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What and Where to Eat in Philadelphia - Not just the Philly Cheesesteak

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Philly’s vibrant food scene welcomes all comers. While you’re more likely in some districts to encounter a cozy BYOB eatery than a white-tablecloth restaurant, the range of culinary experiences is limited only by the length of your visit. On the agenda: food celebrities, creative vegetarian fare, trendy food trucks and gastropubs, cutting-edge cafés, and street food from all over the world.

Typical dishes

 

Local custom dictates that you try at least one cheesesteak (chopped sirloin, melted cheese, and other toppings on a crusty roll) during a Philadelphia vacation. If you have room for more, the roast pork Italiano (succulent pork, sharp provolone cheese, and garlicky broccoli rabe) is an equally iconic sandwich. Street food like soft pretzels, hoagies, and Italian water ice are perfect for a pick-me-up while strolling the town.

Center City

 

The widest swath of downtown Philadelphia covers Rittenhouse Square and its sophisticated resto-bars; the chic, polished newcomers of Midtown Village; Old City’s eclectic eateries (including Iron Chef Jose Garces’s famous Spanish restaurant Amada); and the pan-Asian sweep of Chinatown. You can’t go wrong at highly inventive fine-dining restaurants Fork (daring New American) and Vetri (refined Northern Italian), which regularly win national plaudits. At the heart of it all is Reading Terminal Market with its hearty Amish cookery from the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition.

 

  • Amada, 217 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106; Tel: +1 215 625 2450; Website: Amada
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  • Fork, 306 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106; Tel: +1 215 625 9425; Website: Fork

 

Northern Liberties/Fishtown

 

A young crowd hangs out in the bordering neighborhoods of Northern Liberties and Fishtown, just northeast of Center City. Beer lovers come for the many well-stocked gastropubs, and others flock to fuel up at Fette Sau’s barbecue and quirky Little Baby’s Ice Cream. You’ll find most of the action on Second Street, between Germantown Avenue and Spring Garden Street, but the stretch of Girard Avenue right around Frankford Avenue offers perhaps the greatest concentration of flavors per square foot. Also not to be missed: the 2-hands-required sandwiches at Paesano’s, which give the cheesesteak/roast pork debate a whole new dimension.

 

  • Fette Sau, 1208 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125; Tel: +1 215 391 4888; Website: Fette Sau
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  • Little Baby’s Ice Cream, 2331 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125; Tel: +1 267 687 8567; Website: Little Baby’s Ice Cream

 

East Passyunk Avenue

 

A few old-school, red-sauce Italian restaurants remain on the kitschy South Philadelphia strip known locally as P’unk, which lies southeast of Center City. In recent years, though, ravioli has given way to foie gras, vegan tacos, and third-wave espresso bars. Laurel delivers high-end neo-French delicacies, while Noord forges new territory as the city’s only Nordic eatery. This being the hipster epicenter of the city, P’unk has no shortage of creative Italian cuisine like Brigantessa’s blistered artisan pizza and wood-fired agnello with housemade lamb sausage.

 

  • Laurel, 1617 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19148; Tel: +1 215 271 8299; Website: Laurel
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  • Noord, 1046 Tasker Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148; Tel: +1 267 909 9704; Website: Noord

 

University City

 

With street food being the latest trend, food trucks serving everything from burgers to cupcakes gather around Drexel and University of Pennsylvania’s campuses and 30th Street Station. Add to the mix a HipCityVeg outpost, CoZara’s Japanese bar fare, and Top Chef winner Kevin Sbraga’s Southern restaurant The Fat Ham, and the neighborhood becomes a serious dining destination.

 

  • HipCityVeg, 214 South 40th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; Tel: +1 267 244 4342; Website: HipCityVeg
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  • CoZara, 3200 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; Tel: +1 267 233 7488; Website: CoZara