The 25 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia Right Now

In the Where to Eat: 25 Best series, we’re highlighting our favorite restaurants in cities across the United States. These lists will be updated as restaurants close and open, and as we find new gems to recommend. As always, we pay for all of our meals and don’t accept free items.


Italian, Tasting Menu

Credit…Neal Santos

Well before the dessert course, when you’re scooping pumpkin tiramisù from the depths of a hollowed-out gourd, you’ll get the feeling that Ambra isn’t a typical fine-dining experience. Despite all the hallmarks of a lofty occasion meal — the seven-course menu, the $300 price tag (which includes a wine or alcohol-free drink pairing, tax and tip) — the Modern Italian boîte run by the chef Chris D’Ambro and his wife, Marina de Oliveira, lacks all stuffiness. From one of just 14 seats — four of which are in the working kitchen — guests are treated to a parade of bites that might include cacio e pepe gougère, and a mosaic of cured fluke with osetra caviar and tart beet granita, served alongside carta di musica — Sardinian crackers, paper-thin and pressed with herbs. REGAN STEPHENS

705 South Fourth Street, Philadelphia; 267-858-9232;

Angelo’s Pizzeria


Credit…Neal Santos for The New York Times

Philadelphians are spoiled for choices when it comes to cheesesteaks and pizza, making it all the more remarkable that so many choose to jump through hoops to get their hands on those at Angelo’s. (Epic lines, cash only and no seating. When they’re especially busy, they just stop answering the phone.) Order the heavy-as-a-brick upside-down pie. Get an array of cheesesteaks and hoagies, all built on rolls that the owner Danny DiGiampietro bakes from scratch, stuffed with a gooey meld of frizzled beef, Cooper Sharp cheese and long hot peppers, or layers of juicy chicken cutlets with fresh mozzarella (available only on Thursdays). Join the crowds eating on the surrounding stoops and sidewalks. REGAN STEPHENS

736 South Ninth Street; 215-922-0000;

Càphê Roasters


Credit…Tina Huynh/Caphe Roasters

Càphê Roasters has all the usual trappings of a third-wave coffee shop: a sunlit space with potted plants, tables covered with laptops and lattes, branded merch. But the owner, Thu Pham, has also made the city’s first Vietnamese specialty coffee roaster into an exciting dining destination. Dishes from the chef Jacob Trinh are both comforting and exhilarating: a banh mi with gochu-glazed fried chicken, a disk of crispy rice stacked with pulled chicken and five-spice salsa roja, a plated adaptation of the sweet and tart chicken and fermented bean curd hot pot his mom used to make. The drink menu, too, stretches far past the typical lineup, with pandan and ginger matcha fizz, and affogatos with Vietnamese espresso poured over condensed-milk soft serve. REGAN STEPHENS

3400 J Street G1, Philadelphia; 215-690-1268;

Doro Bet


Credit…Neal Santos for The New York Times

A handwritten sign on the front door of Doro Bet in West Philadelphia asks patrons to be patient: Chickens are fried to order and will take at least 15 minutes. They’re dredged in a buttermilk batter made with teff flour, imparting a crackly crunch, and either fiery berbere (a family recipe that includes black cardamom, cumin and sun-dried chiles) or a mild version coated in tart lemon and turmeric — dreamed up by the co-owner, Mebruka Kane, to appeal to her kids’ tastes during the pandemic while incorporating spices from her own childhood in Addis Ababa. The shop also serves traditional Ethiopian recipes like spicy doro wot and cardamom-scented tibs with injera, but the fried chicken will indeed come out last. And it’s thoroughly worth the wait. REGAN STEPHENS

4533 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia; 215-921-6558;

El Chingon


Credit…Neal Santos for The New York Times

When South Philly Barbacoa (see below) opened nearly a decade ago, it was clear that the city’s Mexican immigrants had a rich culinary story to tell. El Chingon, just a 10-minute walk away, feels like another chapter in that story. After decades working at upscale French and Italian restaurants, Juan Carlos Aparicio takes us home to the Pueblan kitchen where his mother taught him to cook. She inspired dishes like cemitas made with springy bread (Mr. Aparicio’s specialty), tart aguachile with slivers of scallops in a bath of leche de tigre, and tacos that are traditional (al pastor, pescado) and not so traditional (vegan tacos arabes made with mushrooms) on housemade sourdough tortillas. El Chingon doesn’t clamor for attention; it’s simply a neighborhood restaurant, of the highest order. NIKITA RICHARDSON

1524 South 10th Street, Philadelphia; 267-239-2131;



Credit…Steve Legato

Twenty five years ago, Marc Vetri introduced a city already well-versed in Italian cuisine to the pleasures of handmade pasta in a fine-dining setting. Early in 2020, the chef made the same pasta more accessible when he opened this snug restaurant in a former sausage shop in the Italian Market neighborhood. He kept its name, and uses the family’s fennel sausage recipe for his ragù. While Fiorella may lack the special-occasion luster of Vetri Cucina, plates of that ragù poured over chewy curves of rigatoni, or clouds of ricotta gnocchi in a pool of brown butter paired with glasses of Lambrusco at the cozy pasta bar make for an equally memorable night out. REGAN STEPHENS

817 Christian Street, Philadelphia; 215-305-9222;

Friday Saturday Sunday

Modern American

Credit…Ted Nghiem

When Chad and Hanna Williams purchased Friday Saturday Sunday in 2015, the well-worn mainstay had been chugging along for more than 40 years. The couple has managed a feat that few others have: maintaining a beloved neighborhood haunt while finding national renown. In the second-floor dining room, Mr. Williams, the chef, showcases his singular perspective in dishes like coco bread, the Jamaican staple, exalted with jerk-seasoned quail and a swipe of curried pâté. In the stylish and scene-y downstairs barroom, you can order sweetbread katsu sandwiches and tendrils of octopus in cumin-spiked brothy beans from the more casual menu or just pop in for one of the city’s most sublime cocktails. REGAN STEPHENS

261 South 21st Street, Philadelphia; 215-546-4232;

Gabriella’s Vietnam


Credit…Lanna Apisukh for The New York Times

The presentation of the food here is as thrilling as the flavors, and a meal can quickly turn into a party. Bánh bèo chén, or water fern dumplings, arrive open face and in individual bowls topped with crackled pork and shrimp, with nước mắm on the side. Bánh bột lọc comes in the form of chewy tapioca sheathed in banana leaves that you unwrap like a gift. A catfish hot pot is housed in a tureen with tomatoes and okra bobbing at the surface of the tangy, sweet broth. The restaurant is minimally decorated — perhaps because the food does all the talking. PRIYA KRISHNA

1837 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia; 272-888-3298;



Credit…Neal Santos for The New York Times

A steam table filled to the brim with rendang and gudeg (jackfruit stew) is the heart of this warm Indonesian spot, where the scent of coconut and turmeric and the family photos taped to the walls give the feeling that you’ve been invited into someone’s home. Ena Widjojo got her professional start cooking at the Indonesian consulate in New York before moving to Philadelphia in 2000 to open Hardena. Nowadays, her daughter Maylia is the one behind the counter, adding a few crispy-edged vegetable fritters to heaping platters of curries over rice. The first scoop of sambal comes with your order, but any extras are 50 cents apiece, a small price to pay for a chile sauce that boosts everything it touches. REGAN STEPHENS

1754 South Hicks Street No. 2217, Philadelphia; 215-271-9442;


Modern American

Credit…Aaron Randi

Sometimes simple is best. Or perhaps it’s just the illusion of simplicity that gives this tiny restaurant in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philly its winning formula. Whatever the case, Illata is hosting a dinner party five nights a week. And like any good guest, you’ll want to bring your own wine. A fizzy white will pair beautifully with slivers of mussels marinated in miso and chile oil, as well as with the chicory salad, though you’ll want a red for the New York strip. And order plenty of bread; this is the type of place where every plate is aswim in a sauce or reduction you’ll want to swipe the tangy sourdough through. NIKITA RICHARDSON

2241 Grays Ferry Avenue, Philadelphia; no phone;



Credit…Mike Prince

Chutatip Suntaranon left her flight-attendant career and found the national culinary stage in 2019, when she started serving head-turning southern Thai food at a 39-seat B.Y.O. restaurant. As of last year, that Kalaya is no more, but the new version is as dazzling as the original was modest. Palm trees tower over 140 seats inside the new location, which opened last November in the Fishtown neighborhood. Ms. Suntaranon’s business partnership with Defined Hospitality, a local restaurant company, hasn’t muted her forcefully spiced, luminous cooking. Be sure to order the flower-shaped shaw muang, the fiery venison curry and the goong phao, with its grilled freshwater prawns — and while you eat, marvel at the realization that this preternaturally gifted chef and owner didn’t open her first place until age 50.BRETT ANDERSON

4 West Palmer Street, Philadelphia; (215) 545-2535;

Laser Wolf


Credit…Michael Persico

Any restaurateur of a certain pedigree will say that the longer you’re in the business, the harder it is to keep up with the tastes of the public. Laser Wolf is a rare exception. Philadelphians of all ages are obsessed with this restaurant from Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook (one of their 24 projects together) and its fantastic array of mezze-like salatim (schug with sweet pineapple and bitter celery, creamy kale baba ghanouj) and hearty grilled skewers. For something more substantial, the whole branzino with tomato and ginger for two should fit the bill — and feeds at least four. Few restaurants give as much flavorful bang for the buck.NIKITA RICHARDSON

1301 North Howard Street, Philadelphia; 267-499-4660;



Credit…Briana Farina/In Between Rivers

Right before winning “Top Chef” in 2014, Nicholas Elmi opened Laurel on a then-sleepy stretch of East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. Nearly a decade later, the restaurant that helped transform the neighborhood is getting a second act — out is the restrained six-course tasting, replaced with a choose-your-own-adventure menu that changes seasonally, or when his foragers bring in new ingredients (like the pawpaws from a backyard tree that animate a lush cream pie). Meals still showcase Mr. Elmi’s skill and precision, and that of the chef de cuisine, Kevin McWilliams. But halfway through, as you’re using a shiso leaf to grab plump mussels served over paprika aioli, it becomes clear that Laurel is now less of a place reserved only for special occasions. REGAN STEPHENS

1617 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia; 215-271-8299;



Credit…Will Blunt/StarChefs

Another day, another destination restaurant in South Philly. Tucked in a residential street just a few blocks from the Italian Market, Mawn offers vibrant Southeast Asian cuisine from Phila Lorn, a first-generation Cambodian American chef. You’ll find that it’s not so much an issue of what you should order as what won’t you order. With that in mind, bring a group so you can share the bounty of seafood (clams, soft-shell shrimp, pan-seared whole fish), noodles (the khao soi is a must), and salads (banh chow with chicken and shrimp, anyone?). The portions are more than generous. And in the great Pennsylvania tradition of hard-to-get liquor licenses, Mawn is indeed B.Y.O.B. Bring something effervescent. NIKITA RICHARDSON

764 South Ninth Street, Philadelphia;

Middle Child


Credit…Michael Persico for The New York Times

In a sea of corner delis that can assemble a solid Italian hoagie on autopilot, Middle Child builds a sandwich with the precision of a refined French restaurant, but without pretentiousness. Matt Cahn, the owner, taps the skills he developed working at Court Street Grocers and Superiority Burger in New York City for specialties like the So Long Sal, a prosciutto cotto and provolone number layered with peppery artichoke spread and balsamic-mayo-dressed arugula. In tomato season, thick, mayo-drenched BLTs elicit lines around the block. The same sandwiches are also on offer at Middle Child Clubhouse, an all-day version that serves broiled oysters, handmade ricotta agnolotti and bone-in pork chops tinged with sweet chile vinegar — plus a full bar menu. REGAN STEPHENS

248 South 11th Street, Philadelphia; 267-930-8344;

Mish Mish


Credit…Michael Persico

A glossy, larger-than-life apricot hangs above the entrance to Mish Mish, your first cheeky sign that this place isn’t taking itself too seriously. The owner, Alex Tewfik, is a former food editor. (Full disclosure: We were colleagues at Philadelphia magazine.) He opened the restaurant last winter after years of wishing the city had something like it — a place that felt elegant and thoughtful but breezy and fun. (The name means apricot in Arabic, the language spoken by Mr. Tewfik’s Egyptian father.) An evening in the dimly lit dining room might kick off with fizzy wine in a maraschino-cherry-spiked coupe. Plates of torn-herb salads and tomato-butter-drenched crab toast are spread over white tablecloths, and the effervescent dining room is set to a playlist of Egyptian hip-hop and French crooners. It’s all signaling that it’s not just a nightly service at Mish Mish, but a real soiree. REGAN STEPHENS

1046 Tasker Street, Philadelphia; 267-761-9750;

My Loup


Credit…Nicole Guglielmo

“Je me souviens” (I remember) is the motto of Quebec, and it’s also a vibe at this newcomer in the City of Brotherly Love, where you might remember things about restaurants that have been missing in recent years — namely fun. The chefs Alex Kemp and Amanda Shulman have created a weeknight spot that feels like a dinner party in the spirit of Montreal’s Joe Beef, where both worked. The easiest way to experience the twists, turns and surprises of their seasonal menu is the “Let us cook for you!” option, which could go from a seafood platter to a hot-cold crab situation (big crab meets Big Mac) to a meaty main, like a pork chop with peaches. Yes, those were Teddy Grahams climbing the swirled soft-serve peak at meal’s end. SARA BONISTEEL

2005 Walnut Street, Philadelphia; 267-239-5925;

River Twice

Modern American

Credit…Ted Nghiem

To anyone paying attention, small details will tip you off to the kind of meal you’re about to have at River Twice, the modern American restaurant run by the chef Randy Rucker and his wife, Amanda. Linen napkins are hand-sewn by Ms. Rucker and the front of house manager, Marissa Chirico, and the open kitchen at the center of the minimalist space, buzzes with a choreographed precision. The intentionality extends to the whole of Mr. Rucker’s seasonal set menu, from the first dish of the seasonally changing prix fixe, say bluefin tuna under a cloud of Burgundy truffle shavings, to the triumphant final bite. Lest you think the attention to detail makes River Twice stuffy, they’re also serving the Mother Rucker, a messy, two-patty burger on a buttery milk bun that’s among Philly’s best. REGAN STEPHENS

1601 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia; 267-457-3698;

Royal Sushi & Izakaya


Credit…Jesse Ito

Sitting at the counter here, a spectator while the chef Jesse Ito crafts each bite, feels a little like watching an ice skater land a triple axel. There’s so much skill in his technique, which he learned from his father, yet his assembly looks effortless — no wasted movements, no hesitations. The 17-course omakase is mostly nigiri — Kumamoto oyster over glistening toro tartare, king salmon belly precisely scored and kissed with a blowtorch — each bite a perfect balance of salt and fat and flavor. Those who can’t get a spot at the coveted eight-seat sushi counter can take solace in the connecting izakaya, where walk-ins feast on gyoza and torikatsu sandos with persimmon sauce, while Japanese anime projects on a wall. REGAN STEPHENS

780 South Second Street, Philadelphia; 267-909-9002;

South Philly Barbacoa


Credit…Neal Santos for The New York Times

As early as 5 a.m. on weekends, Cristina Martinez’s bright corner shop is alive. A crowd is gathering, music is blaring and someone is tending the lamb barbacoa, hacking off impossibly tender hunks to add to hot tortillas. Giddy guests are gathered around tables, dipping quesadillas stuffed with housemade Oaxacan cheese into colorful salsas. As much as South Philly Barbacoa has (rightfully) been heaped with praise from all corners of the country, it’s still a place you’ll find the city’s broadest cross section, and still a place that underscores what makes Philly’s food scene special. REGAN STEPHENS

1140 South Ninth Street, Philadelphia; 215-694-3797;



Credit…Heidi’s Bridge

Just through the doors of this sprawling Lebanese restaurant, you’ll find a cafe and market peddling turmeric-spiced lattes and specialty olive oil. A little farther in there’s a dining room bedecked with ornate tiles and chandeliers, and in the back, an enchanting garden with a canopy of Persian ironwood trees. Each of the three distinct spaces inside Suraya, named for the grandmother of two of the co-owners Nathalie Richan and Roland Kassis, offers a consistently memorable array of Lebanese delights — delicate rose-scented crullers, fall-apart lamb, fattoush sprinkled with tart sumac, a verrine of lemon verbena ice cream with hunks of pistachio cake — and each feels thoroughly transportive. With a glass of arak in the garden, surrounded by glowing firepits, it’s easy to feel like you’ve left Philadelphia altogether. REGAN STEPHENS

1528 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia; 215-302-1900;



Credit…PJ Agbay

When Chance Anies parlayed his food truck into a brick-and-mortar location last December, the chef decided against a fast-casual approach in favor of a sit-down restaurant — in part, he has said, to showcase his culture’s hospitality alongside the food. The procession of plates at Tabachoy pays homage to his Filipino heritage, with some fun, inspired liberties taken: bowls of adobo and sisig, arroz caldo flecked with delicate bonita flakes that dance from the steam. For the laing, the traditional taro leaves cooked in coconut are replaced by broccoli rabe, a nod to the neighborhood’s robust Italian American population. Linger at the table for dessert, which includes a Basque-style pandan cheesecake, cooked in banana leaves and drenched in coconut caramel. REGAN STEPHENS

932 South 10th Street; 215-315-8720;



Credit…Steve Legato for The New York Times

In a city where cheesesteaks are almost a mascot, Vedge burst onto the fine-dining scene more than a decade ago, bringing a fresh perspective on what vegetable-forward cuisine could be. Transforming rutabaga into an unctuous fondue for dipping soft pretzels and pickled carrots is the kind of magic trick that the chef-owners Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby perform on a spectrum of plants with the same extraordinary success. This year, the couple opened Ground Provisions in the suburbs, bringing a new bag of tricks — like morphing a basic portobello into a basil-smoked, Bordelaise-coated thrill. REGAN STEPHENS

1221 Locust Street, Philadelphia; 215-320-7500;

Vernick Fish


Credit…Rondel Charles

With a sweep of the terrazzo floors and orbed light fixtures floating like futuristic buoys, the ground-floor restaurant anchoring the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia has all the trappings of an enclave for expense accounts. The menu showcases skills that the chef Greg Vernick honed over years of working for Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and later at his own Rittenhouse Square restaurant, Vernick Food & Drink. But it also harks back to Mr. Vernick’s teenage summers spent working at the Jersey Shore. After a feast of flavorful ceviche, a deceptively simple toast of sardines on thick sourdough, and branzino roasted with guajillo chiles, the meal ends with a slice of pie from the glossy pastry case that belongs in a Jersey diner, and a fistful of saltwater taffies with the check. REGAN STEPHENS

1 North 19th Street, Philadelphia; 215-419-5055;



Credit…Daniel Knoll

More than 15 years after the chef Michael Solomonov and his business partner Steve Cook opened this modern Israeli restaurant, scoring a reservation is still a uniquely Philadelphian triumph — like finding street parking in South Philly or meeting Gritty. Still, walk-ins can arrive a few minutes before the 5 p.m. opening to try their luck at the chef’s counter, or at a table on the new seasonal backyard patio. There, amid heat lamps and endearingly realistic faux olive trees, you can tear off bits of soft pita to scoop up warm and buttery Turkish hummus, plump hamachi crudo clinging with dill, and wisps of spicy fennel from a constellation of salatim. REGAN STEPHENS

237 St. James Place, Philadelphia; 215-625-8800;

Follow New York Times Cooking on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest. Get regular updates from New York Times Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.

Back to top button