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Eating East Passyunk – A Restaurant Tour Along East Passyunk Avenue

A restaurant tour of one of the best foodie streets in America

East Passyunk Avenue

East Passyunk is South Philadelphia's restaurant row. Credit: J. Fusco for GPTMC

Description

For years, insiders have flocked to South Philadelphia’s East Passyunk Avenue for its restaurants, particularly its red-gravy Italian spots. The neighborhood surrounding the avenue—a diagonal interruption to Philadelphia’s grid layout—has enjoyed revitalizations in recent years, creating a sort of renaissance for the thoroughfare itself. Visitors who stroll down Passyunk (pronounced pashunk by those in the know) find eclectic boutiques, coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, gastropubs, excellent Mexican and sushi fare, as well as the amazing Italian eateries that first made this street famous—not to mention the two across-the-street cheesesteak rivals, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks.

More recently, food fans in the know have begun referring to East Passyunk Avenue as the city’s contemporary Restaurant Row. The neighborhood’s strong Italian roots are still proudly displayed, but they’re augmented by daring immigrant-owned eateries (Mexican and Southeast Asian, most prominently) and young, passionate chefs eager to make a mark among their peers.

In 2013, Food and Wine Magazine called East Passyunk one of the 10 best foodie streets in America. We agree.

Check out our restaurant tour of East Passyunk Avenue below, starting on the south side and walking north.

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Le Virtu

A tasty tour of the Abruzzi table

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An impressive wine list complements the authentic Abruzzese cuisine prepared in an open kitchen. An intimate dining room and outdoor patio complete the warm and rustic atmosphere, and the seasonal menu melds local produce and meats with artisanal delicacies like honey and sheep’s milk cheeses imported from Italy’s Abruzzi region.

1927 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 271-5626
 

Will

Next-level BYO

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Chef Christopher Kearse, who’s cooked at some of America’s best restaurants, brings his formidable kitchen experience into full focus at Will, his popular BYOB on the far end of East Passyunk.

1911 E. Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 271-7683
 

Noir

South Philly meets French-Canada

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The chef at Noir is a Montreal native, which means he cranks out native specialties like poutine and smoked brisket in addition to upscale bar food.

1909 E. Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(267) 319-1678
 

Ristorante Tre Scalini

Delicious and dependable old- and new-school Italian

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This family-owned, bi-level BYOB serves authentic Italian dishes such as the traditional zuppa di pesce, as well as the exotic saffron gnocchi or wild boar. Warm, knowledgeable staff and valet parking on weekends enhance the dining experience.

1915 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 551-3870
 

Chaaya Cafe

First-rate waffles and fair-trade coffee

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Chaaya’s unique offerings include organic fair-trade coffee brewed with a crazy siphon system and homemade waffles topped with everything from Nutella to chorizo.

1823 E. Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 465-1000
 

Marra’s Cucina Italiana

Serving Italian-American favorites for more than 80 years

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A South Philly mainstay, Marra’s has been cranking out Italian-American favorites like thin-crust brick-oven pizzas and homemade pastas for more than 80 years. Hungry diners can opt for the Sunset Menu, which includes a traditional main dish with soup or salad. The no-frills dining room adds to the old-school vibe.

1734 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 463-9249
 

Birra

Part gastopub, part pizzeria, all scrumptious

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Somewhere between a gastropub and pizza parlor is Birra, serving an assortment of thin-crust pizza (including the head-turning mac-and-cheese pizza), paninis (try the grilled cheese) and antipasto, as well as an impressive list of craft beers. Plenty of sidewalk seating adds to the modest table count and provides a view of the avenue.

1700 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(267) 324-3127
 

Cantina Los Caballitos

Hip Mexican fare and local brews in South Philly

Cantina Los Caballitos

Part restaurant, part bar, Cantina draws a pretty diverse and eclectic clientele. Longtime locals mix with neighborhood newbies… and even folk from Center City make their way this far south to experience the food and fun at Cantina.

1651 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 755-3550
 

Mr. Martino’s Trattoria

Recieve a warm welcome before tucking in to homemade Italian specialties

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It’s open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, which only enhances the appeal of this cozy BYOB—a Passyunk mainstay. The homey atmosphere (more like someone’s home than a restaurant) and friendly staff (including Mr. Martino himself) almost outshine the delicious Italian food. Almost.

1646 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 755-0663
 

Paradiso Restaurant & Wine Bar

A mainstay for super-fresh Italian and seriously addictive gnocchi

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Comfort and elegance blend seamlessly in this contemporary Italian spot, where a lively bar and an open kitchen provide the entertainment, and the rooftop garden provides (some of) the ingredients. Fluffy house-made gnocchi and other light Mediterranean dishes keep locals coming back for more.

1627 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 271-2066
 

Izumi

Stylish spot for super sushi and small plates

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The owners of nearby restaurant Paradiso created South Philly’s answer to posh sushi spots. The richly appointed Japanese bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot looks out to the Singing Fountain, where diners can eat in the warm-weather months. Though the extensive menu pleases all sushi lovers, the inventive small-plate specialties like rock shrimp tempura draw adventurous diners.

1601 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 271-1222
 

Fond

Sophisticated new American cuisine with flecks of French influence

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Diners relax and indulge in New American cuisine at this BYOB spot, focusing on inventive flavors and eye-catching presentation. Those who save room are rewarded with decadent desserts and French press coffee.

1537 S. 11th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 551-5000
 

Stateside

A popular eatery starring all things American

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As the name suggests, this bar pours American-made craft beers, wines and spirits, with a focus on whiskeys and bourbons. The tempting dinner menu features mainly small plates that use locally sourced products.

1536 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 551-2500
 

Karina’s

Home-style Italian cuisine, with Spanish and South American touches

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This small, friendly BYOB offers its diners a home-style Italian menu, with a splash of Spanish and South American dishes thrown in for good measure. House-made breads and pastas soak up the savory sauces appearing in most dishes, from marinara and brown gravy to garlic wine and porcini mushroom sauces.

1520 E. Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 218-0455
 

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