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Philadelphia is home to some of the best restaurants, chefs and bar programs in the country.
Visitors and locals activate their tastebuds and embrace new experiences with every bite and sip at nationally known restaurants, late-night cheesesteak spots and tiny corner cafes.
Many of those establishments have been recognized over the years by the James Beard Foundation committed to working with and honoring chefs who uphold the organization’s values of respect, transparency, diversity, sustainability and equality. The foundation’s annual James Beard Awards showcase highlight the best chefs and kitchens in the nation working toward that mission, as well as the innovators whose hard work goes into making every plate and pour exceptional.
Here, we highlight the restaurants and chefs that have been honored in the foundation’s annual long list of semifinalists, nominees and winners between 2015 and 2022. While Philadelphia’s restaurants have been earning James Beard Awards since the 1980s, these places are currently some of the most reservation-worthy destinations in the region.
Iconic spots like Zahav and Vedge are multi-time honorees; High Street Hospitality and two of its critically acclaimed holdings, Fork and High Street Philly, have all been recognized; and more recently honored restaurants like Hardena and Kalaya show off the amazing flavor and incredible value that Philly’s new class of restaurants are brining to the city.
And the authentic Pennsylvania whiskey at Dad’s Hat and brews served at Monk’s Cafe are just two of the outstanding bar programs serving can’t-miss sips in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Check out our guide below to James Beard-recognized bars and restaurants offering phenomenal food and drink experiences around Philadelphia.
The diverse flavors of the Jewish Diaspora are on display at Abe Fisher, a 2015 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant. The menu pulls together centuries-old flavors from Budapest, Montreal, Brooklyn and more with various small plates and a full bar. Abe Fisher is part of the CookNSolo portfolio behind Federal Donuts and James Beard Award-winning Zahav. Pro tip: Don’t miss the $54 prix-fixe dinner option.
Where: Abe Fisher, 1623 Sansom Street
Buzzy Andiario is located in the heart of West Chester’s shopping and dining district, inviting diners to enjoy artisanal meals made with honest, local ingredients. A 2019 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, this farm-to-table spot frequently changes its menu of hearty pastas and proteins based on the availability of fresh ingredients.
Where: Andiario, 106 W. Gay Street, West Chester
Flaky croissants, creamy mousse cakes and other delicious pastries make Artisan Boulanger Patissier a stand-out. André Chin and Amanda Eap, three-time James Beard Award semifinalists (2013, 2015, 2016) have been creating their impeccable French baked goods for nearly 30 years to the delight of customers at their East Passyunk shop. A second location opened in Media in early 2022.
Where: Artisan Boulanger Patissier, 1218 Mifflin Street
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Artisan Boulanger Patissier, 27 W. State Street, Media
Refined, simple dining has been Bibou’s mission since it opened in 2009, quickly earning raves from The New York Times and a Best New Restaurant nomination in the 2010 James Beard Awards. Plus, chef Pierre Calmels was a Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic semifinalist every year from 2010 to 2015. Bibou now operates as a boutique shop offering French to-go items like pre-packaged escargot, sparkling water, jams, mini-toasts and more.
Where: Bibou, 1009 S. 8th Street
Expect clever riffs on traditional dishes in this tiny laid-back Fishtown spot that grew out of the original location in South Philadelphia. The menu is Asian-inspired — dishes like brisket ramen with matzo ball and kimchi are delightfully savory — and the happy hour is especially popular. Chef Ben Puchowitz, 2014 James Beard Award semifinalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year, serves up similar concoctions next door at nunu and at Bing Bing Dim Sum in East Passyunk.
Where: Cheu Fishtown, 1416 Frankford Avenue
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Bing Bing Dim Sum, 1648 E. Passyunk Avenue
nunu, 1414 Frankford Avenue
The farm-to-bottle experience of Dad’s Hat whiskey makes the Bucks County distillery a standout in Philly’s thriving spirits scene — and it earned co-founders Herman C. Mihalich and John S. Cooper a semifinalist spot in the 2017 James Beard Award category for Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional. Though Dad’s Hat makes a full spirits profile, its whiskey is specially made with locally sourced rye that’s grown just for this purpose and pays tribute to an original Pennsylvania crop.
Where: Distilled and bottled by Mountain Laurel Spirits, LLC, 925 Canal Street, Bristol
Chocolate halva babka, za’atar challah and many other heavenly baked goods keep customers coming back to Tova duPlessis’ little bakery on East Passyunk Avenue. James Beard Award judges agree, as the visionary chef was a semifinalist for Outstanding Bakery for several years in a row (2017-2020).
Where: Essen Bakery, 1437 E. Passyunk Avenue
The Philadelphia region’s finest produce, seafood and meat are always on the menu at this dinner-and-weekend-brunch spot. Owner Ellen Yin opened Fork in the mid-1990s, and the restaurant is often credited with paving the way for the Old City neighborhood’s reputation for fine dining. Among the honors for Fork in recent years: semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant (2015, 2016), nominee for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (2016) and nominee for Outstanding Restaurateur (2018, 2019, 2022).
Where: Fork, 306 Market Street
This traditional Indonesian restaurant in South Philadelphia showcases the authentic, flavorful dishes of sisters Maylia and Diana Widjojo, who run the shop their mother opened in the early 2000s. Plates like ayam bakar kecap made with sweet soy sauce are among the delicious offerings that earned the Widjojos a 2018 semifinalist nod for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.
Where: Hardena, 1754 S. Hicks Street
It’s no wonder Ellen Yin’s restaurant group has three James Beard Award nominations for Oustanding Restaurateur (2018, 2019, 2022) as well as a semifinalist placement (2017). Two of her Philly establishments, Fork and High Street on Market (now called High Street Philly and at a new location), have both earned multiple foundation nods over the years for their celebrated chefs. In addition to those staples, Yin’s group oversees a.kitchen + a.bar at AKA Rittenhouse Hotel, as well as the fast-casual High Street Provisions in University City and a restaurant in New York City.
Where: a.kitchen + a. bar, 135 S. 18th Street
High Street Philly, 101 S. 9th Street
Fork, 306 Market Street
Another James Beard Award-recognized restaurant in the High Street Hospitality family, High Street garnered semifinalist and nominee nods for Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2015 and 2016. The daily breakfast-lunch-dinner spot serves dine-in and take-out customers who look forward to filling sandwiches, handmade pastas, progressive cocktails and fresh breads.
Where: High Street Philly, 101 S. 9th Street
Fans of Nok Suntaranon’s catering were delighted to see Kalaya get a brick-and-mortar home in the South 9th Street Italian Market in 2019. Named for the chef/owner’s mother, the Thai kitchen serves flavorful dishes like pla nung manao (steamed branzino with chili and lime sauce) and moo pad kai kem (stir-fried pork), while the market offers prepared foods and ingredients to cook at home. The new restaurant earned its first James Beard Award recognition as a 2020 nominee for Best New Restaurant — as well as kudos from Esquire for having the country’s chef of the year — before Sunataranon scored a nominee for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2022. Sunataranon appeared on Season 1, Episode 25 of Visit Philly’s Love + Grit podcast.
Where: Kalaya, 764 S. 9th Street
Kalaya Thai Market, 922 S. 9th Street
A five-time James Beard Award semifinalist (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016) must be onto something. Chef Konstantinos Pitsillides regularly makes the long list of Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic for his work in the kitchen at this sun-kissed Greek/Cypriot BYOB corner spot in Washington Square West. The menu is known for kebabs and salads as well as a variety of Mediterranean dishes.
Where: Kanella, 1001 Spruce Street
In addition to winning Top Chef New Orleans, Laurel’s Nick Elmi is a Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic James Beard Award semifinalist several times over, and a 2020 nominee in that category. Elmi lets the seasons dictate the dishes at the French-inspired BYOB, which currently serves a six-course seasonal tasting menu.
Where: Laurel, 1617 E. Passyunk Avenue
Le Caveau wasted no time impressing guests and judges when it opened in late 2019. A 2020 James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Wine Program, Chloe Grigri’s second-story wine bar above The Good King Tavern has since turned into a to-go bottle shop offering a list of French-focused pours from sustainably farmed grapes.
Where: Le Caveau, 614 S. 7th Street
An impressive wine list complements the authentic Abruzzese cuisine prepared in an open kitchen at Le Virtù, which has racked up multiple James Beard Award honors over the years (2012-2013 semifinalist, Rising Star Chef of the Year and 2014-2016 semifinalist, Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic). An intimate dining room and outdoor patio complete the rustic atmosphere, and the seasonal menu melds local produce and house-made salumi with artisanal delicacies such as fresh pasta and sheep’s milk cheeses. The menu remains stellar though Chef Joe Cicala moved on from Le Virtù to open his very own spot on North Broad Street, Cicala.
Where: Le Virtù, 1927 Passyunk Avenue
In Philly’s Kensington neighborhood, Martha takes the idea of a friendly, neighborhood bar and ramps up the hipness. Bar taps dispense beer, wine, kombucha and cocktails daily. The inventive pours landed Martha on the 2017 James Beard Award semifinalist list for Outstanding Bar Program.
Where: Martha, 2113 E. York Street
Monk’s serves one of Philadelphia’s best burgers, classic pomme frittes and irresistible mussels. But it’s best known for Belgian brews and its affectionately named “Beer Bible” — an extensive list of the bar’s many offerings, all served by staff ably ready to talk through the selection with beer fiends and newbies alike — hence the 2019 semifinalist designation by the James Beard Awards for Outstanding Bar Program. Watch Monk’s owner Tom Peters discuss the spot’s storied history in Greater Philadelphia’s craft beer scene.
Where: Monk's Café, 264 S. 16th Street
Paying homage to the 19th-century oyster-and-soup operation that once inhabited this space, chef Jose Garces honors Philadelphia’s nautical roots with his menu, right down to the impressive cocktail menu that earned The Olde Bar a spot on the James Beard Award 2016 semifinalist list for Outstanding Bar Program. The lengthy beverage menu boasts classic and signature drinks, wines by the glass and bottle, and a beer list for those looking to keep it simple.
Where: The Olde Bar, 125 Walnut Street
The exterior of Royal Sushi & Izakaya is unassuming, though the food is anything but. Jesse Ito’s delicious Japanese menu made him a James Beard Award Rising Star Chef of the Year semifinalist for four years in a row (2017-2020), and even earned him a coveted spot on the nominee list in 2019 before landing a nomination for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2022. The extensive menu has been hailed by local critics for its inventiveness, offering rarely served fish, traditional sushi rolls and numerous hot-food options. Guests can opt for the reservations-only, 17-piece $165 omakase menu at Royal Sushi or the more casual first-come-first-served a-la-carte experience at Royal Izakaya.
Where: Royal Izakaya, 780 S. 2nd Street
Chef Cristina Martínez’s legendary cooking is no stranger to the spotlight. In addition to features by Chef’s Table and Bon Appétit, her lamb barbacoa, pork quesadillas, tamales and more have earned her three James Beard Awards Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic semifinalist spots (2017-2019) and a nomination in that category for 2020 and 2022, and husband/cooking partner Benjamin Miller has been honored twice (2017-2018). The Mexican hot-spot is known for its tacos, consommé and pastries, as well as Martínez’s advocacy for immigrants’ rights. Fans of the star chef’s cooking can also head to Casa Mexico in the Italian Market, which Martínez opened in early 2020.
Where: South Philly Barbacoa, 1140 S. 9th Street
With nearly 20 restaurants in Philadelphia, it’s easy to see why Stephen Starr’s Starr Restaurants has garnered so much James Beard Award recognition. Starr’s Philly portfolio includes an impressive list of themed spaces with decor that captures the experience of the food, like the down-home-style barbecue joint Fette Sau in Fishtown and French bistro Parc, which overlooks Rittenhouse Square. Starr has been a semifinalist (2008, 2011-2014), a nominee (2009-2010, 2015-2016) and a winner (2017) for Outstanding Restaurateur.
Where: Various locations including Parc, 227 S. 18th Street
Celebrating the flavors of the Levant – the area that includes Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Iraq — and serving them up in a gorgeously designed setting, Suraya compels American eaters to more seriously explore the rich culinary traditions on offer. The indoor/outdoor open-all-day Fishtown destination serves up Lebanese specialties like man’oushe and ma’amoul cookies, as well as Middle Eastern-inflected French pastries that caught the attention of James Beard Award judges. Suraya’s James Matty was a 2019 semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef.
Where: Suraya, 1528 Frankford Avenue
Adventurous eaters love the menu at this Wayne staple, which has remained popular since opening its doors in 2007. The menu is packed with surprises like goat tacos and cactus slaw, but the bar offerings are what make TND (as its regulars call it) stand out. A 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program, Teresa’s Next Door has an extensive beer bottle and draft menu that showcases local and international pours, plus a selection of wines, ciders and hand-crafted cocktails like The Blinker (Sagamore rye, fresh grapefruit and real grenadine).
Where: Teresa's Next Door, 126 N. Wayne Avenue, Wayne
The Tired Hands empire that spans Ardmore and Philadelphia often draws visitors for its better-than-most bar food and seasonal Fishtown beer garden. But it’s the drinks, naturally, that set Tired Hands apart. A James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program (2016) and Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer (2020), the brewing company offers a rotating selection of beers that include American pale ales, saisons and lagers, though it’s best known for helping create the milkshake IPA, a super-hazy and massively juicy take on craft beer’s most popular style.
Where: Tired Hands Fermentaria Tap Room, 35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore
St. Oner's, 2218 Frankford Avenue
Vegetables are everything at this cruelty-free outfit that serves guests in a gorgeously renovated townhouse. Owners and life partners Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau offer inventive dishes like a rutabaga “fondue” and eggplant braciole, as well as unskippable desserts served with dairy-free homemade ice creams. Together, the Vedge duo has racked up 10 James Beard Award honors, including Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Most recently, Landau earned a nominee spot in that category for the 2020 awards.
Where: Vedge, 1221 Locust Street
A 2017 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (and a frequent semifinalist and nominee), the immensely popular Vernick Food & Drink offers stellar cooking in a casual setting. Encompassing both delicate and hearty eats, familiar elements and unexpected preparations, Vernick’s cooking can be hard to define. Dishes include tuna crudo with warm foie gras sauce, homemade pastas, divine roast chickens and a dark chocolate brownie with ginger mousse. No matter the combination, all meals at Vernick are memorable and original. Chef Greg Vernick’s talents are also on display at Vernick Fish inside the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center and in the curated collection of bottles found in Vernick Wine Shop.
Where: Vernick Food & Drink, 2031 Walnut Street
One of the nation’s most acclaimed Italian restaurants is, unsurprisingly, a James Beard Award regular. The menu is local, the atmosphere is intimate and the wine cellar is home to more than 5,000 bottles. Most recently, Vetri was a 2019 and 2020 nominee for Outstanding Chef. Both the space and chef/owner Marc Vetri have been honored several times, including as a 2005 winner for Best Chef: Mid Atlantic. Diners can also enjoy Vetri’s cooking at the much more affordable Fiorella, the 19th-century South Philly butcher shop now serving up a pasta-centric menu under the star chef’s direction.
Where: Vetri Cucina, 1312 Spruce Street
Fiorella, 817 Christian Street
Zahav might be the Philly restaurant most often described as award-winning. The modern Israeli standout has been a James Beard Award honoree routinely since 2009, with wins for Outstanding Chef (2017), Rising Star Chef of the Year (2018) and Outstanding Restaurant (2019). Two of Philadelphia’s masters of pioneering culinary offerings, restaurateurs Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov, are responsible for the dining delights at Zahav (as well as for a growing empire that includes 2015 semifinalist Abe Fisher). The open kitchen and shareable plates keep the atmosphere friendly and casual, while dishes like fried cauliflower, lamb with beet-pickled turnips and branzino with roasted cucumber make Zahav one of the most sought-after restaurants in Philadelphia.
Where: Zahav, 237 Saint James Place
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Where to find essential cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, water ice and more...