magazine | Food & Drinks | Restaurant Reports

Explore the World at these 12 Dining & Drinking Destinations in Philadelphia

photo: Jenn Pan
Philadelphia – home of the cheesesteak (not the cream cheese) – is actually the city of “brotherly love” with neighborhoods that reflect the many different cultures within. Diversity is easily expressed in the city’s cooking and cocktail-ing, and you can taste the world through these global restaurants and bars across Philadelphia’s most spirited neighborhoods. No airfare needed… just a SEPTA key card to unlock unique layers of flavor.

Reporter: Alana Tielmann
Photo: Kelly Smith
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The Dandelion (British)

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
We think the Queen would approve of The Dandelion, a sophisticated hat-tip to the British pub presenting seasonal takes on UK cooking from favorites like beer-battered fish ‘n chips to made-from-scratch dessert puddings. Take your pick of seating: either belly up to the bar, hide in the hallway (or nook), or settle in the ruff-and-tumble “Dog Room.” Each area carries its own personality… and offering. For instance, “Afternoon Tea” is available in the Dog Room from 3 to 5pm daily, which spans from loose tea pots to boozy tea cocktails, and assorted tea tiers stacked with bite-sized sandwiches or pastries. Turn tea time into tappy hour at the bar with a custom cask flight – a 5oz. sampling of three rotating cask ales pulled from the tap with hand pump. For centuries, casks have filled the cellars of Britain’s public houses allowing beer to ferment and sit at the cellar’s natural temperature producing less fizz than American draft beers.
Photo: Ilana Strauss
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Parc (French)

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Situated across from Rittenhouse Square, Parc pays homage to the prized Parisian bistro. Open all day, Parisians Philadelphians can enjoy a café au lait and fresh-baked croissant at breakfast, salade niçoise for lunch, a flute of champagne and charcuterie board mid-afternoon, and les vins rouge and steak frites at dinner. The complex French wine menu stretches from grape varietal to region: no need to perfectly pronounce each label – finger pointing will do.
Photo: alexandmike
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Alma de Cuba (Cuban)

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Consider (Alma de) Cuba for future travel – a Caribbean oasis in the heart of Philadelphia. The tri-level restaurant embodies the soul of classic Cuban cooking and crafting. Plates include advanced ceviche, empanadas, and refined riffs on humble dishes like lechon asado and vaca frita. This dedication to Old Havana extends to the bar program with elevated mojitos plus timeless Latin tipples like the dark ‘n stormy and caipirinha, crafted with house-made sugar cane. Arrive for happy hour, and politely thank leader of Nuevo Latino cuisine, chef Douglas Rodriguez.
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Frankford Hall (German)

Fishtown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frankford Hall is set in an industrial structure surrounded by factories, so boozers can get rowdy. Another plus: the spacious, outdoor picnic tables and indoor bar area make it nearly impossible to spill on somebody, unless a game of ping-pong or shuffleboard gets out-of-hand. Do get your hands on a warm Bavarian pretzel and full liter of German bier – there are eleven German beers on tap, plus a few specialty drafts, bottled beers, and beer cocktails.
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Amada (Spanish)

Old City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Understand the rich traditions of Spanish cuisine at Amada. Courtesy of Chef Jose Garces, the rustic-chic restaurant boasts a six-seat chef’s counter overlooking the open-air kitchen and roomy bar area reminiscent of a typical Spanish bodega, complete with hanging jamòns and rows of wine bottles from Spain. Laze with a large glass of sangria – a flavorful blend of either blanco or tinto wine, diced and sliced seasonal fruit, pinched herbs and spices, and splashes of orange liqueur and Spanish brandy over ice. Inside tip: Taste one of each featured tapas plate available for $5 during happy hour. Same price applies for sangria, specialty ‘tails, and select wines between 5-7PM.
Photo: Jenn Pan
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Zahav (Israeli)

Society Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This modern Israeli restaurant brings the authentic flavors of Israel's cultural heritage to Philadelphia. Zahav translates to “gold” in Hebrew (hence the golden limestone floors and walls within the restaurant) and is also a reference to Jerusalem. Sample various small plates and pick up on the different cultural influences on the Israeli cuisine, from Eastern Europe and North Africa to Persia and the Eastern Mediterranean, through sizzling kebabs and laffa bread – a baked-to-order loaf dressed in wood-fired Taboon (a creamy, nutty spread). Select a boutique bottle of Israeli wine as Zahav offers one of the mightiest lists outside of Israel. In just one sip, you’ll be instantly transported to the Judean Hills of the Holy Land.
Photo: y.tschk
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Morimoto (Japanese)

Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Never question the menu selection of an Iron Chef. Masaharu Morimoto’s flagship restaurant is proof of the world-renowned chef’s innovative cuisine. By combining Japanese tradition and Western culinary techniques, Morimoto creates rich flavors for every plate. Choose from an a la carte menu – think pristine sushi, sashimi, and maki – or an opulent omakase for either lunch or dinner. Pair each course with a custom beverage omakase, starting with sparking wine or sake with their in-house sommelier.
Photo: El Rey
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El Rey (Mexican)

Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Everyone has an abuela at El Rey thanks to the Mexican home cooking inspired by the cuisines of Puebla and Veracruz. Load up on authentic tacos, tortas, enchiladas, sopes, and more, and absolutely add a pitcher of margarita or mezcalita to the lineup. Sink into a broken-in booth bordering folk art, kitschy objects and vintage movie posters adorning the worn cantina.
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Hop Sing Laundromat

Chinatown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Aside from its name and location, there isn’t one trace of Chinese influence at Hop Sing Laundromat. The speakeasy-style bar is dressed in velvety red wallpaper with candelabras on every table. The bar mixes weirdly wondrous cocktails – like Vietnamese coffee mixed with flower-infused gin. The singularly-named owner, Lê, has an “alchemical hand” with drinks. Leave it to him to effortlessly pair dissimilar ingredients. Inside tip: Hop Sing Laundromat is open three nights a week on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. To enter, all must buzz and wait for a doorman outside of the unmarked metal door.
Photo: Marissa Evans
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Serpico (Global)

Washington Square West, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
How about lil taste of everything? Embark on a culinary journey full of unique tastes and unusual techniques. Take a seat around the broad, open-air kitchen where Chef Peter Serpico showcases his ingredient-driven style that is a playful yet familiar take on global fare at his namesake restaurant, Serpico. Complement the cuisine with a glass of natural, biodynamic wine from their smart list. Options range by size and color: pink, white, orange, and red. There’s imported sake, too.

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Photo: Fiume
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Fiume (Ethiopian)

Spruce Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Begin with an Ethiopian dinner at Abyssinia, followed by drinks upstairs at Fiume. The hidden dive bar, decked in Christmas lights, pours over 150 international craft beers in a space that feels more like a friend’s shoebox-sized apartment than bar. Come on a Sunday night for some rhythm and brews – live bluegrass tunes start at 10pm. Request a flakey sambusa from the kitchen downstairs, should your stomach starts singing along.
Photo:J. Fusco
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McGillin’s Olde Ale House (Irish)

Midtown Village, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This 159-year-old Irish institution is here for a good olde time. McGillin’s Olde Ale House, which opened the year Lincoln was elected President, is the oldest continuously operated pub in Philadelphia. The proof is on the walls – old-school photographs and random memorabilia, like a collection of signs from former Phil-icons and establishments that the bar outlasted, fill this storied spot. Expect traditional Irish pub fare, such as the must-have mile-high meatloaf and shepherd’s pie, and an extensive beer list with more than 30 beers on draft. Inside tip: If you can, snag a barstool in front of barman John Doyle – he has been behind the stick at McGillin’s for almost 50 years now.

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