Best of Philly Restaurants and Must Eats

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There’s no slowing down for Philly restaurants, even in the dog days of summer. This season, the options for excellent local eating continue to expand in all neighborhoods and at all price points. Popping this summer: a new Center City outpost for Marc Vetri’s eponymous pizzeria (Pizzeria Vetri), a farm-to-table fast foodery (Farmer’s Keep’s), a South Indian bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot (Imli Indian Kitchen), a classic dinner club reboot (Vesper) and a fusion taqueria (Revolution Taco).

Here are a few more restaurants to add to the must-try list:

Easygoing Eats & Comforting Cooking:

  • The Awesome Grilled Cheese (with basil oil and tomato cream dipping sauce), chicken meatballs Florentine and veal breast hoagie with shaved fennel thyme slaw are just a few examples of Pennsport shop 1st Ward Sandwich’s high-level comfort food. 100 Morris Street, (215) 551-8000, 1stwardphilly.com
  • The Loft District welcomes a new neighborhood hang with a classic tavern feel. Brick & Mortar offers chic but easygoing fare like hoisin hangar steak, buckwheat linguine with kale pesto and sticky toffee muffins, along with house cocktails like the Blinker (rye, grapefruit juice, raspberry syrup) and an interesting list of draft beers. 315 N. 12th Street, (215) 923-1596, brickandmortarphilly.com
  • The healthy fast casual trend surges on, but Center City newcomer Farmer’s Keep’s mission is manifold. In addition to light, fresh meals such as build-your-own salads, the offerings also include seasonal cocktails and health-inspiring activities such as a running club and yoga breakfasts. 10 S. 20th Street, (215) 309-2928, farmerskeep.com
  • Every neighborhood needs solid brunch, lunch and dinner options. Pennsport gets all three with Fourth and Cross, where the farm-to-table menu focuses on simple, accessible eats like pancakes, burgers and an oyster po’boy, plus a six-layer chocolate cake that is baked on the premises. 1527 S. 4th Street, (215) 551-5200, fourthandcross.com
  • Opening any minute, Scratch Biscuits promises down-home food that just might be better than mama’s. Gluten-free and regular biscuits supply the foundation for breakfast sandwiches (Pennsylvania Dutchman: homemade sausage, apple butter, grilled onion and cheddar), lunch sandwiches (Kentucky Klassic: Benton’s country ham, house pickles and pimento cheese) and sweet biscuit puddings (Fluffernutter; Nutella). 1306 Chestnut Street, (267) 930-3727, eatscratchbiscuits.com
  • It’s a brilliant concept: Pairing the region’s best craft beers with a celebrated barbecue truck’s eats. Located in a former warehouse in Bridesburg, Smokey Pint brings together beers from Yards, Philadelphia Brewing, Stoudt’s, Victory and others with the Oink and Moo BBQ Truck’s pulled pork sliders, chicken tacos and ribs. All are available to enjoy onsite or to go. 2549 Orthodox Street, (267) 343-4266, smokeypint.com

Second & Third Acts:

  • The down-to-earth cooking at Port Richmond’s Mercer Café always satisfies, and now a second location in the Navy Yard brings those easygoing banana pancakes, creamed chip beef, turkey clubs and crab quesadillas (plus Taconelli’s pizza) to a different audience. 4920 S. 15th Street, (267) 457-5585, mercercafephilly.com
  • No such thing as too much of a good thing, and Pizzeria Vetri’s new Rittenhouse Square branch proves the point. The original location’s char-freckled crusts are replicated here, with the same delicious toppings (Tonno: Sicilian tuna, onion, peperoncino; Salsiccia: fennel sausage, roasted fennel), along with the same inventive salads, creamy soft serve ice cream and bottled cocktails. 1615 Chancellor Street, (215) 763-3760, pizzeriavetri.com
  • The owner of Grey Lodge Pub and Hop Angel Brauhaus teams up with Troy Everwine for a third Northeast Philly venture. SawTown Tavern reinvents an historic bar, boasting custom-crafted house beers; hearty, scratch-made brunch and lunch eats such as biscuits and sausage gravy and French toast; and pub fare, including barbecue pork skewers brought in from neighboring Pasiano’s. 4717-19 Princeton Avenue, (215) 332-1699, sawtown.com
  • A legendary restaurant opens its third location: White Dog Café’s sustainability focused cooking prevails in a new Haverford outpost, with local artisan cheese plates, Kennett Square mushroom soup and Jersey scallops served with pea shoots and jalapeño sweet corn cream. Desserts like strawberry and cream bread pudding, serious cocktails and local beers round out the offerings. 379 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford Square, Haverford, (610) 896-4556, whitedog.com

Notable Potables:

  • The hotly anticipated Guild Hall Brewing Co. has finally tapped its kegs in Jenkintown. Meanwhile, the kitchen turns out colcannon tater tots, the Aberdeen burger (salami, fried egg and garlic aioli) and mains like honey-roasted pork with garlic spinach, plus sweets like berry cobblers and beer milkshakes. 208 York Road, Jenkintown, (267) 287-8698, guildhallbrewing.com
  • A revival of a classic Philly private dining club, Vesper brings the lush mid-century era back to Center City, replete with live music, dancing and a speakeasy behind a secret bookcase door. The menu features a raw bar, filet with shallot tarte tatin and seasonal vegetarian pot pie, along with classic cocktails and wines by the glass. 223 S. Sydenham Street, (267) 930-3813, vesperphilly.com
  • The Kennett Square location of Victory Brewing Company, Victory at Magnolia makes a rotating selection of beer produced on the premises available. There’s also a small menu of beer absorbers: sautéed PEI mussels, burgers and Carolina pork sandwiches. 650 W. Cypress Street, Kennett Square, (484) 730-1870, victorybeer.com

An International Affair:

  • The homemade corn tortillas at Dos Tacos encase fillings like the Phat Pig (bacon, braised and crispy pork belly, radish and pico de gallo), The Frenchman (herb-braised chicken with truffle lime vinaigrette and foie gras) and Ta-Korea (flank steak, kimchi and pickled cucumber). Late night hours accommodate bar-goers’ cravings for all of the above. 120 S. 15th Street, (215) 567-8226, dostacos.rocks
  • Queen Village gets a taste of coconut curry with the arrival of Imli Indian Kitchen, an airy BYOB focusing on the flavors of South India. The aromatic fare includes medhu vada (lentil donuts with chutney), avial (vegetables with mango, coconut and cashew paste) and meen molee (grilled striped bass with condensed coconut milk, shallot and urad dal). 769 E. Passyunk Avenue, (267) 858-4277, imliphilly.com

Coming Soon:

  • Chef Peter McAndrews (Modo Mio, Paesano’s) turns out some of the city’s most inventive Italian food, and a Fishtown shack will soon become Heffe, his first foray into tacos—albeit with Italian and Mediterranean influences. Frankford Avenue & Marlborough Street
  • Chef Scott Schroeder’s creativity knows no limits and soon, with the opening of Hungry Pigeon on Fabric Row, he'll add an all-day café with dinner service to his restaurant portfolio. 743 S. 4th Street, hungrypigeonphilly.com
  • The only thing missing from the city’s vast taco scene? A great vegan option. Nicole Marquis of HipCityVeg will remedy that issue with the opening of JoséJosé in Rittenhouse Square, two doors from her flagship fast food restaurant. 133 S. 18th Street
  • A former Momofuku Ko chef will helm SouthGate, a Korean pub on the site of the beloved Tangier bar that promises enticing eats like Korean fried chicken and bulgogi burgers. 1801 Lombard Street
  • Great news for Queen Village: The new owners of Southwark, Chris d’Ambro and Marina De Oliveira, are preparing to open Restaurant Ambra next door, with an Italian wine bar concept.
  • Three popular food trucks—Street Food Philly, Say Cheese and Taco Mondo—join forces to open the forthcoming Revolution Taco, a BYOB with counter service and seating for 30. The menu could include smoked mushrooms or Korean fried chicken tacos and burritos, as well as bacon and cheese empanadas. 2015 Walnut Street
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