Where to Eat in Northeast Philly: The Ultimate Guide – Philadelphia magazine

Posted By on February 24, 2022

For khachapuri and steaming bowls of Uzbek rice, hit the boulevard.

Riekers Prime Meats is on our list of Northeast Philly food spots. | Photo by Noah Tanen

I get it: Northeast Philly is big, and maybe even a little mysterious unless you live there. (Fox Chase? Juniata? Rhawnhurst?) So Im beyond excited to let you know that the food there is good. Extremely good. So good that I once rode my bike miles down Roosevelt Boulevard for a pastrami sandwich at Steve Steins Famous Deli. While I cant condone that two-wheeled trek, I can recommend you make a trip one way or another, especially if it means trying something new. Northeast Philly is a good place for that.

Picanha, Oxford CircleSometimes overshadowed by its more popular (and expensive) counterparts, Picanha is certainly the most underrated Brazilian steakhouse in Philly. The buffet is solid, with salads and black beans. And the mashed potatoes are surprisingly good. Its everything a churrascaria should be: a haven for the appreciation of meat. 6501 Castor Avenue.

Mayfair Diner, MayfairDiner competition is stiff in Philadelphia, and I dont like to see Mayfair Diner left out of the conversation. Its ancient, unwavering and soul-nourishing. Get anything you want: Its open 24-7. 7373 Frankford Avenue.

Steves Prince of Steaks, Oxford CircleThe original Steves location makes the controversial choice of adding full, unchopped slabs of meat to their cheesesteak. Its not an easy style to pull off perhaps why so many people are wary of it but I dont think every cheesesteak needs its beef chopped into oblivion. Pile on the cherry peppers and enjoy. 7200 Bustleton Avenue.

China Gourmet, MayfairChina Gourmet is huge massive, actually, and the menu is as expansive as the space. The roving dim-sum carts are bursting with custard buns, rice-noodle rolls and other things that are all generally steamy, chewy and delicious. 2842 Saint Vincent Street.

Steve Steins Famous Deli, BustletonThis is one of the last standing Jewish delis in a neighborhood that, at one point, was brimming with them. Steve Steins is more than a relic though; its a great place to get a sandwich. Pastrami on rye or a bagel with lox are the go-tos. 1619 Grant Avenue, suite 39.

Sweet Lucys, HolmesburgGood barbecue is hard to come by in Philadelphia, but there are a select few spots that satisfy the craving when it hits. I promise you Sweet Lucys is one of them. 7500 State Road.

Riekers Prime Meats, Fox ChaseThe endless deli counter at Riekers is packed full with house-cured and smoked meats. Its a lovely place to lose yourself in. The leberkse in particular is so rich and delicate and perfectly salted. I almost dont want to recommend the kielbasa here; it sets too high a standard. But definitely get the liverwurst, even if you think you wont like it. 7979 Oxford Avenue.

Finks Hoagies, TaconyFinks is one of the best hoagie spots in Philly. The signature sandwiches all somehow taste both distinct and classic, especially the Original Italian, which is kicked up by a very sharp provolone and a proprietary olive spread. The seeded French Liscios roll is, of course, non-negotiable. 4633 Princeton Avenue.

Georgian Bread, SomertonYou need to get the khachapuri here: The adjaruli style is ideal. What better vehicle for butter, bubbling cheese and a soft egg than freshly baked bread? 10865 Bustleton Avenue.

Mini sampler at Alshami | Photo by Noah Tanen

Alshami Mediterranean Cuisine, TorresdaleAlshami is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood. The specialties are fatayer and manakeesh Levantine breads topped or stuffed with meat, cheese and herbs. Get the hummus and baba ganoush sampler, too. It comes with dolmas, which are exceptional, and very crispy falafel that are vibrant green with herbs. 3217 Willits Road.

Plov House, BustletonIts right in the name: Get the plov. The classic Uzbek rice dish is transformative if youve never had it: subtly fragrant rice with sweet carrots and chunks of beef as soft as butter. They do sell dishes pre-packed for reheating, so be sure to ask for your plov to be made fresh. And order a samsa, too. 9969 Bustleton Avenue.

Mallu Cafe, BustletonMallu serves up generous portions of Kerala-style South Indian food. Try the biryani and flaky porotta, or go for something more regionally specific like the beef cutlet, a kind of potato and beef fritter flavored with ginger and chili. 10181 Verree Road.

Shish Kabob Palace, BustletonShish Kabob Palaces blend of Central Asian cuisine with Sephardic Jewish and Russian influences hits your plate hot from the grill. The hefty kabobs are charred and piled high with onions, evoking flavors of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. 1683 Grant Avenue.

Uzbekistan Restaurant, SomertonLike many Uzbek spots in the neighborhood, Uzbekistan Restaurant serves great manti, vareniki and plov, but the digs are elevated with old-school decor. Its both cozy and refined in the way a good bowl of borscht is. 12012 Bustleton Avenue.

Salad bar at Bells Market | Photo by Noah Tanen

GaetasGaetas is a classic Philadelphia bakery that makes an exceptional tomato pie. The crust is just thin enough, and the sauce is just sweet enough. Its crunchy and deeply layered with rich tomato flavor. Its textbook. 7616 Castor Avenue.

Lipkins BakeryLipkins is known for their traditional Jewish baked goods, but in addition to bagels, rye and challah breads, theyve got a killer pound cake. The knishes, however, are the main attraction. 8013 Castor Avenue.

Bells MarketThe selection of Russian and Eastern European groceries at Bells Market is unmatched. Theres an overwhelming variety of unique caviar, cheeses, breads and smoked fish from which to choose. They have prepared foods as well, so make sure to grab some dumplings or blintzes on the way out. 8330 Bustleton Avenue.

Cantinho BrasileiroCantinho is a casual spot with great Brazilian food. Its a different experience than the steakhouses you may be used to: The food is all sold by weight, so load up your plate with as little or as much as you can manage. 7536 Castor Avenue.

Morning Star PastriesHit Morning Star early for a breakfast of Hong Kong-style buns. Come back later or just never leave and dive deep into a steaming bowl of congee or rice-noodle soup for lunch. 6918 Bustleton Avenue.

Tio PepeTio Pepe is the spot for Portuguese food in Northeast Philly. Start with a bit of chourico sausage, served on a flaming ceramic grill, and finish with a big pan of paella Valenciana. Wash it all down with a glass of sangria. 6618 Castor Avenue.

Delicias CriollasThe pastries here span the entire gamut of Colombian baked goods. They have empanadas, pan de bono and a variety of things both savory and sweet all perfect to eat with coffee. 6039 Castor Avenue.

On CharcoalThe arepas and tostones are great, but the whole chicken, beef ribs and steaks really anything cooked on charcoal are what make this place special. Finish what is likely to be a heavy meal with a light passion-fruit mousse for dessert. 6516 Castor Avenue.

Photo by Noah Tanen

Pupuseria Sabor Latino #2, JuniataA good pupusa sticks with you for days. The lingering memory of lightly charred corn dough, hot cheese and rich salsa roja is hard to shake. Suddenly Im back at Pupuseria Sabor Latino piling curtido, a Salvadoran pickled slaw, onto a hot pork and cheese pupusa. When you go, know that it may take a little time: The pupusas are all made fresh to order. 1446 Hunting Park Avenue.

Cafe Saigon, LawncrestCafe Saigon makes great and cheap banh mi sandwiches. Beyond that, youll find a menu of bright and flavorful Vietnamese dishes: rice vermicelli, noodle soups and crispy spring rolls. 827 Adams Avenue.

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Where to Eat in Northeast Philly: The Ultimate Guide - Philadelphia magazine

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