The Best Restaurants in Queen Village

Solo lunch spots, highlight-of-the-year dinner destinations, and all the charming restaurants where you'll want to be a regular.

Toro with caviar at Royal Sushi & Izakaya / Photograph by Jesse Ito

Queen Village is among the most charming neighborhoods we have in Philly. The streets are historic (but not packed with tourists looking for scenes from National Treasure). There are independent shops and restaurants galore, all of which seem to be perpetually swimming with regulars. It’s cozy, not too pretentious, and full of delicious things to eat. You could easily spend an entire day wandering around the area: grabbing breakfast pastries, then an afternoon glass of wine and some snacks, followed by a big, lengthy dinner with friends. Here’s where to make your dining dreams come true, no matter the situation.

For the purposes of this guide, we’re defining Queen Village as Lombard Street to Washington Avenue, between 6th Street and the Delaware River.

Puyero
Puyero specializes in delicious arepas, sandwiches made from fried plantains, and sweet cachapas filled with meat and cheese that you’ll want to eat for lunch at least once a week. But this Venezuelan spot has plenty of platters with beans, rice, and stewed meats, too. Bring a friend and order at the counter — the space is small but there’s enough seating to grab a table for a casual hang. They also do a lot of takeout and delivery for the neighborhood. 524 South 4th Street.

Royal Sushi & Izakaya
If there’s better sushi in Philadelphia, we have yet to find it. Come to Royal Izakaya’s main dining room with friends for a fun night out, or sit at the bar and drink yamahai sake while you watch anime projected onto the wall. In both of these cases, prioritize plates of torikatsu sandos on homemade milk bread, some crispy-crunchy strips of braised burdock root that will randomly steal the show, and expertly made maki. And, for something completely deluxe, there’s an eight-seat omakase experience in the back of the restaurant. A meal back here will cost you $175 per person. But, if you appreciate uncompromisingly perfect fish — seabream topped with caviar, squid that may as well be sold as contemporary art, and king salmon kissed by a blowtorch — it’ll be worth every penny and failed reservation attempt. Get on Resy notify and cross your fingers, or start dating some watch salesman who lives in the suburbs and has a monthly booking. 780 South 2nd Street.

Fiore Fine Foods
Fiore Fine Foods is, theoretically, an Italian restaurant. But it’s really so much more. On weekend mornings, the team here serves one of the best brunches in the city, complete with fluffy egg sandwiches on homemade bread, tangy tomato pie, crispy-caramelized morning buns, and rotating pastry offerings. Then, at dinner time, the dining room becomes sexy, low-lit and full of people sipping Italian cocktails, eating regional pasta dishes, and sampling vegetable dishes inspired by the seasons. Dessert also happens to be one of the best programs in the city. What don’t they do well? 757 South Front Street.

El Rancho Viejo
Every neighborhood needs a great Mexican spot, and El Rancho Viejo is Queen Village’s. Try the pumpkin flower quesadilla or lamb chops served with plantains and rice, or maybe go classic with some cochinita pibil tacos or al pastor from the spinning trompo. El Rancho Viejo takes walk-ins and does takeout, and the vibe is friendly and efficient. 942 South 5th Street.

Southwark Restaurant
Marina De Oliveira and Chris D’Ambro recently reopened Southwark after a major renovation that took most of 2021. The neighborhood American restaurant remains a perfect place for a Friday night meal when you want one of the best burgers in the city — two patties, blue cheese, bacon and onion jam and homemade fries — plus some delicious wine and cocktails. Southwark would be an equally good pick for a group meal with relatives coming to visit from out-of-town, or when everyone demands their own entree. Other than the burger, go for the handmade pastas, seasonal vegetables, a whole roasted chicken, and a pour of hard-to-find amaro to top it all off. 701 South 4th Street.

The kitchen table experience at Ambra / Photograph by Neal Santos

Ambra
Attached to Southwark, you’ll find Ambra — one of the city’s dreamiest special-occasion Italian spots. Make a reservation for two or four people to eat at the Kitchen Table, where you’ll enjoy a 10(ish)-course tasting menu of precisely made and intensely personal dishes, like a giant pheasant raviolo topped with white truffle or handmade pici with crab sauce, inspired by chef Chris D’Ambro’s childhood memories, all while seated at a counter in the restaurant’s kitchen. (For groups of 8 to 10 people, book the dining room table, where you’ll have a raucous time grazing through family-style dishes of similar, but more casually presented food from D’Ambro.) The meal for two or four in the kitchen runs $300 per person, while the group dining experience is $2500. Pricey, we know. But worth it if you’re in the market for a highlight-of-the-year Italian meal. 705 South 4th Street.

Isot Turkish Cuisine
There are not so many great Turkish restaurants in Philly, but Isot is a staple. The large portions of cold mezes, grilled kebabs, and mixed plates are great for sharing with a group or a date, and the service is generally casual-but-attentive. They take reservations, though you can usually walk in. 622 South 6th Street.

Bistro La Minette
Bistro La Minette is an unpretentious French restaurant that has been serving the neighborhood since 2008 — the kind of spot where longtime couples have weeknight dinners of green salads and cider-braised chicken, while other tables celebrate birthdays with duck breast, mustard-braised rabbit, and beef stew. Make a reservation or walk in on a weekday for something low-key. 623 South 6th Street.

Little Fish
Little Fish makes Philadelphia a happier place. It’s a seafood-focused BYO that consistently puts out some of the most interesting seasonal plates in the city. The scallop toast, for example, is representative of what Alex Yoon and his small team are doing in the kitchen: sliced raw scallops layered on sesame toast with soy-chili vinaigrette and chives. The food is usually Asian-inspired, always comforting, and delicious. Bring a date or your parents. 746 South 6th Street.

Tattooed Mom
One of the most beloved dives a city with so many beloved dives, with the added bonus of very good bar food with a surprisingly large number of vegan options. Cocktail and beer drinkers alike will find plenty to love on their drink menu. 530 South Street.

Marrakesh
Marrakesh is the answer for almost every group-dining conundrum. For around $25 per person, you’ll get a three-course Moroccan meal, served in a cozy, couch-filled room. The menu includes a vegetable platter with tender eggplant, cucumber and pepper salad, and spiced carrots, plus your choice of chicken or lamb and beef. On weekends, there’s usually a belly dancer, which may or may not be a perk depending on the energy of your group meal. 517 South Leithgow Street.

Neighborhood Ramen
Neighborhood Ramen makes our favorite ramen spot in the city — stuff that’s a little bit traditional, a little bit innovative, and always spot-on. In the summer, they skip soup in favor of a menu of brothless, slurpy bowls of mazemen, while the rest of the year brings consistently flavorful and balanced takes on classic ramen. The restaurant doesn’t accept reservations. But, on busy nights, you can add your name to the waitlist online. It’s also BYOB, so grab a six-pack on your way. 617 South 3rd Street.

Cry Baby’s dining room / Photograph provided

Cry Baby Pasta
Cry Baby is an ideal neighborhood Italian restaurant. They serve sub-$20 plates of homemade pastas. There’s a great wine program and an extensive amaro menu (including flights). Plus, you can usually get a table. It’s the type of place we go for a last-minute weeknight dinner with friends or a casual Sunday night date. 627 South 3rd Street.

Sakana
If you’ve never heard of Sakana, that’s probably because this omakase spot is incredibly hard to spot from the street. Behind an unmarked black door and a white facade without windows or signs of life, you’ll find a single room with a sushi bar and two or three chefs doling out pieces of Japanese barracuda and firefly squid. There are two menu options available here: a $98 tasting that comes with 10 pieces of nigiri plus some appetizers and a handroll, and an $148 tasting that throws in a sashimi plate, a few extra pieces, an uni bowl, and dessert. Sakana’s price point, BYOB policy, and high quality of fish makes it particularly useful for a special date night, especially because the place stays calm and it’s not super hard to get in. 616 South 2nd Street.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
Famous 4th Street is a Philly classic, an old Jewish deli that’s been around basically forever. For the uninitiated, prices will be jarringly high, but it’s because the servings are enormous — the corned beef sandwich could sink a small ship, and a whitefish bagel platter comes with three huge scoops of salad and three bagels. All the meats are cured in-house, and the desserts, which are plentiful, are also homemade. Order strategically, leaning on the appetizer menu and a la carte options unless you’re feeding a crowd or eager for leftovers. 700 South 4th Street.

Square Pie
Square Pie owner Gene Giuffi’s thick-crust, Sicilian pies have delighted us since 2015, when we called it the best new pizza in Philly. Since then it has held steady as a stalwart for all square pizza needs, even as the style has become more popular in the city. 801 East Passyunk Avenue.

Modo Mio
Very few neighborhoods in Philly can get by, it seems, without at least three Italian spots. Modo Mio is one of QV’s. The menu is small, but it hits all the classic Italian necessities: salads, fried calamari, a few homemade pastas. Opt for the Turista menu, which gets you an antipasti, a pasta and a dessert for $40. 705 South 5th Street.

New Wave Cafe
Open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., New Wave Cafe is part cafe, part restaurant, part bar. With 20 taps, perfect bar snacks, a great brunch, and several TVs for watching the game, it checks all the boxes of a friendly, neighborhood hang. 784 South 3rd Street.