The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now guide image


The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now

We checked out these new restaurants—and loved them.

When new restaurants open, we check them out. This means that we subject our stomachs and social lives to the good, the bad, and more often than not, the perfectly fine. And every once in a while, a new spot makes us feel like Vin Diesel at a tank top sale. When that happens, we add it here, to The Hit List. 

The Hit List is where you’ll find all of the best new restaurants in Philly. As long as it opened within the past several months and we’re still talking about it, it’s on this guide. The latest addition might be a buzzy new restaurant with caviar priced by the bump. Or it might be an under-the-radar lunch counter where a few dollars will get something that’ll rattle around in your brain like a loose penny in a dryer.

Keep tabs on the Hit List and you will always know just which new restaurants you should be eating at right now.


The Lucky Well - Incubator

The Lucky Well has always been that easygoing BBQ place where you can sit back, grab a bourbon, and eat tender ribs while watching a team meltdown on TV. Now the large Spring Arts spot offers that same atmosphere and a menu that has expanded three times in size. The incubator now includes wood-fired Vietnamese dishes from Nuớng, Navajo tacos on doughy fry bread from Shiprock, and Italian small plates from Sauce Boy—and they’re all fantastic and executed beautifully. Stop by when you want to sip on lemongrass-infused cocktails, sing along to the live music, and enjoy a massive menu with zero skippable plates.  

Mt. Airy has a new mashup of comfort food, craft beers, and all things Albanian at Töska Restaurant & Brewery. The large, wood-filled space has multiple floors and bars, so you won’t have to do a yoga pose to squeeze by strangers (even when it gets crowded). When it comes to food, the main event is their wood-fired pizza—which they top with things like Albanian sausage, fig balsamic glaze, and house-brined chicken—and they’re all great. Stop by for a few IPAs, peppery wings, and other satisfying dishes cooked by a flame.  

Whether you’re dining solo at the bar, sitting with a date outside on Christian Street, or cozied up in a leather banquette with a few friends, you’re at this buzzy Italian Market spot for anything from the charcoal grill. Alice occupies a storied neighborhood space, and the new American menu focuses on seasonal cuisine. While the Colorado rack of lamb and chargrilled naan are delicious, the service is about as choppy as the WiFi at PHL. Be prepared: it may take 15 minutes to get your Campari-laced King Vidi, or several tries to get the crispy soft-shell crab with black garlic sauce. Get the housemade toffee ice cream to soothe your worn patience, and it'll all be worth it.

Bring some friends to this Passyunk Square Mexican spot any day of the week for dulce de leche french toast, peppery chilaquiles, omelets big enough for three, and the sounds of Luis Miguel blasting through the speakers. The colorful BYOB gets packed on the weekend and is cash-only on those days. But there’s an ATM on-site, and if you have to wait in line, the scent of sizzling peppers and cinnamon mascarpone cream will get you through. 

Eleven Eleven is a welcome addition to the Philly brunch scene. It’s a carefree spot where you can have an incredible meal while Saweetie plays in the background. At the small Queen Village BYOB, the gold clocks on the wall are set to 11:11, and the light fixtures are clouds, so you kind of feel like you’re dining in Wonderland—until you hear someone yell “shots!”. From the fluffy Make-A-Wish Funfetti cakes topped with a gold candle to the deep fried brioche cinnamon crunch french toast, everything here is pillowy perfection on the inside, party on the outside. The place can get packed and you may have to wait, but for a solid brunch place that feels more like a birthday celebration, it’s worth it. 

We first went to this Pennsport restaurant for a taste of their thirst-trapping al pastor. And while the pork at this laidback BYOB is great, it’s the stacked nachos, Mexican pizzas, and adobo-spiced shrimp tacos that will keep us coming back to Tonalli. A deep house-meets-Latin bass soundtrack plays inside the sparse yellow dining room, but it’s as family friendly and first-date casual as they come—especially out front at the wooden picnic tables. You’ll want to split (at least) one of the thin-crust pizzas, which are topped with everything from salsa verde chicken to refried beans. But it’s the Trompo Al Pastor, with red salsa pork, pineapple, and cilantro salsa verde that you’ll want to have all to yourself (pineapple-on-pizza hive, stand up).

Some restaurants take a few visits to become one of your go-tos. At Rittenhouse’s My Loup, it takes about five minutes. The French restaurant is an easy choice for an intimate date night, fun group dinner, or martini-fueled catch-up with friends.  We can’t stop thinking about the creamy crab toast, scallop crudo with sweet bits of apple, and tender, perfectly cooked lamb shoulder. Like its sister restaurant, Her Place Supper Club, it’s a near-impossible reservation to get. But for a go-to like this, it’s worth whatever tactic you have to pull to dine here (even if it means joining the staff). 

Illata is about to become your new favorite BYOB. This modern American spot in Fitler Square is cozy, but they make the most of their 20 seats and open kitchen (there’s also a six-seat bar they save for walk-ins only). The small menu of seasonal seafood and produce is full of surprises—get here ASAP for the marinated mussels in miso chili oil and crispy fried clams, along with the rhubarb brown butter tart we’ll forever be fantasizing about. Our fingers are crossed that the sweet and spicy rigatoni amatriciana stays on the menu permanently. Every dish is under $30, so it’s a reasonable choice for a romantic night for two, but if you go with a few others you can (and should) order the entire menu.

Usually, a good omakase experience costs as much as a backstage pass to Made In America. Midtown Village’s Kichi offers something rare—a solid omakase experience for under $100. Inside the wood-filled BYOB, you’ll be seated at a 14-seat sushi bar, surrounded by stacks of Japanese cookbooks, and hear Ariana Grande while waiting for your bluefin to be topped with truffle mushrooms. They have some of the same flair as other omakase spots—tender cuts of wagyu, foie gras, and caviar and gold flake toppings. But unlike those other spots, you can dance along to “Thank U, Next” while eating quality cuts of fish, all without having to split the bill on three credit cards at the end of the night. 

Superfolie is chic and charming—you won’t want to leave. And that’s not just because the Rittenhouse wine bar from the team behind The Good King Tavern and Le Caveau offers 70+ bottles from around the globe. The whole place is designed for long stints of sipping and snacking. There are seats at the huge street-facing windows on the first floor, and cozy green velvet booths on the mezzanine. Their French-leaning food menu revolves around meats, cheeses, and excellent small plates, like the tangy tuna crudo and snap peas with creme fraiche vinaigrette. Stop in for an aperitif and appetizer before dinner, or bring friends to try a new bottle (or three).

This Cambodian restaurant, housed in the same space as the former Kalaya in Bella Vista, is like Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly being followed up by DAMN: one hit after another. The cozy BYOB has a small open kitchen and minimalist decor, like gold-rimmed mirrors, rugs, and a sketch of the Italian Market on the walls. There are only 10 or so tables inside, so while you can walk in without a reservation, we wouldn’t recommend it. The menu is heavily influenced by the chef/owner’s childhood in Cambodia, but you’ll find dishes from all over Southeast Asia. Head there for a cozy date night or catch up with friends and pass around fragrant bowls of crispy soft-shell shrimp, braised chicken curry, and any noodle dish on the menu.  

In the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, the villain tries to put all of our hopes and dreams on a bagel. We didn’t know something like that was doable until we bit into a pillowy bialy from this Reading Terminal Market shop. It should be no surprise, since they’re made by one of our favorite bagel places in the city. With an assortment of sweet—like the jam with a creamy mound of whipped lemon ricotta in the center—to savory, there’s a bialy for whatever mood you’re in. Our favorite here is the ‘Strami, which has tender strips of pastrami, a potato chip crust, melty swiss, and comes with pickles and a dijon so good that you’d happily head to a multiverse where it was on every sandwich.

We’re pretty much going steady with University City’s Doro Bet. The Sami Dan music they play is stuck in our heads, the bright walls covered in African art is now our lock screen, and we’re thinking of proposing to the chefs after eating a plate of doro wot. The casual counter-service spot has plenty of plants, a big picture window near the front, and a handful of tables where you can devour the pillowy mac and cheese, smothered wings, or crispy teff flour fried chicken. It’s our new go-to for a quick lunch or casual weeknight meal when we’re craving peppery stewed chicken that falls off the bone. Open every day of the week except Tuesdays, head there when you want incredible Ethiopian food, and rethink your (restaurant) relationship status. 

This South Philly shop is essentially a taqueria with a Korean twist. In almost every quesadilla, burrito, or order of guac, you’ll find things like Korean bulgogi beef, garlic soy glazes, and kimchi salsa. Everything feels like a revamped version of things you know and love: cheesesteaks, fries, chicken sandwiches, and of course, tacos. It's an ideal grab-and-go spot with a menu that has lots of dishes worth weaving through traffic for.

Some openings feel like a long-anticipated album release. From a food cart to a pop-up to the current brick-and-mortar location, Bella Vista’s Tabachoy has the buzz of that Frank Ocean record we all still hope will come out. Inside the cozy Filipino restaurant, there are a handful of tables and walls that glow from the neon yellow pig sign, while old T-Pain tracks play overhead. There are no bad choices on the menu here, but we love the fried chicken (think Peking duck rather than breaded chicken) and the pancit bihon noodle dish that balances spice and citrus perfectly. Everything here feels like it's made for comfort, but you won’t leave feeling heavy. If you keep a must-try restaurant list, add this to the top of it.

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Philadelphia’s New Restaurant Openings

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photo credit: The Lucky Well - Incubator/ Sauce Boy

The Hit List: New Philadelphia Restaurants To Try Right Now guide image

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