Philadelphia is a foodie city for sure – with famous hoagies, pretzels, Iron Chefs and legendary restaurateurs, it’s honestly hard to find a bad meal in Philly. It’s also hard to draw up a list of the best food in Philadelphia, but I’ve given it a shot. Here’s a list of the iconic dishes and signature meals you won’t find elsewhere. Try these next time you’re looking for the real taste of Philadelphia. We’ve split them into courses so you can eat your way through the city!
Appetizers & Side Dishes
1. Chickie and Pete's Crab Fries
You can't beat this Philly classic - perfectly crispy crinkle cut fries tossed with Old Bay and served with their famous cheese sauce. You can find these in several places these days, but the original location still makes the best fries.
1526 Packer Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19145
2. Soft Pretzels from Center City Pretzel... or a guy with a cart on the street corner.
Center City Pretzel makes the best pretzels in town, especially now that Federal Pretzel is gone. I'll mention Miller's Twist in Reading Terminal Market as well, because the Amish-made pretzels are what started this whole Philadelphia Pretzel thing. Of course, if you don't make the trek down to the bakery, it's still a safe bet to grab a bag of pretzels from anyone you can find selling them on the street.
3. Any and all sides from Sweet Lucy's.
Sweet Lucy's mac and cheese might be the best in the city, and their baked beans are unforgettable! Pair it with fresh cornbread, collard greens, or creamed spinach and you can have one of the best meals in Philly on your plate before you even touch the BBQ meats.
7500 State Rd. Philadelphia, PA 19136
The Main Course
4. Tommy DiNic's Roast Pork with Provolone and Broccoli Raab
DiNic's famous sandwich was recently named the best in America - letting the rest of the country in on the (poorly kept) secret that Philadelphians have enjoyed for decades. Located in Reading Terminal Market, DiNic's serves up other variations of the sandwich, as well as tasty roast beef, but you just cannot beat the original.
Reading Terminal Market, 1136 Arch St. Philadelphia, PA 19147
5. Gnocchi Romano, Dante and Luigi's
This South Philly icon serves up the best gnocchi you will ever have, hands down. There's really not much more to say here - try it, and you'll never order anything else here again.
762 S 10th St. Philadelphia, PA 19147
6. Any hoagie, Sarcone's
If DiNic's is the ultimate Philadelphia sandwich, anything you grab from Sarcone's is a close second. Luigi Sarcone's bread is the best in the city, and they serve up delicious italian creations that really show it off.
758 S 9th St
7. Lamb Shoulder, Zahav
The Pomegranate Lamb Shoulder at Zahav is one of the best restaurant dishes in the entire country, according to food critics, chefs, locals and... well... anyone that's ever tasted it. It's part of the Mesibah prix fixe menu and is the signature dish of this world-famous restaurant. The shoulder is brined, roasted, braised in pomegranate molasses, and turns out tender enough to eat with a spoon. It's served family style, so dig in!
Note: You'll have to call ahead to request the lamb shoulder, so mention it when you make a reservation. 237 St James Pl. Philadelphia, PA 19106
8. Tomato Pie, Iannelli's
Iannelli's famous tomato pie is baked in a brick oven to a perfect crisp - no soggy crust here! Top it with fresh mozzarella and you'll be hard pressed to find a better pizza in Philly. Oh, and the above picture? That's a
half order. If you order a whole, prepare to enjoy leftovers for weeks. 1155 E Passyunk Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19147
9. Any good cheeseteak.
Whether you choose Jim's, Geno's, Pat's, John's, Tony Luke's, or any of the other dozen famous cheesesteak shops, this is one meal you absolutely must have if you spend any time at all in Philly.
10. Belgian Waffle, Amis
Amis is the more affordable version of Vetri, but it does not skimp on flavor and creativity. The Belgian Waffle with Nutella, vanilla semifreddo, and toasted hazelnuts might be the single best dessert in Philadelphia.
412 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
11. Root Beer Float, Franklin Fountain
Philadelphia may be responsible for the Ice Cream Float, though the origin of the treat is debated. Regardless of the true story, the Root Beer Float at Franklin Fountain is the best one you'll have. Fresh ice cream and perfect pop pair to make this dessert one for the books.
116 Market St. Philadelphia, PA 19106
12. Cherry, Lemon, or pretty much any flavor from John's Water Ice.
I just had a conversation this week with an out-of-stater, trying to explain water ice. It's not Italian ice, it's not shaved ice... it's water ice. And if you haven't had any of the famous flavors from John's in Bella Vista, you simply haven't had the best.
701 Christian St. Philadelphia, PA 19147
Did we miss any of the best food in Philadelphia? If you’re craving more unique Philadelphia dishes, you might want to spend a week tracking down the best food trucks in the city –
click here for the list and get to work!