Restaurantes

All the Amazing Restaurants From Philadelphia’s ‘Secret Menu’

It’s Philadelphia’s hidden gems that makes its food scene so exciting.

14/6/2024
14 minutos de lectura
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Sports fans with big attitudes, American history sites, and world-class art museums might be Philadelphia’s calling cards, but what about the food scene? Visitors might be surprised to learn that it’s not only good — us locals would argue it’s second to none. 

That’s why DoorDash published the magazine Secret Menu: Philadelphia, in which we do a deep dive into a city’s food scene, uncovering its gems and revisiting its classics, all in the name of articulating what makes it so special. Philly is our third installment; that choice is a testament to this second-tier city’s first-rate restaurant scene. 

Learn about just some of the amazing places to eat in Philadelphia that were featured in Secret Menu below.


Nudy’s Cafe

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Nudy’s is a breakfast, lunch, and brunch staple with locations spanning the Philadelphia suburbs. With generous portions and creative takes on diner mainstays (think carrot cake French toast and cinnamon bun pancakes), Nudy’s is the type of spot that starts to become the backdrop of your life. You’ll want an omelet delivered for breakfast in bed on Sunday morning, a club sandwich for workday lunch, and a cheesesteak for movie night.

HipCityVeg

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When a vegetable craving hits, satisfying it doesn’t have to taste boring. This all-vegan, all-organic local chain does riffs on fast-food dishes like burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and sweet potato fries, as well as actually-good salads (check out the Miso Noodle Chick’n Salad with udon noodles, spicy faux chicken, miso dressing, and tons of crunchy vegetables).

Charlie was a Sinner

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Charlie Was a Sinner is an all-vegan global restaurant and cocktail bar where you snack on plant-based small plates and sip strong cocktails in a cozy, darkly lit room. It makes for a great special-occasion delivery spot, especially if you order one of their zero-proof cocktails, like the spicy apple or basil fennel lemonade (whether you spike them at home is your prerogative). The sliders are great for sharing, as are the meatballs, which come with a housemade, cashew-based ricotta that I absolutely cannot get enough of.

South Philly Barbacoa

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South Philly Barbacoa is massively popular and, lucky for you, incredibly well-adapted for takeout. Gather a group for breakfast, lunch, or brunch, and order their one-kilo barbacoa kit, which comes with their legendary lamb barbacoa, plenty of fresh corn tortillas, two quarts of consommé, and all the fixings to make tacos. Add on horchata and you’ve got yourself one of the best meals in town, without having to wait in line with the masses.

Ba Le Bakery

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Ba Le Bakery is a second-generation, family-owned Vietnamese bakery that specializes in crisp-soft banh mi rolls. Their banh mi are the best in town, piled high with homemade pork bologna, pork belly, grilled pork, and more. Each sandwich comes topped with house pickles and plenty of herbs and cucumbers. The vegetarian banh mi combines two types of tofu for a texturally interesting sandwich that I recommend to both vegans and meat eaters.

Bahn Mi and Bottles

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Banh Mi and Bottles is a go-to option for comforting bowls of pho or sweet sausage fried rice in the winter, or bun cha with vermicelli, grilled pork patties, and fried pork and shrimp rolls in the summer. Once you try the chicken wings in the house tamarind sauce, you will start to crave them.

The Breakfast Den

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In 2020 Huyen Thai Dinh opened The Breakfast Den, serving up food that captures both her American and Vietnamese upbringing. There’s the 2+2+2, a classic diner breakfast of two pancakes, two eggs any style, and bacon, but there’s also the Thit Kho Hash, a mix of home fries, Vietnamese caramelized pork, and cheese, topped with two fried eggs. For lunch, try their cheesesteak banh mi.

Fu Wah

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Philadelphia is now packed with banh mi spots, but Fu Wah mini market was among the first in the city when it opened in 1982. At first they sold Vietnamese groceries to the small local Vietnamese community, but over time they began serving a tofu banh mi that caught on with local vegetarians. In a city of iconic and historically significant sandwiches, Fu Wah’s tofu banh mi stands on its own for its layered flavor.

Osteria

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At the center of Osteria sits a huge, gleaming Italian deli slicer from which fall slices of 18-month-old prosciutto and shavings of salumi. This is a worthy introduction to the carefully curated Italian cooking of Osteria — a favorite among locals for their house-made pastas and pizzas. Insiders also know that Osteria serves one of the best happy hours in the city, with super affordable pizzas and drinks at the bar from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Ember + Ash

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Ember + Ash, a cheffy, nose-to-tail restaurant that leans heavily on the flavor and heat of the wood-fire grill at the center of their kitchen, does a takeout menu that feels intentional. Get the Lancaster chicken, a succulent bird that’s kissed by the flames and served with seared Napa cabbage, oyster soubise, and kimchi vinaigrette.

Huda

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On the surface, Huda is a fast-casual sandwich spot serving burgers, fries, and salads. But look a little closer and you’ll find that owner Yehuda Sichel sets his spot apart with the use of his house-made milk bread, a tender, slightly sweet bread that he bakes into buns and uses as the base for every sandwich. The fried maitake sando, with its nooks and crannies, shows that the humble mushroom can put fried chicken to shame. You’ll find that milk bread on salads like the Grilled Romaine as well; he turns leftover buns into crisp croutons.

Dahlak

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West Philly is home to a variety of excellent Ethiopian restaurants, but I am partial to Dahlak, which has been a local staple for more than 30 years. The restaurant is convivial, with a neighborhood feel and a comfortable outdoor space where groups gather in the summer months to share platters of injera and stewed chicken. Those same dishes deliver well, in particular the Ye’Doro Tibs, spicy tomato salad, and the Yebeg Wat, a tender braised lamb dish with berbere spices and garlic.

Gojjo

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Gojjo is most famous for their Ethiopian cheesesteak, wherein the beef is served chopped and spicy. It’s more interesting (and possibly even more delicious) than classic cheesesteak, with the added bonus that you can get it with a side of samosas, spicy salmon tibs, and much more. I like these cheesesteaks in the restaurant, but love them for delivery, since the added wait gives the juices time to soak into the bread for a truly magical bite.

Abyssinia

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Eating at Abyssinia is a Philadelphia rite of passage: Someone in the know will invite you to join them at this corner spot in West Philadelphia, and once you get a taste, you will be planning your next visit — and deciding which lucky guest to invite. Vegetarians and vegans flock here, but meat lovers enjoy it as well. I particularly like Abyssinia delivery for groups, since the platters are portioned generously and share well. Get a savory, lentil-filled samosa for each person, and opt for the doro wot, a spicy, stewed chicken leg, if you eat meat, and the veggie combo if you don’t.

High Street

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When the mood strikes for a sandwich that’s a little fancier than what’s available at your corner deli, order from High Street. Their sandwiches are named after neighborhoods in the city, and I’m slightly obsessed with the BreweryTown, which incorporates all the goodness of buffalo wings in a house baked hoagie roll. It’s got poached chicken dressed in Frank’s hot sauce, plus celery, iceberg lettuce, blue cheese, and garlic aioli.

Down North

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Down North gets a lot of shine for their mission of employing and supporting formerly incarcerated people, which is inspiring and important. But they’re not just beloved for the mission: The pizza is top-tier: Detroit-style, with crispy edges of caramelized cheese that will have you fighting over the corner slices. Their sweet-spicy marinara-based Norf sauce is their signature, best experienced on the Roc the Mic Pizza alongside beef pepperoni and lots of cheese, which has quickly become their most popular pie.

Honeysuckle Provisions

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Honeysuckle is part restaurant, part cafe, and part deli, owned by chefs Cybille St. Aude-Tate and Omar Tate. Order a breakfast sandwich from Honeysuckle and you’ll delight in a house-made “BLACKenglish” muffin. Their hoagies come on a roll dotted with benne seeds, which are similar to sesame seeds. Benne seeds, brought to the United States via the slave trade by West African people, are just one of the ingredients that they use that reference the history of Black foodways in the United States.

John’s Roast Pork

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Think of the roast pork sandwich as the cheesesteak’s less famous cousin. Traditionally served on a hoagie roll with fatty pork butt, broccoli rabe, and provolone, this sandwich is never more delicious than it is at John’s Roast Pork, where they sling hundreds of them a day. Get yours with extra provolone, and thank me later.

Reggae Reggae Vibes

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Reggae Reggae Vibes joins a class of new-school Afro-Caribbean spots that are bringing welcome innovation to the cheesesteak. Reggae Reggae does several: jerk salmon, chicken, or beef cheesesteaks; an oxtail cheesesteak topped with fried onions and peppers; and a fried whiting cheesesteak with optional jerk seasoning. Their cheesesteaks have heat and bite, and come with the optional add-on of pineapple salsa, which you should absolutely go for.

Goldie

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Perhaps no restaurateur is more ubiquitous in the city of Philadelphia than Michael Solomonov, who owns a handful of Israeli concepts in the city. Goldie is my favorite of his more casual spots (closely followed by Dizengoff and Federal Donuts). Goldie does falafel sandwiches and superbly delicious vegan tehina milkshakes (plain and also in over-the-top delicious flavors like mint cookie and salted caramel pretzel).

El Chingon

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Before he opened a Mexican restaurant, Juan Carlos Aparicio was a baker. At El Chingon, you can see it if you look closely. The restaurant’s cemitas utilize his tender, pillowy homemade rolls, which he fills with chicken milanese, avocado, and black bean spread. He also does seasonal conchas, often stuffed with fruit and chocolate custard, and fresh sourdough flour tortillas that are so good, you’ll want to eat them on their own. (They’re also tasty in the mushroom tacos.)