Where to Eat in East Passyunk

The next time you're near the Singing Fountain, these are the restaurants to memorize for burgers, tamales, mie komplit, and more.

River Twice’s “Mother Rucker,” is available on the restaurant’s outdoor dining menu. / Photograph by Mike Prince

Whether you’re new to East Passyunk, you’ve been around the area forever or you’re stopping through for the night, getting your bearings — especially when it comes to one of the most concentrated restaurant areas in the city — takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help. Looking for a great deli? We’ve got details on where to go. A casual taco spot where you’ll be in and out with perfect carnitas in under 10 minutes? It’s here. A cozy breakfast spot for a lazy weekend morning? Of course, you have come to the right place.

For our purposes, we’re defining East Passyunk as everything south of Washington from Broad to 6th Street. Sure, sure East Passyunk technically ends at Snyder Avenue. But for the sake of editorializing and giving restaurant recommendations, that’s how we’re breaking up this particular section of the city. We can quibble online about the exact boundaries of Philadelphia neighborhoods later.

For a more zoomed-out look at our absolute favorite spots south of Washington, check out our South Philly guide, which has all the hits, from east to west — the kinds of spots that we’d send people to from all over the city.

Cosmi’s Deli
It’s impossible to live in Philadelphia and avoid falling in love with hoagies — especially in South Philly. You’ll learn that, every couple of blocks, there’s a deli where they slice imported prosciutto, mortadella and salami to order, stack the meats on a freshly baked roll, amp the whole thing up with the toppings of your choice and pass it over a counter, often for under $10. Cosmi’s is one of the all-time great neighborhood delis, and worth visiting again even if you’ve been a hundred times before. 1501 South 8th Street.

Tamalex
Tamale does Mexican, Honduran, and Salvadoran food, but they’re best known for tamales that often sell out before 10 a.m. on Saturdays. Take this as a sign that they’re that good, and motivation to wake up early on a weekend morning. 1163 South 7th Street.

Irwin’s
If you’re lucky enough to live in the same neighborhood as Irwin’s, you’re pretty lucky generally. At this Sicilian spot on the top floor of the Bok Building, Michael Ferreri and his intrepid staff of talented cooks, bartenders and servers present plates of gnocchi sardi in a velvety eggplant-tomato sauce buzzing with chilis, cocktails like a dirty martini garnished with a plump caper berry, and modern-cozy desserts like tiramisu that we’re still thinking about months later. Go with a date, take your mom when she’s in town, or slip in late for a solo dinner at the bar. 800 Mifflin Street.

Fountain Porter
Fountain Porter is full of cool people drinking beer and natural wine, and scarfing down a $6 burger with a thick patty. If you like funky wine and cheap burgers, you’ll probably go there a lot, and you’ll probably make friends with all the other like-minded people, too. 1601 South 10th Street.

Photograph courtesy of Ba Le Bakery

Ba Le Bakery
Ba Le Bakery feels like a microcosm of what makes our city great. You’ll see what we mean when you order a bánh mì stacked with pork pate, pork belly and plenty of crunchy herbs and vegetables. While you wait for your number to be called, browse the wide selection of Vietnamese ingredients and pre-cooked meals. 606 Washington Avenue.

Sky Cafe
Philly is incredibly lucky to have a handful of Indonesian restaurants in South Philly, each one distinct from the next. For the uninitiated to gado-gado and satay, Sky Cafe works as a great starting point, partially because the menu has a lot of photos, which can help you decide what to order, and partially because the food will make you want to keep ordering more things to try — like the fried chicken is crisp and tender and the mie komplit made with homemade egg noodles. If you want a one-stop-shop type of experience, order the nasi padang that comes with the restaurant’s greatest hits: beef rendang, curry chicken, potato patties, curried collard greens, and more. 1122 Washington Avenue.

Wokano
There’s a simple pleasure to not having to trek across the city for dim sum, which is why we love Wokano even though it’s not necessarily the very best Philly has to offer. But the roving carts are plentiful and hot, the selection is vast, and you usually don’t have to wait for a table. 1100 Washington Avenue.

Pho 75
If you live in South Philly, you’ll go to Pho 75 when you want the simple pleasure of a bowl of pho, served hot and fast with little pomp and circumstance for under $10. That’s pretty much a given. 1122 Washington Avenue.

Nam Phuong Restaurant
Nam Phuong is located in the same plaza as Pho 75 and highlights a near-endless list of family-style Vietnamese plates. Richly caramelized clay pot fish, shaking beef, and build-your-own-bite ba vi platters with shrimp, beef and meatballs are among the offerings, but it could take years to get through everything on the menu. The savory, grilled shaking beef is always a good place to start, though. 1100 Washington Avenue.

Photograph courtesy of Comfort and Floyd

Comfort and Floyd
Comfort is the name of the game at Comfort and Floyd — quite literally. Open for breakfast and lunch, they do diner-y American classics like pancakes, eggs your way, cheeseburgers, tuna melts, plus some very good breakfast sandwiches (all of which are served with home fries). 1301 South 11th Street.

Taqueria La Veracruzana
There are many great taco spots in South Philly, but Taqueria La Veracruzana serves some of the most flavorful carnitas we’ve tried in the city. We’re also huge fans of their vegetarian fajita burrito, which comes packed with rice, beans, grilled peppers and onions for a superlative burrito experience. 908 Washington Avenue.

South Philly Barbacoa
Realistically speaking, if you live near South Philly Barbacoa, the lines keep you from going often. But it’s also probably true that, every time you eat the life-affirming consommé, tender tacos, and pillowy, sweet tamales, you’re reminded that the hype is worth it, and you’ll promise yourself to come again soon. South Philly Barbacoa is only open on weekends. 1140 South 9th Street.

Spread at Mish Mish / Photograph by Michael Persico

Mish Mish
Mish Mish is run by former Foobooz editor Alex Tewfik, but we wouldn’t put this restaurant on the list if we didn’t love it. It’s the cute, broadly Mediterranean spot on Passyunk with a huge apricot hanging outside — the kind of place that’s great for a lengthy catch-up with friends over plates of fried Armenian string cheese or some squishy-charred baby octopus that’s sweet and nutty with muhammara. Come for a third-date, but only if you actually like the person enough to share food with them that you’d happily take down alone. 1046 Tasker Street.

Machine Shop
Meet the neighborhood’s newest Saturday morning gathering spot — a bakery on the first floor of the Bok Building with a surprising amount of seating, buttery croissants, and the sort of set-up perfect for weekday work or a long conversation with a friend. Start by getting a coffee from Two Persons, then order as many seasonal croissants, tarts and loaves of bread as you can carry. 1901 South 9th Street.

Korshak Bagels
If you live near Korshak, you will almost certainly have the following experience. You’ll get excited and show up on a Saturday morning. You’ll stand in line for quite a while. You’ll order at least a dozen bagels and you’ll love them, but you’ll dread a return because of the line — even though you really do want another one of those chewy-soft, sourdough bagels. Then some out-of-town friend who read about the place in The New York Times will beg you to go and you’ll succumb again. The cycle will repeat until the end of time, except you’ll remember to order even more bagels to keep in your freezer. Then, eventually, you’ll run out of bagels and have to go back. 1700 South 10th Street.

best bagels philadelphia

Vanilya Bakery / Photo courtesy of Vanilya Bakery.

Vanilya
Our order at Vanilla is a za’atar bagel with cucumber dill cream cheese and a fluffy square of scrambled egg, but this is the type of spot where you’ll need to sample everything, from seasonal danishes and scones, to the selection of bagels, in order to figure out your own personal order. 1611 East Passyunk Avenue.

Perla
At this Filipino restaurant, chef Lou Boquila dedicates his whole menu to serving family-style, kamayan dinners, wherein diners are served seven or eight different dishes spread out on a big banana-leaf and encouraged to eat with their hands. It’s extremely fun and delicious, and, with a fixed price of $48 per person, it’s a great option for group dining. 1535 South 11th Street.

Mighty Bread
Go to Mighty Bread on Mondays when you need an out-of-the-house working spot where you can eat a great kale salad. Go when you need a completely indulgent ham and butter sandwich. Go when you need a doughnut (only on the weekends, though). Go when you just want a perfect loaf of sourdough and a cookie. Essentially — go often. 1211 Gerritt Street.

Essen Bakery
A tip for anyone who lives in the neighborhood: weekdays are the best time to sample Essen’s legendary rugelach, black-and-white cookies and babka. This great Jewish bakery tends to sell out before noon on the weekends. 1437 East Passyunk Avenue.

new restaurants

Beef tartare at River Twice. / Photograph by Ted Nghiem.

River Twice
There aren’t a ton of places with fancy tasting menus in Philly, but River Twice is one of those spots. Chef Randy Rucker does chef-y versions of Southern-inflected seasonal food, as well as a ton of collaborative events you should keep an eye on. The tasting works for for a special occasion, but you could totally just go for the a la carte burger outdoors on a weeknight. 1601 East Passyunk Avenue.

Laurel
Nick Elmi’s first restaurant is the another on the fancy list. The tasting menu isn’t cheap (it’ll run you $142 a person before add-ons, drinks, tax and tip) but it’s a Philly institution doing Frenchy-New American food with a constant eye toward evolution that will surely surprise and delight you. 1617 East Passyunk Avenue.

Mike’s BBQ
People come from all over the city to sample Mike Strauss’s brisket cheesesteak and other barbecue-based inventions. In fact, they come so often that the food often sells out, but since you’re in the area, you can grab it on a Wednesday right when they open and feel very, very smug. 1703 South 11th Street.

Bing Bing Dim Sum
The menu at Bing Bing mixes all sorts of Cantonese, Sichuan, and Shanghainese classics with combos like Jewish chicken wonton noodle soup house and cheesesteak bao made with Cooper sharp and long hots. The happy hour snacks are best-in-class (4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays), as are some of the drink options like the $10 Bing City-Wide, which comes with a shot of sake and a Miller High Life. 1648 East Passyunk Avenue.

Gabriella’s Vietnam
After you have it once, you’ll start every meal at this Vietnamese restaurant with the sizzling bánh xèo filled with pork and shrimp that makes for a savory-sweet-funky, lettuce-wrapped bite. Then you’ll be ready to move onto the main dishes, like the shaken beef — caramelized with fish sauce and so tender that you can bite directly through each rectangular hunk of filet mignon — or crispy soft-shell crab. 1837 Passyunk Avenue.

Photo courtesy of Stargazy

Stargazy
This British pie shop is always there for you, whether you need to grab a sausage roll on the go, drown your sorrows in a slice of banoffee tart, or order ahead for a Friday night dinner of fish and chips. It’s best form, though, is a quick solo lunch of savory pie, mash, and parsley liquor, a bright green, herbaceous gravy. 1838 East Passyunk Avenue.

Juana Tamale
The hours at this casual Mexican restaurant are limited, but our advice is this: Every time you walk by Juana Tamale, check if it’s open. When it is, go in and order as many birria tacos, tamales, churros and Mexican pizzas as you can carry. If you’re somehow not yet sold (or even if you’re already a loyal customer), read about how Zavala and her team are challenging the norms of Philly’s restaurant industry here. 1941 East Passyunk Avenue.

Dodo Bakery
Up in Chinatown, there are a handful of spots for Hong Kong-style pastries and buns, but the selection is thinner down in South Philly. Dodo fills this void with airy pork buns, creamy egg tarts, savory ham-and-egg buns, and plenty of boba and milk tea options. 2653 South 11th Street.

Frida Cantina
A wise person once said that your favorite Mexican restaurant in your neighborhood is probably just the first one you went to. That may be true, but it’s worth breaking your routine to go to Frida Cantina, where you’ll be greeted with a dining room full of regulars drinking margaritas and mezcal punch, and plates of perfect ceviche and enchipocladas — a take on enchiladas drowned in a creamy-spicy, chipotle-laced sauce. 1000 Wolf Street.

I Heart Cambodia
This longtime Cambodian community staple serves a wide array of dishes — from crispy-fried shrimp to Khmer salads made of beef that’s been cured with lime and prahok. It’s also the rare restaurant that is a BYOB but also has a bar — so you can bring a six-pack and then order an extra drink or two. 2207 South 7th Street.

New Phnom Penh
Another anchor in the area’s Cambodian food scene, go here for a casual weeknight meal of Vietnamese and Cambodian soups and noodle dishes, as well as fried shrimp, crisp pork rolls, and curry chicken. 2301 South 7th Street.

Pizza Plus South
Every neighborhood needs a reliable pizza spot, and Pizza Plus is East Passyunk’s candidate. They do hand-tossed and pan pies, plus very good chicken tenders, buffalo chicken sandwiches, cheeseburgers and more. 1846 South 12th Street.