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The Best Experiential Eats in Philadelphia

Embark on an interactive culinary adventure throughout the city

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Photo courtesy Sate Kampar
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Dahlak Photo courtesy Dahlak
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In a vibrant food city like Philadelphia, interactive, global experiences – especially ones that involve eating — are plentiful and delicious.

The following restaurants invite diners to grill their own meats, crack eggs into hot Korean soups, dine without a fork in sight and more.

Start making plans to check off all of the diverse culinary experiences this city offers, below.

01

Fez Moroccan Restaurant & Hookah Lounge

via GIPHY

Tapestry-covered walls, comfy couches and trays set up for traditional feasts greet diners at Fez, a Moroccan restaurant in Queen Village. Multiple rounds of apps and larger entrees kick off a meal, followed by fruit and sweets, and sharing of both food and hookah is encouraged. Be on the lookout for large holiday feasts and events featuring belly dancers.

Where: Fez Moroccan Restaurant & Hookah Lounge, 620 S. 2nd Street

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02

Dahlak

via GIPHY

Eritrean and Ethiopian restaurant and bar Dahlak serves as a bustling neighborhood-meeting place that attracts students, families and neighbors. This must-stop eatery in the melting pot that is West Philadelphia allows diners to chow down in the traditional Eritrean way by using their hands to scoop up food with the soft bread injera. Visitors, who are seated on low basket-like tables, share different stews and side dishes with their eating partners while listening to a mix of pop music and traditional Ethiopian music.

Where: Dahlak, 4708 Baltimore Avenue

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03

Jong Ka Jib

Jong Ka Jib serves authentic Korean food in warm stone bowls alongside a raw egg for diners to crack right into their hot soup and rice. The flavors of Korean barbecue are also on the menu, as are soft-tofu dishes.

Where: Jong Ka Jib, 6600 N. 5th Street

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04

Hippot Shabu Shabu

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Chinese hot-pot joint Hippot Shabu Shabu offers a build-your-own hot-pot adventure. Diners order broth, then cook their own mixture of fresh vegetables, sprouts, and proteins like tofu and meat chunks right at their table. There’s also a huge sauce bar with a variety of oils, sauces and vinegars to add to a customized pot.

Where: Hippot Shabu Shabu, 1002 Arch Street

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05

Perla

On select days, diners can enjoy an authentic family-style meal at East Passyunk’s Perla. Kamayan is the Filipino way of sharing a meal, and at Perla, rice, spring rolls, fried fish, veggies and sauces are all spread on banana leaves and eaten with the hands while diners share stories and drinks. It’s a guaranteed way to feel like part of the family at this restaurant, which is named after the owner’s mother.

Where: Perla, 1535 S. 11th Street

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06

Marrakesh

This Moroccan establishment in Society Hill invites diners to enjoy multiple courses — all with their hands. It’s an experience that involves many of the senses, from the smells of incense, cumin and fresh mint tea to the different textures of cooked eggplants and fresh couscous.

Where: Marrakesh, 517 S. Leithgow Street

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07

Era Bar and Restaurant

This Brewerytown bar and restaurant serves a full menu of Ethiopian food, including a breakfast special called ful featuring delicious fava beans spiced in a stew and eaten with fresh bread or injera. Also on the menu: a variety of craft beers.

Where: Era Bar and Restaurant, 2743 Poplar Street

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08

Saté Kampar

Malaysian street food shines at Saté Kampar. The Passyunk BYOB grills up meats on a stick in both classic and Hainanese styles, and rounds out the menu with herbaceous salads, stir-fried noodles and braised coconut chicken, alongside a menu of specialty drinks. Diners can grab savory Malay- or Hainanese-style sate by the skewer and should look out for the special chili crabs, which come complete with crab-cracking tools.

Where: Saté Kampar, 1837 East Passyunk Avenue

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09

Kabul Afghan Cuisine

An Old City staple for more than 25 years, Kabul features authentic Afghani food, including buttery rice with plump raisins, vegetarian and meat stews and more. In a special corner in the back of the restaurant, diners can eat the traditional way: on the floor on pillows and rugs. Afghani musicians and dancers also occasionally make an appearance.

Where: Kabul Afghan Cuisine, 106 Chestnut Street

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10

Anastasi Seafood

via GIPHY

Take your senses right to the sea at Anastasi Seafood, which offers some of the freshest seafood — including crabs and a variety of fish — in Philly. The old-school family atmosphere helps make this an Italian Market staple.

Where: Anastasi Seafood, 1101 S. 9th Street

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11

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

This Logan Square restaurant specializes in Japanese yakiniku (barbeque). Each table comes with a personal grill where hungry visitors grill their own miso-marinated steaks, vegetables and, at the end of the night, s’mores. Japanese sake and beers are also available.

Where: Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, 1901 Callowhill Street

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12

Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse

This no-frills buffet and grill in the heart of Northeast Philadelphia’s Brazilian community serves lunch, dinner, coffee and dessert. Diners can load up on plantains, yellow rice, stewed beef and more at the buffet. But Picanha‘s rodízio — all-you-can-eat meats sliced right at the table — fills guests to the brim with samples of chicken, beef, lamb and more.

Where: Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse, 6501 Castor Avenue

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13

Chima Brazilian Steakhouse

Chima’s dining experience plays up tradition. The steakhouse is named after chimarrao, a drink from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, that symbolizes hospitality. Table-side service calls back to the South Brazilian legend of gauchos (cowboys) who consumed mostly meat. Chima meat chefs wear the signature gaucho uniform while serving cooked-to-order filet mignon, beef ribs, marinated lamb, fish and more.

Where: Chima Steakhouse, 1901 John F Kennedy Boulevard

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14

Fogo de Chao

Meat, meat and more meat! Take a meat-heavy journey through Brazil at Fogo de Chao, where a salad bar with Brazilian side dishes is just the beginning of a massive spread that includes an unlimited amount of lamb, beef and other sections of meat cooked and spiced in a variety of ways. Servers bring dishes until diners say stop, so be prepared to be very, very full.

Where: Fogo de Chao, 1337 Chestnut Street

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15

Abyssinia

— Photo by Visit Philadelphia

Diners dig in with their hands and eat flavorful dishes from shared bowls at Abyssinia, and that family-style vibe can be felt throughout the Ethiopian restaurant. The downstairs dining room and upstairs bar, Fiume, are casual and welcoming while offering rich, spicy foods and top-notch cocktails.

Where: Abyssinia Restaurant, 229 S. 45th Street

Fez Moroccan Restaurant & Hookah Lounge
Dahlak
Jong Ka Jib
Hippot Shabu Shabu
Perla
Marrakesh
Era Bar and Restaurant
Saté Kampar
Kabul Afghan Cuisine
Anastasi Seafood
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
Picanha Brazilian Steakhouse
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
Fogo de Chao
Abyssinia
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