17 Great Places to Eat on Columbus Boulevard and Delaware Avenue
Amid the strip malls and chain restaurants are some of the tastiest restaurants in Philadelphia, from old-school luncheonettes to upscale riverside dining rooms.
When you think of Philly’s great restaurant neighborhoods, places like Rittenhouse, Fishtown, and East Passyunk come to mind. And although the city’s eastern artery, Columbus Boulevard (stretching north to become Delaware Avenue), might seem like a dining wasteland with its chain restaurants and fast food joints, we’re here to celebrate the gems.
Amid the Longhorn Steakhouses and Chik-Fil-As are mom-and-pop shops that have been slinging breakfast platters and cheesesteaks for half a century, immigrant-owned strip mall finds, seasonal pop-up food courts, and fine dining concepts serving upscale fare and riverside views. Here, from south to north, are our favorite restaurants on Columbus Boulevard and Delaware Avenue.
Frank’s Breakfast and Lunch
This tiny blast-from-the-past spot, tucked away near Pier 84, serves no-frills breakfast and lunch — eggs, breakfast sandwiches, hoagies, from early morning till mid-afternoon.
Want to find some of the best sausages and cheesesteaks in the city? Look no further than the South Philly Home Depot, which houses a Rocco’s just outside its entrance.
Does your anxiety spike at the thought of navigating the maze of housewares hell that is Ikea? Skip the showrooms and hang out with a plate of meatballs and a slice of Swedish apple cake instead.
Little Sicily II
A Best of Philly-winning strip mall pizza shop owned by an Indian family that serves some of our favorite comfort food in the city with a South Asian bent (cilantro-spiked cheesesteaks, masala fries)? We’ll race you.
Everything about Fat Joe’s celebrates quintessentially American excess: the name, the strip mall location, menu items like the Tombstone Pancake, a foot-wide flapjack stuffed with bacon, sausage, and fried eggs, or the Zombie Fries (with grilled banana, hot peppers, cheese, and “scallywag sauce”), and we love it.
This spot from restaurateurs Benjamin and Robert Bynum specializes in soul food fare and live music, with a renowned live jazz brunch buffet on the menu every Sunday.
Some of the city’s best pho — they’ve got more than 20 varieties on offer — comes from this spacious spot tucked into the shopping center at Delaware and Washington.
Shank’s started out with a luncheonette in the Italian Market in 1962, then relocated a decade ago to Pier 40. The tiny stand, still run by the Perri family, serves breakfast sandwiches, hoagies, cheesesteaks, and sausage.
The city’s only floating restaurant serves New American fine dining fare from a renovated 100-year-old tall ship, with al fresco dining on deck in warm weather and scenic views of the Delaware River year-round.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
A slate of the city’s favorite casual restaurants open satellite stands at the city’s riverside hangout spot during the warmer months. Grab a snack from HipCity Veg, Chickie’s & Pete’s, or Franklin Fountain, snag a hammock, and chill.
This swanky Penn’s Landing eatery combines a white-tablecloth vibe and a Northern Italian menu with expansive views of the Delaware and the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Hit this upscale deli in the morning for coffee and bagel sandwiches and afternoon or evening for hoagies, panini, salads, and other light fare.
Cherry Street Pier
Philly’s newest year-round waterfront public space hosts events, artist studios, and a seasonal rotation of local food and beverage vendors; right now, choose eats from South Philly Indonesian icon Hardena, scratch-made Birdie’s Biscuits, Cooperage, and Little Baby’s Ice Cream.
La Peg at FringeArts
Peter Woolsey’s Best of Philly-winning restaurant serves regional American classics executed and elevated with the chef’s French techniques. It’s also the perfect place to catch dinner and a show (or, in summer, an outdoor movie) all in one spot.
Avram Hornik’s outsized fair-weather beer garden on the river is a magnet for summertime drinkers and diners, with a new chef and a new menu of trendy boardwalk-slash-backyard-BBQ fare that changes with a new chef each season.
Hornik’s FCM Hospitality took over the former Yards Brewing facility in NoLibs to house a trio of food and drink makers — Lost Bread Co., brewery Mainstay Independent, and smoked meatery City Creek BBQ — that will officially open in 2019. For now, sip Mainstay’s beer and snack on a limited menu in their taproom.
This humble hot dog and cheesesteak stand just across Delaware Avenue from Penn Treaty Park is also one of the last places in town where you can get a fish cake on your dog.