Although we were in Philadelphia for only a year, it was definitely eventful! When we arrived, it was the first time B and I finally got to live together (no more long distance after +8 years) and we thought it would be a chill year. When we left, we had a new baby girl (!), were moving cross country to Seattle, and an epic world pandemic / social justice movement was changing the world.
Our restaurant exploration was cut short due to COVID19 and my pregnancy, but here are my favorite places to eat. As always, you can follow my restaurant and travel food adventures on instagram)
The number one question we get about eating in Philadelphia is where to find the best Philly cheese steaks. There’s a lot of great options.
I am a big fan of Tommy Dinic’s in the Reading Terminal; my go-to is the Roast Pork Sandwich with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone, although B doesn’t count that as a Philly cheese steak. B’s favorite is Joe’s Steaks Philly Cheesesteak (original with mushroom). Cleaver’s makes massive cheesesteaks (we like the BBQ cheesesteak and The Cleaver) and is a very charming date spot with its fun typography and wall art. We also love By George!‘s spinach & garlic cheesesteak, which was our last cheesesteak hurrah before we left Philadelphia.
The don’t miss spot for eating in Philly is of course Reading Terminal, one of America’s largest and oldest public markets. We always enjoy Bassett’s ice cream, apple dumplings from the Dutch Eating Place, and my husband is a fan of Beiler’s doughnuts (especially the lemon creme).
Fun fact: Bassett’s is America’s oldest ice cream company (established in 1861), the first merchant to sign a lease at the Reading Terminal Market (in 1892), and is still owned and operated by the same family today.
In Chinatown, we like Tom’s Dimsum (far less crowded and better priced than other dimsum places) and Hippot Shabu Shabu for all you can eat. We always buy pork BBQ and roast duck from Siu Kee Duck House.
I missed sushi terribly while pregnant. After our 20 week ultrasound came back all good, we celebrated with Fuji Mountain Sushi, which has fun speciality rolls. I stuck mostly to the cooked sushi but the raw sushi was very fresh.
There’s so many great restaurants in or near Center City, our neighborhood.
Harper’s Garden has a rotating menu; we liked the pan roasted halibut, spice crusted swordfish, and a steak dish. We had a celebratory dinner with our friends for our last meal in Philadelphia before moving, so lots of good memories here.
The Dandelion is a gourmet British pub with a “dandy lion” as the logo. We like their beef tartare, rabbit pie, lamb and shepherd pie.
Green Eggs Cafe is great for brunch (note they are cash only) – try the kitchen sink skillet, breakfast burrito, and the southern fried chicken sandwich. They have creative coffee drinks, and the Oreo latte is a treat.
For nicer places, B’s program director recommended Buddakan to celebrate me taking my medical boards, but I was too sick from pregnancy. We ate there a few months later when my brother visited; we liked the calamari salad, crab fried rice, and chinese eggplant.
B’s attending and good friend recommended Sampan, and we ate there to celebrate my hematology-oncology match day! This place has a set menu with small plates to pick from each categories, We love the pork bao, the Philly cheesesteak bao, Korean bbq beef satay, kung pa chicken wings, honey glazed char siu pork, and the rice crispy sushi with ice cream.
Other worthy mentions are Southgate (KFC fried chicken, Korean taco, bulgogi burger, Seoul hot chicken sandwich) and White Dog Cafe for farm-to-table dining and the most uniquely dog decorated restaurant you’ll ever see.
Finally, Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings has a lot of tasty options. There’s an egg stand where the owner will throw a rubber egg hiding in an egg carton with real eggs saying “Think quick!” (this freaked B out the first time but he caught it by reflex!). When I was pregnant I enjoyed the spicy pickles from Doc Pickle.
Philly was good to to us, and it’ll always have a special place in our hearts. Goodbye east coast!