The Best Lunch Spots in Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love is more than meaty sandwiches.


Courtesy of Brett Naylor

If you don’t know much about Philly beyond that the city greases its lamp posts prior to any major sports game, you might think the citizens only break for lunch over cheesesteaks and Wawa hoagies. While we’re certainly passionate about these bonafide delicacies, Philadelphia is so much more than meaty sandwiches. When it comes to the midday meal, the city is awash in standout options that include landmark coffee shops with handmade dumplings, stylish modern Mexican cafes, and white tablecloth institutions practically designed for closing deals. Read on for where to find some of the best lunch in Philadelphia.

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El Chingon

El Chingon

Regan Stephens

Before opening his all-day Mexican cafe just off East Passyunk in South Philly, chef and owner Carlos Aparicio spent more than two decades working in Philly restaurants — including Parc, where he created the recipe for the French bistro’s signature baguette. At El Chingon, Aparicio’s menu centers around his signature cemitas, staple sandwiches popular in his home state of Puebla, Mexico. The chef’s version come on housemade bread, of course, stuffed with delights like adobo pork or herby mushrooms. Also on offer: aguachile (and a vegan version!), tacos, and a pastry case filled with made-from-scratch sweets like airy concha stuffed with Nutella pastry cream.

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Vernick Coffee Bar

Vernick Coffee Bar

Courtesy of Vernick Coffee Bar

Secluded behind a copse of trees on the second floor mezzanine of the Comcast Technology Center, Vernick Coffee Bar is a true urban oasis in the heart of Center City. Make a reservation to experience a little daytime extravagance in the form of seared yellowfin tuna and wild mushroom grain bowls in the midst of a lofty, light-filled space. Beer and wine are on offer, but most of the clientele is ordering from the cafe’s robust tea and coffee menu, which the servers pour ceremoniously from a tableside cart. Whatever you order, though, don’t skip dessert — the pastry program is one of the city’s best. If you’re short on time, opt for a grab-and-go chilled soba and sesame salad or lemongrass chicken sandwich and take a seat at one of the communal tables.

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Alif Brew & Mini Mart

Alif Brew


Alif Brew opened in 2020, a bright spot in West Philly during the height of the pandemic. The all-day cafe and market specializes in Ethiopian cuisine, made from scratch using owner Hayat Ali’s recipes. Among the excellent lunch options are the injera wraps — shredded chicken, beef tibs, or spicy lentils tucked into the homemade spongy bread like a burrito. On sunny days, grab a seat at one of the sidewalk tables outside.

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Lacroix at the Rittenhouse
Courtesy of The Rittenhouse

Sometimes lunch out means two soft pretzels and a Wawa coffee on the run, and sometimes it means white tablecloths, a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and a panoramic view of Rittenhouse Square. For the second thing, book a table at Lacroix, the elegant French-inspired restaurant inside the Rittenhouse Hotel. Executive chef Eric Leveillee, whose resume includes the DeBruce in the Catskills, imparts some magic to classics like caesar salad with preserved lemon and brown butter, and an over-the-top burger with bone marrow and aged comté.

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Courtesy of Brett Naylor

The new multi-level restaurant is a sleek addition to Rittenhouse Square, with ornate chandeliers and velvet banquettes, leopard-print barstools and vintage rugs fashioned into custom wall decor. But while the design — along with the expansive menu of handmade pastas and seafood — certainly elevate lunchtime, the vibe is unpretentious. Wilder lacks the fuss (and tourist crowd) of some nearby restaurants, but feels like a special occasion all the same. Go for rich bucatini carbonara, roasted Chesapeake oysters with fiery fermented chile butter and a house cocktail or local beer from the full bar.

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Goldie's Tehina Shakes
Michael Persico

For the uninitiated, the same group behind Philly’s acclaimed modern Israeli restaurant Zahav also runs a collection of fast casual spots that are equally as special, even if they don't require a year’s wait to get a table. Falafel mecca Goldie is one of them. On the tightly curated menu you’ll find perfectly-spiced fried chickpea orbs stuffed into warm and chewy pita or atop fresh greens, shawarma-spiced fries, and staggeringly good vegan tehina shakes in flavors like mint chocolate or coffee topped with a sprinkle of hazelnut halva.

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Courtyard at Suraya Restaurant Philadelphia

The Courtyard at Suraya | Image Courtesy Suraya

Stepping into Suraya feels like stepping into another city, in another country. The sprawling Lebanese restaurant makes for a lovely spot to catch up with a friend over plates of baba ganoush, bright salads and za'atar dusted manoushe. Opt for a table inside, amid the ornate tiles and open kitchen, or outside in the secluded garden. 

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Lunch from Samuel's

Schulson Collective

Samuel’s takes some inspiration from traditional Jewish delis, which you’ll see in towers of bagels and lox, brisk-but-attentive service, made-to-order egg creams, and a glossy pastry case stocked with treats. But the modern all-day cafe also has its own fresh perspective. Five different kinds of bread are made in house daily, you can add caviar to any dish, and there’s draft wine and a cocktail menu that includes a celery spritz made with Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray. On a quieter weekday lunch, ask for a booth, where you can start with a latke and caviar and finish with an excellent black and white cookie.

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Càphê Roasters

Càphê Roasters

Courtesy of Càphê Roasters

The city’s first Vietnamese specialty coffee roaster is also a delightful little haven for a midday meal. There you’ll find classics like banh mi with chả lụa (pork sausage) and chicken pate or crispy tofu, but also chef Jacob Trinh’s smart and deeply satisfying dishes like rice porridge inspired by his grandmother’s pumpkin soup recipe, mushroom shakshuka served with Vietnamese herbs, and fries layered with cheese, caramelized onions, hot pepper ketchup and housemade Kewpie-style mayo. Pair anything with an ume plum tea, tamarind tonic, or Vietnamese latte, and tack on a condensed milk soft serve for good measure.

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Middle Child Clubhouse

Middle Child Clubhouse

Michael Persico

Matt Cahn builds some of the best hoagies in town. Since 2017, he’s been doing it from a small shop in Washington Square West, but in 2021 he opened a sprawling second location — an open-all day spot serving his signature sandwiches at lunch (get the So Long Sal!) plus a patty melt, fries, and cocktails like the Seawater Margarita from a menu entitled "Day Drinks.”

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Sandwich from Huda

Courtesy of Huda

Yehuda Sichel was the sous chef at CookNSolo’s Zahav and Abe Fisher before opening his first solo project. Huda specializes in sandwiches, yes, but each thoughtfully considered element that goes into them — made-from-scratch milk buns, marinades, and pickles — makes it clear this place is run by a talented chef. Don’t sleep on the salads, which Sichel calls cohesive, and you’ll call accessible luxury.

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