There was once a time in this magazine’s history when two whole years would pass before our 50 Best Restaurants list was updated. Two years. Isn’t that goofy?
That was in 2013, when two years was a perfectly acceptable amount of time to wait. It was just before our dining scene rocketed to international stardom. Before our James Beard winners played first fiddle on the national stage. When IPAs and gastropubs were novel, and when “dining out” meant spending serious coin.
Things are different now. We don’t eat or drink the same way we used to. Biodynamic wines now line the shelves of corner bars. Fast-casual is now the best kind of casual. Modern ain’t haute — chefs would rather live the caveman (and cavewoman) life, cooking over fire, sourcing from farmer buddies. Theme matters less than soul, and diners have developed a collective nose for soul. (Don’t have any? Good luck.) Not to mention, the scene as a whole just moves faster than ever before, expanding and contracting even week-to-week.
This is why we went from updating the list every two years to updating it every year to updating it twice a year. But even then, six months wasn’t enough. Restaurants closed on us. Others dipped in quality. Some got better. New ones that opened quickly became among the city’s best. That’s why, starting this month, we’re going to update the list seasonally. It’s 2017. We ought to.
And while we’re at it, why not give it the massive overhaul it deserves? We eat differently, so our list should look different. On this list — the summer list — Hungry Pigeon has taken the #1 spot. It earned that spot because it so purely reflects the way we — all of us, not just our “foodies”, not just high-society — eat right now: destination-worthy meals and service morning-to-night, a cool and casual bar program, and a nimble kitchen that changes the menu so frequently because it’s truly committed to putting forth the best ingredients of the day. Pretense is turned way down low without sacrificing a remarkable and honest experience. — Alex Tewfik
Last updated: July 2, 2017
50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia by Rank
* New to the list. | Jump to neighborhood list
- Hungry Pigeon
- Vernick Food + Drink
- Friday Saturday Sunday*
- Palizzi Social Club*
- Wm. Mulherin’s Sons
- Royal Sushi & Izakaya*
- Kanella South
- Abe Fisher*
- Double Knot
- Noord eetcafé*
- The Good King Tavern
- Little Fish*
- Le Chéri
- V Street
- Res Ipsa*
- Pizzeria Beddia
- Cheu Noodle Bar
Washington Square West
- Le Virtù
- Saté Kampar
- El Compadre*
- Kensington Quarters
- High Street on Market
- Bud & Marilyn’s
- Talula’s Garden*
Washington Square West
- American Sardine Bar*
- Mr. Martino’s Trattoria*
50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia by Neighborhood
* New to the list. | Jump to ranked list
- Laurel (#2)
- Palizzi Social Club* (#10)
- Townsend (#11)
- ITV (#16)
- Noord eetcafé* (#20)
- Will (#23)
- Fond (#24)
- Brigantessa (#28)
- Perla* (#34)
- Le Virtù (#37)
- Saté Kampar (#38)
- Stargazy (#44)
- Mr. Martino’s Trattoria* (#50)
- Helm (#32)
- Vernick Food + Drink (#3)
- Friday Saturday Sunday* (#9)
- Abe Fisher* (#17)
- Russet (#25)
- Le Chéri (#27)
- Res Ipsa* (#31)
- Aldine (#47)
- Zahav (#4)
- Zeppoli (#19)
Washington Square West
Queen Village | American
743 South 4th Street, 215-278-2736
How can a casual neighborhood café take the number one spot? Simple: Because it’s a shining example of the way Philadelphians want to eat right now. Chef-owners Scott Schroeder and Pat O’Malley have done what feels almost impossible, nailing the golden ratio between upscale and simple, in both vibe and food, no matter the time of day. There’s a flawless banana bread sticky bun in the morning, a pizza bagel for grownups at lunch, and a shareable take on chicken tacos that is more about the bird than the fixings. Now we know feel-good food doesn’t require a huge price tag, reservations or sacrifice of quality. And it’s always available. Really, it’s the kind of culinary joy we’ve been missing in a scene staling with tasting menus, prix fixes and wine flights. Sometimes, less really is more. And in this case, less is best.
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.
Rittenhouse | American
2031 Walnut Street, 267-639-6644
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 beautiful piece of halibut with mushrooms in a lemon-garlic broth; a picture-perfect lasagna — done just right, 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.
Society Hill | Israeli
237 St. James Place, 215-625-8800
Remember when Zahav was our little secret? It was a stunner, born and bred in Philly, which pushed our scene to all new heights. And even when the rest of the world caught on, Zahav persisted, showing off to the country’s food-obsessed, enlightening them about the wonders of modern Israeli cuisine. And when they finally understood its sheer magnitude on the American food scene at large, its chef, Michael Solomonov, was named the most outstanding chef in America. But we already knew that, right?
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.
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.
Midtown Village | Vegetarian
1221 Locust Street, 215-320-7500
No kitchen in the entire country can cook vegetables like they do at Vedge. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. Year after year, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s Midtown Village restaurant ranks among the top restaurants — not vegan restaurants, not vegetarian restaurants, just restaurants — in the nation, and they do it by making vegetables more exciting than meat could ever be.
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.
Rittenhouse | New American
261 South 21st St Street, 215-546-4232
It’s rare for a restaurant not even a year old to impress us the way Friday Saturday Sunday has. Chad and Hanna Williams’ reincarnation of the Rittenhouse icon feels like an ode to yesteryear projected through the lens of modern American dining: vintage glassware come bearing show-stealing cocktails; plump, ice-cold shrimp get dunked in a marie rose sauce that’s classic in application, but with the spicy spritz of yuzu koshu, totally updated; even the lowly carrot is a star here, its sweetness punched up with a burnt coconut crumble. Chad’s style of cooking (downright broody with his love of all things caramelized, bitter, burned, and smoked) paired with Hanna’s edgy front-of-the-house magnetism makes Friday Saturday Sunday one of the finest newcomers on the scene.
10. Palizzi Social Club*
East Passyunk | Italian
1408 South 12th Street, No Phone
Palizzi is magic, pure and simple. Joey Baldino’s generations-old South Philly Italian social club is a time capsule — a venue that’s lived in Philly for so long it’s now fluent in many languages, be it nostalgia, tradition, or plain old Italian American merriment in the form of crab gravy and live mandolin. It’s a private club, so you need to be a club member to get through the door (ten membership cards are available nightly for $20), but once you’re in, you’re in. (Just make sure you don’t break any rules.)
More about Palizzi Social Club | Return to ranked list | Return to neighborhood list
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.
Fishtown | Italian
1355 North Front Street, 215-291-1355
Mulherin’s is the upscale-casual Italian restaurant Fishtown didn’t know it needed. Incredible pastas, standout pizzas, a near-perfect wine list and artful cocktails in a space that just oozes cool.
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.
Queen Village | Japanese
780 South 2nd Street, 267-909-9002
It’s about time we got a place like this. You know, a down ’n’ dirty izakaya. The real deal. A place to snack hard and drink harder. You’re not here for fancy cocktails (though, the cocktails are fantastic). You’re not here for anything modern Japanese, either (but it’s easy to make a meal out of the spot-on bar snacks and sushi rolls). You’re here to party, to relax, to kick back with friends and have a night of it. The fancy stuff? That’s in the back, behind the curtain, where chef Jesse Ito performs a nightly sushi omakase featuring some of the fanciest pieces of fish Philly has ever seen. You know, the real deal. And it’s about time we got that, too.
15. 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.
East Passyunk | Eclectic
1615 East Passyunk Avenue, 267-858-0669
Little sister to Laurel next door, this is Top Chef winner Nick Elmi’s sexy cocktail and wine bar. And while the drinks are enough of a draw by themselves, the food here is next-level. Get the beef fat biscuits with scallion honey butter — they’re a must. But if you really want to kick it up a notch, order some caviar. Yeah, caviar — presented chips-and-dip-style (the dip being seven layers of avocado, crème fraîche, capers, shallots, vodka gelée, and herbs. Elmi turned a delicacy so passé into one of the coolest dishes in Philly.
17. Abe Fisher *
Rittenhouse | Jewish
1623 Sansom Street, 215-867-0088
Making Jewish food cool isn’t easy. The cuisine is so heavily rooted in tradition, so shackled by ritual, that enjoying it is no different than admiring an antique. Think of Abe Fisher as the steampunk version of a Jewish restaurant, where chef Yehuda Sichel takes ingredients, dishes, and themes from the Diaspora, and deploys them in all sorts of wacky, modern, and delicious ways. His Hungarian duck for two gets the Christmas-in-Chinatown treatment, his veal schnitzel comes in taco-form, and his Montreal-style smoked short ribs — presented as a family style feast — is a food experience you’ll never forget.
18. 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.
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.
20. Noord eetcafé*
East Passyunk | Northern European
1046 Tasker Street, 267-909-9704
Spending your night in one of the city’s most convivial dining rooms, munching on deep-fried bitterballen, pickled herring sandwiches, and smoked fish galore — there’s no other place quite like it in Philly. It’s special. Special in a way we crave, because while the concept seems like a flash-in-the-pan, the allure isn’t trendiness — in fact, it’s just the opposite, an authentic, inviting experience, irresistibly true to itself.
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.
22. Little Fish*
Queen Village | Seafood
746 South 6th Street, 267-455-0172
Little Fish is so little. Being there feels like chef-owner Alex Yoon is cooking your food right at your table, like you’ve hired him for the night. And his cooking is as light as air — as it should be, seafood is often better left untouched. The restaurant itself? Darling, with hand-written menus and chummy, professional service. It’s all just so… adorable.
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.
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.
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.
Queen Village | Italian
705 South 4th Street, 267-858-9232
Ambra is the low-key fine dining Italian restaurant you want to tell your New York friends about. Chris D’Ambro and Marina de Oliveira’s tiny — 16 seats! — special occasion dining room (attached at the hip to Southwark) has each guest feeling like a superstar, like they’re celebrities who deserve all those extra courses in addition to the six guaranteed to them at the beginning of the meal. And while it’s, very much, a hospitality-first restaurant, D’Ambro’s gutsy modern-Italian menu is what seals the deal.
27. 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
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.
29. 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.
Point Breeze | Indonesian
1754 South Hicks Street, 215-271-9442
It’s a South Philly workingman’s cafe with big, long tables and a kitchen that serves some of the best Indonesian food in the city. It’s the kind of place where you can get lost staring at the steam table of sweet-savory stews and colorful vegetables, returning again and again for lamb sate or beef rendang, the weekend-only jackfruit stew, lontong rice cubes and strange tropical fruit drinks that are perfect for hot nights in the city. Oh, and also? It is ridiculously cheap and served by a friendly staff who happily answers any questions you have.
31. Res Ipsa*
Rittenhouse | Italian
2218 Walnut Street, 267-519-0329
In daylight, it is a neighborhood spot for coffee and salads, wifi and company, with a great breakfast sandwich and a bright, casual, sunny vibe. In the evenings, it operates as a pop-up Italian BYO offering charred octopus, brilliant raviolo and spaghetti with white clam sauce assembled by one of the best young chefs in the city, Michael Vincent Ferreri.
Kensington | New American
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.
33. 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.
East Passyunk | Filipino
1535 South 11th Street, 267-273-0008
Filipino food is on the rise in America, and Lou Boquila’s take on his native cuisine runs the gamut from rustic to ultra-modern, depending on the day. The small, minimalist dining room plays backdrop to latter-day interpretations of Pacific Islander classics (pork belly comes with its adobo poured table side; the pinakbet — traditionally a vegetable stew — is a carefully built plate of seasonal vegetables atop a funky demi-glace called bagoong). It’s all very refined, that is, unless you go on a Wednesday or Sunday, when the room gets stripped of any sophistication, the tables get dressed in banana leaves, and diners take part in the Kamayan dinners — an eat-with-your-hands feast of epic proportions.
35. 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.
Midtown Village | New American
110 South 13th Street, 215-546-9300
Marcie Turney and Val Safran’s most beloved restaurant is a place you go to for comfort — where you’ve known your order for years, your favorite table, just how you like it prepared. It’s not a place for surprises or for a taste of some hot new thing, but a restaurant that understands the value of continuity. And whether you’re going for a quick lunch, a handful of olives and some arancini at the bar at the end of a long day or a fico pizza with figs, gorgonzola, prosciutto and arugula and a couple of cocktails to chase it, you can trust that Barbuzzo won’t let you down.
37. 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.
38. 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.
Queen Village | New American
701 South 4th Street, 267-930-8538
Chris D’Ambro and Marina de Oliveira hit the nail on the head when they reincarnated the Queen Village icon. The drinks are great, just like they always were, the prices are approachable, and D’Ambro’s kitchen takes an Italian, made-by-hand approach to Southwark’s New American menu, letting the seasons dictate what goes on your plate. It’s simple food, but not dull. And the back patio is idyllic for summertime hangs.
Fishtown | Southeast Asian
308 East Girard Avenue, no phone
Tyler Akin’s menu is focused. Like nothing else in the world matters except his pho (so elegantly layered with spices, the $10 noodle soup is worthy of a trip all by itself), his salads, and his banh mis, which rank among the best sandwiches in this entire city. Yep, you read that right. Best sandwiches in Philly, a city famous for its sandwiches.
41. El Compadre*
Bella Vista | Mexican
1149 South 9th Street, 267-746-7658
Cristina Martinez won over our hearts with barbacoa — a weekends-only affair in South Philly when taco-lovers from all over gathered around tables stuffing homemade tortillas with pit-braised lamb and its fixings. The consomé on the side was a welcome bonus. Martinez has since moved her barbacoa operation to her 9th Street torta shop, and even ramped up the menu with a selection of soulful guisados — stews meant to be eaten with tortillas, like pork ribs in verdolagas or pancita de res.
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.
Old City | American
308 Market Street, 215-625-0988
This cafe is everything you love about Fork, but cheaper and with a bakery attached.
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.
45. Bud & Marilyn’s
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.
46. Talula’s Garden
Washington Square West | New American
210 West Washington Square, 215-592-7787
It’s funny. These days, the term “New American” means virtually nothing when used to define a restaurant’s cuisine. It’s a style that had its roots in California almost 50 years ago, and so many people have forgotten how formative (and vital) it was to the American culinary scene. But Aimee Olexy’s idyllic garden restaurant is the place to go for an edible history lesson — tasting the routes that the fresh asparagus, local tilefish, charred apricots and pickled string beans have taken through the history of American cookery.
Center City | American
1901 Chestnut Street, 215-454-6529
Aldine’s chef, George Sabatino, is like an alchemist, constantly poking, toying, playing with beautiful ingredients, obsessing over them until he strikes gold, until he finds that moment of eureka! Lucky for us, we can be a part of his experiments by grabbing a seat in his second floor Rittenhouse dining room.
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.
49. American Sardine Bar*
Point Breeze | Gastropub
1800 Federal Street, 215-334-2337
ASB is a gastropub for our post-gastropub age, a place that takes the best intentions of the concept and twists them to fit what we want out of bar eating now. The menu is both simple and iconoclastic—offering fried chicken sandwiches and chicken wings alongside vegan cheesesteaks and whole sardines. The ever-changing tap list is a who’s-who of local and national craft brewers and weird, one-off options. And the place itself has always operated like a neighborhood bar for a disparate community of beer nerds, vegans, healthy snackers, and those looking for something new and original in our increasingly homogenized scene.
East Passyunk | Italian
1646 East Passyunk Avenue, 215-755-0663
It might be the most enchanting dining room in the entire city, but that wasn’t intentional — it just sort of happened that way. Dim lights, an old building, and the quiet din of clinking glasses and laughter will have that effect on you. The service is sweet and accommodating, and the kitchen is both candid and skilled with simple, easy Italian American flavors, and all of it together is just a bit more polished than your everyday South Philly gravy joint.