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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Where to Eat During Your Weekend in Philly

I had no idea what to expect from Philadelphia, but boy, was I pleasantly surprised. Once I made it known I was traveling to Philly, I had an influx of food recommendations sent to me- everything from sweet snacks to late night hotspots.

Brunches & Breakfasts

Sabrina's Café

1804 Callowhill Street

Philadelphia, PA 19130

What we ate: Stuffed Challah French Toast and Huevos Rancheros

What to expect: When we arrived at Sabrina’s Café, the place was packed. With multiple locations, this is a great place to spend the morning if you want a breakfast that will keep you going for a full day of touring. We picked the location next to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which left us stuffed and happy for the hours we spent exploring one of the best art museums in the country (and gave us enough energy to run up and down the famous Rocky steps one or five times).

Warning: By the time we arrived, multiple dishes and specialty morning drinks were sold out. I suggest that you arrive early, grab some cheap street parking around the block, and expect a line. Although they don’t take reservations, go to their website app or call in advance to put your name on the morning waitlist.

Bud & Marilyn's

1234 Locust Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

What we ate: Crispy Cheese Curds and Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

What to expect: With its retro interior and sunny design, I was all about Bud & Marilyn’s aesthetic. The walls are tastefully lined with old-school records and dinnerware, while the tables were full of families, couples, and friends alike, all enjoying the easygoing playlist. As a Midwesterner, I couldn’t resist putting the cheese curds to the test, and I will say, although it’s not the typical brunch option, they were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I took a chance with the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and was pleasantly surprised to find the balance was perfectly refreshing for brunch.

Must Have Meals

The Dandelion

124 S 18th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

What we ate: Homemade Bread, Steak & Chips, and Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

What to expect: What started out as a friend’s casual recommendation turned out to be my favorite meal in Philly. The Dandelion is located on Philadelphia’s popular restaurant street next to Rittenhouse Square, but you are immediately transported to cozy England when you walk in the door. Kept up like an old English home and pub combo, everything from the dark patterned wallpaper to the mixed wooden chairs keeps you warm as you read over the hearty drink menu and sit by the fire. Right away, we were served delicious homemade bread and melted butter (which to my delight, was refilled multiple times throughout the meal) and then moved on to rich Steak & Chips and Lamb Shepherd’s Pie.

Fun Fact: I hear it is also a wonderful spot for some Afternoon Tea, served daily from 3-5pm, if you want to stop by with friends and enjoy a tasty British break.


227 S 18th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

What we ate: Veal Escalope and Steak Frites

What to expect: Although PARC is one of the pricier and more popular spots in the city, the restaurant was vast and packed wall to wall with as many tables as they could fit. Designed like a Parisian café, right away I knew I needed to try some classic Steak Frites (even though I had eaten practically the same dish only the day before at The Dandelion). It was pretty good, but I will say, the Veal Escalope took the cake at this dinner.

Want Romantic? I might suggest some of the street side outdoor seating if the weather permits. It allows for a quieter, prettier, and therefore more intimate dining experience facing beautiful Rittenhouse Square.

Jim's South Street

400 South Street

Philadelphia, PA 19147

What we ate: One provolone wit’

What to expect: Welcome to the ongoing debate in Philadelphia over where the most authentic and delicious Philly Cheesesteak is served. We were recommended John’s Roast Pork, Tony Luke’s, Pat’s King of Steaks, Geno’s Steaks, and so many more. Eventually we settled on Jim’s South Street, simply because we heard it hasn’t quite fallen into the tourist trap and also happen to be in the area we were exploring. If you are visiting Philly, make sure you grab at least one sub, even if you’re splitting! Expect a long unavoidable line no matter where you pick, followed by an hour-long food coma.

How to order like you’re from Philly: Along with where to eat in Philadelphia, there are also some opinions about how to order. The classic cheesesteak has cheese whiz, American cheese, or provolone. In addition, you can choose to have onions or no onions (always go for the onions). When ordering, make sure you tell them what cheese you prefer and specify wit’ (with onions) or wit’out (without onions). Making your order something like, “one whiz wit’” or “two provolones wit’out.”

Reading Terminal Market

51 N 12th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

Where we ate: Beiler’s Doughnuts, Shanghai Gourmet, Old City Coffee, Nanee’s Kitchen

What to expect: Reading Terminal Market will be jam packed with both tourists taste-testing local fare and locals stopping for their work lunch alike. Hit it at the right time and there is hardly room to walk around -- But, it’s for good reason. If you are a food lover, Reading Terminal Market is full of restaurant stalls where you can grab a full meal or just a snack. We decided to make our lunch a smorgasbord of different foods from different stalls. We ate spring rolls from Shanghai Gourmet, a delicious lassi-yoghurt drink from Nanee’s, and of course visited the famous Beiler’s Doughnuts and grabbed a half dozen of different flavors to split. At the Beiler’s stall, you can watch the bakers make the donuts right in front of you while you wait in the line that wraps around the market. Trust me- it’s worth it!

Warning: We happened to arrive right as a full volleyball tournament was arriving for their lunch break. Expect it to be touristy, expect it to be slow and packed. But, if you pick the correct stalls at the correct time, you will find yourself full of some of the best foods in Philly!

Sweet Snacks

The Franklin Fountain & Shane Confectionery

116 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

110 Market Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

What we ate: Homemade Coffee Ice Cream and Lavender Flavored Soda

What to expect: This adorable and famous old-timey fountain drink and ice cream spot is a great afternoon stop for a sugary pick-me-up. Not only is the interior beautiful, the desserts and drinks are sweet and delicious. Even the worker’s uniforms fit the part! They allow you to combine any of the flavors you want and will happily give suggestions. We decided on coffee ice cream (my favorite) and thought we should try some lavender soda, which ended up being absolutely delicious.

Location: Although Franklin Fountain and Shane Confectionery are two separate buildings, they function together and sit side-by-side near the water. Make sure you visit the back of Shane’s to watch some chocolate being made!

Rita's Italian Ice

What we ate: Lemon Water Ice

What to expect: Like the cheesesteak debate, the water ice debate is ongoing and opinionated. There are multiple places you can stop and try some water ice (frozen flavored ice or Italian ice, as some people call it); we decided on the easy chain with multiple locations around the city, “Rita’s,” on our way home after a long night exploring.

Where to stop: Some local suggestions include Joseppi’s Water Ice, Rose’s Real Italian Ice, Philly Flavors, John’s Water Ice, and D’Emilio’s World Ice Treats.

Coffee Shops

Greenstreet Coffee Co.

1101 Spruce Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107

What to expect: Tiny, low-key, and relaxed, this coffee shop was a great place to give our feet a rest and play some chess mid-day to get out of the rainy weather. As we sat, recognized and regular customers stopped by, with their order remembered and quickly put together by the baristas. It was also quite dog-friendly, which I always approve of.

Milk & Honey

518 S 4th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19147

What to expect: Bohemian and located off South Street, this coffee shop was a fun place to stop amidst the thrift and novelty shops that line the eclectic street.

Late Night Spots

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company

112 S 18th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

What to expect: The Franklin is one of the best hidden bars I’ve visited while exploring cities around the U.S. The main floor is a fun Tiki Bar, but if you look for some bouncers standing at the top of an outside stairwell, you can ask for The Franklin and will be allowed downstairs (if they haven’t hit capacity). This high-end, wooden, dark bar is full of highly trained, certified bartenders that make eclectic and unique craft cocktails by candlelight.

The History: Opened in the 1920s during the height of the prohibition by a famous Philly gangster Max “Boo Boo” Hoff, this hidden bar sports the classic full name of “The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company,” just like the original did, as a front for America’s largest alcohol distribution ring at the time.

Any other suggestions? Let us know!

Written by Emi Lungmus

Photos by Emi Lungmus

Edited by Anna McCarthy


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