The One Thing You Need to Eat in 9 Philly Neighborhoods

From soup dumplings in Chinatown to hot chicken in University City
September 8, 2015
by Caroline Russock

Philadelphia’s varied neighborhoods are exactly the thing that makes it such an excellent eating town. Here's a look at the defining dishes of some of the city's tastiest locales.

Rittenhouse: Seafood Plateau at Parc

The ritziest hood in the city is home to park views, great shopping and a concentration of fine-dining gems that are perennially packed. One of the best ways to really get into the Rittenhouse vibe is to grab a sidewalk table at Parc, a glass (or even better, a bottle) of something sparkling and a seafood plateau (pictured above) piled high with East and West Coast oysters and clams, poached shrimp, king crab and a half lobster. Shopping bags from Burberry are optional.

Price: $65–$135

227 S.18th St.; 215-545-2262

Midtown Village: Salted Caramel Budino at Barbuzzo

Marcie Turney and Val Safran transformed this stretch of 13th Street from seedy to sceney with their restaurants and shops that opened the doors for like-minded restaurateurs to do the same. But even with great pastas, tapas, Mexican and, most recently, reimagined American, there’s a good chance Midtown Village wouldn’t be what it is today without Barbuzzo’s signature dessert (pictured above). With layers of chocolate cookie crumbles, salted caramel pudding, caramel and crème fraîche, it's sweet-tooth nirvana.

Price: $8

110 S. 13th St.; 215-546-9300

Old City: Sandwiches at High Street on Market

Great sandwiches can be found all over the city, but High Street shines when it comes to creativity, care and killer ingredients. Plays on an Italian hoagie (the Gabagool on seeded semolina, $11) and the roast pork with fermented broccoli rabe ($12, pictured below) are standout versions of local favorites. Don’t overlook some of the less flashy items on the menu: the Best Grilled Cheese Ever ($12) with local noble cheddar, roasted potato bread and cultured butter lives up to its name.

Price: $9.50–$14

308 Market St.; 215-625-0988

Bella Vista: Perciatelli Genovese at Dante & Luigi’s

There are plenty of places in and around the Italian market to get your spaghetti and meatballs, Chianti and checkered-tablecloth fix, but none of them come close to the old-school classiness that this 10th Street throwback manages. From service to cocktails, everything here is spot-on but the real draw (pasta-wise, at least) is the Perciatelli Genovese, a take on Bolognese with white wine and a touch of cream.

Price: $18.95

762 S. 10th St.; 215-922-9501

South Philly: Pho at Nam Phuong

With all of the pizza, pasta and hoagie joints, it would be easy to pigeon hole South Philly as an Italian-only zone, but then you’d be missing out on a world of Southeast Asian fare. Home to one of the largest Vietnamese communities on the East Coast, this stretch of Washington Avenue has killer pho, banh mi, pastries and summer rolls for days. This banquet hall–size restaurant has a pages-long menu, offering you a chance to sample everything from broken rice to vermicelli bowls. For beginners, a bowl of pho is a solid bet.

Price: $6.50–$7.50

1100 Washington Ave.; 215-468-0410

University City: Hot Chicken at The Fat Ham

Food trucks and cafeteria dining might make up the bulk of Penn and Drexel student’s diets, but this Southern spot from chef Kevin Sbraga introduced the joys of Nashville-style hot chicken (pictured at top) to the western part of the city. Served with brioche in lieu of white bread, the chicken is fried, tossed in an incendiary hot sauce and finished with pickles and ranch dressing.

Price: $15

3131 Walnut St.; 215-735-1914

Graduate Hospital: Burger at Pub & Kitchen

From oysters and cocktails to expertly executed seasonal fare, there’s a reason this Graduate Hospital corner is always buzzing. With a loyal following, the burger might read simple on paper (lettuce, onion, pickle, Cooper sharp cheddar and optional bacon), but it’s one of the best in the city.

Price: $15

1946 Lombard St.; 215-545-0350

Chinatown: Soup Dumplings at Dim Sum Garden

This dim sum spot has come a long way since it upgraded from humble digs near the Chinatown bus depot, but the xiao long bao are as good as ever. The rest of the menu is worth a look as well, including great scallion pancakes and triple-steamed buns.

Price: $5.75

1020 Race St.; 215-873-0258

Fishtown: Pizza at Pizzeria Beddia

This one-man-show pizzeria sells only 40 pies a night from from Wednesday to Saturday, but with all sorts of national acclaim, it's wise to get in line before the 5 PM opening. Place your order and grab a few rounds of cocktails at a nearby bar until it's time for your baked-to-order, not-quite-Neapolitan pizza. 

Price: $19–$23

115 E. Girard Ave.; no phone

bella vista
south philly