50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia
Funny how things change. How fast they change. Last year, we ranked the 50 absolute best restaurants in the city — and this year, we’re doing it again with a largely different cast. But change is good, and with a new decade ahead of us, let’s give a warm welcome to the 50 Best Restaurants in Philly, class of 2020.
50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia by Rank
- Friday Saturday Sunday
- Vernick Food & Drink
- Vetri Cucina
- Res Ipsa Cafe
- Hungry Pigeon
- Palizzi Social Club
- South Philly Barbacoa
- Royal Izakaya
- Pizzeria Beddia
- Vernick Fish
- Fiore Fine Foods
- Noord Eetcafé
- The Good King Tavern
- Little Fish
- Royal Boucherie
- Middle Child
Washington Square West
- Saté Kampar
- Double Knot
- Stock Rittenhouse
- Alpen Rose
- Cheu Fishtown
- Blue Corn
- Le Virtù
- Abe Fisher
- Poi Dog
- Kanella Grill
Washington Square West
- Mr. Martino’s Trattoria
Arak cocktails, Lebanese omelets, kouign-amann, and the smell of sumac, lemon and char. Dining in Philly didn’t always look or taste like this, but thanks to Suraya, it does now. 1528 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown.
Friday Saturday Sunday’s transformation from neighborhood landmark to one of the most polished, stunning city restaurants has been complete for years now, but it still never fails to surprise.
Greg Vernick has two restaurants, a coffee shop and a wine shop to his name (literally) now, but this original remains an unparalleled showcase for his adoration of modern American cuisine.
There are moments at Hiroki that feel like meditation. And there are moments that feel almost alien — your brain unable to process how some fish, a little rice, and a swipe of horseradish can taste so pure and rich and complete. Dinner at this indulgent omakase sushi bar is, quite literally, a perfect meal.
With each menu iteration, Nick Elmi’s stalwart becomes more or less French, Asian, American, Mediterranean, Philadelphian. The one constant? The talent that elevates Laurel to the top tier.
6. Vetri Cucina
Even if Marc Vetri’s venerable restaurant was the only spot in Philly, we’d have more creativity, more variety and more talent than some cities have in their entire lists of trattorias and ristorantes.
The breakfast sandwich is legendary. But the real strength of Res Ipsa Cafe happens after dark — when it morphs into a candle-lit restaurant serving remarkable pastas and that famous charred octopus.
Michael Solomonov is now the head of a restaurant group and a bona fide celebrity. But all these years later, Zahav is still the best expression of the love that drove him to show the world just how good Israeli food can be.
You come here for black bass swimming in brown butter dashi or the duck leg with hoisin on a potato roll. No matter what you order, you’ll leave in awe of Peter Serpico’s vision of American cuisine.
10. Hungry Pigeon
Partners Scott Schroeder and Pat O’Malley cook and bake what they want here. And though it recently switched to dinner-only during the week, this remains one of Philly’s most honest and comforting restaurants.
South Philly is full of places to eat nonna Italian food. But Palizzi is a pure distillation of all of them. It’s a clubhouse built entirely of nostalgia and red sauce, and it’s yours to play in — provided you have a membership card.
In a restaurant scene that lives and dies by every plate of pasta, it was brave for Anthony Andiario to add one more to the mix. All he had to do to stand out was make the best tonnarelli, the best fusi, the best ricotta gnudi with pears and fonduta that you’ve ever tasted. And he succeeded.
Different addresses, different rooms … it doesn’t matter where Cristina Martinez is; her food is some of the most heartfelt you’ll find on the planet.
It’s no longer revolutionary to say that this city has some of the best vegetarian food in the country. What is surprising is that the restaurant that started it all has remained on the cutting edge of meatless eating for years.
The consummate modernist, chef Chris Kearse made an unusual choice to open a French restaurant full of foie gras, roasted chicken and rabbit cassoulet. His menu is a textbook example of how to do French food properly today — with perfect technique, international influence and zero stuffiness.
16. Royal Izakaya
It’s hard to say which half of this clandestine place is more fun: the loud front room, with its canned sake, crowded bar, and amazing little Japanese sausages, or the quiet back, where chef Jesse Ito’s omakase sushi dinners draw crowds from all over the city and beyond.
17. Pizzeria Beddia
Want to know one of the most surprising things about Joe Beddia’s follow-up to the original Pizzeria Beddia? It’s that this place, which arguably does some of the best pizzas in America, can also make a simple bowl of beans swimming in olive oil memorable.
The prix fixe at Bibou is a brilliant catalog of modern French flavors — a tour through the history and technical genius of a cuisine that is both sophisticated and approachable, comforting and sublime. Chef Pierre Calmels has been doing this for years now, and he brings every minute of practice to bear on every plate that leaves his tiny Bella Vista kitchen.
19. Vernick Fish
There are two chefs operating restaurants in the new Comcast building. Greg Vernick may be the lesser-known name, but his is the better product. His vision of Jersey Shore seafood is upscale and polished, complex, global and local all at the same time.
Nok Suntaranon and My-Le Vuong run one of the purest expressions of a BYOB we’ve seen in years (a tiny dining room, exciting cooking, personality galore), with a menu that glorifies traditional Thai food in ways we’ve never seen before.
21. Fiore Fine Foods
Quick breakfasts, sit-down dinners, coffee on the run and pastries on the side — Fiore thrives on the friction between authenticity and modernity in a world where people want both, all day long.
22. Stina Pizzeria
The true strength of Stina’s menu is in the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern options. The borek will blow your mind. The giant manti dumplings are the comfort food you didn’t know you needed. And while the wood-fired pizzas are good, the pide — footballs of dough filled with egg and cheese — are the true standouts.
In summer, the backyard patio is one of the coolest places around. In winter, the dining room is cozy. No matter the season, Joey Baldino’s heartfelt cooking proves how deep the flavors of Italian simplicity can go.
24. Noord Eetcafé
The menu reads like a poem about comfort, all pork croquettes, fried potatoes and baked apples. Owner Joncarl Lachman opened Noord as a place Philly could return to every year, but what we got is a place we want to go back to every night.
25. K’Far Cafe
James Beard winner Camille Cogswell heads up this all-day cafe from CookNSolo where daylight crowds swarm over the bakery cases, snatching up her chocolate rugelach and Jerusalem-style bagels. At night, there’s table service and candles, labneh toasts with smoked trout, and lamb with pistachios. And all of it rests on the ample strength of Cogswell’s talents.
With every new chef who comes through the kitchen (currently, it’s Jeremy Hansen), Fork reinvents itself. Locality, sustainability, and global inspiration are the guardrails that keep this place on the road. But within that, the possibilities are endless.
The stuffy fine-dining French restaurant is one of the most enduring myths of the food world. Philly’s reality is much more like TGK, with its steak frites, white burgundy by the bottle and easy vibe.
28. Little Fish
The way to truly get Little Fish is to walk in with a bottle of wine and the sure knowledge that whatever you eat tonight will be a singular dining experience, never to be repeated.
29. Royal Boucherie
Royal Boucherie would be at home in any city — a cozy, loud French spot where everything from the cocktails to the charcuterie is created with both modernity and classical technique. Lucky for us, we got this joint — one of the most comfortable dining rooms in Philly.
There are neighborhood restaurants that are thinly disguised art projects by chefs, and then there are those that exist to serve the community. The great thing about Hardena — besides the beef rendang — is that it’s absolutely the latter.
31. Middle Child
Middle Child seems like a retro luncheonette, but the toast and jam is Japanese milk bread with whipped ricotta, the Phoagie is a vegan marvel, and the So Long Sal is a wonder of the sandwich arts.
We often don’t pay enough attention to restaurants that aren’t flashy. Cadence is a soft-spoken masterpiece where the herb dumplings with seafood ragu and the pork loin with a mole sauce speak for themselves.
Here, chef Lou Boquila does Filipino home cooking in a BYO setting. There’s soft scrambled egg tortang talong, chicharrones with cheese, and roasted chicken with lemongrass and calamansi. If modern Filipino food is having a moment, then Sarvida is leading the way in Philly.
34. Saté Kampar
The best compliment you can give a restaurant is to wonder: How did we ever get by without it? Ange Branca turned the concept of Malaysian street food — meat on sticks, coconuts, sticky rice and pulled milk tea — into one of the best restaurants in the city.
Hearthside presents as another open-kitchen faux-rustic New American restaurant. But sit down, and you’ll find a wickedly talented kitchen putting an inspired twist on almost every dish.
Townsend is a grown-up restaurant. There’s nothing ironic about it. It’s a place for a martini at the bar and escargots with black truffles. It’s a place to dine, and these days, restaurants like that are becoming more rare.
37. Double Knot
Upstairs, it’s a cool bar that does a booming happy hour. Downstairs, it’s like an escape hatch from the real world, with flickering candles and tables full of people eating gyoza, crab udon and unagi donburi like they’re getting away with something.
With its customizable menu, hybrid counter/table-service setup, and fast-casual heart balanced against its serious commitment to Southeast Asian traditions, this is the future of chef-driven dining in Philly.
39. Alpen Rose
The Schulson Collective is all about big spectacles. But Alpen Rose is different: a cloistered 40 seats, a handful of staff, a short bar, that’s it. Well, that and expert steaks that are dry-aged in-house. It’s a personal, surprisingly casual (if still VERY pricey) experience that you won’t get anywhere else.
There was never a point where onion soup wasn’t delicious. Where duck à l’orange and trout amandine weren’t brilliant combinations. Tastes may be fickle, but talent isn’t, and Parc has been doing what it does well for so long now that it keeps rebounding into the hearts of diners.
41. Cheu Fishtown
Because Fishtown just wouldn’t be Fishtown without a place to get fried chicken bao, brisket ramen, dan dan Brussels sprouts, and potato latkes okonomiyaki with Kewpie mayo and kimchi.
42. Blue Corn
People come to Blue Corn for green tacos, margaritas, brunch eggs, and an authentic taste of Mexico City-style food. It’s a small place, but it manages to offer something for everyone and enough surprises to keep people coming back for more.
43. Le Virtù
Le Virtù’s commitment to the flavors and history of Italy’s Abruzzo region (plus its warm approach to service, evolving menus and killer events) has kept it vital in a city that’s not exactly lacking in Italian food.
44. Abe Fisher
Can ancient cuisines meld with modern ones, and can the history of a people manifest in its food? The modern Jewish cuisine being served at this CookNSolo eatery — the veal schnitzel tacos, the Manischewitz steak sauce — is our answer.
45. Poi Dog
Whether it’s the ukulele music, the massive plate lunches, the Okinawan doughnuts or the poke bowls, Poi Dog is, quite simply, the happiest restaurant in Philly.
The sandwiches are massive and built on housemade bread, and honestly, everyone can stop arguing about who has the best pizza in the city now, because Angelo’s is it.
47. Kanella Grill
You might come here for kebabs and discover the dolmades. You might come for the falafel and find that Kanella makes its own gyro meat and hot sauce, or has octopus on the menu that you never noticed before, or really excellent baklava. What’s remarkable is that such a small place with such a seemingly simple menu can be so full of surprises. What’s not surprising at all is how often you’ll want to go back.
Old-Philly Italian is slowly vanishing. But our culinary past is well preserved here, enshrined in a menu of fat ravioli, octopus with white beans, and spaghetti with calamari.
A couple years back, Bok Bar — with its sweeping views and stunning rooftop location — was the city’s darling: an undeniably hip, summery spot that made Philly feel like it was right on the edge of being truly cool. Now, with Irwin’s, we can feel the same way all year ’round, with the added benefit of small plates, comfortable, mismatched chairs, graffiti on the walls and Middle Eastern-influenced cocktails drunk by candlelight.
Musi has a menu of comfort foods and creative surprises: soft pretzels with jam and cheese, a bagna cauda potato salad. There’s something so Philly about it — so BYO and DIY, with so much street-kid swagger — that this little joint gets elevated to a place the whole city can be proud of.