June 18, 2024

The Best New Restaurants in Philadelphia

We go to Philly’s newest restaurants and write about the best ones, so you can feel confident planning dinner. 

The pomelo salad at Càphê Roasters in Kensington / Photograph by Ted Nghiem

Welcome to the Philly 15, the tiny corner of the internet where we tell you about Philadelphia’s best new restaurants.

So what exactly are the qualifications for this chic collection of establishments? For one thing, the 15 restaurants below opened within the past year. That’s why they’re called “new.” Secondly, someone on the Foobooz team has visited each place and dubbed it genuinely recommendable. If we wouldn’t send our celebrity crushes (Tyrese Maxey, Tina Fey, and Quinta Brunson, to name a few) to a restaurant, we wouldn’t send you, either, so it’s not going on the Philly 15. Make no mistake — this isn’t a press-release circus, nor is it a collection of dubious friend-of-a-friend endorsements. This is a guide where real Philly humans (us) write about incredible new restaurants so that other real Philly humans (you) can eat well.

Waltz into these new restaurants with confidence that you’ll enjoy your meal. (We make no promises on the company, though; that’s on you.) We’ll be updating the Philly 15 with more dreamy spots as soon as we visit them, so you can always count on this guide to give you a great, up-to-date restaurant recommendation. Until then … happy eating, Philadelphia.

Got a place you think deserves to be on the Philly 15? Send an email to [email protected] and make your case.

Suya Suya’a dining room / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

Suya Suya, Northern Liberties
Around $15 per person; walk-ins only.
Best for: Lunch, something quick, highlight-of-your-week takeout.

Fast-casual lunch spots are about as invigorating as a half-flaccid traffic cone in a parking spot — you’ve seen them a hundred times before, and you’ll see them a hundred times again. But Suya Suya in Northern Liberties operates in a different league than the city’s build-your-own-bowl chains. Everything at this Nigerian restaurant revolves around grilled yaji-spiced meats that are typically eaten as street snacks with some cooling veg. No matter which protein you choose — chicken, beef, shrimp or Brussels sprouts — it’ll taste fiery and peanut-forward. We always go for the level-three chicken suya with jollof and a side of sweet plantains, and we could happily eat this $15 meal once a week for the rest of our days. Despite the counter setup, Suya Suya has a bunch of tables available (as well as wi-fi, in case you’re looking for a working-lunch option). 400 Fairmount Avenue.

El Mezcal Cantina’s aguachile / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

El Mezcal Cantina, Point Breeze
Around $40 per person; reservations by phone.
Best for: Birthdays, sidewalk margaritas, weekend lunch with kids.

If Philly Mag’s editor ever asks you why the Foobooz crew isn’t on Slack on a Friday afternoon this summer, you can tell him it’s because we’re sitting on El Mezcal Cantina’s sidewalk, eating al pastor tacos and scallops aguachile. And you (and our boss, frankly) should do the same. This Mexican restaurant opened in an old pizza shop on Point Breeze Avenue in January of 2022 with neither fanfare nor a Yelp page. The El Mezcal Cantina team takes advantage of the space’s existing wood-fired oven to cook most of their hot dishes, including pizzas topped with juicy marinated pork. You’ll see a whole range of Mexican regional influences on the menu, from tiny CDMX-esque al pastor tacos to a tres leches concha dessert and coastal aguachile served with crispy tortillas spotted with hoja santa. Set your sights on the tequila cocktails and the mazatlan aguachile, which is as cold, acidic and punching as you’ll want it to be on a 81-degree day. Also: El Mezcal Cantina serves an al pastor margarita (sans meat, naturally) that we haven’t tried yet. Someone please order one and let us know how it is. 1260 Point Breeze Avenue.

Happy-hour arancini and pasta at Prunella / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

Prunella, Midtown Village
Around $40 per person; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Happy hour, date night, people who like to eat comically early.

This pizza-and-pasta spot is the newest member of the Michael Schulson crew that lines South 13th Street. But a more apt description of Prunella is that it’s one of the best restaurants in Philly for eating an early dinner at the bar. Show up before 6 p.m. and you won’t have to deal with Prunella’s reservation mania. Plus, you’ll get to order from the daily happy-hour menu, on which a margherita pizza costs $8 and a spritz costs $7. (If you can’t swing a comically early dinner, you can call at noon and ask if there are any tables available for the night.) The Calabrian chili-spiced Caesar salad, the generous portion of fettuccine al limone, and the arancini we ate here were more memorable than Prunella’s margherita pizza, which is a somewhat standard floppy-in-the-middle, thin-crusted pie. But when that pizza costs $8, there’s very little complaining to be done. 112 South 13th Street.

Pera’s dining room / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

Pera, Northern Liberties
Around $40 per person; BYOB, walk-ins only. 
Best for: Family dinner, a BYOB date, groups of four or fewer.

Philly has an innumerable amount of good Middle Eastern restaurants, but there are fewer options if you’re set on eating Turkish food. Pera does the job with impressive charm in a brick-walled corner spot on North 2nd Street. All the cold mezze plates here come with fluffy pita slices that steam like angry kettles when you open them up. Start with Pera’s ezme — sweet from pomegranates, garlic-slapped, and smoky from roasted hot peppers. Then get some chicken or lamb kebabs, juicy in the center and charred on the outside, or the doughy manti bathing in chili oil and a cold yogurt sauce. The next time you need a BYOB choice that’s slightly more exciting than your regular old neighborhood spot, try Pera for date night or family dinner. Just know that things can get a little noisy during prime time in the dining room, in case you’re looking for somewhere quiet where you can discuss life’s important quandaries, like who changed the Hulu password and why. 944 North 2nd Street.

Banana pudding from Sooo Delicious Soul Food Cafe / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

Sooo Delicious Soul Food Cafe, Washington Square West
Around $20 per person; walk-ins only.
Best for: Highlight-of-your-week takeout, lunch with your kids, a cure for a bad day.

After operating a successful Southwest Philly food truck, Aminah McDaniel and Angel King recently opened a permanent location of their Soul Food spot in Washington Square West. Sooo Delicious Soul Food Cafe serves the same comforting fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and banana pudding as the truck did. But now you can sit down and enjoy your food – though it’s worth mentioning that there are fewer than 10 tables in the dining room here. As expertly fried as the chicken may be, the sneaky stars at Sooo Delicious Soul Food Cafe are the sides. Even if you’re not typically someone who opts for yellow rice as your side of choice, give this one a shot. The rice tastes like a chicken bouillon cube inspired oodles of starchy disciples: Every bite is soft, onion-forward, and packed with tiny shards of red peppers. Order that and some tender collard greens, plus whatever protein you’re excited about. You’ll never walk down Locust the same way. 1112 Locust Street.

Mish Mish / Photograph by Gab Bonghi

Mish Mish, East Passyunk
Around $50 per person or more; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Date night, cool parents, drinking great wine.

Mish Mish is run by former Foobooz editor Alex Tewfik. But if his Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant sucked, we would politely smile the next time we saw him instead of including the place on our guide. You can suss out Mish Mish’s cooking caliber by how they handle their baby octopus dish — since it takes all of 15 seconds to go from tender tentacles to something that mimics a rubber children’s toy. Grilled so each piece has a little bounce against your fork and served with olive-oil slick muhammara, this thing sings acidic, nutty and spicy all at once. If you’re not an octopus person (maybe because you’re a texture diva, or you watched that wonderful/devastating documentary), get the grilled half chicken that’s been painted in pomegranate and just might work as a submission to an avant-garde MFA program. There’s also a gorgeous gouda-blanketed dessert that gave us one of the most severe dopamine rushes we’ve experienced thus far in 2022. Bring someone who is cooler than you are and likes talking in hushed tones in small restaurants. 1046 Tasker Street.

Chicken tacos from Cantina La Martina / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

Cantina La Martina, Kensington
Around $30 per person; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Group dinners, date night, the next time a taco mood strikes.

Meet yet another great new Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia — this time in Kensington, from the former chef of El Rey and Xochitl, Dionicio Jiménez. As thrilled as we are to have Cantina La Martina in Philadelphia, we’re even more thrilled to have its salsas in Philadelphia. Cantina La Martina could very well bottle the trio  — nutty salsa macha, a bright and zippy verde version, and some oddly creamy habanero — and run a booming sauce business. But then we’d all be missing out on these tacos, the red-corn enchiladas, and the casual, tavern-esque corner space. Of the tacos we tried (octopus and cauliflower, a pitch-black pastor negro, and crispy Baja-style fried fish), the chicken taco lined with banana peppers and a layer of melted Chihuahua cheese is the most recommendable. If you have a “chicken-tacos-are-boring” bias, tell that tiny voice in your head to chill out and give it a shot. Cantina La Martina runs weekend brunch as well as daily lunch and dinner. Snag a spot at the long bar up front, or come when it’s nice and sit on the back patio with a friend for Taco Tuesday (when most of the tacos can be ordered individually for $2). 2800 D Street.

Homeroom, Gladwyne
Around $15 per person; walk-ins only.
Best for: Coffee dates, a quick lunch, reading the paper (your phone) with a breakfast sandwich.

When was the last time you went searching for some really good soup or a breakfast sandwich in Gladwyne? Let us rephrase: When was the last time you went searching for anything to eat in Gladwyne? Homeroom is changing that. This new daytime cafe sells a short menu of breakfast and lunch, including a dill-heavy za’atar chicken salad sandwich on lightly toasted multi-grain and a creamy carrot soup with pine nuts and golden raisins that we could eat a bucket of. Keep an eye out for Homeroom’s towering, hunky-looking breakfast sandwich (which they sell every day until 11 a.m.) as well as the selection of Kismet bagels, coffee, and brown butter chocolate chip cookies that taste like Tate’s cookies with even more chocolate and sea salt. Homeroom is the kind of breezy place you could sit in for a while — with newspapers hanging on a ladder and simple wooden tables. 358 Righters Mill Road.

Kpod’s dining room / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

Kpod, University City
Around $50 per person or more; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Special occasions, big groups, Wharton professors at lunch, 21-year-olds with their parents’ Amexes. 

Pod, the iconic University City flashing-light fever dream of the aughts, got a 2022 makeover. True, the place looks like someone Googled “What aesthetic do Penn kids think is cool now?” and then overreached by about 30 percent. (Inexplicable plywood shingles hang from the ceiling and simulate an upside-down Guess Who board; there’s a pastel bonanza color scheme; a train-station-style message board flickers the Kpod logo above the raw bar.) But Kpod’s wide array of Korean food, dreamed up by Peter Serpico, makes the renovated restaurant well worth a visit. The house fried chicken crunches and crushes. Korean hand rolls show off fresh fish with crispy hats hugged in toasted nori. And there are still those color-changing hubs in the corners for the nostalgic Philadelphians among us. Plan a group meal here when fun is the priority, and order at least one hand roll per person, the mandu, and a sticky short rib ssam platter to share. 3636 Sansom Street.

Her Place Supper Club, Center City 
$75 per person; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Special occasions, people who love ramps, BYOB date night. 

Showing up to this Center City BYOB feels like arriving at a friend’s dinner party. Except in this case, your friend for the evening is named Chef Amanda Shulman, and she’s serving the sorts of seasonally driven French/Italian/sometimes Jewish food no pal of ours is whipping up at home. For $75 per person, you’ll get to try a four-course meal, guided by Shulman’s anecdotes and explanations between dishes. Part of the fun of Her Place Supper Club is that no two trips here ever look the same. One menu might involve a plate of steak tartare with crispy-salty fries, and the next might show off mushroom rotolo with taleggio. Since the room is fairly small (it fits 24 people per seating), Her Place Supper Club remains one of the hardest seats to snag in this city right now. Unfortunately there’s no real hack to getting a table – all you can do is pay attention to the next reservation release date listed in the Instagram bio. (Usually, tables are released every other Sunday at 6 p.m.) 1740 Sansom Street.

Middle Child Clubhouse / Photograph by Ian Shiver

Middle Child Clubhouse, Fishtown
Around $40 per person; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Birthdays, irony, half-flirting with Fishtown bros, fried stuff.

The surest way to enjoy Middle Child Clubhouse is to stop worrying about understanding Middle Child Clubhouse. Dining here isn’t dissimilar to hurling yourself into a nostalgic millennial ball pit designed by someone who took an edible a couple hours prior. Except instead of plastic orbs, the MCCH ball pit is filled with cheeseburgers cascading with Russian dressing. The restaurant has undeniable birthday-party energy and makes little cohesive sense, yet somehow works all the same: A portrait of the Pope greets you on your way to the bathroom, people play pool in the middle of the restaurant, and your (excellent) block of latke is topped with trout roe, dancing bonito flakes, and wasabi-pickled ginger. Bring a group for a fun night out, or sit at the bar and drink a glass of wine with your latke. The food here is oozing and chaotic and fun, in all the ways you want on a Saturday night. 1232 North Front Street.


Lark’s dining room / Photograph courtesy of Neal Santos

Lark, Bala Cynwyd
Around $50 per person or more; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Nights when you snagged a babysitter, suburban glamor.

Lark is a suburban restaurant masquerading as a sleek city one, making it a substantial get for Bala Cynwyd. That “Where the hell am I?” feeling is achieved in part by a seventh-floor river view and in part by the magnetism of the food. Lark’s menu shows off fish, meat and pasta from the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on shareable snacks like uni deviled eggs and escargots over potato confit with vichyssoise butter. (Both are as glam and extraordinary as they sound.) Expect to see people mainlining French 75s, the sun pouring in through big windows, and a pillowy gnocco fritto dish that you’ll want to name your second child after. It arrives with stracciatella waiting to be mopped up, a zing of preserved lemon, and prosciutto di parma strips lying on the plate like perfect, useless blankets. Bring someone who likes fish and Big Nights Out, and you’re in for a great time. 611 Righters Ferry Road, Bala Cynwyd.

Inside Càphê Roasters in Kensington. / Photograph by Ted Nghiem

Càphê Roasters, Kensington
Around $15 per person; walk-ins only.
Best for: Lunch meetings, a quick breakfast, sandwich fanatics.

You know those people in high school who excelled in everything they did, no matter the activity? Well Càphê Roasters is the restaurant version of those people (except they don’t annoyingly post on Facebook about how much time they spend down the Shore now). Not only does this Kensington cafe operate as the only specialty Vietnamese coffee roaster in Philadelphia; it also makes some of the greatest new sandwiches in the region. One particularly hot example is the fried chicken banh mì, which comes out hulking and crispy in its panko shell, drenched in gochujang glaze and stacked with pickled daikon, jalapeño spikes and a swipe of mayo — all served on a baguette from Ba La Bakery. Stop by for breakfast or lunch and hang on the couches with a cold glass of cà phê đá, plus all the sandwiches and platters of broken rice you can hold. The place looks like the living room pages from a CB2 catalog came to life in a warehouse. 3400 J Street.

Birria tacos, consommé, and birra ramen from Juana Tamale / Photograph by Hannah Albertine

Juana Tamale, East Passyunk
Around $25 per person; walk-ins only.
Best for: Weekend lunch, highlight-of-your-week takeout, beef-and-dairy gorging.

Juana Tamale started as a pop-up project that accrued long lines for churros, birria tacos and ramen, and fresh tamales. Now, chef Jennifer Zavala has her own restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue that mostly functions as a quick grab-and-go for the neighborhood. Here’s how it works: Order from a counter (preferably a couple quesobirria tacos, consome, and tamales if they have ’em), sit amongst purple walls and anarchic neon decor, and prepare yourself to house various stewed-beef marvels off of an orange tray in a matter of minutes. Juana Tamale’s food is “Oh shit I ate too fast” good. Crispy on the onset and sopping with juices a second later, these quesabirria tacos are the sort of thing you’ll crave at inconvenient times. Like during a Zoom meeting when a co-worker is screen-sharing a spreadsheet and says they “crunched” some numbers. 1941 East Passyunk Avenue.

Good Luck Pizza Co. / Photograph courtesy of Bondfire Media

Good Luck Pizza Co., Midtown Village
Around $40 per person; reservations accepted online.
Best for: Gluten-free pizza, small groups, date night, alone time with meatballs.

Don’t let the name fool you; you should be ordering more than just pizza at Good Luck Pizza. Meatballs made from beef, veal and pork and then topped with ricotta work especially well, as does the bucatini carbonara that’s got all of the right bounce and chew. Order some wings with sour-sweet agrodolce sauce and garlic ranch — it might just be the ideal stoner food, even for the un-stoned. The thick Sicilian pies are almost an afterthought at this brick-walled, check-tableclothed spot. Not because the pizza tastes bad; the crusts are hydrated and fluffy, and the gluten-free pies are surprisingly fantastic. But because the pizza-adjacent stuff is so memorable. Eat at Good Luck Pizza Co. the next time you want an uncomplicated night. Maybe a Thursday, when a Negroni and some meatballs sounds like the best thing in the world, at least for that very moment. 105 South 13th Street.