Philly's 50 Must-Eats

Tongue tacos, Italian milkshakes, candy-coated flapjacks and 47 other delicious foods and drinks you should be tasting right now. 

By Adam Erace, Tim McGinnis and Brian McManus

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 18 | Posted Aug. 4, 2009

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Photo by Michael Persico

Banh Mi Bi

The banh mi bi at hole-in-the-wall Café Nhu Y consists of pulled pork, shredded carrots, cilantro and jalapeños served on a Sarcone’s hoagie roll slathered with mayo and a soy/fish sauce. Hold your nose when you open the door of this closet-sized sandwich shop because the fish-sauce smell doesn’t just waft through the air, it smacks you in the face. Café Nhu Y, 802 Christian St. 215.925.6544 

Oxtail Noodle Soup

The cilantro is probably not organic. The oxtails, succulent as they are, are probably not cut from grass-fed cows that lived long, happy lives on green pastures of Lancaster County. Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown—Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House, specifically—
where lunch hour is really lunch minutes, set to the hurried tempo of Chinese conversation and the smack-smack-smack of fresh noodles pulled in the kitchen. The wiry ramen, bouncy and elastic with freshly stretched gluten, are revelatory enough to deserve your undivided attention. So is the deep, echoing broth that gives you a glow from the inside out as it rides down your throat and into your gut. But linger too long and the stern waitresses will let you know it, so it’s best to slurp-slurp-slurp and be on your way. The last thing you want to hear is, “No soup for you.” Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House, 927 Race St. 215.923.1550

Margerita Pie

To detractors of Philly pizza, here are four words: Tacconelli’s margerita pie, bitches! Fresh basil and mozzarella on a crunchy yet chewy crust is cooked to shimmering perfection in their brick oven. It’ll leave even the biggest skeptics begging for more. Just make sure you call ahead to reserve your dough. After all, it’s still Philly; we have ordering rules here. Tacconelli’s, 2604 E. Somerset St. 215.425.4983.

Shima Aji Ceviche

The hearty, deep-sea taste of the horse mackerel (shimaji) at Chifa stands up nicely to bursts of contrasting flavor from pickled, sweet and tangy mango; spicy rocoto pepper puree; white soy and nutty sesame. Try it with a glass of Albarino from the Rias Baixas region. Chifa, 707 Chestnut St. 215.925.5555.

French Fries

There is something so perfectly simple about a good French fry. It’s a shame so many restaurants get it so very wrong by serving charred or limp-dick excuses for this beloved sandwich side. At the Ugly American they do it right. Their fries are hand-cut potatoes (Idaho only!) deep-fried to a sumptuous golden brown then sprinkled with salt and bright green parsley. Consistency is king here at the Ugly, and every basket of spuds comes out wearing a crown. The Ugly American, 1100 S. Front St. 215.336.1100.

Roasted Whole Baby Animals

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Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. Rob Pugliese said... on Aug 4, 2009 at 11:29PM

“This list is fantastic...If food is your life, it's good to be alive in Philly. I have had the pleasure of serendipitously sampling some of the goods on this list in the past however this list will be my guide for where I'll be eating for the next few months. First stop is Zahav. I have been meaning to go there for some time and now I know what to order. And I may just have to reserve some of that lamb to enjoy it in the fashion of the Chef Solomonov (in the unlikely scenario that there is some left over). Cheers PW.”

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2. tsarstruck said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 08:45AM

“I don't know if they serve bisuits or not, but Golosa is on 6th street, not 8th. Good list, though.”

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3. Erica said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 09:19AM


You're right! We've changed it in the online document. Thanks for catching it.”

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4. cereal said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 10:49AM

“"Few things are as satisfying as a freshly made Vietnamese hoagie known as Banh Mi—that sexy mix of Vietnamese culinary know-how on warm Italian bread."

Maybe in Philly all they can get are squishy Italian rolls, but Banh Mi are normally made with French bread, i.e. small baguettes. Since it was the French, not the Italians, that colonized Viet Nam, you see.”

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5. Jonathan said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 11:27AM

“Your site's Print functionality is messed up for multipage articles. When you go to the Print link, you get a printer-friendly version of just the current page - one of 10. Is the whole site like this?

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6. Dan said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 12:32PM

“Great list. The Bahn Mi at Royal Tavern should be required eating.”

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7. Jackie said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 01:33PM

“one of the best top 50 lists I've seen in a while.... awesome job!”

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8. Luke said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 01:54PM

“Very lame that you cannot view or print this article as a single page and instead need to wade through ten different pages.”

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9. kcbill13 said... on Aug 5, 2009 at 09:37PM

“Hey, print freak demands, BUY the damn paper if you want a printed list, ya cheap bastards...”

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10. Art said... on Aug 6, 2009 at 07:46AM

“Buy the paper? It's free!”

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11. kiwijen said... on Aug 6, 2009 at 12:56PM

“Great list. It'll be a pleasure to work my way through it. Shame the photos online aren't labelled or next to the item they go with. It would be nice to know where to find the item whose photo I'm drooling over.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Aug 6, 2009 at 07:10PM

“Excellent list. The fact that Chickie's Italian Deli was included totally legitimized the list for me. Their tuna hoagies are a phenom. Ask for long hots on it for an extra jolt!”

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13. Wayne Penglase said... on Aug 7, 2009 at 10:40AM

“In quest for a great place to eat, you neglected to mention a great place on Grant Avenue known as Theda Kauffman's. Their food is fresh and fantastic, the staff is second to none. Mike and Nate Kauffman has a diamond of a place down at 1710 Grant Avenue and I feel you shopuld check them out.”

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14. rachel said... on Aug 7, 2009 at 02:48PM

“BItars falafel is so much better!”

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15. Gene De Lisa said... on Aug 11, 2009 at 07:20AM

“No mention of the best sandwich in the city: Roast Pork Italian from either TL or John's?

No mention of the best dessert in the city: Capogiro?

Also as has been pointed out: Epic fail on your "print view" displaying only the current page. Poor website programming.”

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16. capecodphillyfan said... on Aug 14, 2009 at 10:15AM

“BTW, none of the links work.”

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17. Hungry Vandal said... on Aug 17, 2009 at 02:25PM

“TACO LOCO, is amazing. An authentic taco stand (albeit a tripped-out RVEE) that sells killer tacos at dirt cheap prices. It is between 4th and 5th on Washington Avenue, in South Phila. The burritos are ginormous and amazing too.!

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18. cecilia said... on Sep 11, 2013 at 08:46AM

“Philadelphia BEST SPOTS TO EAT...”


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