8 Local Chains We Love in Philadelphia

By Danya Henninger  |  January 20, 2014
Credit: Danya Henninger

Banish thoughts of microwaved egg muffins, flavorless alfredos and bland burgers: "chain" doesn't have to be a dirty word - especially not when used to describe these local start-ups. Click through for details and tips about eight Philadelphia eateries that take advantage of multiple locations to spread the wealth of unique and interesting food.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Name: Federal Donuts
    The Formula: Fried chicken, donuts and coffee, because “Who doesn’t love fried chicken, donuts and coffee?”
    Number of Locations: Three (Pennsport, Center City, Citizens Bank Park; two more are planned for Philadelphia: University City and West Poplar)
    Lunch for One: $11
    Menu Highlights: Hot, fresh donuts (fried to order in the Donut Robot), chile-garlic-glazed chicken
    Tasting Notes: If you want to score chicken, arrive soon after the 11:45 AM daily release - there’s a limited amount each day, and when it sells out, there’s no more until tomorrow.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Name: Han Dynasty
    The Formula:
    Authentic Sichuan cuisine, with all the spicy peppercorns that entails.
    Number of Locations: Six in the Philly region plus one in NYC (Old City, University City, Manayunk, Royersford, Exton, Cherry Hill ; a Beverly Hills project is next)
    Lunch for One: $19
    Menu Highlights: Dan dan noodles, crispy cucumber, dry pot fish, cumin lamb
    Tasting Notes: Even if you are a fiend for hot stuff, pay attention to the spice levels noted next to most dishes, and definitely ask your server to adjust them if you’re wary. NB: on the scale of 1-10, 10 will bring a four-alarm fire.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Name: Capogiro
    The Formula: Italian-style gelato and sorbetto made with fresh, local ingredients, plus panini, pastries and coffee.
    Number of Locations: Four (Midtown Village, Rittenhouse, East Passyunk, University City; a fifth location with an expanded menu will open soon in Old City)
    Lunch for One: $10
    Menu Highlights: Pistachio gelato, grapefruit sorbetto, drinkable chocolate
    Tasting Notes: Servers will gladly hand you samples to help you choose between the dozens of changing flavors, so take them up on the offer and try as many as you can (they’re all great).

  • Name: Green Eggs Cafe
    The Formula: Brunch made with organic and sustainable ingredients, all day, every day.
    Number of Locations: Three (East Passyunk, Northern Liberties, Midtown Village)
    Lunch for One: $14
    Menu Highlights: The Kitchen Sink (egg scramble with biscuits and sausage gravy served in a skillet), crème brûlée French toast
    Tasting Notes: While the other outposts close at 4 PM, the 13th Street dining room stays open through 10 PM weekdays and midnight on Friday and Sunday, making it a perfect post-bar snack stop.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Name: Di Bruno Bros.
    The Formula:
    Cheese and other gourmet goods, both local and imported from Italy.
    Number of Locations: Five (Italian Market, Rittenhouse, The Franklin, Comcast Center, Ardmore)
    Lunch for One: $15
    Menu Highlights: Piadini (Italian pressed flatbread sandwiches), Abbruzze cheese spread
    Tasting Notes: Don’t hesitate to stop by the cheese counter and ask for sample tastes - the mongers are all extremely knowledgeable and enjoy taking customers on a cheese journey.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Name: Metropolitan Bakery
    The Formula: All-natural, slow-cooled breads, pastries and gourmet prepared foods
    Number of Locations: Six (Rittenhouse bakery, Rittenhouse cafe, Reading Terminal Market, University City, Philadelphia Free Library, Chestnut Hill)
    Lunch for One: $11
    Menu Highlights: Olive bread, fennel pretzel, short-rib panini, housemade granola
    Tasting Notes: The cafe in Rittenhouse is sit-down only, so if you’re on the go, stop into the bakery next door instead and scoop up a loaf (they’ll slice it for you) and one of several spreads or salads in the cooler for a hearty DIY lunch.

  • Name: Tiffin
    The Formula: Quick and easy Indian classics
    Number of Locations: Six (Northern Liberties, Mt. Airy, Elkins Park, Wynnewood, Bryn Mawr, South Philly bistro)
    Lunch for One: $11
    Menu Highlights: Butter chicken, lasooni dal (yellow lentils), baingan bharta (smoked eggplant)
    Tasting Notes: Order online (by 10 AM for lunch or 2 PM for dinner) and have your combo meal delivered hot and fresh to your door at no charge.

  • Name: Tria
    The Formula:
    Beer, wine and cheese (all things that rely on fermentation)
    Number of Locations: Three (Rittenhouse, Wash West, newly opened Tria Taproom in Rittenhouse)
    Lunch for One: $19
    Menu Highlights: Cheese plates, caramelized onion bruschetta, lamb sausage
    Tasting Notes: Make plans to visit one of the original Tria Cafes for Sunday School, when your first round of a selected wine, beer and cheese are available for half their usual price.