Eight Under-the-Radar Philadelphia Restaurants For Your Next Night Out
Here's a new fact about me: I hate waiting in line. I will do everything in my power to avoid standing in line. Like continue to shop for fifteen more minutes if I notice the line is too long. Or wander from restaurant to restaurant so I don't have to wait for a table. I'd rather spend the time on the go than waiting around.
What I love about the dining scene in Philly is that you don't have to wait in line to have a good meal. Of course, you could be really organized and make a reservation but what fun is that? Plus the only thing I like more than a night out in Philly is making lists. So today I'm combining it all to bring you a list of my favorite under-the-radar restaurants, all in different Philly neighborhoods, where you will (almost) never have to wait in line.
Clarkville, West Philly
Great beer, great wine, great pizza, all in the most laid-back and colorful restaurant. I almost never make it out to West Philly because, well, I'm lazy. But I'll do it for Clarkville always. And with dining room sections both upstairs and downstairs plus two bars, you'll almost always snag a seat no matter what time of day.
Loco Pez, Fishtown
The first question I always ask my friends: have I taken you to Loco Pez yet? This is my favorite place to take a group, even though it can make it hard to get a seat with a bunch of people. But the tacos are good, they're cheap, and there's still other stuff on the menu if you're not into Mexican. Plus who passes up a margarita?
North 3rd, Northern Liberties
NoLibs used to be my favorite neighborhood in the city. I'm probably just old and grouchy, but I now avoid the area with its crowds as much as possible. However, if I'm looking for a delicious and easy place, with a good atmosphere, dinner at North 3rd hits the spot. It always has a great drink list and its daily specials are usually local and inventive. And of course, I've rarely waited for a table which is another plus.
Good Dog Bar, Center City
Center City is another area I avoid at all cost because I know it's going to cost me. Between parking and the higher end restaurants, it can get expensive. Not to mention the crowds. But Good Dog Bar comes to the rescue. Slightly off the beaten path, it's cozy and tucked away with portraits of beloved dogs all over the walls. Plus I would venture to say it has the best burger in the city. Beware of timing because the Kimmel Center crowd or wayward shoppers from Walnut Street sometimes stumble in for a burger and a beer.
Strangelove's, Washington West
Wash West can be hit or miss for restaurants and can get plenty crowded at favorites like Cheu Noodle Bar and Varga Bar. Strangelove's tucked across from Jefferson Hospital is a hidden haven for beer and good food. You'll obsess over the awesome artwork, how simply good the food is, and the beer list, of course. Do not miss the brussel sprouts, trust me.
Fountain Porter, East Passyunk/South Philly
What could be less fancy and more satisfying than a $5 burger? East Passyunk has many great restaurants but about block away from the street is Fountain Porter. It's got a bare bones menu, just a burger and some veggies and maybe fries, I can't even remember. But it does have an amazing draft list (okay, there may be a bit of a theme to my under-the-radar list). It can get crowded but the crowd moves and it's easy to grab a spot in the bar or at a simple peninsula table.
Memphis Taproom, Kensington
There aren't a ton of restaurants in Kensington but the ones you'll find have their own unique flair. A personal favorite is Memphis Taproom, a spot that just feels like a neighborhood hangout. It's busy without being crowded and you're guaranteed to get a good meal, especially if you're vegetarian/vegan (and carnivores will be equally happy). In the summer it's side "garden" area (just a paved second lot) opens up and has a stationery food truck that slings hot dogs and cans of beer. An oasis among the row homes, I tell you.
Second District Brewing, Newbold
You know Yard's new spot on Spring Garden. You may know Philly Brewing Company in Kensington. You may have braved the crowds for a weirdly-named beer at Evil Genius in Fishtown. In the saturated craft beer scene in Philly, it can be hard to find a spot that's not crowded and has good beers. Enter Second District Brewing. While it's definitely out of the way, it's still close to other great spots like South Philly Tap Room and Ultimo Coffee and it's not far from East Passyunk. The food here is amazing and the beers are good and unique and entirely drinkable. In the warmer weather, they roll up the big garage door windows and it's just heaven with a beer.
South Philly Tap Room, Newbold / Pub and Kitchen, Graduate Hospital / Jose Pistola's, Center City / Love City Brewing, Spring Garden