Fave Philly Dishes You Must Try Right Now
Recognized as the 6th best food city in America by The Washington Post and the number one best city in the U.S. by Lonely Planet, Philadelphia should be at the top of your must-visit list this year. Get your stomach ready, because there’s a lot to eat in this town, starting with some of my favorite dishes below.
Mt. Vesuvius sundae @ Franklin Fountain
116 Market Street | Old City
For ice cream lovers, there is no better spot to treat yo’ self than at old school parlor shop, Franklin Fountain in Old City. The Mt. Vesuvius is a chocolate lovers' dream: chunks of chocolate brownie under hot fudge ‘lava’ that is topped with malt powder and whipped cream, all served under a mountain of your choice of chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
Grab donuts hot off the fryer at Federal Donuts. Co-owner Michael Solomonov has blessed Philadelphia with several top-ranked restaurants, and luckily for us, his fried chicken and donut chain called Federal Donuts is available throughout the city. For less than $1.50 you can have your pickings from Vanilla Lavender, Appolonia, or Indian Cinnamon-dusted hot and fresh donuts, or, for a buck more, upgrade to a “fancy” donut with unique frostings like Blueberry Mascarpone.
Cheese and meats @ Di Bruno Bros
Since I moved to Philadelphia I have lost count at how many dollars I continue to spend (totally worth it) at the legendary DiBruno Bros specialty foods shops. If cured meats and cheese are your thing, drop everything you’re doing and go to one of their six locations now. They do not skimp on free samples!
Truffled egg toast @ Tria
It’s the little things, right? I’ve discovered the little thing that keeps me coming back to Tria, a stellar wine and cheese bar, time after time: the Truffled Egg Toast with Fontina Fontal. For egg sluts like myself, there is nothing better than this dish which features a jello-like egg yolk atop a cheese-melted slice of densely toasted brioche. Drool.
Brisket Cheesesteak @ Mike's BBQ
1601, 1703 S 11th Street | South Philly
Here's the thing. Philadelphians don't eat cheesesteaks. It’s what tourists do. Having said that, if you want to try one, I say eat a cheesesteak that is unique, different, one-of-a-kind but still true to Philly. Philly restauranteurs have been putting their own twists on cheesesteaks for a while (see Di Bruno Bros.' take on a cheesesteak amuse-bouche), and one of my favorites is the brisket cheesesteak from Mike's BBQ in South Philly. Bar owner Michael Strauss began serving home-made barbecue at pop-ups throughout the city, gathering taste testers along the way. We first tried Mike's BBQ at another favorite neighborhood garage brewery, Brewery ARS on West Passyunk Avenue in 2016 and immediately were hooked. When Mike moved his food truck to replace the former South Philly Barbacoa headquarters, we were one of the firsts in line. The brisket cheesesteak is a homerun: juicy chunks of brisket, topped with gooey Cooper Sharp white American cheese and diced yellow onions, served in a hearty long roll. The sandwich perfectly recreates the textures of a Philly cheesesteak but the flavors of the fatty brisket with the perfectly melted sharp cheese really shine. This is the way a cheesesteak should taste.
Hands down my favorite breakfast jawn is Hungry Pigeon in Queen Village. You can find me stuffing my face with their famous homemade egg and cheese English muffin sandwich (with a perfect square chunk of hashbrowns on the side!) and latte on most Sundays for my post-yoga fix. It is a perfectly stacked dish: squishy English muffin, thick slabs of bacon (meat is optional), medium fried egg and melted jack cheese. Do not miss ordering that crispy hash brown on the side.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nashville-style hot chicken by Kevin Sbraga
Pop-up locations vary/limited
It's always a sad day when you discover one of your favorite restaurants has shuttered. Philadelphian Chef Kevin Sbraga once owned The Fat Ham, home to my favorite Southern fried chicken in the city. The Top Chef winner presented his version of beloved Nashville-style hot chicken (60% cayenne pepper is the trick) piping hot and crispy over a bed of sliced white bread and silky house-made ranch dressing. It was smoky, spicy, juicy, salty and sweet and I frequented his Center City spot often, sometimes chowing down on the hot chicken sliders during happy hour. Now I follow the chef for his next pop up where his hot chicken has made guest appearances.