When you’re new to a city, it may be hard to branch out from the usual McDonald’s, Arby’s, Wendy’s slump that you’ve probably been living in. To most, unique or family-owned restaurants are intimidating, and McDonald’s or the like works just fine. If you’re visiting or moving to a city to experience it fully, you have to eat at the unique restaurants that it offers. Here are some of the best places to eat in Philly– don’t be afraid to branch out!
Oyster House is one of the most traditional restaurants that can be found in Philadelphia. Their seafood has seen the city through nearly a century of dining. At this point, it’s almost as much a part of the city as the bricks that make up the buildings or the citizens that live there. This restaurant has served delicious and addicting seafood since 1947, and after relocation in 1969 and a renovation in the early 2000s, you would never guess it. The restaurant has adopted a much more modern look in recent decades, but the food and the flavor remain the same: absolutely delicious. They offer delivery and outdoor dining in Philly from their location on Sansom Street.
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If you aren’t into seafood, there are plenty of other amazing restaurants that you will enjoy. One of them is called Parc. It has a very different feeling and menu than Oyster House, as well as different inspirations. This unique eatery is an American take on a traditional French cafe. It serves food throughout the day, all inspired by the fresh food and aromatic bread you can find in France. From steak frites to gruyére and ham sandwiches, the menu is to die for, and every citizen and visitor should try it. It also offers outdoor seating in the busy Rittenhouse Square, giving any visitor the opportunity to do some people watching and really get to know the city by observing and meeting plenty of citizens.
While you’re there, if you get the urge to make a day of your trip to the cafe, you’re already halfway there. Rittenhouse Square is one of the five original city parks designed by William Penn in the 1600s, and it hasn’t lost any of its charms. There are plenty of things to do in Philly, but if you’re looking to relax, it might be a great idea to skip out on the historic tours and museums and take a stroll through Rittenhouse Square. Not only will you be getting a dose of history and glamour as you walk through the ritzy square, but it is also a residential area and relatively quiet. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic of your favorite take-out, or just a fun Philly activity to partake in with friends and family.
There are some more traditional American inspired restaurants that are worth paying attention to if you aren’t so interested in cultural food, or just want something that reminds you of home. High Street on Market serves a variety of traditional food throughout the day. In the morning, you can stop by for a breakfast sandwich. Make sure you check out the rest of their menu, which changes seasonally. While it changes, one thing stays the same: the fantastic quality with which it is served. There’s nothing like good food, whatever the culture, and High Street on Market proves that. Found in Old City, you can get a good look at the neighborhood and fill your belly at the same time.
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Being vegan isn’t necessary to visit this restaurant, but it doesn’t hurt if you are. One of the absolute best restaurants in the city is Vedge, a vegan restaurant that fills tables and bellies night after night. Ask anyone, and you’ll find that this is one of the essential restaurants to visit. Their tofu is fantastic, of course, but that isn’t all that is served there. Unlike the wide majority of restaurants, Vedge’s menu doesn’t center on a type of meat. They focus on delicious vegetables to fill your stomach, and the best part is, you won’t even notice the difference. Here, fruits and veggies, don’t take the role of the sidekick; they are definitely the superhero here, and they’ll knock you off your feet. Located in Center City, everyone should go the Vedge once in their life, even if it takes a couple of tries to nab a table. They go quickly!
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Pat’s King of Steak
Philly Cheesesteaks, are they really as good as they are cracked up to be? Honestly, yes, and there are plenty of restaurant options for you to check out this Philly tradition. Pat’s King of Steaks on East Passyunk Avenue is a must for visitors, new residents or old residents. Open and family-owned since 1930, this restaurant hasn’t changed a bit, and citizens wouldn’t have it any other way. They offer a wide variety of options for your cheesesteaks, and although the restaurant is a little intimidating at first, the food is well worth it. Before you go, you should check on their website for some hints on how to order and check out the menu ahead of time. The only downside is that they only have one location– once you leave Philly obsessed with Pat’s, you’ll just have to come back to get any more of their delicious cheesesteaks.
If you want a definitive list of the best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, check out our guide here.
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Speaking of tradition, Philly is home to a lot more history than just the cheesesteak. If you’re a history nut, there are many museums and historical sites to visit and soak up the facts. One of the best places to go if you are interested in learning about the past is Benjamin Franklin Parkway. There are several different museums and historical centers on the parkway, there is The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Rodin Museum, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute, just to name a few. While restaurants can be enriching, museums can be enriching as well, in a different way, and it might be enjoyable to stretch your brain as well as your stomach.
Any resident can see why a newcomer would be intimidated by the constant rushing and business of restaurants around Philly, but that’s no reason to skip out on some of the best food you’ll ever have. Philadelphia is well known for its food scene, and you’ll soon see why: there’s no other place like it. From traditional cultural dishes from around the world to Philly’s own cheesesteak, food in Philly is done right.