, 215-875-8002.

Escargots at Bibou — Don’t fear the snails. At least, not when the little guys are cooked to a meltingly tender texture and surrounded by pristine seasonal accoutrements, as they are here.
1009 South 8th Street, 215-965-8290.

Steak nachos at Distrito — It’s the quality ingredients and attention to detail that really separate these from every other nacho you’ve ever had.
3945 Chestnut Street, 215-222-1657.

Green curry summer rolls at Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille — It’s a miracle. These light and healthy rice-paper-wrapped rolls are low on calories but absolutely bursting with fresh flavor.
772 Second Street Pike, Southampton, 215-942-8888.

Stuffed hash browns at Butcher & Singer — These over-the-top spuds deliver everything we want: They’re crispy, creamy, rich, and perfectly seasoned.
1500 Walnut Street, 215-732-4444.

Tiramisu at Caffe Valentino — A square of simple cakey, creamy comfort that (for once!) isn’t too sweet.
1245 South 3rd Street, 215-336-3033.

Crudo at Positano Coast — Italian-style sashimi, always based on pristine cuts of fish, delivers the sweet flavors of the sea punched up with ample herbs and citrus.
212 Walnut Street, 215-238-0499.

Squid ink pasta at Tre Scalini — Dark as night, as earthy as the ocean, black pappardelle is all mystery, while the accompanying pink, tomato-sauced shellfish are all goodness and light.
1915 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-551-3870.

Salt-baked shrimp at Lee How Fook — One bite of the wok-fried, tails-on, coral-colored jewels, and suddenly you’re seeing fried shrimp in a whole new, lighter light.
219 North 11th Street, 215-925-7266.

Antipasto misto at L’Angolo — When you walk through the door of this South Philly BYOB, the first thing you see is the kitchen counter brimming with antipasto fixings: white beans stewed with tomatoes, wedges of frittata, slabs of eggplant parm, potato cakes stuffed with olives, to name a few. This appetizer is more like a feast.
1415 West Porter Street, 215-389-4252.

Fisherman’s stew at Oyster House — Inhale deeply over this brothy bowl — the spicy aroma is almost as awesome as the flavor.
1516 Sansom Street, 215-567-7683.

Mussels in red sauce at Ralph’s — This is what South Philly is supposed to taste like. Plump PEI mussels are steamed to perfection in Ralph’s rich, spicy red sauce.
760 South 9th Street, 215-627-6011.

Butter cookies with lemon curd at Southwark — You can actually smell the butter when these adorable cookies arrive.
701 South 4th Street, 215-238-1888.

Fried smelts at Standard Tap — Battered and fried whole (except for the heads), these surprisingly delicious diminutive fish are best dunked in the caper-rich rémoulade and eaten bones and all.
901 North 2nd Street, 215-238-0630.

Truffled egg toast with fontina cheese at Tria — This is breakfast made luxurious with brioche, truffle oil and rich melted fontina. It will make you wish Tria opened before work.
123 South 18th Street, 215-972-8742.

Foie gras pastrami at Vetri — The balance of the buttery liver, the pastrami spices and the tart mostarda is exactly why Marc Vetri has become our city’s most lauded chef.
1312 Spruce Street, 215-732-3478.

Shrimp tempura mango coconut roll at Vic Sushi — Salty shrimp tempura gives way to tart, fresh mango and then a sweet coconut jam, all expertly rolled to the amazement of a jam-packed bar that seats only eight.
2035 Sansom Street, 215-564-4339.

Fro yo with dulce de leche and toasted hazelnuts at Yogorino — Yogorino comes in just one flavor: plain. It’s slightly tart and creamy, and zooms to another level with a ladle of dulce de leche and a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts.
233 South 20th Street, 267-639-5287.

Caramelized brussels sprouts at Alison Two — Chef/owner Alison Barshak is deftly reversing this veg’s bad rep. When she takes it off the menu (in summer), the regulars complain. Complain! About no brussels sprouts!
424 South Bethlehem Pike, Fort Washington, 215-591-0200.

Patatas bravas at Bar Ferdinand — The small bite of fried potato that makes us wish we could supersize tapas.
1030 North 2nd Street, 215-923-1313.

Steamed dumplings at Mustard Green — Tender minced pork wrapped in a pleasingly sticky envelope. So flavorful, you’ll skip the dipping sauce.
622 South 2nd Street, 215-627-0833.

Stuffed French toast at Sabrina’s — Challah slices loaded with cream cheese and bananas — the dish that got everyone talking brunch in this town.
910 Christian Street, 215-574-1599, and Sabrina’s Cafe and Spencer’s Too, 1804 Callowhill Street, 215-636-9061.

Godzilla roll at Umai Umai — With specialty sushi rolls (the Godzilla packs in barbecued eel, honey, roasted macadamia bits and more), there’s a fine line between gimmicky-stupid and mind-blowingly clever. This is firmly in the latter camp.
533 North 22nd Street, 215-988-0707.

Bun cha gio chay (spring roll vermicelli) at Vietnam Restaurant — A bowl of Asian comfort food that’s an irresistible romp, from noodle-slurping to crunching on crispy spring-roll pieces and fresh carrots.
221 North 11th Street, 215-592-1163, and 816 South 47th Street, 215-729-0260.

Char-grilled aged beef at Buddakan — Big, bold bovine flavor comes through in this dish. The nest of sweet-and-spicy-dressed shoestring fries is just a nice bonus.
325 Chestnut Street, 215-574-9440.

Surf and turf at Blackfish — Lobster and filet seem so boring after a bite of the plump day-boat scallops, rich short ribs and earthy parsnip puree in Chip Roman’s take on this classic.
119 Fayette Street, Conshohocken, 610-397-0888.

Diver sea scallops at Rose Tattoo Cafe — We’re downright amazed at how divine these big, buttery-smooth scallops are — and how they’re always that good, visit after visit after visit.
1847 Callowhill Street, 215-569-8939.

Mozzarella in pastella at La Famiglia Ristorante — Turns out our must-order from this fancy-pants Italian place is a delicate version of humble fried mozzarella.
8 South Front Street, 215-922-2803.

Short-rib and cheddar french fries at Village Whiskey — The name of the dish says it all.
118 South 20th Street, 215-665-1088.

Chicken parmigiana at Scannicchio’s — At this South Philly staple, the golden-brown and tender chicken parm is so huge, necks crane when it appears; it announces itself with authority. Your friends will have chicken parm envy.
2500 South Broad Street, 215-468-3900.

Prime steak burger at Du Jour — The meat is Angus prime, but what makes this $12 burger is the combo of Vermont cheddar and caramelized onions — on a critically soft roll.
379 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, 610-896-4556.

Hot wings at Curran’s Irish Inn — We’ll put the always-crispy, always-flavor-packed Buffalo-style wings at this Northeast Philly neighborhood joint up against those of anyone in town. Anyone.
6900 State Road, 215-331-8628, and 1909 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, 215-245-1800.

Pulled pork sandwich at Bebe’s Barbecue — Our favorite way to spend six bucks in the Italian Market is on this smoky pile of hand-pulled, Carolina-sauced pork.
1017 South 9th Street, 267-519-8791.

Octopus at Johnny Brenda’s — It’s only after hours and hours of boiling and a nice long bath in a tangy vinaigrette that the meaty cephalopods at this Fishtown foodie sleeper get flame-grilled to tender perfection.
1201 North Frankford Avenue, 215-739-9684.

Egg salad sandwich at Snow White — In these days of pre-fab, Sysco-delivered buckets of food, it’s refreshing to order an egg salad sandwich where the cook peels two hardboiled eggs right in front of you and whips up a made-to-order batch.
1901 Chestnut Street, 215-569-0909.

Steamed shrimp at Tai Lake — Place an order for steamed shrimp here, and you’ll see your waiter head to a tank with a net to collect your dinner. Now that’s what we call fresh.
134 North 10th Street, 215-922-0698.

Dosas at Rajbhog — If you think Indian food is all about tandoori and samosas, proceed directly to this strip-mall haven and try a dosa, a crispy pancake made from rice and lentil flours. Our favorite version is the Mysore masala, stuffed with spicy turmeric-colored potatoes and coated with a fiery red chili powder.
1900 Greentree Road, Cherry Hill, 856-751-0257.

Baked clams at the Clam Tavern — Twelve clams, drizzled with butter, garlic and herbs, baked in an oven, and served on a one-of-a-kind steel platter built for the restaurant in the 1960s.
339 East Broadway Avenue, Clifton Heights, 610-623-9537.

Fish and chips at the Whip Tavern — You’ll have to drive into Chester County horse country to get some of the best fish and chips around. Don’t forget the traditional side of mushy peas (optional; $1.99 extra) and lots of malt vinegar.
1383 North Chatham Road, Coatesville, 610-383-0600.

Robatayaki at Izakaya — Loosely translated, “robatayaki” means “awesomely good skewers of charcoal-grilled stuff,” said stuff being lobster chunks, spicy chicken strips, foie gras balls, Kobe-style beef … it really doesn’t matter.
The Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, 609-317-1000.

Fried shrimp at Sid Booker’s — Maybe you don’t want to go to Broad and Belfield in North Philly. But you’ll be missing out on the best damn fried shrimp around. Get them tossed with hot sauce, salt and pepper.
4600 North Broad Street, 215-329-4455.

Good Dog burger at Good Dog — A burger worth the fat rolls: fistfuls of Roquefort — soft and stinky, like the Good Lord intended — melted inside a juicy half-pound patty, topped with tangles of caramelized onion and served on a toasted brioche bun.
224 South 15th Street, 215-985-9600.

Royal palm dates at Alma de Cuba — Skip the endive cradling the (almond-stuffed and bacon-wrapped) date, and just pop that fat little guy into your mouth.
1623 Walnut Street, 215-988-1799.

Short-rib flatbread at Amada — The crispy bread layered with nutty cheeses, rich slivers of short ribs and a hint of bacon would have been heavenly on its own. But the added zing of horseradish and a touch of freshness from micro cilantro make this one of the most complex bites in town.
217 Chestnut Street, 215-625-2450.

French onion soup at Parc — A rich, fragrant soup so loaded with browned, bubbling gruyère that you have to eat the cheese with your fingers just to get to it.
227 South 18th Street, 215-545-2262.

Baklava at Divan Turkish Kitchen — For $4.50 you can get a perfect confection and a discussion of the real, Turkish origins of baklava.
918 South 22nd Street, 215-545-5790.

1,000-layer bread at Rangoon — What really makes the gossamer sheets of crisped golden “bread” so strangely addictive is the sweet-sharp curried sauce you’ll keep dipping into.
112 North 9th Street, 215-829-8939.

Roast chicken at James — Nobody makes a roast chicken like this. It’s fat, juicy and tender, and has a whole bunch of stuff you never knew you wanted in a chicken: skin that tastes a little like the pan; a delicate juice that’s been “apple-infused”; meat that’s savory and then vaguely sweet, but before you determine which part is your favorite, you need another bite.
824 South 8th Street, 215-629-4980.

Sweetbreads at Majolica — When it comes to Everyman appeal, sweetbreads ain’t exactly the Big Mac. (Also: neither sweet, nor bread. Discuss.) But chef Andrew Deery democratizes the delicacy with finger-licking preparations, like his clever version bathed in tangy Buffalo sauce and served with wedges of blue cheese and celery.
258 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-917-0962.

Herb-roasted chicken at Rouge — The way Rouge’s kitchen layers this classic comfort dish — wine-bathed breast atop a garlicky pond of spinach atop a puréed potato cloud that billows out as you cut into the meat and hitches a ride on your fork with an easy side-swipe — provides the city’s best excuse for sophisticates to play with their food.
205 South 18th Street, 215-732-6622.

Chilled no-rice sushi roll at Nectar — Tuna + salmon + bass + avocado + cucumber – rice = the single best sushi roll in Philadelphia. (Maybe the U.S.)
1091 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, 610-725-9000.

Gustaio sandwich at Paesano’s Philly Style — As if the patties of hand-formed lamb sausage, the sweet/spicy sauce, the gorgonzola and the fennel weren’t good enough, they all get rolled up inside a crispy, buttery wrap.
152 West Girard Avenue, 267-886-9556.

Boston bibb and herb salad at Supper — Great big cupfuls of crisp lettuce and delicate herbs, sweet-tart apple slices, a hint of bacon and browned rounds of cornbread, all exquisitely tossed in a house-made buttermilk dressing — this is, perhaps, the perfect prelude to a meal.
926 South Street, 215-592-8180.

Dover sole at Savona — Your first bite can yield but one thought: This fish was meant to swim in its sauce, not in the sea.
100 Old Gulph Road, Gulph Mills, 610-520-1200.

Penne Arrabiata at Café Lombardi’s — Sometimes it’s hot, and sometimes it’s really hot — but it’s always loaded with kalamata olives, capers and garlic, and finished with a quick drizzle of olive oil.
294 Horsham Road, Horsham, 215-443-2500.

Fried calamari at Novita Bistro — In a just world, calamari would always be cooked as delicately as it is at this tiny Mediterranean BYO.
1608 South Street, 215-545-4665.

Miso soup at Izumi — Beware of the many uninspired bowls of soup masquerading as miso. For the real deal — fragrant, almost smoky broth; creamy bits of tofu; salty strands of seaweed — go straight to Izumi.
1601 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-1222.

Pappardelle with portabella mushrooms at Audrey Claire — Moist and meaty mushrooms join bitter arugula join nutty sunflower seeds join salty-sharp locatelli join eggy pappardelle for a perfectly balanced forkful of food.
276 South 20th Street, 215-731-1222.

Tater tots at North Bowl — North Bowl is so confident in its execution of the deep-fried spud that it’s devoted an entire section of its menu to ’em. (We like them all.)
909 North 2nd Street, 215-238-BOWL.

Gallette de crabe at Le Bar Lyonnais — Screw Maryland. This is the best crabcake you’ll ever eat. Bonus: No plastic bibs.
1523 Walnut Street, downstairs, 215-567-1000.

Chicken tacos at Taqueria La Veracruzana — If I were a chicken and able to choose how it would all end, I would ask to be placed in a warm tortilla, sprinkled with cilantro, squeezed with fresh lime juice, and served here.
908 Washington Avenue, 215-465-1440.

Cheese fries with scallions and chipotle ketchup at Silk City — To quote Britney Spears: “Gimme gimme more, gimme more, gimme gimme more.”
435 Spring Garden Street, 215-592-8838.

Red curry del general at Chifa — King crab reigns at Chifa, where sweet morsels of the shellfish royalty sit atop a throne of fragrant red curry spiked with coconut milk and studded with hearty bits of tofu and eggplant.
707 Chestnut Street, 215-925-5555.

Chicken lemongrass soup at Smile Café — Go on, keep fishing for the hunks of chicken and still-crisp veggies to ease the pain — make that pleasure — of soup this spicy.
105 South 22nd Street, 215-564-2502.

Molletes at Cafe Con Chocolate — It’s Mexican garlic bread — but on steroids, and for breakfast. A long roll is split in half, smeared with butter and then refried beans, sprinkled with cheese, and broiled to toasty, chewy, melt-y perfection.
2100 South Norwood Street, 267-639-4506.

Brisket hash at Café Estelle — The cure for the common hangover.
444 North 4th Street, 215-925-5080.

Stuffed cabbage at Famous 4th Street — We crave these huge sweet-and-sour balls of meat and rice all year round.
700 South 4th Street, 215-922-3274, and 38 South 19th Street, 215-568-3271.

Beer-battered kosher dills at Memphis Taproom — They’re hot — they took a dip in the fryer only seconds ago. They’re ugly — an unsightly stack of spears dimpled with beige batter. But neither of these things should stop you from grabbing hold of one (fingertips be damned!), plunging it into the creamy-cool horseradish dip, and crunching straight to the sour/briny/garlicky heart of the dill.
2331 East Cumberland Street, 215-425-4460.

Roti canai (Malaysian pancake) at Banana Leaf — This fried/doughy/crispy/chewy flatbread and its accompanying sweet/spicy curry potato dipping sauce are far better than any flapjack and syrup you’ve ever tasted.
1009 Arch Street, 215-592-8288.

Sausage pizza at Tacconelli’s — With every bite the perfect ratio of crust to sauce to cheese to sausage, you’ll stop briefly and wonder if some wise old employee is tasked strictly with topping placement. But then you’ll move on to more important things, like procuring another slice.
2604 East Somerset Street, 215-425-4983.

Sloppy Joe at Honey’s Sit-’N’-Eat — One bite of this messy-wich and you’ll feel 10 years old again.
800 North 4th Street, 215-925-1150.

Al pastor tacos at Los Taquitos de Puebla — Proof that a single dish can propel an unknown taqueria to Philly foodie fame. (You’ll also find these crispy pork and pineapple tacos at the Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market.)
1149 South Street, 215-334-0664.

Chana masala at Tiffin — You thought you could stop us with your slow, creeping spice. Did you forget about your hunks of bright tomato, your slices of sweet onion, or your army of chickpeas with their creamy, cooling insides?
Multiple locations.


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