50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia

From left: Corzetti rabbit pasta from Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown; Bud & Marilyn’s in Midtown Village; Spice-rubbed wagyu brisket at Vernick Food & Drink in Rittenhouse. | Photography by Christopher Leaman

From left: Corzetti rabbit pasta from Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown; Bud & Marilyn’s in Midtown Village; Spice-rubbed wagyu brisket at Vernick Food & Drink in Rittenhouse. | Photography by Christopher Leaman

Right at this moment, Philadelphia is undeniably one of the best restaurant cities in the nation. We have restaurants (and restaurateurs) who make national news. Our kitchens and the things that happen in them move the larger conversation about food and fad and appetite. More importantly, we’re in the midst of a moment where Philly’s chefs are crafting, night after night, a new kind of American cuisine and style of eating that is global and local, both finer and more casual at the same time. It’s a great time to dine in Philly. And here are the restaurants you need to be eating at (and paying attention to) right now.

Last updated: December 20, 2016

50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia

* New to the list.

  1. Vernick Food & Drink
    Rittenhouse
  2. Laurel
    East Passyunk
  3. Fork
    Old City
  4. Vedge
    Midtown Village
  5. Vetri
    Midtown Village
  6. Double Knot
    Midtown Village
  7. Serpico
    Bella Vista
  8. Wm. Mulherin’s Sons*
    Fishtown
  9. Townsend
    East Passyunk
  10. Zahav
    Society Hill
  11. Helm
    Kensington
  12. Sbraga
    Center City
  13. Bing Bing Dim Sum
    East Passyunk
  14. ITV
    * East Passyunk
  15. V Street
    University City
  16. Volvér
    Center City
  17. Marigold Kitchen
    University City
  18. Cheu Noodle Bar
    Washington Square West
  19. Kanella South
    * Queen Village
  20. Tredici Enocteca
    Midtown Village
  21. South Helm
    * Pennsport
  22. A Mano
    Fairmount
  23. Will
    East Passyunk
  24. Bibou
    Bella Vista
  25. Aldine
    Center City
  1. Pumpkin
    Grad Hospital
  2. Zeppoli
    Collingswood
  3. Tinto
    * Center City
  4. Lou Birds*
    Grad Hospital
  5. Bud & Marilyn’s*
    Midtown Village
  6. High Street on Market
    Old City
  7. Kensington Quarters
    Fishtown
  8. Hungry Pigeon
    Queen Village
  9. Saté Kampar*
    East Passyunk
  10. Fitler Dining Room
    Fitler Square
  11. Stargazy
    East Passyunk
  12. Fond
    East Passyunk
  13. Le Virtù
    East Passyunk
  14. Ambra*
    Queen Village
  15. Russet
    Center City
  16. Le Chéri
    Rittenhouse
  17. Brigantessaa
    East Passyunk
  18. Ting Wong
    Chinatown
  19. The Good King Tavern
    Bella Vista
  20. Amada
    Old City
  21. Opa
    Midtown Village
  22. Ela
    Queen Village
  23. Talula’s Daily
    Washington Square West
  24. Pizzeria Beddia
    Fishtown
  25. Osteria
    Spring Garden

 


1. Vernick Food & Drink

Spice-rubbed wagyu brisket at Vernick Food & Drink in Rittenhouse | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

Spice-rubbed wagyu brisket at Vernick Food & Drink in Rittenhouse | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

Rittenhouse | American
2031 Walnut Street, 267-639-6644

There’s no denying the fact that Vernick is a great restaurant. But it’s now the best restaurant in Philly because it not only opened great; it’s gotten better with each passing year. What began with the toasts and a dedication to simplicity in both conception and technique has evolved over the seasons into a mind-set recognizing that the most basic things—a roasted chicken; a beautiful piece of halibut with mushrooms in a lemon-garlic broth—done perfectly, are what people most want to eat. By sticking doggedly to that belief, Greg Vernick and his crew created their restaurant, night by night, and waited for the rest of us to fall in love with what he knew all along.

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2. Laurel

East Passyunk | French
1617 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-8299

Nick Elmi’s first restaurant still sees a two-month wait for reservations. And it’s a wait that’s worth every minute.

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3. Fork

Old City | American
306 Market Street, 215-625-9425

No restaurant in this city is better at walking the line between the modernist impulses of young chefs (smoked sturgeon and pickled apples in a soup) and the traditionalism of an award-winning kitchen steeped in the classics.

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4. Vedge

Midtown Village | Vegetarian
1221 Locust Street, 215-320-7500

Yes, it really is as good as literally everyone who’s ever been there has told you. So what are you waiting for?

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5. Vetri

Midtown Village | Italian
1312 Spruce Street, 215-732-3478

The focus and attention to detail lavished on Marc Vetri’s flagship have never slackened, and it remains the defining exemplar of what modern haute Italian cuisine can be.

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6. Double Knot

Midtown Village | Japanese
120 South 13th Street, 215-631-3868

Michael Schulson’s all-day cafe stands as proof that we really can have nice things. And his business model—three meals a day plus happy hour, bar food, and a sexy, secluded basement dining room serving a brilliant menu of modern Japanese fusion—broke the mold for how big restaurants operate in Philly.

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7. Serpico

Bella Vista | American
604 South Street, 215-925-3001

Since day one, Peter Serpico has been refining his idea of what smart, restrained regional cooking can bring to the table. The result? A new New American cuisine that’s being remade almost every day.

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8. Wm. Mulherin’s Sons *

Corzetti rabbit pasta from Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

Corzetti rabbit pasta from Wm. Mulherin’s Sons in Fishtown | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

Fishtown | Italian
1355 North Front Street, 215-291-1355

The highest-ranking newcomer on this list, Mulherin’s does some of the best pizzas in the city, paired with incredible pastas and artful cocktails in a space that just oozes cool.

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9. Townsend

East Passyunk| French
1623 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-639-3203

The venison en crepinette may be the kitchen’s most famous dish, but the second-course petit omelet with crab and vermouth-parsley cream should stand as the reason why fine dining and French technique will never completely fade out in this post-gastropub world.

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10. Zahav

Society Hill | Israeli
237 St. James Place, 215-625-8800

The prix-fixe dinner at Zahav—with its fried cauliflower, chicken pastilla and grilled duck hearts—remains one of those Philly food experiences that anyone who truly cares about restaurants in this town needs to experience.

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11. Helm

Kensington | French
1305 North 5th Street, 215-309-2211

With its mutable chalkboard menu, plain design and welcoming vibe that makes every guest feel like a regular, Helm is an ideal throwback to the days when the greatest BYO in Philly was the one right down the street from your house.

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12. Sbraga

Center City | American
440 South Broad Street, 215-735-1913

What’s easy to forget when eating at Sbraga is that the crab spaghetti and baby squash over jollof rice is just what’s being served tonight. But to take a seat in this dining room is to be part of an experiment in New American cookery—one that’s helmed by a chef who helped define our modern restaurant renaissance.

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 13. Bing Bing Dim Sum

East Passyunk | Asian
1648 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-279-7702

Because sometimes what you really want is just a roast pork sandwich, in bao-bun form.

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14. ITV

East Passyunk | Eclectic
1615 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-858-0669

Little sister to Laurel next door, this is Nick Elmi’s vision of a cool, casual neighborhood bar—which means French wines, beef fat biscuits with scallion honey butter, and chicken liver stroopwafel with plum agrodolce. Obviously.

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15. V Street

Vegetarian | Rittenhouse
126 South 19th Street, 215-278-7943

Anywhere else, this place would be a gimmick. Only in Philly does it make sense that a vegan street-food restaurant and bar remains one of the coolest places to hang out in the entire city

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16. Volvér

Center City | American
300 South Broad Street, 215-670-2303

Jose Garces’s fine-dining restaurant still produces one of the most mind-expanding tasting menus anywhere. It’s the very definition of a destination restaurant. Nice, then, that Bar Volvér has evolved into a hip and ever-changing place to go to any regular night of the week, with happy-hour deals and guest bartenders.

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17. Marigold Kitchen

University City | American
501 South 45th Street, 215-222-3699

Whether you end up eating chocolate ravioli filled with butternut squash from the nine-course tasting menu or cured pork belly crusted with Cheerios on the six-course test-kitchen menu, it’s guaranteed your experience will be singular.

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18.  Cheu Noodle Bar

Washington Square West | Asian
255 South 10th Street, 267-639-4136

Yes, Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Darragh are expanding. But the original Cheu remains the same fusion noodle house and den of brisket ramen with matzo and other high-wire culinary weirdness it always was.

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19. Kanella South

Queen Village | Cypriot
757 South Front Street, 215-644-8949

Neither a change in location nor the opening of a second restaurant could take the shine off Konstantinos Pitsillides’s Cypriot cooking. If anything, the wood-fired oven and a liquor license have made Kanella South an even better restaurant than the original.

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20.Tredici Enoteca

Midtown Village | Mediterranean
114 South 13th Street, 267-928-2092

Everyone comes here to drink wine and eat the lasagna verde. But try the Israeli couscous with avocado or the chicken meatballs dressed in ginger-tomato sauce, and taste how this kitchen can truly stretch the definition of Mediterranean cuisine.

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21. South Helm

Pennsport | American
100 Morris Street, 267-324-5085

The best way to eat at this spin-off of the original Helm is to get a couple friends and order everything on the ever-changing New American chalkboard menu.

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22. A Mano

Fairmount | Italian
2244 Fairmount Avenue, 215-236-1114

Don’t let the highly polished, made-for-this-Instagrammable-age prettiness of A Mano fool you. At its heart it’s a meticulously curated and flawlessly executed take on modern, worldly Italian cuisine.

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23. Will

East Passyunk | French
1911 East Passyunk Avenue, East Passyunk, 215-271-7683

Over the years, Will has become a more comfortable and approachable restaurant than it once was. And while chef Chris Kearse remains one of the most intellectual modernist chefs in the city, recent dishes like his sweet-potato bisque with black truffles show comfort is at the core of his menu. Even his milk-fed poulard with glazed chestnuts and black trumpet mushrooms is really just chicken and grits at heart.

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24. Bibou

Bella Vista | French
1009 South 8th Street, 215-965-8290

No French restaurant in town can touch the sense of comfort and tradition that exists on any given night in Bibou’s dining room.

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25. Aldine

Center City | American
1901 Chestnut Street, 215-454-6529

George Sabatino had to learn on his feet after being named one of the best chefs in the city and opening his own restaurant in a weird second-floor space at 19th and Chestnut. Now, a couple years in, Aldine is a better, stronger and more solidly grounded restaurant than it ever was.

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26. Pumpkin

Grad Hospital | American
1713 South Street, 215-545-4448

Pumpkin is every young cook’s dream—a small, cozy BYO with an ever-changing menu and the freedom to cook whatever you want. Lucky for us, chef Ian Moroney is living that dream right now, and making Pumpkin one of the most beloved (and most often overlooked) restaurants in Philly.

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27. Zeppoli

Collingswood | Italian
618 Collings Avenue, 856-854-2670

Chef Joey Baldino’s considerable talent and classical approach to Italian cuisine make his Sicilian fusilli with Trapanese pesto or homemade fennel sausage absolutely worth crossing borders and bridges for.

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28. Tinto

Center City | Spanish
114 South 20th Street, 215-665-9150

For years we’ve had an on-again/off-again love affair with this Garces Group Spanish tapas restaurant. But like a chance meeting with an old girlfriend, all it took was one dinner (some albóndigas, prawns with espelette, maybe a little too much Basque wine) to put us squarely back in the on-again category.

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29. Lou Birds *

Rittenhouse | American
500 South 20th Street, 267-804-7977

Chef Natalie Maronski left her gig at Volvér for the kitchen of this 20th Street newcomer, where she cooks sorghum-glazed pork belly and French onion oxtail soup with bone marrow mustard with seemingly effortless skill. At this point, we’ll follow her pretty much anywhere, but here’s hoping she doesn’t fly away from Lou Bird’s anytime soon

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30.  Bud & Marilyn’s

Bud & Marilyn’s in Midtown Village | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

Bud & Marilyn’s in Midtown Village | Photograph by Christopher Leaman

Midtown Village | American
1234 Locust Street, 215-546-2220

The retro-American fad might have died fast in Philly, but Bud & Marilyn’s lives on because it gives the people exactly what they want: powerful cocktails, excellent fried chicken, a solid meatloaf, and the best fried cheese curds in the city.

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31. High Street on Market

Old City | American
308 Market Street, 215-625-0988

This cafe is everything you love about Fork, but cheaper and with a bakery attached.

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32. Kensington Quarters

Fishtown | American
1310 Frankford Avenue, 267-314-5086

You’d think a restaurant and bar with an artisan butcher would be renowned for its meats. But at Kensington Quarters, the best items on the menu are often the vegetables and handmade pastas. The meats are pretty amazing, too.

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33. Hungry Pigeon

Queen Village | American
743 South 4th Street, 215-278-2736

Scott Schroeder and Pat O’Malley’s all-day cafe could’ve made this list on the strength of its breakfast sandwich alone. The croissants, other sandwiches, relaxed vibe and iconoclastic dinner menu? That’s all just gravy. Delicious, delicious gravy …

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34. Saté Kampar *

East Passyunk | Malaysian
1837 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-324-3860

In a neighborhood as densely packed with serious French and Italian restaurants as this one, a small, loud BYO focusing on Malaysian saté, coconuts and coffee is exactly what was needed.

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35. Fitler Dining Room

Fitler Square | American
2201 Spruce Street, 215-732-3331

How strange is it that in this age of tasting menus and bar snacks, what can often feel most comforting is a restaurant like Fitler, where seriousness and the ordered progression of a proper meal make any dinner feel like an event?

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36.Stargazy 

East Passyunk | British
1838 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-309-2761

The banofee tart will change your life, and everything else coming out of Sam Jacobson’s tiny little British pie shop is almost as good.

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37. Fond

East Passyunk | American
1537 South 11th Street, 215-551-5000

The foie gras or grilled radicchio with figs and blue cheese to start, then risotto, pork rillettes, and chicken over mushroom congee with shishito peppers? In Lee Styer’s kitchen, New Americanism still comes with the borderless influences and dedication to local ingredients that inspired a generation of cooks.

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38. Le Virtù

East Passyunk | Italian
1927 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-5626

Joe Cicala does Abbruze-style tripe and spinach fazzoletti with cocoa-braised guinea hen sausage ragu that could serve as a master class in traditional Italian cuisine.

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39. Ambra*

Queen Village | Italian
705 South 4th Street, 267-858-9232

When Chris D’Ambro took over Southwark’s spot, he found it came with this odd little space next door. Now, that odd little space, with its dark, intimate vibe, expert service and Italian prix-fixe menu, is one of the city’s best new restaurants

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40. Russet

Center City | American
1521 Spruce Street, 215-546-1521

Even if you spent as many years dedicated to farm-to-table cooking as chef Andrew Wood and his team have, you still wouldn’t be as good as they are. Which is why we’re lucky they’re here, standing as the model for excellent, rigorously local fine dining.

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41. Le Chéri

Rittenhouse | French
251 South 18th Street, 215-546-7700

Bigger, louder, less intimate and more casual than its sister restaurant Bibou, Le Chéri—with its lightened-up French classics — stands as a reminder that not everything about French cuisine needs to be so serious all the time

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42. Brigantessa

East Passyunk | Italian
1520 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-318-7341

There are a hundred reasons why you should eat here (the antipasti alone probably accounts for 20 of them), but if you need just one, come for the bizarre (but traditional) Neapolitan pizzas—topped with figs, or even shaped like a tennis racquet.

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43. Ting Wong

Chinatown | Chinese
138 North 10th Street, 215-928-1883

If you’ve ever dreamed of finding some perfect hole-in-the-wall Chinatown restaurant where you can eat roasted duck and noodles and hide out from the rest of the world, this is the place you’re imagining.

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44. The Good King Tavern

The burger at Good King Tavern in Bella Vista | Photography by Christopher Leaman

The burger at Good King Tavern in Bella Vista | Photography by Christopher Leaman

Bella Vista | French
614 South 7th Street, 215-625-3700

Good King is the best example of how spot-on a neighborhood restaurant can be: a comfortable tavern with good beer and cocktails that just happens to have an excellent French kitchen attached, churning out steak frites, sweetbreads and escargots.

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45. Amada

Old City | Spanish
217 Chestnut Street, 215-625-2450

There’s something to be said for staying power, and even after all these years, Jose Garces’s first restaurant still stands up as a destination, offering a long list of tapas and a great tasting menu of Spanish small plates.

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46. Opa

Midtown Village | Greek
1311 Sansom Street, 215-545-0170

Chef Bobby Saritsoglou has turned what was once a completely forgettable Greek taverna into a great restaurant with a very smart menu that reads like a Cliffs Notes version of modern Greek cuisine.

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47. Ela

Queen Village | American
627 South 3rd Street, 267-687-8512

While almost all modernist chefs believe the dinner table is an excellent place for esoteric lessons about flavor and nationality, Jason Cichonski just makes some lobster risotto, homemade Cheetos or gnocchi with BBQ potato skins and leaves it at that.

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48. Talula’s Daily

Washington Square West | American
208 West Washington Square, 215-592-6555

Aimee Olexy’s eatery was ahead of the game when it started doing the cafe-by-day, restaurant-by-night thing years ago. With the rest of the city just now catching up, Talula’s is still pushing the boundaries of New Americanism with its $55 prix-fixe dinners featuring dishes like General Tso’s fried oysters and cola-cooked collards.

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49. Pizzeria Beddia

Fishtown | Pizza
115 East Girard Avenue

Everything you’ve heard is true: This is the best pizza in America. You’ll have to deal with Joe Beddia’s quirks (long lines, no phone, no seating, and a menu that regularly sells out) to taste for yourself why people are so obsessed.

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50. Osteria

Spring Garden | Italian
640 North Broad Street, 215-763-0920

One of the simplest, purest pleasures in Philly has always been dropping in on Osteria to see how effortlessly modern Italian can be executed by a staff that’s spent years dedicated to nothing but that. The service is smooth, the menu is deep with satisfying dishes, the wine list is excellent, and the Parma pizza, with its arugula and prosciutto, remains a benchmark pie.

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* New to the list

50 Best Restaurants Map

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Published in the January 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.