Best Philadelphia Restaurants

Our guide to the best restaurants in Philadelphia by neighborhood

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods. How many times have you heard that? Enough, probably, that it’s just become noise—static, like the informational background radiation­ of a living, breathing culture. Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods. Well, of course it is. What city isn’t?

But things here are different. In Philly, the boundaries are strict. A neighborhood is a vibe, a feeling, a sense of shared society that, from one side of a street to the other, can fall away as though you’ve walked off a cliff. First, you’re here. One step later, you’re elsewhere.

But as exacting and firm as the borders might be, the neighborhoods in Philadelphia are also ever-changing. They breathe in and out, expand, surrender to the forces of entropy and collapse. Among the factors that drive their life cycles? Restaurants and restaurateurs.

Look at North Broad, for example. Until recently, an eater traveling north out of Center City on Broad Street had nothing to concern him save a turn onto Spring Garden or Girard. The space between was a wasteland of tire stores, abandoned car dealerships and low-slung fast-food franchises. But how quickly did our notions of edible neighborhoods change with the opening of Osteria? Suddenly, there was something worth expanding our ideas of where to eat in this city. Route 6 followed. Alla Spina is on the way. Inch by inch and address by address, Marc Vetri and Stephen Starr are carving out a new locus, circumscribing a new boundary within which the well-heeled might find some pizza, pig tails and crab legs, even while the competition expands into Fairmount to the west with Hickory Lane (from Matt Zagorski), La Calaca Feliz (from Garces alums Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal) and Lemon Hill.

And that is what we’re here to talk about: Philadelphia’s neighborhoods as seen through the lens of their restaurants. In the following pages, we’ll show you which neighborhoods are hot, which are not, how to fix the terminally dull and under-served (answer: more restaurants!), and where the next great restaurant neighborhoods could be.

>>> Best Midtown Village Restaurants

>>> Best Conshohocken Restaurants

>>> Best Italian Market Restaurants

>>> Best East Passyunk Restaurants

>>> Best Collingswood Restaurants

>>> Best Fishtown Restaurants

>>> Best Chinatown Restaurants

>>> Best LOVE Park Food Trucks

>>> Best Upper Darby Restaurants

>>> Best West Philly Restaurants

>>> Best Media Restaurants

>>> Best Phoenixville Restaurants

>>> Best Chestnut Hill Restaurants 

  • Brian

    I’ve been looking forward to the 2012 Philly Top Restaurant List for months… In fact, I have the 2011 list tacked to my office wall and I patiently check off, one by one, each Top 50 constituent that I’ve been to. Having a stratified list is much more consumable and relevant than one by neighborhood… In many ways, this takes all the fun out of it. In 2012, I can no longer have claimed to have been to this year’s #1 restaurant. Nor can I debate with my friends whether that restaurant, or any other for that matter, deserves the laurels assigned to it. You have done a mighty injustice here.

    … And you apparently don’t consider Rittenhouse/CC or Old City to be distinct neighborhoods, what’s that about???

  • pamela

    Not only are the restaurants no longer ranked, like another commenter pointed out, but the writer has gone to great lengths to describe what makes Philadelphia neighborhoods so unique but then leaves out important neighborhoods in favor of including suburban towns such as Conshohocken, Collingswood (New Jersey!), Upper Darby, Media, and Phoenixville! Not that the restaurants in those towns don’t deserve to be recognized, but the article has lost it’s focus and gives the reader less than half of what he or she was interested in reading.

  • Mister

    Philly Mag exists to sell its issues by creating drama and outrage, not by reporting facts or well-researched opinions. The strange logic of the neighborhoods included in this article (as mentioned by other posters) is just more of the same.

  • Nik

    This.Is.Brutal.
    Help me make sense of this. Were your readers unhappy with the 50 list? Did this “neighborhood” idea seem like a better alternative? No Old City? No Rittenhouse? You seem to be ignoring where your readers actually eat. Oh boy, I can’t wait to head out to COLLINGSWOOD to grab dinner. Ya kidding me? I can’t only blame the author for this mess. Who signed off on this? It’s hard to imagine a group of people sitting in a room nodding their heads saying “Yeah, this is a great idea!” I hope I’m missing something. If not, what a huge let-down.

  • d

    phoenixville? are you serious? how about northern liberties? you guys are nuts.

  • bob

    i don’t understand this list, or lack thereof. only half of the “neighborhoods” featured are even in philadelphia. the restaurants are the top rated ones on yelp & zagat. seems like this article was written by someone that knows nothing about this city.

  • philly

    I have to agree with other users here. Where is the rest of Philly? Philly is a city of neighborhoods, & lots of them are left out here. Maybe we don’t all have eateries, but some do. Lots of ‘sections’ on this list aren’t in Philly – & anyone from Philly knows “Philadelphia area” is NOT Philly. Oh, our Great Northeast was left out, & we have some wonderful small family diners here.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • Lee

    What is it with these people when writing about Philadelphia’s best places and referring to sections outside Philadelphia City/County? Please note the difference between Philadelphia and Philadelphia area. They are not the same. Next time when writing about Philly Please make sure you have an Atlas in front of you displaying a good map of the neighborhoods and sections in Philadelphia City/County only.

  • tom

    BEING A N.E PHILA.RESIDENT AND A SUBSCRIBER TO YOUR RAG MAG.IT IS EVIDENT THAT NO ONE ON YOUR STAFF EXPLORES ANY RESTAURANTS NORTH OF COTTMAN AVE.
    WHICH TELLS ME ALL YOUR TOP CHOICES (EXCEPT THE THREE MONKEYS)PAY A HEFTY SUM TO BE MENTIONED.