6 Must-Book Restaurants in Philadelphia

Cocktails at Fitzon4th, a new vegan tapas restaurant in Queen Village. | Credit: Fitzon4th

Philadelphia’s restaurant scene brims with exciting new entrants, eager to fulfill a range of cravings. Choose from a diverse lineup that includes American southern cuisine, vegan tapas, classic Italian eats, and some of the city’s best tacos. Here are six new—and refurbished—restaurants to check out right now.

Amina (Old City)

Buttermilk battered shrimp and grits at Amina. | Credit: Amina

This striking newcomer, a May opening, draws inspiration from the flavors of the American south as well as western Africa—according to the owner, Felicia Wilson, it’s named for a Nigerian warrior queen. Chef Darryl Harmon, formerly of Philadelphia’s Water Works and the Lure Group restaurants in New York City, respects these food traditions while bringing whimsy to the plates. For example, the restaurant’s popular candied yams are garnished with graham crackers. Other dishes, such as the hot chicken sandwich, lean in a spicier direction, seasoned with fiery Nigerian flavors. Don’t miss the potent signature cocktails, including a passion fruit margarita.

Fitzon4th (Queen Village)

This spring, mother-son duo Alison Fitzpatrick and Alex Soto teamed up to bring a vegan tapas concept to the restaurant that was most famously Hungry Pigeon and most recently Fitz & Starts. The exterior wall was boldly repainted with a colorful mural that pays tribute to the family’s dogs. The corner space’s interior is bright and cheerful with floor-to-ceiling windows, teal upholstery, geometric patterns, and an exposed brick wall. Dishes to try include cashew ricotta toast, lentil meatballs, mac and “cheese,” and an assortment of pasta. Keep an eye on the restaurant’s Instagram feed for pop-up events from Pizza Ptah, when the regular Fitzon4th menu is joined by outstanding pizza specials by chef Ptah Osayande.

In Riva (East Falls)

When In Riva opened in 2011, the restaurant became a go-to for those who hike and bike along the Schuylkill River. “In riva” means “along the banks” in Italian and the restaurant’s riverfront view patio is an ideal spot to enjoy wood-fired pizzas and beers. In September 2021, tropical storm Ida brought massive flooding to the area and the restaurant was closed for an agonizing nine months. It reopened earlier this summer to the delight and relief of its fans—and the pizzas are as good as ever. Keep it simple with a margherita or pepperoni pie or opt for the mushroom and zucchini pizza topped with truffle, fontina, and thyme; there’s also a robust pasta selection, so take the opportunity to carbo load.

Positano Coast (Old City)

The transformed, villa-like interiors at Positano Coast. | Credit: Adriano Martino

If you haven’t been to Italian stalwart Positano Coast in a while, it’s time, thanks to a major metamorphosis it emerged from in April. The interior is now punctuated with bold colors, and custom woodwork frames the dining room; much of the decor was imported from Italy, evoking a luxurious villa. The menu was also refreshed, but longtime fans will recognize the classic Italian cooking. New seasonal dishes include a chilled lobster with avocado and mango; gnocchi with cream of zucchini and lemon zest, and crispy skin orata (dorade) with a caper berry and tomato vinaigrette. An updated cocktail list includes fresh options like the gazillionaire, a limoncello-forward drink.

Frame (Old City)

This sultry newcomer, inspired by the moody lounges of New York City and Los Angeles, does double duty, serving as a place to have dinner and a standout after-hours spot. Award-winning chef Richard Sandoval has previously cooked at the acclaimed Scarpetta restaurant, and he brings his skills to Frame’s expansive and eclectic menu. You’ll find spaghetti with clams, vegan ratatouille, and a signature burger with jalapeños, bacon, caramelized onions, American cheese, and cilantro aioli—plus cocktails such as pisco sours and chocolate espresso martinis. Dramatic effects include disco-ball sparkles that float through the room and a wall awash in wavy neon-green light; the bar itself twinkles. After dinner, tables’ heights are adjusted for a transformation that lends a more night-club like atmosphere. A DJ spins club on weekend nights.

La Chingonita (Fishtown)

Once a wildly popular food truck, La Chingonita grew into a brick-and-mortar space in Fishtown this May. Owners Rebecca Baez and Omar Martinez serve up everything that made the truck a sensation, plus new weekly specials. The renowned birria tacos, filled with tender braised beef, are a must-try. But the best part may be the sidecar of broth for dipping each bite. Though the tacos have graced many recent “best-of” taco lists, there are many other menu categories to explore. The elote, coated with mayonnaise and Cotija cheese and amply spiced, is a close second to the tacos. And don’t sleep on the generously stuffed tortas—or the house-made agua frescas.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Joy Manning is a food writer, recipe developer, and podcaster based in Philadelphia.