The Best Neighborhood Restaurants in Philadelphia and New Jersey That Locals Frequent

Credit: Bud & Marilyn's

The food scene in Philadelphia and New Jersey reflects the agricultural bounty that surrounds it and the diverse population of diners who live there. And nowhere do you see this better than at the many neighborhood restaurants where chefs showcase their personal culinary vision. All over the region, inspired chefs are working with the ingredients they’re most passionate about, whether they are grown on the property or imported from around the world.

These local favorites provide a taste of what the food culture of New Jersey and Philadelphia is all about. After all that the industry has been through during the past year, it’s more important than ever to support them to ensure this part of local food culture continues to thrive.

Philly

Booker’s Restaurant and Bar (Cedar Park)

Booker’s owner Saba Tedla says she opened her West Philadelphia restaurant in 2017 in part because there just weren’t enough options for dining out in the neighborhood, particularly the kind of eclectic American food she found her community wanted. That means you’ll find dishes like fried calamari, fish and chips, and black bean burgers. There’s a Southern-inspired side of the menu, too, with options such as fried chicken and blackened catfish. Booker’s is a great place to meet for drinks with a creative cocktail and mocktail list and plenty of craft beers. 

Dining at the restaurant 

Booker’s Restaurant & Bar is serving brunch and dinner indoors and outdoors in covered, heated seating areas with partitions.

Takeout

Booker’s Restaurant & Bar offers takeout

Thanal Indian Tavern (Logan Square)

A boom in tech brought thousands of new workers and residents to the Logan Square section in Center City. Thanal co-owner Hariharan Karmegam helps meet this demand with an expansive menu of Indian dishes and a bustling lunch buffet. Indian railway peppers (battered and fried chiles) and the Thanal special goat curry are a couple of menu standouts. Equipped with a full bar, Thanal is also a busy happy hour hangout.

Dining at the restaurant

Thanal Indian Tavern is offering indoor and outdoor seating.

Takeout

Thanal Indian Tavern offers take out and delivery

Sarvida (Fishtown)

Fish and chicken over rice

Part of the Kamayan feast | Credit: Sarvida

Chef Lou Boquila celebrates the flavors of Filipino cuisine at his BYOB. The signature menu item is the unforgettable kamayan feast, which is a family-style meal featuring a whole fried fish, half a chicken, fried pork knuckle, and pinakbet (vegetables in coconut broth) all served over a mound of garlic rice. Not up to the challenge? Items are also available a la carte. Brunch options include a tortang talong (a roasted eggplant omelette) with banana ketchup and ube french toast.

Dining at the restaurant 

Sarvida is currently closed for onsite dining. 

Takeout

Sarvida offers takeout and delivery.

Jezabel’s Cafe (University City)

West Philadelphians seek out Jezabel’s — a cozy cafe open for breakfast, snacks, and lunch — for traditional Northwest Argentine specialties including a half dozen types of empanadas, tortilla de patatas, and mafaldas (Argentine croissants with ham and cheese). Don’t leave without sampling the Argentine pastries, including alfajores de maizena (shortbread cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche) and pastafrola de membrillo (quince paste tart), and torta de ricotta. 

Dining at the restaurant

Jezabel’s Cafe is serving breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks at outdoor tables on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Takeout

Jezabel’s offers take out and delivery.

Fond (East Passyunk)

Right next to the East Passyunk singing fountain in South Philly, you’ll find Fond, a new American restaurant from Le Bec-Fin alums (and husband-and-wife team) Lee Styer and Jessie Prawlucki. Regulars clamor for the French-inspired new American food, such as pork belly with kimchi fried rice and skate wing with corn risotto. The exceptional homemade desserts like the warm apple vol-au-vent are another thing that keeps people coming back. The warm, cozy bar — with a particularly thoughtful wine list — and lively sidewalk seating draw in new fans and passers-by.

Dining at the restaurant 

For the moment, Fond is only offering the sidewalk griddle menu and street side pop-ups, which feature sandwiches, including housemade sausages in sourdough flatbread and cheesesteaks, as well as soups and other grab-and-go friendly options.

Takeout

Fond is offering takeout via it’s rotation sidewalk griddle specials.

Bistro La Baia (Center City)

This 22-year old Italian restaurant epitomizes what Philadelphias love about their BYOBs. The dining room is intimate and cozy (though currently with tables spaced safely apart for COVID safety). Menu favorites — such as the PEI mussels in red or white sauce, gnocchi pesto, and lobster ravioli — persist year after year. And Bistro La Baia offers great hospitality at an affordable price point, with all the generously sized entrees priced less than $30. At lunch time, look for the chicken cutlet sandwich with spinach and parmigiano cheese for a hearty Philly classic.

Dining at the restaurant

Bistro La Baia is currently serving lunch and dinner.

Takeout

Bistro La Baia is currently offering takeout and delivery. 

Bud & Marylin’s (Midtown Village)

Named for chef and co-owner Marcie Turney’s grandparents, Bud & Marylin’s pays tribute to Turney’s Midwestern upbringing in Ripon, Wisconsin. Located in Midtown

Bud & Marilyn's Smoked Beet Reuben

Credit: Bud & Marilyn’s

Village, the American restaurant attracts its fair share of visitors, but happy hour is packed with regulars who live and work nearby. Expect generous portions of comforting dishes such as short rib stroganoff and fontina-stuffed meatloaf. The whimsical, retro dining room is a welcoming place to linger over classic cocktails, craft beer, and a thick wedge of funfetti cake. 

Dining at the restaurant 

Bud & Marylin’s is serving dinner and weekend brunch indoors or outdoors in tented, heated, and partitioned sidewalk seating.

Takeout

Bud & Marylin’s offers takeout and delivery.

South Jersey

Corinne’s Place (Camden)

For three decades, Corinne Bradley-Powers has served soul food in Camden, her hometown. In all those years, the menu has hardly changed. People come for the famous fried chicken, smothered pork chops, and mac and cheese. Vegetable dishes such as collard greens, candied yams, string beans, and cabbage are all made from scratch with fresh and often local ingredients. But Corinne’s Place is more than the food — it’s a local tradition that offers warm hospitality and community, too.

Dining at the restaurant 

Corinne’s Place is serving lunch, brunch, and dinner at its heated and enclosed outdoor dining area.  

Takeout

Corinne’s Place offers takeout and delivery.

Yokohama Sushi and Hibachi Restaurant (Maple Shade)

Serving Japanese dishes to South Jersey since 2002, Yokohama is a family affair, co-owned by mother-son duo, Cindy Chan-Sze and Kenneth Sze. Sourcing top-quality and maximally fresh ingredients is the kitchen’s top priority. The sizeable menu features the namesake sushi and hibachi sections, but you’ll also find a wealth of other options including soups, salads, and hot Japanese entrees like teriyaki, tempora, noodles, and bento boxes.

Dining at the restaurant 

Yokohama is serving lunch and dinner with options for indoor and outdoor seating. There is no hibachi service at this time.

Takeout

Yokohama offers takeout.

  

Jersey Shore

Semolina Restaurant (Red Bank)

A family affair, Semolina is owned by chefs and brothers Chuck and Tylar Lesbirel. Inspired by the local and seasonal foods of the Garden State, the menu changes seasonally. There’s a focus on New Jersey seafood as well as homemade fresh pasta. Look for bucatini served with anchovies, shallots, and homemade tomato paste or cavatelli with Kennet Farms mushrooms. A grilled Berkshire pork chop, accompanied by ever-changing, farmers-market-inspired elements, is among the most popular dishes on the menu.

Dining at the restaurant 

Semolina Restaurant is serving dinner indoors and outdoors. 

Takeout

Semolina Restaurant offers curbside pickup.

  

Red Room Cafe (Ventnor City)

This cozy Italian spot is in Ventnor, Atlantic City’s quieter, more laidback neighbor, so it’s a great alternative to the many flashier restaurants near AC’s casinos. There’s something for everyone on the expansive menu, full of Italian American classics such as clams casino, Caesar salad, eggplant parm, and more. Plus, Red Room serves a selection of housemade pastas, whole fish, and chops (pork, veal, and lamb), and a large wood-fired pizza oven dominates the restaurant, adding 17 options on the separate pizza menu.

Dining at the restaurant 

The Red Room Cafe is serving dinner at indoor and outdoor seating.

Takeout

The Red Room Cafe offers takeout. 

  

North Jersey

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant (Montclair)

This friendly Ethiopian spot is a favorite for both meat lovers and vegans alike. Dishes are served atop classic rounds of injera, a fermented flatbread made from teff flour that’s ideal for scooping up the rest of the menu. All spices are imported from Ethiopia and blended daily in traditional recipes. Try the tibs wat (tender prime beef cooked in a spicy sauce) or the doro kay wat (whole chicken legs braised until nearly falling apart). On the vegetable side of the menu, you’ll find a wide variety of legume-based stews as well as collards, mushrooms, and green beans.

Dining at the restaurant 

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant is currently closed for onsite dining. 

Takeout

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant offers takeout and delivery.

Limani Seafood Grill (Westfield)

This unassuming restaurant has delighted regulars with its Greek specialities for almost 15 years. A classic raw bar sets the tone for a menu of fresh ingredients minimally fussed with. Flavorful raw salads, including the classic Greek salad, and seafood dominate. The fish is sourced from local fishermen or imported from Greece. Try a whole fish grilled over charcoal and dressed simply with olive oil, lemon, garlic and oregano. The galaktoboureko, a creamy baked semolina custard wrapped in phyllo, is a popular way to close out the meal. 

Dining at the restaurant 

Limani Seafood Grill is offering lunch and dinner with indoor and outdoor seating.

Takeout

Limani Seafood Grill is offering

Marjan Fine Persian Grill (Morristown)

Known both for its outstanding kabobs and gracious service, Marjan Fine Persian Grill is a local treasure. Start with the kuku, a persian frittata stuffed with fresh mixed herbs. Kabobs are grilled over an open flame for the ideal tenderness and char. Persian cuisine is justifiably famous for its luxurious rice dishes, and there are no fewer than five here, all topped with nuts and fruit for a sweet/savory combination that complements the grilled meat.

Dining at the restaurant 

Marjan Fine Persian Grill is serving lunch and dinner indoors.

Takeout

Marjan Fine Persian Grill offers takeout and delivery.

Central Jersey 

Canal House Station (Milford)

Shrimp remoulade

Shrimp remoulade | Credit: Canal House Station

Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer were known as cookbook authors before they became restaurateurs. At Canal House Station, they’re making the same homey, but elegant food that fans know from their books. The warm wood-clad dining room and open kitchen make it feel like breakfast or lunch in a friend’s home. (The restaurant doesn’t serve dinner.) The seasonal menu changes frequently, but breakfast includes dishes such as fluffy buttermilk pancakes and expertly made omelettes, while lunch might be a well-crafted BLT or shrimp remoulade on avocado. 

Dining at the restaurant 

Canal House Station is currently closed for onsite dining. 

Takeout

Canal House Station is offering takeout. 

Brick Farm Tavern Restaurant (Hopewell)

Many restaurants boast a farm-to-table philosophy, but Brick Farm Tavern is one of the few truly walking the walk. The restaurant’s farm partner, Double Brook Farm, shapes the menu based on what ingredients it can provide from its stable of pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, and goats. Vegetables are brought in from a network of nearby farms. Brick Farm Tavern’s beverage menu features local wines and craft beers, and some brews and spirits are actually made on-site at the restaurant’s on-premise brewery (Troon Brewing) or distillery (Sourland Mountain Spirits).

Dining at the restaurant 

Brick Farm Tavern Restaurant is offering lunch and dinner with indoor and enclosed, heated outdoor seating.

Takeout

Brick Farm Tavern Restaurant is offering curbside pickup.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.