A mosaic of row houses, double-parked cars, and busy corner stores, South Philly is also known for its vibrant food scene. Situated in the area south of Washington Avenue, this iconic neighborhood is home to a variety of great restaurants, ranging from casual and cozy to upscale and classic. Tip: South Philly is a crowded area with limited parking, so it’s always best to take public transportation when visiting any of these restaurants. Here are the top eight restaurants in South Philadelphia.
You may have seen the small eatery featured in the first season of the Netflix series, Chef’s Table. As a newly arrived immigrant in the United States, owner Cristina Martinez worked long hours, eventually starting a tiny business out of her apartment. Today, there are always lines of hungry and curious customers who desire to have a taste of Martinez's award-winning homemade barbacoa tacos and other delights.
A former high school, the Bok Building has been transformed into a unique South Philly destination that attracts locals as well as visitors. Head upstairs for two dining experiences that offer stunning panoramic city views. Irwin’s is open year-round and offers a robust menu of Mediterranean specialties, while Bok bar buzzes all summer long thanks to its prime location on the expansive rooftop.
Downstairs, you'll find nearly 150 tenants, including local artists, crafters, jewelry designers, community services, and more. Tip: The building offers free tours every Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Established more than a century ago, this lively, family-run business features an extremely talented staff who sing a variety opera songs every 20 minutes. Of course, the food here is just as memorable. On the menu, you'll find Italian specialties such as veal piccata, ravioli, pork chops, and several seafood options, too.
Housed in a former row home in the center of a residential city block, the Palizzi Social Club was reinvented by chef Joey Baldino, a Philadelphia culinary master. The food here is authentic modern Italian, but you won’t see photos of the dishes online—no cameras are allowed inside and social media posting is frowned upon. If you choose to go, keep in mind that the restaurant is intimate and reservations are required. Even if you have one, you will be standing outside in this South Philly neighborhood as you wait for your table.
Steeped in history, Marra's is an unassuming local restaurant that’s known for its friendly, casual ambiance and traditional Italian food. Opened nearly 100 years ago, this neighborhood staple has been a fan favorite for just as long. Here, you'll find a vast selection of dishes ranging from seafood and chicken dishes to homemade pastas and hot sandwiches (including calzones and the famous “Philly cheesesteak”). Of course, you can’t pass up on the pizza—there are more than 15 options to choose from. Tip: It’s best to go early or avoid weekends. You may have to wait for a table during prime times.
Owned by chef Nicholas Emi, this modern French restaurant has become one of the top food destinations in the city in recent years. A favorite among foodies, Laurel offers two options for dining: a six-course and a nine-course tasting menu. A few notable dishes include braised octopus, Icelandic cod with black trumpet mushrooms, and chicory duck breast with caramelized parsnips. For dessert, be sure to try the yuzu custard with malted meringue, the subject of rave reviews.
This tiny, unassuming spot has won an array of awards for its $5 burgers, which are often described as a quarter-pound of incredibly delicious meat cooked to perfection (Note: These are cooked medium-rare unless you specify otherwise). There are a number of toppings available, and yes, they offer veggie burgers as well. Fountain Porter also features about a dozen beers on tap—perfect to wash it all down. Tip: There’s usually a line and seating is limited, but it’s worth the wait.
Situated on South Philly's Passyunk Avenue, this 50-seat restaurant serves up tasty New American fare (think grilled duck hearts, escargot, braised lamb shoulder, skate wing, and creste rigate pasta). In addition to dinner, Fond has a fantastic Sunday brunch with a loyal following.
This rustic and hip locale also features a full bar with an exceptional wine list and a variety of unique cocktails (be sure to check out their website for cocktail classes offered here).