Over the past few years, Philadelphia’s culinary scene has exploded into what has now become a major foodie destination. No longer limited to cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, or hoagies, the range of cuisines in Philly’s different neighborhoods has the power to transport the diner to almost any corner of the world without having to leave the city. Highlighted below are a few of the city’s best neighborhoods and streets for those interested in a cross-cultural culinary adventure.
Washington Avenue- Bella Vista
In Bella Vista, most visitors tend to flock to the storied Italian Market on Ninth Street, famous for its traditional 19th-century Italian roots. The often-overlooked Washington Avenue, however, offers a veritable selection of international offerings from immigrant-run eateries. It is anchored at Washington and 12th Street by Wing Phat Plaza, a Vietnamese shopping center with plenty of authentic restaurants, and the street is intermixed with down-and-dirty taquerias as well as higher-end sit-down restaurants.
Phở & Cafe Viet Huong, located at 1110 Washington Avenue, is a great wallet-friendly option with piping-hot bowls of phở starting at $6 and banh mi starting at $3. Bibou, on 1009 S. 8th Street at Washington Avenue, is a more elegant and upscale French option. Taqueria La Veracruzana is one of the many authentic Mexican eateries on the street, located at 908-18 Washington Avenue, satisfying the Mexican food fix for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Known as a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, diners can stroll down Washington Avenue and follow their noses, and will likely find themselves at the door of one of the many authentic dining options.
Second Street- Northern Liberties
Source: Jessica Rossi AKA Burger Baroness
In recent years, Northern Liberties has undergone a complete transition from a former manufacturing district into a hip and quirky neighborhood, earning itself the nickname ‘NoLibs.’ It offers some of the city’s most authentic international cuisine and best nightlife spots, and is considered one of the go-to brunch neighborhoods in Philly. Come August, NoLibs hosts the Second Street Festival- a giant block party that promotes the neighborhood by combining local art and live music with food from the area.
For tapas or a great brunch, head to Bar Ferdinand at 1030 N. Second Street for a delicious meal that won’t break the bank. If you’re craving Thai food, check out Circles Contemporary Thai Cuisine at 812 N. Second Street, where you can choose your spice level, ranging from mild to Thai hot. For a nighttime option, consider Standard Tap at 901 N. Second Street, which is considered by many to be America’s first gastropub.
With its more unconventional and adventurous flavors, Northern Liberties has quickly established itself as a foodie neighborhood and Second Street as the place to be.
East Passyunk Avenue- East Passyunk
Source: Paul Sableman
A neighborhood that attracts tourists and locals alike, East Passyunk is where old-school meets new-school in a collision of culinary offerings. Home to both of Philly’s rival cheesesteak mainstays, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, it now also houses more exotic options ranging from gastropub fare to authentic Southeast Asian eateries.
Nick Elmi, a competitor representing Philly on the current season of Top Chef, recently opened his first restaurant, Laurel. Located at 1617 East Passyunk Avenue, it will operate as a BYOB serving French and American- influenced seasonal dishes. A few doors down at 1734 East Passyunk Avenue is Marra’s, a family owned and operated Italian restaurant that has been in business for over eighty years.
Named one of Food & Wine’s Ten Best Foodie Streets in America, it is clear that East Passyunk has solidified its standing among foodies- it will be hosting its second annual Restaurant Week in late February of 2014 and continuing its annual Flavors of the Avenue event in April.
While the Philadelphia food scene is constantly growing and changing, it is clear that one thing remains the same: the quality and diversity of dining options. Whether you’re craving a classic cheesesteak or an upscale dining experience, diners will be faced with a plethora of possibilities. The only problem with all these choices? Figuring out exactly where to eat.
For more to fill up your day (and your stomach) in Philadelphia check out Zerve’s listings: http://www.zerve.com/d/philadelphia/food-wine
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Brittany is a member of the Content Team at Zerve. Ironically, she has never had a real Philly cheesesteak before (only a frozen one from Costco at a friend’s house after school). When she is not guest blogging for PhillyGrub, she is usually eating, watching baseball, or looking for bad movies on Netflix.