Kysha Brown is a recent college graduate from Arcadia University with a B.A in English and a minor in Pan African Studies. She enjoys photography and writing food reviews in her hometown of Philadelphia.
Guest-written by Kysha Brown
As a recent college graduate and a forever Philadelphian, there are tons of restaurants and foods around the city that have flavored my years. Reviewing places around the city started as a hobby with friends, but not too long after, I began exploring on my own to see what the city had to offer. Not only did I find some amazing resturants in various areas, but I was able to support some great causes and people. I decided to compile a list of restaurants in a few neighborhoods around the city, with a special focus for those especially close to our nearby colleges/universities. If you’re looking for something to eat on your everyday journey around the city, a late-night study snack, or a treat for all your friends, I’ve got you covered.
Starting off with North Philadelphia, with its culture and food, North Philly is the birthplace for a lot of trends, history, and universities. Temple University, with its forever-expanding campus, is here in the heart of the city. We all know about the Temple food trucks that can line the campus—and if you didn’t know, now you know! You can get some of the best food off a truck on your local street.
The Crepe Truck is located at 1291 W. Norris St., and is open Monday through Friday, 10am to 8pm. They sell sweet and savory crepes like spicy pulled pork, BBQ burger, and ‘Alexander the Crepe’ which includes lamb, pepperoni, and all the veggies they offer—and that just starts the list of over 20+ savory options with an array of sauces to compliment your taste buds.
I’m personally a fan of sweets, so the ‘Berries Boston,’ a mixture of Boston Creme spread, strawberries, blueberries, and Nutella, appeals to me. I also love the ‘S’mores’, it’s filled with fluff, graham crackers, and Nutella. If you have a chance to check out their truck on your way around the city, I hope you also enjoy all their tasty options!
Down North, is a modernly designed restaurant located in North Philly right next to Widener Library, that serves “pizza with a purpose” as their slogan goes. This pizza shop on 2804 W. Lehigh Ave. works with a mission: They employ recently incarcerated individuals while providing culinary opportunities. They’re only open Thursday to Sunday from 12pm until they sell out, and trust me it happens quicker than you think. Down North sells pizzas that are delicious and wings that are truly mouthwatering, with flavors like honey chipotle, Thai chili, and Norffalo, which is their own special sauce, but, most importantly, they are providing a livable wage and equal work opportunity as well. Make sure you give them an extra special look and try them out. I recommend Big Head, a BBQ chicken pizza with yellow peppers and red onions that make it sing and a side order of their spicy cheese fries.
The Drunk Crab, a seafood restaurant on 425 W. Girard St., offers a little bit of everything. I come purely for the seafood combos: Large bags filled with your choice of seafood and vegetables, smothered in their different sauces all at raging heat levels. The large menu lets you get a piece of everything you could be craving that day.
BurgerFi, with two locations in the city, one on Market Street and one right across the street from Reading Terminal, is a go-to spot for burgers. I enjoy their burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and especially their milkshakes. My go-to is their Beyond Burger and their huge onion rings!
Nora’s Kitchen at 248 South St. is a small restaurant that stands out. Here I had the Quesabirria, which came with three hearty tacos and consommé, along with their chips and a huge container of queso. The tacos were delicious and not the only thing on their wide menu with mouthwatering sides. They also make fresh drinks and lemonades in-house!
Chinatown Square is located at 10163 Race St. This gazebo offers over nine vendors from The Boa Bar to Kurry Korner and many more, so you can satisfy almost any craving here. They close at 9pm to reopen at 10pm as a hookah lounge/bar upstairs. It’s really fun to see a busy restaurant square get turned into a dark, intimate night club. Check it out for both good food and good fun!
Aki Nom Nom Sushi and Ramen, located at 1210 Walnut St, is the best for all-you-can-eat sushi. Can I say anything else? Or rather, do you really want me to? This cute restaurant offers a lunch and dinner menu with ramen, sushi, and so much more. The all-you-can-eat option starts at $30 and you won’t be bored by the seemingly endless number of options you have to try. I personally indulged in their cocktails and chicken tempura.
The Better Box has three locations, with their flagship store in the Northeast at 8601 Frankford Ave. Here, I was finally able to try their dishes after stalking their food truck for months. They serve egg rolls with a twist like the ‘Cajun Jawn’ that has Cajun grilled shrimp, crab meat, and mixed peppers in a sweet tangy sauce. ‘Angry Chick’ is a combination of grilled chicken, fried onions, and a 4-cheese blend, all topped off with Buffalo sauce. Trying their food is so worth it and you’ll be in for a surprise from all the other dishes they offer!
Wok Work has many locations, and I’ve been to their trucks in different areas all around the city. They include 15th & Spring Garden, 8016 Frankford Ave, and Temple University at Tioga & Board. Rice and Noodle bowls are their specialties. I prefer the ‘build your own’ option because I like mixing and the large options of sauces assure that I can try a different one every time. The Crispy Edamame dumplings are also a great side that compliments the bowls well!
Sabrina’s Café is great for breakfast, brunch, and lunch. While they have a couple locations, I mostly visit the one near Drexel University in University City. I tried their ‘Chicken & Waffles’ dish with warm vanilla bean syrup and on the side, I paired it with loaded home fries. The Cannoli French toast is also one of my favorites because of the wild berry sauce with the cannoli shell crumbles. You’ll be full and comfortable with the cafe’s casual atmosphere!
Smokey Joe’s Tavern is a bar located in the Penn area, 210 S. 40th St, that has great drinks and good pizzas. While the restaurant portion closes at 11pm, you can still grab a drink (21+) until close! But if you’re going during the day, the closed booths and open bar make for an intimate feel.
Wishbone, located on 4934 Walnut St., has an array of chicken sandwiches, tenders, and sides. The BLT sandwich is my go-to because of the chicken, smoked bacon, and sun-dried tomatoes. I would definitely check them out for a quick bite when around the University City area.
Banana Mousse is located in West Philadelphia on 5602 Spruce St. From cups of Sweet Potato Mousse to elaborate Fruity Pebble milkshakes, Banana Mousse has been a treat of mine for about two years. A Black-owned mother and daughter duo have come up with ice cream, milkshakes, Mousse treats, and so much more.
I hope you enjoyed my list of some of the best restaurants around our great city. My biggest hope is that you explore the city and see if you can add to my list! There are so many different flavors around—enjoy your time in Philly and here’s to some of these restaurants becoming your new favorite, too.