Philadelphia is a great food city! And for those coming to town for WordCamp US, a wonderful thing about the convention center is its close proximity to some of the best places to eat in Philly.
Here is my insider’s guide to Philly food – WordCamp US Edition.
The Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market – Multi-vendor Market – 51 North 12th Street
Reading Terminal Market
The Reading Terminal Market is a huge, enclosed public market offering almost every cuisine imaginable. It adjoins the Convention Center, so if you’re cold-adverse, you can walk there without ever having to go outside.
The vendors there are all local, independent businesses offering great food. Here are some highlights:
- DiNic’s – DiNic’s is famous for their roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich. It is pretty darn amazing.
- Salumeria – Really great sandwiches and hoagies.
- Miller’s Twist – Amish-style soft pretzels you can watch them make by hand. They take them hot out of the oven, brush them with butter and hand them to you. It’s decadent, but delicious.
- Down Home Diner – An actual, eat-in diner serving country-style classics.
- Mueller Chocolate Co. – You can get chocolate shaped like anything here – brains, rats, kidneys, etc. in addition to more traditional chocolate treats.
The Convention Center is surrounded on two sides by Philly’s Chinatown where you can find great places to eat and shop. Below are some my favorites.
- Lee How Fook – Chinese – 219 North 11th Street I’ve been going to Lee How Fook with my family since the 80s, and I would dare say it is the best Chinese food in Philly. Get the salt baked squid, the Peking Duck or a vegetarian Buddha Roll.
- Vietnam Restaurant – Vietnamese – 221 North 11th Street Right next door to Lee How Fook is Vietnam Restaurant (not Vietnam Palace across the street). The food is delicious, and if you want to share a cocktail, get a Flaming Volcano – it’s like a drink trough with real flames in the middle.
- Dim Sum Garden – Dim Sum – 1020 Race Street Two words: soup dumplings. They also have the cutest logo ever.
Nan Zhou Hand-Drawn Noodle House – Chinese Noodles – 1022 Race Street Noodles are hand-pulled in-house and added to soups and other dishes. The food is tasty, but they do not offer many vegetarian options.
- New Harmony Vegetarian – Chinese Vegetarian – 135 North 9th Street When you look at the New Harmony menu, you’ll see things like “shrimp” and “pork” but everything they serve is vegetarian. My favorite is the Sizzling Beef. Alx prefers the Deep Fried Vegetarian Roast Duck.
- Hop Sing Laundromat – 1029 Race Street. A speakeasy-style cocktail bar that is shrouded in mystery with a strict dress code. I hear the cocktails are amazing though.
- Yakitori Boy/Japas Karaoke Lounge – 211 North 11th Street The food at Yakitori Boy/Japas Karaoke Lounge is pretty decent with an Izakaya style (“Japanese tapas”) menu, however the real fun is the private Karaoke rooms and Karaoke bar upstairs. You can rent a private room for relatively inexensively and sing, eat and drink for hours.
The Gayborhood/Washington West
Directly South of the Convention Center is an area of Center City referred to as “The Gayborhood” and it has a ton of great food options.
- Barbuzzo – Mediterranean – 110 South 13th Street Really delicious, fresh Mediterranean-inspired food. If you want in you’ll need a reservation, because it’s always packed, but you can sometimes grab a spot at the bar. If you can’t get in, there are a ton of other great restaurants on 13th street.
- Charlie Was a Sinner – Vegan – 131 South 13th Street Charlie Was a Sinner is an amazing vegan cocktail bar. If you want to drink fancy cocktails/mocktails and eat fantastic vegan food this is the place to go.
- Cheu Noodle Bar – Ramen – 255 South 10th Street Cheu Noodle is my favorite place to eat in Philly. I’ve eaten a lot of ramen and hands-down this is the best in town (my fav is the Miso Ramen). They don’t take reservations and you may have a wait, but it’s worth it.
- Little Nonna’s – Italian – 1234 Locust Street Delicious Italian Restaurant owned by Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, the same couple that owns Barbuzzo and a bunch of other restaurants in the area.
- Vedge – Upscale Vegan – 1221 Locust Street Vedge has repeatedly been named the best gourmet vegan restaurant in the US. Chef Rich Landeau also won an episode of Chopped.
Old City/Society Hill
The neighborhoods East near the Delaware River and South of Market are Old City and Society Hill. They can get a little touristy and crowded at night, but there are still some great places to eat in that area.
- Morimoto – Japanese – 723 Chestnut Street Japanese food is my favorite cuisine and some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life has been at Morimoto. Get the tuna tartare, you’ll be dreaming about it for weeks afterward.
- Zahav – Israeli – 237 St James Place Amazing food made up of small plates.
- Talula’s Garden – Farm-to-Table – 210 West Washington Square Fresh, delicious and a really beautiful space. Talula’s always makes the top restaurant lists in Philly.
- Han Dynasty – Trendy Schezuan Chinese – 123 Chestnut Street I think this place is decent, but people LOVE it, especially the Dan Dan noodles. The dishes are heat-rated by number.
- Khyber Pass Pub – Pub Food – 56 South 2nd Street The Khyber was a divey, live music venue where all the local bands played. Several years ago it closed down to music forever and turned into a restaurant. It still has the same spirit as it did back then, but now with great omnivore/vegetarian/vegan-friendly food.
- The Olde Bar – Oyster Bar- 125 Walnut Street Bookbinders was a historic seafood restaurant that opened in the 1800s and closed in the 2000s. Recently local restaurateur, Jose Garces, reopened the space as The Olde Bar. A few WCUS organizers decided to give it a try a couple months ago and had a truly magical eating experience. So good.
Rittenhouse is the area of Center City that is West of Broad Street and South of Market Street.
- V Street – Vegan – 126 South 19th Street Vegan tapas! It’s a great place, but small and they do not take reservations so you’ll probably have a wait. (Edited: I just got word that they DO now take reservations – woot!)
- Oyster House – Seafood/Raw bar – 1516 Sansom Street Arguably the best raw bar in Philly.
- Hip City Veg – Fast Food Vegan – 127 S. 18th Street – Hip City is vegetarian Heaven! They serve 100% plant-based fast food. It is a local, 2-location chain owned by the same woman who owns Charlie Was a Sinner. This location is small with just a few tables, so it’s better for takeout.
- Federal Donuts – Donuts and Fried Chicken – 1632 Sansom Street This place serves 3 things: Donuts, Fried Chicken and Coffee and they are all delicious.
- Dizengoff – Israeli Hummusiya – 1625 Sansom Street Dizengoff serves hummus with various toppings and fresh-baked pita. It sounds simple, but the hummus is so amazing here you’ll wish all hummus tasted this good.
Philly is delicious, and if you’re in the mood to explore, you can make the journey to these further away neighborhoods. You can also check out these places if you’re in town before or after WordCamp US.
Italian Market Area
The Italian Market is a strip of 9th Street that runs from Bella Vista to South Philly. It starts north of Christian Street and ends at famous the dueling Cheesesteak joints, Pat’s and Geno’s. It’s a pretty great strip with lots of places to eat and shop, but I am going to talk about just one unique Philly experience located in this area you should try not to miss while you’re in town.
- Center City Pretzels – Real Philly Soft Pretzels – 816 Washington Ave. There are few things more magical and delicious than eating a hot Philly soft pretzel right after it’s rolled out of the oven. I live pretty close to Center City Pretzels so I get to enjoy this often. They make the BEST pretzels in Philly from only three ingredients: flour, yeast and water. Monday to Friday, they are open from midnight to noon, so if it’s 3am and you’re craving a pretzel they’ve got you covered.
East Passyunk Ave
East Passyunk Ave. is South of Center City and wall-to-wall with restaurants and local shops. Here are a few.
- Bing Bing Dim Dum – Hipster Dim Sum – 1648 East Passyunk Ave. This place is the Cheu Noodle Guys’ second restaurant. It’s super fun with tasty dim sum and drinks.
- Cantina Los Caballitos – Mexican – 1651 East Passyunk Ave Really good Mexican inspired food and drinks.
- Izumi – Japanese – 1601 East Passyunk Avenue Pretty good sushi.
- Stateside – Gastropub – 1536 East Passyunk Ave Anthony Bourdain shot some scenes from Stateside for his Philly episode of The Layover.
You can walk around the Piazza or Liberties Walk and find a zillion places to eat. The area gets a little obnoxiously crowded at night, but late afternoon/early evening isn’t too bad. Here are some of my fav NoLibs places to eat.
- D’mitris – Greek – 944 North 2nd Street D’mitris is one of my favorite restaurants in Philly. Get the grilled octopus or the fried calamari.
- Cantina Dos Segundos – Mexican – 931 North 2nd Street The NoLib’s branch of Cantina featuring Mexican inspired food and drinks.
- Standard Tap – Gastropub – 901 North 2nd Street Good beer and good food.
Fishtown is the hipster outpost of Philly. It’s a little far from Center City Philly but full of great places to eat.
- Pizza Brain – Pizza – 2313 Frankford Ave Pizza Brain not only has decent pizza, it is also the World’s first Pizza Museum! After you’re done your slice you can go to Little Baby’s Ice Cream next door.
- Cedar Point Kitchen – Localvore American – 2370 East Norris Street Really good classic food and a great selection of beer.
- Loco Pez – Mexican – 2401 East Norris Street – Delicious drinks and tacos.
- Stock – Hipster Pho – 308 East Girard Ave. Tasty Pho and Banh Mi.
- Kensington Quarters – Localvore Hipster Restaurant/Butcher Shop – 1310 Frankford Ave. Meat-centric restaurant with a butcher shop featuring local and sustainability raised meat.
- Frankford Ave. There are too many places to eat on and around Frankford Ave. to list them all. This article lists most of them – An Eating and Drinking Tour Through Fishtown
Where to get decent coffee
Coffee people, you know what I’m sayin’ – you don’t just need coffee you need GOOD coffee. My wife and I are coffee people and we know all the great coffee shops.
- Elixr – 207 South Sydenham Street This one is the closest to the official WCUS hotel.
- Bodhi – 263 S. 10th Street
- Rival Bros. – 2400 Lombard Street
- Ray’s Cafe & Tea House – 141 North 9th Street You won’t get hipster pour-overs here, but Ray’s was doing Jamaican Blue Mountain siphon coffee and cold-brew iced coffee way before it was cool. The coffee here is simply delicious and the presentation is super cute.
- Ultimo Coffee – 2 locations: 1900 S 15th Street and 2149 Catharine Street
Queen Village/South Street
- One Shot – 217 West George Street My favorite place for coffee near work.
- Reanimator – 1523 E. Susquehanna Ave.
- La Colombe Headquarters – 1335 Frankford Ave – I’m not a huge fan of La Colombe coffee (sorry), but their flagship shop in Fishtown is amazing and the coffee is extra good there.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg – Philly is such a great eating city. If there is anything specific you’re looking for, drop it in the comments and I’ll help you find it.