Beyond the 50 Best: 5 Philly Neighborhood Classics Holding It Down

These are the community institutions that have connected people over food for generations, and continue to carry on their culinary legacies.

classic philly restaurants oyster house

The Oyster House on Sansom is a classic Philly restaurant worth celebrating. / Photograph by Jason Varney

This year, we did something a little different with our annual 50 Best Restaurants list — we expanded it! After years of unprecedented circumstances, chefs and restauranteurs have come up with clever dining experiences that go beyond what we think of as conventional restaurants. That’s why we wanted to give some space to celebrate the best markets, promising pop-ups, casual bites, and, of course, the neighborhood classics who kept us anchored through the storm.
 

Sang Kee Peking Duck House

238 North 9th Street

A dish once made for the Qing imperial family, crispy-skinned Peking duck is now a must-have at Sang Kee Peking Duck House, a Chinatown staple for more than 40 years.

A classic Philly Chinatown restaurant, Sang Kee / Photograph by Rob Rabena for Visit Philadelphia

Dahlak

4708 Baltimore Avenue

Come for the Eritrean and Ethiopian stewed meats and vegetables on homemade injera with imported Ethiopian beers. Stay for karaoke, late-night jam sessions, and some of the best nights you’ll have in University City.

Oyster House

1516 Sansom Street

For three generations, Oyster House has been feeding Philly’s centuries-long love of mollusks with fresh ones shucked right at the bar and a fried-oyster-and-chicken-salad combo that’s been a local favorite since the 1700s.

Oyster House / Photograph by A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia

Palizzi Social Club

1408 South 12th Street

The sausage, broccoli rabe and gnocchetti alone are worth getting a coveted membership and abiding by the club’s rules. That is, when they’re accepting new members.

Monk’s Café

264 South 16th Street

Whether it’s a fresh pour of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder or any of the Cantillons on draft, Monk’s Café has long been known as the place to get hard-to-find beers. And while you’re there, might as well order a bowl of the beer-steamed mussels.

Published as “Beyond the List: Neighborhood Classics” in the February 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.