As the 5th largest city in the US, Philadelphia offers a variety of distinct neighborhoods and more delicious food than anyone could possibly eat in just one trip. But if you’re like us, you’re certainly going to give it your best shot! Check out our guide below to some of Philly’s top neighborhoods–and the can’t-miss cuisine in each one.
You might say the heart of the city lives in its most historic center where Independence Hall stands. This attraction is the most popular in Philadelphia; it is where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Other monuments paying tribute to our nation like the Liberty Bell, National Constitution Museum, and more are only steps away.
The Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing is conveniently located nearby at 201 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd. Nearby there are a variety of dining options including some of our favorite spots like Capofitto, a relaxed and welcoming Italian restaurant with an emphasis on artisan Neopolitan pizza, and gelateria not to mention their extensive cocktail and coffee menu. Owner Stephanie Reitano is the founder of the world-famous Capogiro gelateria (named World’s Best Gelato by National Geographic magazine.) Reitano has been studying the pizza-making process with renowned pizzaioli, Ciro Salvo, in Naples, Italy to bring the most authentic pizza to Old City Philadelphia. A long fermentation and careful handling of the dough results in a light, airy, crisp crust. Before or after enjoying your pizza pie make sure to check out the new Museum of the American Revolution at 3rd and Chestnut Street.
Nearby at The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar Steven Starr has been setting the pace for Philadelphia nightlife since 1995. It’s got the timeless appeal of the classic stainless-steel diner with sensational martinis both classic and contemporary. We are always drawn to the eclectic global menu that takes your taste buds on a tour around the world. Featuring bold and eclectic flavors, from signature Szechuan shoestring fries to playful spins like Cheesesteak Egg rolls and Poke Bowls. The variety of small and share plates on the menu ensure there’s something for everyone. You can also check out The Continental Midtown in Center City at 18th and Chestnut.
Traveling a bit North into the Northern Liberties/Fishtown neighborhood you’ll find a restaurant unlike any other. Mad Rex combines dining and virtual reality for an experience that is truly out of this world. This urban outpost decked out with graffiti, weapons displays, mannequins in survival wear and other “artifacts” treats its guests or “survivors” to indulge in a truly one-of-a-kind atmosphere. Transforming you to another world Mad Rex is decorated like a shrine to apocalypse survivors with so many Instagram-worthy touches. What is one of the most unique experiences is the Virtual Reality (VR) Lounge and interactive dining. For hands free drinks check out the VR cocktails served in an IV bag! They’re also serving up your choice of protein on heated black lava rocks or pink Himalayan salt blocks allowing guests to cook their meal exactly to their liking.
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art visitors can marvel at more than 200 galleries containing over 227,000 objects from around the world. From classical paintings to street art, Philadelphia is a mecca for anyone who loves art and the artists themselves. The City of Philadelphia has long been the topic of songs, and the focal point of Hollywood movies. Right outside the museum is one of the most iconic locations in the city, The Rocky Steps. A short walk down Benjamin Franklin Parkway will bring you to The Barnes Foundation, home to one of the finest and largest private art collections of early and post-impressionist paintings in the world. See masterpieces by renowned artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and many others. These monuments are all conveniently located near the Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia Center City. And be sure to keep an eye out all over the city because the art in Philly is not limited to museums–over 3,800 murals can be found all over the city.
When you’re craving sushi only minutes from these museums right off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is local byob Umai Umai. Owner and Chef Alex McCoy opened his restaurant in 2005 shattering the boundaries and challenging the limits of traditional sushi. Take a glance at the menu and its plain to see his imaginative sushi creations have a distinct style, carefully balancing tradition and ingenuity. We love every specialty roll and even more since they represent his unique personality and experiences. Its only more of a selling point that this restaurant allows diners to bring their own beverage making this gem of a sushi restaurant right in the cozy Fairmount neighborhood a rare find. With only 38 seats, dinner at Umai Umai provides a truly special culinary experience.
Only a short walk from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway you’ll be drawn by the enrapturing aroma of grilled meats at Chima Steakhouse. Bringing you a taste of the history of Brazil, this restaurant allows guests to eat to their hearts desire. Chima is filled with traditional gauchos (cowboys) carrying skewers full of seasoned meats and vegetables slow cooked over a wood burning flame from table to table. The first restaurant opened by the Silva family in Fort Lauderdale, Florida 2004. Legend has it that, in South Brazil would consume a diet that consisted almost entirely of beef. The restaurant offers wines, champagnes, a full bar, salad bar and 15 rotisserie Brazilian styled meats for guests. A few of those options are include ribeye, top sirloin, ribs, chicken, lamb chops, salmon, sausage, and more. The salad bar, cheeses, soups, and traditional Brazilian hot dishes, accent the rodizio meats as well as dessert options if you’ve saved any room!
Infuse your visit to Philadelphia with “energy, spirit and vitality” by stopping by Ánimo Juice. Sister and Brother duo Maria and Anthony Gentlesk felt inspired to create their restaurant free from processed food laden with preservatives and synthetic ingredients. Ánimo was developed as a quick service juice and burrito bar using only nutritious and highest quality ingredients. On the menu you’ll find variety from homemade soups and salads to hand rolled Mission-style burritos, freshly pressed juices, juice blends, protein shakes and specialty organic items like wheatgrass and a vegan non-dairy custard made from 100% organic bananas. Make sure to check out their variety of gluten free items and of course their Smoothie Bowls which are delicious as they are beautiful.
We also love the brunch options and fast service at Moustaki Gyro. Right off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at the corner 21st and Race Streets has become a beacon for fast casual Greek cuisine. Owner Peter Kada has expanded on his latest venture since taking over his family’s 40 year old pizza shop, Pete’s Famous Pizza, established in 1980 by Kada’s grandparents. Moustaki derives its name from the Greek word for “mustache” and they’re is serving up a variety of meats carved, marinated, cooked, sliced, and grilled in house. Check out their menu is filled with the traditional Greek Gyro, Souvlaki, dips, and sides made just like Yia Yia used to. Not to mention they’ve got Nutella French Toast, Omelettes, and more to fulfill your craving savory or sweet.
Heading into Center City you’ll find Rittenhouse Square, an ideal park to lay out a blanket to enjoy a picnic. This square is full of all types- locals, tourists, and entertainers. Overlooking the square, Parc Restaurant offers diners in Philadelphia to step into a French bistro like those off the Champs–Élysées. This Steven Starr restaurant pays homage to the beloved French café where good food, good wine and atmosphere combine to create an unforgettable experience. Open from early morning to enjoy a café au lait and fresh-baked croissant at breakfast, mid-day diners can sip champagne and enjoy a raw bar selection of Fruit De Mar and pastries or take comfort in a perfectly Roasted Chicken and expertly crafted Beef bourguignon for dinner.
You’ll only have to travel 2 blocks along Rittenhouse Square to find yourself in a gastropub straight from London at The Dandelion. This Steven Starr restaurant is a sophisticated hat-tip to the British pub serving seasonal takes on U.K. cuisine. The inviting bilevel restaurant features a cozy seating area between the bar, hallways and nooks, each impeccably fashioned to carry its own personality. The menu, featuring beloved classics like Beer-battered Fish and Chips with plenty of unexpected surprises like Cask Beers. Made-from-scratch Sticky Toffee Pudding and hearty family-style roasts served every Sunday round out this tantalizing dining destination.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City is steps from Rittenhouse Square and the Broad Street Line allowing guests to easily hop a subway train to take them North or South of the city center. Cinder Copper and Lace is a nearby bar and restaurant with a menu crafted around ciders and sour beers, as well other varieties of craft brews on the 32 taps and a list of over 70 bottled beers. Cinder is most certainly a restaurant for beer lovers. Beers flow daily from their full custom design system housed in copper pipes. They’ve also got a menu filled with small plates, pizzas, and mussels to pair excellently with your beverage of choice. Flights are also available to allow guests the option of tasting a variety of their collection.
And if you’re looking for a fine dining selection for seafood, Ocean Prime is only a block west of Broad Street with not-to-be-missed cocktails like the Berries & Bubbles made with Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Marinated Berries, House Made Sour, and Domaine Chandon Brut to finish. Poured tableside over dry ice this cocktail is a show in itself with all the smoke and bubbles of an elaborate magic trick. The Cucumber Gimlet is another mainstay crafted with Bombay Sapphire Gin and muddled fresh cucumber with a squeeze of lime; perfectly refreshing warmer days in the city. Ocean Prime also offers a selection of sushi rolls like the Lobster Roll with poached lobster tail, kiwi, pickled serrano, masago, and spicy mango Purée for a little spicy kick to each bite.
Not far from City Hall is the Hampton Inn Philadelphia Center City-Convention Center and Reading Terminal Market (RTM), one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building. RTM offers an incredible selection with over 80 local vendors selling a variety of locally grown and exotic produce, locally sourced meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and confections. You’ll find everything you need to create a memorable meal, from cookbooks, to table linens, to kitchenware, to fresh cut flowers, and more. Some of our favorite vendors to visit include Beck’s Cajun Café serving New Orleans style fare, Beiler’s Bakery with a huge selection of dollar donuts as well as traditional Amish baked good, Tommy DiNic’s serving up their famous Roast Pork sandwich, Hershel’s East Side Deli with Jewish deli style sandwiches stacked sky high, L. Halteman Country Foods selling all types of bacon and meats, Termini Bros Bakery is known city-wide for their cannoli, and Valley Shepard Creamery & Meltkraft with cheeses from the farm and indulgent grilled cheese sandwiches.
Taking the Market-Frankford Line West and you’ll find yourself in University City. This section of the city is home to a majority of students attending either Penn or Drexel University for both undergraduate and graduate school. The Homewood Suites by Hilton University City is conveniently located at 41st and Walnut Street. Nearby is one of our favorites, Dim Sum House by Jane G. This Old Shanghai inspired restaurant opened last year at 3939 Chestnut Street in University City with a menu that focuses on authentic Shanghai and Cantonese Chinese dim sum. Shanghai Dim Sum items tend to be a little sweeter, whereas Cantonese is more seafood heavy and more light and delicate, natural taste of foods.
Jane Guo also owns Jane G’s at 1930 Chestnut Street in Center City. We recommend ordering the Pork Belly with Mustard Greens which allows guests to Make-Your-Own-Sliders featuring fluffy Chinese Bao buns. The Pork Soup Dumplings (made fresh to order) are not to be missed, as are the spicy Dan Dan Noodles. If you can really handle some heat you’ll also be impressed by the Spicy Shrimp Siu Mai. Dim Sum House also features a full-service bar with wine, spirits, beers, signature cocktails and don’t forget about the pool table.
Nearby at 36th and Sansom is Pod Sushi and The Inn at Penn, a Hilton Hotel. Pod is the ultra-modern scene for stimulating the eyes, ears and palate with contemporary futuristic Pan Asian cuisine. Grab a drink on the big red foam barge or pull up a seat at the sushi bar, where a conveyer belt delivers nigiri and maki. Color-changing booths around the perimeter of the dining room offer another unique experience. The menu is filled with Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean dishes including sushi, rice, noodle, and entrées available in shareable family-style portions.