There is so much more to the Philadelphia food sphere than cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and Wawa. In fact, this city’s hotfoot restaurant scene has been garnering national and world-wide recognition. Whether you're seeking a BYOB sushi spot, an excuse to splurge on a fancy steak dinner, or the freshest seasonal seafood menu you can find, Philly has just the place to satisfy your tastebuds.
To help narrow down your search before you get ‘hangry,’ we’ve rounded up some of Philly’s top foodie venues across 14 categories that run the gamut of cuisines and budgets.
Best For Families: City Tavern
If you’re traveling to the birthplace of America with the whole family, enjoy your meal with a side of history and entertainment. Our country’s founding fathers once dined at this exact locale, and now you can take a bite out of tradition with City Tavern’s 18th century-inspired menu; their kids menu actually won awards, featuring cornmeal crusted chicken fingers and colonial chicken pot pie. Plus, all all the servers walk around the dining rooms dressed in full colonial garb, which certainly delivers adds to the fun factor.
Best for Mexican: Blue Corn
Don’t let this small, unassuming place fool you—Blue Corn is where Philadelphia’s foodies flock to experience homemade Mexican food (no Tex-Mex here). The vibe is unpretentious, the ingredients are fresh, and everything on the menu is authentic — from enchiladas, to guacamole, and blue tacos with pineapple and oaxaca cheese. The happy hour menu is lengthy and includes nine specialty cocktails, including the Blue Corn margarita for $7.
Best for American: Cadence
Located in Philly’s South Kensington neighborhood, this American restaurant focuses on unique-yet-familiar dishes made with the area’s freshest ingredients. Cadence offers an a la carte and four-course menu, with rotating culinary offerings like beef bavette, venison tartare, and citrus-date frozen nougat for dessert. Liquor wise, it’s BYOB, but they did put quite a bit of thought into their non-alcoholic drink list. They're open Tuesday-Saturday.
Best for French: Townsend
Located inside a renovated row home in East Passyunk, this French bistro offers elegant cuisine cooked up by chef Townsend Wentz. It’s a fine dining experience with the romantic ambiance you're looking for. The menu is seasonal, like marinated hamachi, seared sea scallops, and lamb loin ‘en Crépinette’ for winter. For a pre-dinner or late-night libation, the Townsend Bar is open every night until 2 a.m., serving up elevated cocktails and 16 wines by the glass. Reservations are recommended.
Best for Seafood: Little Fish
The extremely cozy Little Fish dining room only seats 22 patrons at a time, but this Bella Vista restaurant has garnered some big accolades over the last 25 years. Chef and owner Alex Yoon (a Philly native) prides himself on fresh ingredients from the sea and a unique chalkboard menu that changes daily. For a really special experience, call ahead for the $48 Sunday tasting menu, which is comprised of a five-course meal prepared just for that day. Don’t forget your favorite bottle of wine (it’s BYOB).
Best For Pizza: Pizzeria Stella
There are many different kinds of pizzas in the U.S., but quality toppings, simple preparations, and crunchy thin crust is what makes for a mouthwatering Neapolitan pizza pie. Pizzeria Stella, a neighborhood pizza destination located in historic Society Hill, keeps the tradition alive. The menu offers 12 different gourmet pizzas; you can’t go wrong, but a crowd favorite is the ‘Ndjua, topped with Calabrian sausage, crushed red pepper, and smoked mozzarella. Adding to the authentic and casual experience is the wood-burning heath in the center of the restaurant. Not to mention, their wine and cocktail menu is very solid.
Best for Vegans: Vedge
Vedge is more than a good restaurant for vegans — Vedge is simply a good restaurant, making a big splash in the foodie city that is Philly. This James Beard restaurant is set up in a charming old mansion, serving up a fine dining experience and innovative plant-based dishes, like rutabaga fondue, applewood smoked tofu, and a vegan pineapple upside down cheesecake for dessert. Even the wine list is all-natural. Word has gotten out, so make a reservation.
Best for Tapas: Amada
As renowned Chef Jose Garces’ first restaurant, Amada has become a staple in Philadelphia's tapas restaurant lineup, offering authentic Spanish pass-around plates with a contemporary twist. Whether you come for a romantic evening in the roomy dining room or choose to dine at the chef’s counter overlooking the kitchen, you’re in for a top-notch culinary treat (plus an impressively extensive Spanish wine list). Prices are definitely on the higher end, but if you want the full experience for a more budget-friendly price, post up at the bar during happy hour (Monday-Friday, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.): a selection of small plates are $5 each, with $5 house sangria and $4 beer.
With five locations in the area, Sabrina’s is truly a Philadelphia brunching icon, whether you’re coming with the whole family or coming with a hangover (the large portions will mop that right up). Breakfast is served basically all day and you can’t go wrong with anything on their expansive menu — from the signature Huevos Rancheros to the Wild Mushroom Frittata and a pile of Challah French Toast that looks like a game of Jenga. Bring your own bubbly and order a carafe of fresh-squeezed orange juice for mimosas.
Note: they don’t accept reservations during brunch hours, but you can call ahead and join the waitlist.
Best for Cuban: Cuba Libre
If you like your empanadas with a side of salsa dancing, look no further than this lively two-story restaurant and rum bar, one of the most popular spots in Old City, that feels like a fun Caribbean escape. The menu is brimming with Cuban-style dishes like guava BBQ ribs, plantain chips, and tuna ceviche; the cocktail menu is a whole other story, with 11 different flavors of house-crafted mojitos and options for rum flights. On Fridays and Saturdays, come with your party shoes on for some late-night salsa dancing (11 p.m.-2 a.m.); to sidestep the $10 cover charge, come in for a meal first.
Best for Italian: Bistro Romano
Dining by candlelight in an elegantly casual wine cellar? It doesn’t get more romantic than that. This intimate Italian eatery is appropriately nestled in historic Society Hill, since the restaurant’s stone building is actually a historic landmark. Bistro Romano’s menu features upscale Italian-inspired cuisine, including their award-winning Caesar salad that is prepared it tableside. Their wine list is top-notch and has received accolades from Wine Spectator; they even offer wine bottles to go (just ask your server).
Best for Greek: Kanella Grill
A quaint and friendly Greek joint with gingham tablecloths and simple decor, Kanella Grill doesn’t bother with frills — instead, they put their focus into their authentic, freshly-prepared dishes. The menu of Mediterranean classics is straightforward, offering generous portions of hummus and dips with homemade pita bread, chicken and pork kebabs, falafels, and more. Open Tuesday-Sunday, the restaurant is cash only and BYOB.
Best for Fine Dining: Butcher and Singer
Sometimes you just need to splurge on a fine dining experience that makes you feel like an Old Hollywood star. With its dim lights and distinguished dark wood decor, Butcher and Singer sets the mood for decadence and invites you to put on the glitz. This classy steakhouse prides itself on its array of perfectly charred steaks and chops, but non-carnivores (and surf-and-turf lovers) certainly won’t be disappointed with their vast raw bar, shrimp & crab Louie, and broiled lobster tails. So go ’head: don a suit, order an expertly crafted Manhattan, and let someone else pick up the check.