Best Cheap Food in Philadelphia

September 3, 2015
by Zagat Staff

Zagat’s top-rated restaurants under $25.

Sandwich · Chinatown
Food 4.8 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.3

The "messy" , "juicy" roast pork sandwiches at this "homestyle" Italian stand at Reading Terminal Market are the "perfect Philly phix" ; some caution “be prepared to wait” , though "fast" , "friendly" folks keep things moving – in sum, "you can't go wrong" here.
Dalessandro's Steaks
Cheesesteak · Roxborough · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.1

A second ownership change has restored "much of the glory of old" to this "hectic" cheesesteak mecca in Roxborough, where fans savor "gristle-free, perfectly seasoned and dressed" sandwiches and quaff beers at an "old-time diner" counter where it's "standing room only but for good reason" ; "friendly" servers keep the lines moving, and outdoor seating is "icing on the cake."
Honest Tom's Taco Shop
Mexican · Spruce Hill · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.2

“Awesome” tacos and “amazing” burritos made with “fresh" ingredients are served at this humble storefront in Spruce Hill for breakfast, lunch and dinner; many prefer takeout, as it has only a “few tables" and it’s “always busy.”
John's Roast Pork
Sandwich · South Philadelphia · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 2.9 · Service 4.0

Fans “forget upscale” and head to this cash-only South Philly "lunch counter" for its “amazing” "triumvirate of hot sandwiches: cheesesteak, roast pork and roast beef" made the “way it should be" ; the "extra-napkin experience" is enjoyed at "picnic tables" throughout the seasons.
Capogiro Gelato Artisans
Ice Cream · Washington Square West · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.1

"You will never look at ice cream the same again" say fans of these "humble" gelaterias offering "mind-boggling choices" of "luxurious" , "heaven-on-earth" treats; some find it "pricey" for a "tide-me-over" or dessert, but when the "super-kind" , "hipster" staff “lets you sample a bunch of flavors” , for many it's an experience best described "in a word: yum."
Sandwich · Northern Liberties · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.2 · Service 4.3

For "down-and-dirty sandwich-making at its finger-licking best" , you'd be hard-pressed to top these "throwback" Italian hoagie shops from chef Peter McAndrews (Modo Mio, Monsu); no, "you don't come here" for the "hole-in-the-wall" decor – just for the "creative takes on the classics" (yes, that is "lasagna in your sub" ) that "shouldn't be missed."
Vietnam Restaurant
Vietnamese · Chinatown · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.9 · Service 4.2

Philly residents "can't get enough" of this Chinatown “jewel” , one of the city's longest-running Southeast Asian eateries, which offers a “vast” menu of “exotic” , "delicious" flavors for a "good value" ; the "tasteful" interior can feel “a little cramped” because it's "always busy" , but “nifty specialty drinks” and "speedy service" help ensure a "pleasant experience."
Tony Luke's
Cheesesteak · South Philadelphia · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.3 · Service 3.8

In the "'who's better' cheesesteak conversation" , "people will argue no matter who you ask" , but this “quintessential” sandwich chain lets its "outrageously long" lines do the talking – fans brave the "slow" "waiting" for “a little bit of heaven on a roll” in the form of "quality rib-eye" hoagies and "awesome" Italian roast-pork sammies; as far as ambiance, the "lack of charm is part of the charm" , and anyway, it's a "good value for the money."
Tacconelli's Pizza
Pizza · Port Richmond · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.1 · Service 3.9

"Greatness" in the form of "traditional" "crispy, crusty" pizza emerges from the "wood-fired" brick oven of this "delightfully tacky" parlor run by a "friendly" crew "out of the way" in Port Richmond; it's BYO, cash only, serves on plastic forks and paper plates and "you have to call ahead to order your dough" – and "it is worth all of the above."
Dim Sum Garden
Dim Sum · Chinatown · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.6 · Service 3.9

The "divine" soup dumplings steal the show at this cash-only Chinese BYO in Chinatown; “reasonable” prices and “courteous” service are further reasons it’s often “crowded.”
Nick's Old Original Roast Beef
Sandwich · West Passyunk · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.4 · Service 4.1

Some of the "best, dripping-wet roast beef this side of the Mississippi" is carved up at these "no-frills" , family-run institutions, where the "to-die-for sammies" go down best with gravy fries and "pitchers of beer" ; the "corner bar" setups are beyond "plain" and service is "with a sense of humor" "it's nice to see traditions being kept."
Cheesesteak · Old City · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.2

"Time-crunched tourists" who can't make it to Ninth and Passyunk head to this Old City deli for a "reliably" "fun family meal" of "more than just the traditional cheesesteaks and accompaniments" ; critics complain about "uncomfortable" storefront digs and a cash-only policy, but others deem it an “old reliable.”