Non-Touristy Restaurants Perfect for Your Out-of-Town Family

Your 201 syllabus for dining with visiting relatives in Philadelphia right now.

The bar at Saloon in Queen Village/ Photograph by Michael Persico

Finding a place to eat with your out-of-town family can be a delicate dance, especially when you’ve already visited the usual, touristy suspects. To appease your relatives, who all conveniently have opposing dining preferences, I’ve pulled together spots that show off some of the city’s best food right now — without taking your crew to the same places they’ve eaten at three times before. There’s something for everyone here, and plenty of space for big groups.

Pietramala, Northern Liberties
What family doesn’t have at least one member who has a dining restriction? Come to Pietramala for your vegan cousin, but know that everyone at the table will be thrilled with their meal. The service at this new vegetable-focused restaurant is relaxed and welcoming, and the plant-based, Italian-inspired dishes (like braised beans in tomato conserva, an escarole and frisée salad, and all kinds of house-made pastas) will impress anyone regardless of their meat-and-dairy habits. 614 North 2nd Street.

Honeysuckle Provisions, West Philly
Lunch at Honeysuckle is a great precursor to a walk in Fairmount Park, because the food at this newly opened Afrocentric grocer and cafe is all grab-and-go. Expect detail-oriented variations on classics, like a PB&J that comes on Sonoran wheat bread with hand-ground, single-origin peanuts, house-made apple butter, and sliced apples. Not to mention some excellent beef patties. 310 South 48th Street.

SaloonQueen Village
If some of your visitors could be described as red-meat, cab-sauv kind of people, take them to Saloon for perfectly cooked steaks, large portions of red-sauce pasta, slabs of chicken parm, and perfect Caesar salads. After all of that, right when you think you can’t eat another bite, the dessert tray will come around. And, if you show up for dinner on a Saturday night, there will be live music on the second floor. 750 South 7th Street.

Saami Somi, Reading Terminal Market
It would take an extraordinary number of trips to Reading Terminal to eat everything available there. Which is just to say your family might end up at RTM even if they’ve visited before. When the choices start to feel overwhelming, check out  Saami Somi, a new, chic-looking stall serving Georgian food, including khachapuri filled with cheese and eggs that get stirred together into a rich, flavorful filling for the sourdough bread crust. Order one, as well as a few sides, and tell someone in your family to find a table. 1136 Arch Street.

ForkOld City
For one reason or another, your family might find themselves drawn to Old City. When walking around the shops and historical sites inevitably tires them out, they’ll need a good drink and something to snack on. Enter Fork, the 25-year-old neighborhood staple that opens at 11 a.m. every day except Monday. Stop by for lunch or a seat at the bar and have a well-made cocktail or nice glass of wine, plus a charcuterie board highlighting local producers and perhaps a half-dozen South Jersey oysters. 306 Market Street.

Northeast Philadelphia

A spread at Georgian Bread / Photograph by Michael Persico

Georgian Bread, Northeast Philly
If your family is open to a little driving and some best-in-the-city bread products, get in the car and head to to Georgian Bread, where the dining room can fit big groups, and the menu deserves deep exploration. Start with some soup-filled khinkali, a hot, cheese khachapuri, a couple of grilled meat skewers, and the grilled eggplant salad. Bring your own wine, if you please, and make sure to leave room for a gigantic slice of chocolate cake for dessert. 10865 Bustleton Avenue.

Via Locusta, Rittenhouse
Parc is Rittenhouse Square’s primary tourist refuge, but it’s possible you’ve already eaten there as a family unit. As an alternative in the same area, try Via Locusta. The Italian-leaning menu works for all sorts of tastes and dietary restrictions, with everything from eggplant ‘nduja dip to burrata and roast chicken to gluten-free pastas. Regardless of your entree choices, make sure to order a few rounds of fluffy focaccia for the table. If this sounds like the sort of easy, upscale restaurant your family will enjoy, make sure to reserve in advance — the place gets busy. (You can book a table for up to nine people on Resy.) 1723 Locust Street.

Rocco’s Cheesesteaks, South Philly
If your family is like mine, their visit usually involves a home-improvement project. Which is why you should reward them with a cheesesteak from Rocco’s, located in the parking lot of Home Depot. This is how cheesesteaks are meant to be enjoyed: as fuel before or after an intense physical job, in a gritty setting (or, you know, when you’re drunk.) 1419 South Delaware Avenue.

Libertee Grounds, Girard
Sometimes the best way to keep the peace with visitors is to introduce an activity into the mix. At Libertee Grounds, that activity is mini golf. But this place also serves bar food that’s much better than it needs to be, like masala nachos, spicy chicken sandwiches, and a lamb kheema cheesesteak. In case mini golf doesn’t match your family’s vibe, play some giant Jenga and Cards Against Humanity downstairs. Note that Libertee Grounds is generally ages 21-and-up, but the golf course offers family-friendly Sunday afternoons from noon to 4 p.m. 1600 West Girard Avenue.