Ranked as one of the popular destinations in the United States, Philadelphia has many entertainment and dining options. Although Philadelphia is not New York City, there are still many great dining options to be found in the City of Brotherly Love. The area has a myriad of options for all cultural backgrounds. If you find yourself visiting Philadelphia or you are a native looking for new dining options, here are the five best restaurants in the area.
Asia On the Parkway
Asia On the Parkway is one of my favorite restaurants not in China Town. Located on the Ben Franklin Parkway, Asia on the Parkway offers Chinese, Japanese, and Korean fares. Not only does this restaurant serve up American-Chinese foods, but also authentic Chinese food. There is a lot to choose from on the menu, but each dish on the menu is made with care. I have never had a bad meal here and my parents generally enjoy their meals too.
When my dad ordered the Peking duck, the waitress brought it out to him and before he was served, she carefully took the bones out of the duck and placed the meat into dough pouches. My dad was impressed. It reminded me of the various restaurants in China Town that I have loved over the years. I have always loved their sweet and sour chicken and Peking duck. Each meal is served with green tea and it’s located in the hustle-and-bustle part of the City coming from City Hall. Asia On the Parkway offers daily specials and is affordable.
Also known as Old City Tavern. City Tavern is an authentic tavern located in historic Old City (specifically on South Market Street) and serves the traditional Colonial American fare. The hosts and waiters dress in the traditional Colonial wear as well to make guests feel like they’ve stepped inside Eighteenth Century America. Their drinks are reminiscent of Colonial America and their shrub drinks (Seven-Up or Sprite based) are interesting, though in a good way.
I visited on a cold November day when I was craving rabbit. City Tavern is the only restaurant in Philadelphia that serves rabbit (besides Casablanca in Warrington). I found this restaurant via a Google search on places that serve rabbit in Philadelphia. I am glad I decided to try it because it is such a fun experience. When I was seated, I was brought five different types of bread. Each piece was from a recipe from Thomas Jefferson, it was historically accurate breads. They had the traditional white bread, a wheat bread, and a few sweet breads (I loved the sweet breads). The table was also adorned with pewter dishes and cups. City Tavern serves not only rabbit, but turkey pot pies, potato leek soups, chicken, beef, and a whole assortment of wild game. The braised rabbit was the best!
City Tavern is a very comfortable tavern. The whole experience took an hour and a half, but it was enjoyable. I sat near a fire place and near some windows. It was a very quiet experience, at least for two o’clock in the afternoon. I felt at peace when I ate and I loved being transported back to Colonial America. However, City Tavern is expensive and should be saved for more special occasions. I spent $35 on lunch just for myself. However, I think the experience is worth it and with the food portions I could see why it was that expensive. It’s also located in a beautiful part (and expensive part) of Philadelphia.
Devil’s Den is a restaurant located on Eleven and Ellsworth in South Philadelphia. I found this restaurant from the recommendation of a friend. For those of you who will be taking public transit, Devil’s Den is a ten-minute walk from the Broad Street Line (you will get off at the Ellsworth/Federal stop). They have a full-stock bar and Devil’s Den is one of the few places in Philadelphia that serves absinthe. They also mix up some creative cocktails and have microbrew beers. I love the selection of non-alcoholic drinks; their creative spin on a Shirley Temple is amazing. They made the Maraschino juice from scratch and it gives the Shirley Temple an update—it’s not as sweet as the standard Shirley Temple.
Devil’s Den’s food is also tasty. The French fries they serve with the meals aren’t frozen, they are hand cut and fried. The way Devil’s Den makes their French fries reminds me of how my grandmother used to make her French fries. Their chicken and falafel are also really good. They serve everything from hamburgers to pork sandwiches to beef sandwiches and vegetarian. Despite the name, Devil’s Den is a welcoming atmosphere and relatively cozy with the fireplace that is lit during the winter. It is a bit on the expensive side, but the price is worth it.
Red Hook Tea and Coffee
Red Hook Tea and Coffee is a small café is also located in Queens Village on Fourth and South Streets. Opened daily from seven in the morning until six in the evening, Red Hook serves breakfast and lunch that is fair trade and organic. While they do serve meat, they do have vegan and gluten free options. I find their prices to be fair—for a chai tea and bagel, I often spend at most five dollars. Red Hook only accepts cash, but there is an ATM right next to the coffee counter. I find their lunches, which I often order a chicken salad sandwich, amazing as well.
Red Hook’s baristas are congenial and helpful. I feel respected as a customer, especially since they bring out the food to the patrons if they are dining in. The atmosphere is a comfortable, kitschy place to sit and eat, or work on a book or an article, or chat with friends. Red Hook often displays artwork of local artists; which patrons can also buy.
Located on Second and South Streets in Queen Village, Cedars is a family owned Lebanese restaurant. They recently renovated their shop and both inside and out look beautiful! Gothic arches welcome you inside a restaurant adorned with comfortable pillows around tables. Above the latticework frame that holds these vibrantly colored pillows are electric candles glowing in little crevices of the white walls.
I actually found this restaurant by exploring South Street. I was walking to another Middle Eastern restaurant and saw the owners renovating the outside back in August 2015. They are right next my favorite Arabic bookshop and their friendliness is actually what persuaded me to try Cedars once they re-opened. Cedars is my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Philadelphia. The restaurant serves the standard Middle Eastern fare: hummus, baba ghanouj, stuffed grape leaves, shawarma, and gyro. However, they also serve a homemade Lebanese fare of grilled lemon chicken, stuffed salmon, lentil soup, and many other options. My favorites are the lentil soup, baked salmon, and a date dessert called maamoul.
The food they serve reminds me of the lentil soup my grandmother used to make and the foods I learned to love by taking two years of Arabic classes. Cedar’s is traditional and the way they make their food reminds me of so many happy memories of visiting different places with my Arabic class. Cedars is inexpensive for all the food that is served. While Cedars doesn’t serve alcohol, the restaurant is BYOB.