Waiting half the evening for a table at that trendy new eatery can be an epic waste of time when the experience falls short of your expectations. Philadelphia is home some stand-out hot spots you shouldn’t miss, but not every venue is all it’s chalked up to be. Whether you’re visiting the City of Brotherly Love or a Philly native seeking good food and atmosphere, the word on the street is that these five venues are worth braving the wait for.
325 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Buddakan serves contemporary Asian cuisine for dinner seven days a week, with a lunch menu available Monday through Friday. Reserve the community dining table, located at the foot of a 10-foot gold-leaf Buddha statue, which is available seven days a week for those who want to share their dining experience. A mere stroll from Independence National Park, this popular venue accepts reservations. If you can’t get a table during your visit to Philly, you can still order out – delivery service is available to nearby hotels and homes.
1219 S. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Everyone needs comfort food now and again, and Federal Donuts offers up two favorites: donuts and fried chicken. Both are made fresh daily, but you had better get there early or risk your favorite being sold out by early afternoon. For Federal Donut fanatics, however, there is always the option to pre-order via the venue’s website. Donuts come in two varieties: Hot Fresh and Fancy. Hot Fresh donuts are served up right from the fryer and are meant to be eaten immediately (as soon as they’ve been dusted with your favorite topping – vanilla spice or cinnamon brown sugar top the list of popular flavors). Fancy doughnuts come in a variety unique flavors that change frequently and vary between the locations (there are five), so check back often to see what’s on the menu.
1713 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
This popular BYOB sports a newly renovated dining room with beautiful décor and a charming, rustic vibe. Here, fresh dishes are crafted from locally grown ingredients, and the menu offerings change along with the seasons. During the fall and holiday times, as one would imagine, this aptly named venue serves up a variety of pumpkin dishes, including freshly baked pumpkin bread. Pumpkin is rated “exceptional” for its food, atmosphere, service and value by the majority of online reviewers. While this venue does take reservations, Pumpkin doesn’t accept plastic, so you’ll want to bring cash.
910 Christian St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Nestled in the heart of Philly’s famous Italian Market neighborhood, Sabrina’s Café serves up breakfast from open to close. Sabrina’s famous buttermilk and whole wheat pancakes are dished up piping hot and come topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. You can also add a variety of other toppings, including strawberries or blueberries when in season, or the ever popular chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and/or bananas. Brunch specials are on the menu from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and include specialty dishes such as the Peyton’s “Hail Mary” special pancake. You’ll need to get there early to ensure seating, as Sabrina’s doesn’t take reservations for brunch. In addition to the Christian Street location, Sabrina’s is also located at the Art Museum and in University City.
Related: Top Pancakes In Philadelphia
Society Hills Towers
237 St. James Place
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Located on the grounds of Society Hills Towers between Walnut and Chestnut Streets, this popular eatery is designed to virtually transport diners to a Jerusalem courtyard, where they can savor the flavors of Israel’s culinary heritage. Zahav’s numerous accolades include a nod from Esquire Magazine as one of the country’s best new restaurants in 2008, and the coveted number one spot as best restaurant in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine in 2009. While Chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav calls Philadelphia home, he travels often to Israel, where he finds inspiration for the flavorful dishes he crafts from simple foods, like his crowd-pleasing hummus-masbacha. The nutty dip is rich and creamy, with flavors of garlic and fresh lemon juice, and is served with homemade laffa bread. It’s sure to be a hit with you and your guests.
Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.