Hang their jerseys from the rafters. They are the best of the best.
Two years ago this month, we launched our annual Top 50 Restaurants list. Two months later, COVID arrived and shut down our city, our communities, our restaurants. When it came time to publish our list in January 2021, it seemed wrong – if not downright impossible – to come up with a ranking. Anyone who survived those lean times deserved praise.
We’re not back to normal yet, but we thought it was time to try the roster again, but this year it’s a little different. We’ve broken down the Top 50 into five categories, each showing a different side of the region’s fastest growing restaurants. Below, 10 restaurants and vendors that have been at the top of their game for years and continue to raise the bar.
With her brilliant #NotPizza box, Diana Widjojo has created an entire national pandemic trend. But really, it was just a reminder that wherever you eat Hardena’s homemade Indonesian dishes – beef rendang, tofu curries, green cabbage cooked in coconut milk – whether at a table in their no-frills dining room or in a banana-leaf-lined cardboard box at your kitchen counter, they’re always comforting and always perfect.
Point Breeze | Indonesian
1754 South Hicks Street,#2217, 215-271-9442
Learn more about Hardena | Back to the list of districts
Is it weird to have a restaurant that opened in 2019 on our Hall of Fame list? May be. But Kalaya has absolutely earned its place – both because it has operated from day one as a restaurant with 20 years of service behind it, and because we’ve already given it every other award we reasonably can. Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon did something remarkable when she opened her first small, relaxed and welcoming neighborhood restaurant: she changed the way we think about Thai cuisine, mixing the modern and the traditional, the scholarly and the experimental. , crossing borders and combining flavors. . And then she keep on going, with a specialty market and pandemic take-out operation just blocks away — and a new Fishtown location in the works.
bella vista | Thai
764 9th Street South, 215-385-3777
Learn more about Kalaya Thai Kitchen | Back to the list of districts
Parc is Philadelphia’s most indispensable restaurant. No matter the occasion – from a birthday dinner to an apology dinner, for grandma’s birthday, visiting in-laws or celebrating a successful parole hearing – this is always on the list of possible destinations. And while some restaurants might earn that kind of reputation by being so blatantly innocuous that no one could complain, Parc – with its French heart and Philadelphian soul, onion soup, Niçoise salad, bustling patio and really excellent burger – earned it by being so good at every thing it does.
Rittenhouse | French
227 18th Street South, 215-545-2262
Learn more about Park | Back to the list of districts
From the moment he started selling 40 pies a night in a tiny storefront, Joe Beddia, with his obsessive attention to ingredients and technique, showed us all what truly great pizza can be. And while the digs have changed (there’s a dining room now, there’s a bar, there’s snacks, salads and wine on the menu), her pies are some of the best in the area – or from anywhere else on Earth, for that matter. .
Fishville | Pizza
1313 North Lee Street, 267-928-2256
Learn more about Pizzeria Beddia | Back to the list of districts
Since opening in 2014, South Philly Barbacoa hasn’t changed its menu. There are no daily specials or flashy Instagram gimmicks. Cristina Martínez cooks the same dishes, using the same Lancaster-grown corn (originally from Chiapas, Mexico) for the freshly pressed tortillas and the same labor-intensive techniques for roasting the meat. The lamb tacos and the consommé are just as worth the wait in line as they were back when Martínez’s empire was just a tiny South Philadelphia food cart. . Even better: SPB’s social justice arm is just as enduring — namely, the People’s Kitchen, which has fed food-insecure Philadelphians throughout the pandemic.
bella vista | Mexican
1140 9th Street South, 215-694-3797
Learn more about South Philly Barbacoa | Back to the list of districts
Olive oil cakes and kouign amann at brunch. For dinner, a table full of mezze, grilled chicken marinated in lemon and sumac, and cocktails made with turmeric, burnt honey and blood orange. In its way of blending the modern and the traditional, the casual and the sublime, Suraya is unlike any restaurant in Philadelphia before it.
Fishville | Levantine
1528 Frankford Avenue, 215-302-1900
Learn more about Suraya | Back to the list of districts
There was a time (not too long ago) that Philadelphia needed an award-winning gourmet vegetarian restaurant to convince people that vegetables could replace meat in the center of the plate. That’s what Vedge was – a proof-of-concept experiment that escaped the lab and became a national phenomenon, complete with spin-off cookbooks, t-shirts and sites. Today, Vedge operates with that same revolutionary spirit, but in an environment where it no longer has anything to prove.
Downtown Village | Vegetarian
1221 Locust Street, 215-320-7500
Learn more about Vedge | Back to the list of districts
Vernick’s best table has always been in the cramped dining room at the back, where you can watch the cooks at work in the crowded kitchen. The best plates have always been the simplest – a perfectly grilled pork chop with peppercorn cherries and polenta, cheese toast with onion jam or tartare and horseradish. And the best thing about chef Greg Vernick’s quirky, namesake restaurant has always been its near-magical ability to walk the impossibly fine line between laid-back comfort and upscale hospitality while making it look effortless.
Rittenhouse | new american
2031 Walnut Street, 267-639-6644
Learn more about Vernick Food & Drink | Back to the list of districts
There are plates here that you will remember for the rest of your life – pastas as carefully prepared as a work of art, simple salads that will forever change the way you view vegetables. No Philadelphia Hall of Fame restaurant list includes Marc Vetri’s amazing celebration of Italian cuisine. From the epic multi-hour prix-fixe dinners that once defined the place, to more contemporary tasting menus, cooking classes and Quattro Piatti dinners served in one of the city’s most historic dining rooms, Vetri has continued to evolve while keeping the emphasis on artisanal manufacturing. pasta, seasonal flavors, old-fashioned service and exquisite technique.
Downtown Village | Italian
1312 Spruce Street, 215-732-3478
Learn more about Vetri Cucina | Back to the list of districts
Thanks to a global pandemic, anyone in America can order Michael Solomonov’s pomegranate shoulder of lamb, delivered via Goldbelly, with all the trimmings – golden saffron-scented rice, twice-cooked eggplant, hummus. But this is ours, Philly, and if you’re persistent enough to score a reservation, you’ll be rewarded with the freshest salatim, mezze like black bass tartare and honey-smoothed halloumi, and, yes, l ‘lamb, always fall off the bone.
Society Hill | Israeli
237 St. James Square, 215-625-8800
Learn more about Zahav | Back to the list of districts
For a full list of Philadelphia’s 50 Best Restaurants, click here.
Posted as “The 50 Best Restaurants” in the January 2022 issue of philadelphia cream magazine.