Michael Hochman
philadelphia cheesesteaks

Move over New York, sorry Chicago, make room at the table San Fran. From Top Chef winners to trendy BYOB's to legendary locals-only spots, Philadelphia no longer takes second to any city in the nation for dining.

Once simply the land of cheesesteaks, hoagies and soft pretzels, a boom of new establishments, unique liquor laws and a rebirth of the downtown core greatly expanded the city's palate.

Whether you're craving a five-star experience or late night noshes, the hottest food trucks or family pizza joints, every Philly 'hood has something distinctive and delicious. All around town, newly-hip neighborhoods have become fertile ground for a restaurant rebirth.

Center City

reading terminal market in center city philadelphia

For decades, Philadelphia's Center City – what natives call downtown Philly – was a dining wasteland of hot dog carts and crusty upscales past their prime. But a renaissance of affordable residences, shopping and entertainment upgraded the downtown food scene immensely.

If Mexican is your taste, some of the best spots in the nation reside here like Lolita's and El Vez. Looking for old-school British pub dining? The Dandelion has the best fish & chips this side of the pond.

For a sophisticated menu 37 floors up, head up to R2L. Drink up history at McGillin's Olde Ale House, the oldest pub in the city. And if you want to catch the Phils or 'Iggles' with locals, Tavern on Broad, Field House and the Fox & Hound are fun sports bars in the heart of Center City.


Northern Liberties

Northern Liberties and Fishtown aerials

Coming of age in the 1800s as a factory district and home of the famed Schmidt's Brewery for 130 years, Northern Liberties is one of Philly's most popular up-and-coming neighborhoods. Over the last decade, “NoLibs" transformed into a trendy community of young professionals, students and artists, creating a thriving restaurant district along the way.

Whether it's sandwich spots and brewpubs surrounding the Piazza apartments at The Schmidt's Commons or vegetarian fare and comfort food along Fairmount Avenue, even the most affordable eatery feels upscale-hip.

Highlights include the slow Southern warmth of Honey's Sit 'n Eat, the creative brunch dishes at Green Eggs Cafe and the city's best tater tots at North Bowl which you can enjoy while you roll a few frames.


Fishtown neighborhood Philadelphia

Photo by Paige Janiszewski on Unsplash

Named for the fishing industry that formed along the Delaware River, there's no more desirable re-established neighborhood for the young and trendy (and those wishing to be) than Fishtown.

A hub for indie entertainment, Fishtown is home to concert venues The Fillmore and The Foundry as well as Kung Fu Necktie and Johnny Brenda's, two live music clubs featuring national touring acts, outstanding pre-show food menus and an eclectic beer selection.

Throughout Fishtown, you'll find Philly's most social eateries including German biergarten Frankford Hall, barbecue hotspot Fette Sau and funky burger joint Sketch Burger.

Feeling lucky? Check out SugarHouse Casino which holds seven restaurants alongside the 3,000 slot machines. And Pizzeria Beddia, Bon Appétit Magazine's “Best Pizza in America," recently closed its tiny window-only location in favor of a brand new sit down spot with beer menu just a couple blocks away.

Don't forget the Philly foods

No matter where in Philadelphia you're looking to settle, expect a diverse mix of casual, trendy and upscale eateries from which to choose. But that doesn't mean that the cheesesteaks and soft pretzels aren't still the best in the world.

Header Photo by Tyler Rutherford on Unsplash



About The Author

Michael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. His work has been featured in nexxt.com, Ale Street News and Radio TV Interview Report Magazine. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga and beyond, and can be found at @phillyparttwo.