Where to Eat in Center City: The Ultimate Guide

For those times when you're craving hand drawn noodles in Chinatown, fine dining vegan in Midtown Village, or seafood towers in Old City.

Via Locusta / Photograph courtesy of Via Locusta

Center City means different things to different people. For first-time visitors, it’s the neighborhood nestled between Rittenhouse and Old City. You know, the one with all the tall, shiny buildings. But Center City is more than just one place. It’s the bustling heart of Philly that spans between the Schuylkill and the Delaware, collecting many of the neighborhoods — Chinatown, Washington Square West, Old City — that make this city so great. There’s so much to see … and eat! Whether you’re looking for stellar breakfast pastries and a strong cup of coffee to kickstart your morning or you want to take yourself out to dinner to celebrate a big life moment, there are plenty of great options across Center City.

Jump to:
Rittenhouse | Chinatown | Midtown Village | Washington Square West | Old City | Society Hill

Where to Eat in Rittenhouse

Breakfast at K’Far, Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s Israeli bakery and cafe, is quite possibly one of the best ways to start your morning in Rittenhouse. While you can’t go wrong with any of the lunch options here (the cafe offers salads, grain bowls and cocktails), it’s the standout pastries and baked goods that can’t be beat. Savory borekas and Jerusalem bagel sandwiches join the ranks of pistachio sticky buns, chocolate rugelach, and marzipan-challah danishes. You can order a bagel sandwich to enjoy in the cafe or take a box of sweet pastries to the park (or both). 110 South 19th Street

Amma’s South Indian Cuisine
People go to Amma’s with high expectations and the restaurant always exceeds those expectations. The dining room is warm and inviting, the staff is friendly, and the paneer masala dosa alone will keep you coming back for more. For a spur-of-the-moment date night, head here and order the Couple’s Combo: You get mutton and chicken biryani, chicken kurma, parotta, raitha and dessert. 1518 Chestnut Street

Vernick Food & Drink
Occasionally (and rightly) called the one of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, Greg Vernick’s original Philly restaurant was a wonder when it opened and has only gotten better. A focus on simplicity, comfort, and exquisite technique have kept it honest, and (miraculously) it’s never let praise and money distract it from its primary mission: making dinner for the neighbors. 2031 Walnut Street

Looking for stellar takeout Sichuan or Taiwanese food? DanDan is your answer. The eponymous dan dan noodles are popular among diners, but the dry pepper dish — fried chicken sautéed with hot peppers, sesame seeds and Sichuan peppercorns — is another great way to go for lunch or dinner. 126 South 16th Street

Via Locusta
Michael Schulson’s stunning Italian restaurant is the kind of restaurant guaranteed to impress everyone in your group. The menu is bursting with stunning appetizers (servers amusingly joke that it’s disrespectful to skip the focaccia), fresh pastas, and large plates you can share. 1723 Locust Street

Her Place Supper Club
With just two seatings of 24 diners per night, Amanda Schulman’s restaurant feels more like a dinner party that you were invited to. Seriously, it’s a night of absolute joy. At the beginning of the night, you’ll be prompted to meet your table neighbors and listen to Schulman tell stories about the meal. And at the end of the night, when she sends you off with a warm cookie, you’ll leave feeling like you just made a new friend. Reservations are released every other Sunday online at 6 p.m. and sell out in minutes, but trust us when we say it is worth it. Set your reminders now. 1740 Sansom Street

a.Kitchen + Bar
With its elegant dining room, impressive natural wine list, and focus on seasonal ingredients, A.Kitchen will no doubt find its way into your date night rotation. Even if you can’t get a table in the dining room, one of the big booths in the bar around the corner is excellent for exceptional cocktails and small bites. 135 Sout 18th Street

Whether you’re looking to enjoy a freezer martini solo, for a place to catch up with friends, or you need to unwind after a show, this 30-seat wine bar is a perfect place to hang out. Superfolie primarily highlights wine from French producers, but they also offer a hefty lineup of sipping mezcals, as well as a menu of beers and cocktails. After your first glass, peruse the menu and order a round of tuna crudo, spicy merguez sausage, and charred eggplant yogurt. 1602 Spruce Street

Friday Saturday Sunday
Chad and Hanna Williams’s fine-dining restaurant, which won the 2023 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant, is the place to go when you want to celebrate a big — huge — life moment. The restaurant operates a $155 eight course tasting menu upstairs and a whimsical bar downstairs with an à la carte menu and some of the best cocktails in town. It’s the kind of restaurant you think about long after your meal is over. 261 South 21st Street

Dan Dan noodles with pork at Emei / Photograph by Kae Lani Palmisano

Where to Eat in Chinatown

Heung Fa Chun Sweet House
Heung Fa Chun Sweet House has something for all your mealtime cravings, especially breakfast. The storefront opens bright and early at 6:30 a.m. daily, which means an order of velvety tofu topped with sweet or savory goodness will make your commute or walk to the office even better. 112 North 10th Street

Vietnam Restaurant
With its sprawling menu of vermicelli noodle bowls, steaming pho, and clay pot dishes, this Philly institution has been serving some of the best Vietnamese food in the city since 1984. Dinner shouldn’t end after you’ve cleared your plates. Be sure to check out the tiki cocktails at the adjoining second-floor Bar Saigon before you head home. 221 North 11th Street

Dining solo at EMei is tough. Without another person to share plates with, you sit there wondering if you ordered the right thing as countless other plates pass by, like the Szechuan boiled whole fish. Then the mapo tofu arrives. You take that first bite, close your eyes, and you know you made the right choice. Also, if you’re lucky, the Ketty Bot that delivers the takeout orders from the kitchen to the front door might just wink at you, leaving you to ask yourself, “Am I better than everyone?” 915 Arch Street

Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House
If it’s your first time here, it’s important to get the braised sliced beef or fish ball noodle soup. Once you’ve done that, you should come back for the spicy beef tendons, spicy big ears, and other noodle soups. 1022 Race Street

Sang Kee Peking Duck House
Sang Kee has been roasting ducks for over 40 years, with diners flocking from all corners of Greater Philly to sink their teeth into that crispy skin and juicy meat, so you can trust that they know what they’re doing. Yes, they have a stall in Reading Terminal, but the original spot is even better for a big group meal of ribs, whole fish, pan fried noodles, and of course, Peking duck. 238 North 9th Street

Mango Mango Dessert
If you believe dessert can (and should) come before dinner, this is the place to be. Mango Mango Dessert began in New York’s Chinatown and now has locations in 16 states, including our very own. The menu features various desserts including mango mousse cake, mango mille crepe cake, and mango juice sago and pomelo. If you needed a sign to get yourself a silly little treat, this is it. 1013 Cherry Street

Vedge’s stuffed avocado. / Photograph by Kae Lani Palmisano

Where to Eat in Midtown Village and the Gayborhood

Vetri Cucina
Dinner here is one of the most remarkable dining experience in Philadelphia — the kind of thing that everyone should do at least once. It’s expensive, and it takes hours to get through the tasting menu that runs upwards of 14 courses, but it is so, so worth it. 1312 Spruce Street

Simply the best vegetables-only restaurants in the city. Arguably, the best in the country. It’s one of those that’s so good, you’ll forget you’re eating carrots, beets, and mushrooms. 1221 Locust Street

Double Knot
An all-day cafe upstairs doing breakfast pastries and coffee, lunch bowls, a killer happy hour and bar snacks. Downstairs, one of the coolest, sexiest, darkest, most surprisingly amazing restaurants in the city. Seriously, if you’re going to eat sushi in only one basement this year, make it Double Knot’s. 120 South 13th Street

Middle Child / Photograph by Esra Erol

Where to Eat in Washington Square West

Middle Child
When it comes to the sandwich, Philly will never let you down. There’s so much to seek out — cheesesteaks, hoagies, roast pork sandwiches — because the city has no shortage of great sandwich shops. Inspired by the Italian hoagie shops, Jewish delis, and Greek diners of old-school Philadelphia, Middle Child is a luncheonette that offers breakfast sandwiches in the morning and even bigger sandwiches in the afternoon. The So Long Sal — Italian meats and cheeses, artichoke relish and balsamic mayo on a seeded hoagie — is a favorite, but you can’t go wrong with the CSG Reuben either. 248 South 11th Street

Bud & Marilyn’s
Looking for pure comfort food? Bud & Marilyn’s offers a lovely variety: crispy cheese curds, fontina-stuffed meatloaf, a funfetti cake to end all other funfetti cakes, and cocktails to match whatever food you order. The retro dining room, a cross between an old-school diner and your grandparents’ rec room, will no doubt appeal to those who prefer vinyl over Spotify and a typewriter over their laptop. 1234 Locust Street

This Wash West BYOB is one of the best bets for great sushi in Philly. While the onigiri and chirashi are great, it’s the musical-inspired custom rolls, from Mamma Mia to School of Rock, that deserve your attention. 1117 Locust Street

Thank You Thank You
This is easily one of the best espressos you will ever have. If you think you’re someone who really can’t tell the difference between a good cup of coffee and a bad cup of coffee, one sip of owner Cody McGregor’s brew will forever change that. 700 Sansom Street

Photograph courtesy of Fork

Where to Eat in Old City

Han Dynasty
There’s a reason people consider Han Dynasty a must-try restaurant. It’s one of the foundations of Philly’s most recent restaurant renaissance. The dan dan noodles, cumin lamb, and pork belly in sweet garlic-chili oil are three crowd-pleasing dishes. And don’t skip on the cocktails. In 2018, Lê of Hop Sing Laundromat swooped in and upgraded the bar menu with a handful of elixirs, like the the green matcha and vanilla Phat Phuc. 123 Chestnut Street

Sonny’s Famous Steaks
If you’re in Old City and you have a sudden craving for a cheesesteak, this is it. 228 Market Street

One of the city’s fine-dining jewels, Fork remains one of those restaurants worth breaking out an expensive bottle of bubbly for. Here, the half dozen oysters, wild striped bass, and panna cotta are guaranteed to make any night special. And if you’re looking for something more casual, the happy hour features tinned fish, fries, and a citrus mocktail. 306 Market Street

The Olde Bar
Located in the landmark Old Original Bookbinder’s, chef Jose Garces’s oyster bar and cocktail lounge holds a solid seafood legacy in Old City. The seafood tower, a selection of oysters, clams, shrimp, and marinated mussels, plus the signature London Fog Sour, a blend of black pepper infused vodka, Earl Grey simple syrup, egg white, and lavender bitters, makes for a great night out. 125 Walnut Street

Amina Philly
Felicia Wilson and chef Darryl Harmon’s restaurant is a great place for brunch with friends, birthday parties, or a nightcap. Here the Southern style and Nigerian influences run deep, with dishes like fried catfish puppies, peri peri wings, braised oxtails, and the shrimp po’ boy cheesesteak on an everything pretzel roll. 104 Chestnut Street

Sometimes all you want is a juicy burger and a good drink. Enter: Sassafras. Located in the heart of Center City, this gorgeous bar, which gives off strong living-room-in-Hill-House vibes, serves classic and contemporary cocktails and superior bar food. 48 South 2nd Street

Bloomsday wine / Photograph by Esra Erol

Where to Eat in Society Hill

Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook’s restaurant has been open for well over a decade and it’s still one of the hardest reservations to book, with good reason. The team continues to generate much acclaim through dishes like laffa bread served alongside salatim and hummus-tehina, tender pomegranate lamb shoulder, and more in Philly and beyond. 237 St. James Place

Bloomsday Cafe
Bloomsday is everything you need it to be: a daytime cafe, a nighttime bar and restaurant, and an anytime bottle shop. Dinner with a glass of wine is never a wrong move here. But a Kickstarter Sandwich, made with fluffy eggs, sausage, cheddar, chipotle, and tomato jam, and a fresh-baked pastry from the to-go window on a Sunday morning? Now that’s living! 414 South 2nd Street

Pizzeria Stella
Dining out with kids can be tricky, but Pizzeria Stella makes it easy with pasta and pizza for even the pickiest eaters. There’s classic spaghetti pomodoro for the young ones and a tartufo pie for the adults. 420 South 2nd Street