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

Goat’s Milk Ice Cream

In the spectrum of sweet scoops—sorbet, soft serve, gelato, fro yo, custard—what Patches of Star spins defies definition. Based on milk from pastured goats, then sweetened naturally with honey and Turbinado sugar and flavored with peak-of-season produce, this ice cream is fresher, tangier and lighter than other ice cream. It tastes pure. Pick up a pint of black raspberry on Sundays at the Headhouse Square farmers’ market. Patches of Star Dairy, 401 W. High St., Nazareth. 610.759.2901.

Root Beer Float

Root beer and vanilla ice cream is a classic collabo, but the one served at Franklin Fountain is the best. Shortcuts at this vintage scoop shop (located a block away from the original Hires bottling plant) are like light bulbs before Edison: nonexistent. The peppery, vanilla-tipped pop—its top-secret botanicals include cinnamon bark, sassafras root and star anis—and the ice cream are hand-crafted on the premises. Franklin Fountain, 116 Market St. 215.627.1899.

Fish Tacos

The Chesapeake fries loaded with sweet lump crab meat, white Vermont cheddar cheese sauce and scallion confetti get the most press, but this handsome, new-school South Philly saloon is no one-trick pony. Kissed with ass-kickingly spicy chipotle mayonesa and loaded with red cabbage and salsa fresca, the Baja fish tacos cradle strips of succulent mahi-mahi enrobed in golden-fried batter in grill-warmed tortillas. Three to an order, the tacos are so spot-on, you’ll hardly believe you’re way down in red-gravy country. Taproom on 19th, 2400 S. 19th St. 267.687.7817.

Fresh Ricotta

Before East Passyunk was P’unk Ave., it was just “the Avenue.” Stinky cheese shop Mancuso’s—
shelves stacked to the high heavens with jarred olives, boxes of Arborio rice and all the other edible essentials an Old Country émigré might need—is one of the original businesses on the strip. You haven’t had ricotta till you’ve had some hand-crafted by owner Phil Mancuso. It’s moist but not wet, firm but not dry, and has a sweetness so subtle it’s nearly innuendo. J. Lucio Mancuso & Son, 1902 E. Passyunk Ave. 215.389.1817

Kibbe Naya

The lamb at Zahav is so good, it’s on this list twice. The raw ground meat of the lamb tartare (aka kibbe naya) glistens red as a field of September tomatoes and comes with sleeves of crisp romaine, a genuinely hip lettuce wrap, if you will. But the allspice, echoing like a low, throaty baah through each bite, is the real spellbinder in this $8 meze. Take a bite. Don’t be sheepish. Zahav, 237 Saint James Place. 215.625.8800.

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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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