The best restaurants in Philly, according to the James Beard Awards
Here's a guide to all the James Beard-nominated and winning restaurants in Philadelphia
Philadelphia has award-winning restaurants, but, what exactly does award-winning mean? Many things, but one of the industry’s most prestigious prizes is the James Beard Awards is among them, and Philly boasts more than a handful of honors from the foundation which bears the same name.
Within Philadelphia, there are many, many restaurants and chefs that have been nominated or won a James Beard award over the years, ranging from a beloved roast pork sandwich shop to Israeli fine-dining where you have to work to snag a reservation.
If you go beyond city limits, there are even more nominees and winners, including Zeppoli and Sagami in Collingswood, Andiario in West Chester, Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey in Bristol, Corinne’s Place in Camden, and more.
Inside the city, there are upward of 30 restaurants that have deserved nods from the James Beard Foundation. Here are the James Beard-nominated and James Beard-winning restaurants, chefs, and personalities in Philadelphia.
Read all about the 2023 semifinalists (which includes Friday Saturday Sunday and Amanda Shulman of Her Place Supper Club) and the 2022 winners. Also, there were no awards in 2021. Some Inquirer staff members have served on or are part of the James Beard Awards voting body.
🏆 Jose Garces won for best chef mid-Atlantic, 2009
Chef Jose Garces is no stranger to James Beard nominations, and he won best chef mid-Atlantic for his Old City Spanish restaurant Amada where a menu of traditional Spanish tapas fills plates and sangria fills cups.
John’s Roast Pork
🏆 Won for American Classics, 2006
Not many cities can say they have a James Beard-winning spot that serves roast pork sandwiches and cheesesteaks, but Philly can. Its namesake (the roast pork sandwich) remains the signature specialty with thin-sliced meat simmered in a pan of juice served on a bun lined with provolone and spinach.
🏆 Jeff Michaud won for best chef mid-Atlantic, 2010
Osteria has changed hands a number of times, but James Beard-winning chef Jeff Michaud is back at the helm with a full menu of Italian fare like Neapolitan pizzas, handmade pasta, and a surprisingly affordable happy hour every night of the week. Yes, even weekends.
South Philly Barbacoa
🏆 Cristina Martínez won for best chef mid-Atlantic in 2022; semifinalist for best chef mid-Atlantic, 2017, 2022; nominee, 2019-2020
Chef Cristina Martínez is a leader in the food scene and an advocate for social justice — she advocates for undocumented workers, among other groups. At her South Ninth Street restaurant, find slow-roasted lamb barbacoa tacos until they sell out (and, oh, they do sell out).
🏆 Stephen Starr won for outstanding restaurateur, 2017; nominee in 2009-2010, 2015-2016; semifinalist, 2008, 2011-2014
With restaurants like Parc, Morimoto, the Dandelion, El Vez, Barclay Prime, and more, Stephen Starr’s name is synonymous with the Philadelphia dining scene, and there are many opportunities to dine at one of his establishments.
🏆 Marc Vetri won for best chef mid-Atlantic, 2005; nominee for outstanding chef, 2019-2020
Marc Vetri’s handmade pastas at Vetri Cucina earned him a win in 2005. Now you can try Cucina’s $150 prix fixe, or head to Fiorella, Vetri Cucina’s more casual (and newer) sister spot.
Vernick Food and Drink
🏆 Greg Vernick won for best chef mid-Atlantic, 2017; nominee, 2015-2016, semifinalist for outstanding hospitality, 2023
Vernick Food and Drink is the first of James Beard-winning chef Greg Vernick’s collection of Philly restaurants, whose empire has expanded to include a tasting-menu-only spot, a coffee bar, and a fish-focused restaurant. His OG spot is a true Rittenhouse darling with perfect wood-fired food and a smart wine list.
🏆 Won for outstanding restaurant; 2018; Michael Solomonov won outstanding chef, 2017; best chef mid-Atlantic, 2010; nominee for outstanding service, 2017-2018
Zahav is the cornerstone restaurant of the CookNSolo restaurant empire, which, when it opened over a decade ago, introduced modern Israeli food to the Philadelphia region. Today, it continues to serve the creamiest hummus, puffiest pita, and its beloved pomegranate lamb shoulder to guests who wait months for their reservation.
Finalists and Semifinalists
A. Kitchen + bar
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding wine program, 2022
On the corner of 18th Street in Rittenhouse Square, a. kitchen + bar is home to a cozy dining space and mighty bar where creative cocktails are met with a wine list of red wines, white wines, orange wines, rosé, and sparkling wines.
🏆 Semifinalist for best new restaurant, 2015
Abe Fisher celebrates the food of the Jewish diaspora. Opened and operated by CookNSolo, Abe Fisher is particularly known for its Montreal smoked short ribs.
Artisan Boulanger Patissier
🏆 Amanda Eap and Andre Chin, semifinalists for outstanding baker, 2015-16; semifinalists for outstanding pastry chef, 2013
Husband and wife duo Amanda Eap and Andre Chin start baking early every day to create their flaky croissants, stuffed beignets, and crusty banh mi at their right-off-Passyunk-Avenue bakery. It’s cash only and you can always count on a line of hungry folks ahead of you. It’s worth the wait.
🏆 Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, semifinalists for outstanding restaurateur, 2014; Marcie Turney, nominated best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2012-2013; best new restaurant semifinalist, 2011
Even after 10-plus years in the spotlight, it can still be hard to get a weekend table at Barbuzzo where the menu centers on the flavors of the Mediterranean and the ever-popular salted caramel budino.
Cantina La Martina
🏆 Dionicio Jiménez, semifinalist for best chef Mid-Atlantic 2023
Dionicio Jiménez is the unsung hero of Philly’s food scene at the helm of the colorful hotspot on Kensington Avenue, where Mexican flavors blossom in aguachile de coco, cabrito goat, pulpo a la diabla and other dishes.
📍 2800 D St., 🌐 cantinalamartinaphilly.com
Cicala at the Divine Lorraine
🏆 Angela Cicala, semifinalist for outstanding pastry chef, 2022
On the bottom floor of the historic Divine Lorraine hotel is Cicala, an Italian restaurant by James Beard-nominated chefs Joe and Angela Cicala (Joe was nominated for best chef mid-Atlantic in 2016 and in 2014-2015 for his work at Le Virtu). The lavish, chandelier-dotted restaurant offers a menu of southern Italian fare like handmade pastas, roasted meats, grilled fish, and more.
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding bakery, 2023
Denise Gause’s North Philadelphia bakery offers buttery pastries and breads, doughnuts, fresh baked cookies, pies, and some of the best pound cakes in Philly.
📍 2916 North 22nd St., 🌐 cakesbydenises.com
🏆 Semifinalist for best new restaurant, 2009
Tacos, margaritas, and great happy hour deals are all draws at Jose Garces’ colorful University City spot, which is an ode to the flavors and vibe of Mexico City.
🏆 Tova du Plessis, semifinalist for outstanding baker, 2017-2020
Essen baker and owner Tova du Plessis makes Jewish-style baked goods (bagels with schmear, babka, challah, and more), in addition to weekend-only favorites like fruity pop-tarts.
🏆 Adam Diltz, semifinalist for best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2022
Local ingredients are what’s used at Fishtown’s Elwood BYOB to make comforting yet elevated family-style dishes and appetizers-like rolls served with house-made butter and a cheese board comprised of dairy from nearby farms.
Friday Saturday Sunday
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding restaurant, 2022-2023
One of Philadelphia’s best is Rittenhouse favorite Friday Saturday Sunday, where chef Chad Williams serves a creative eight-course tasting menu of imaginative and delicious plates.
🏆 Thanh Nguyen, semifinalist for best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2023
Enjoy “thrilling” presentation and flavors of contemporary Vietnamese cuisine at this East Passyunk favorite, named one of The New York Times’ top 50 restaurants of 2022.
📍1837 East Passyunk Ave., 🌐 gabriellasvietnam.com
🏆 Ena, Maylia, and Diana Widjojo, semifinalists for best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2018
This small corner restaurant at South Hicks and Moore Streets in South Philly is a go-to for folks looking for great Indonesian food.
Her Place Supper Club
🏆 Amanda Shulman, semifinalist for emerging chef, 2022, finalist for emerging chef 2023
Chef Amanda Shulman describes her Sansom Street restaurant as “kind of like a dinner party” where she addresses the small room, happily chats with diners, and serves weekly-changing meals (like truffle-topped French onion soup lasagnetta and shrimp Waldorf salad) to each table family-style.
Heavy Metal Sausage Co.
🏆 Semifinalist for best new restaurant, 2023
In South Philadelphia, chefs Patrick Alfiero and Melissa Pellegrino run Heavy Metal Sausage Co., a retail sausage and sandwich shop by day and a pop-up tasting menu trattoria by night.
📍 1527 W. Porter St., 🌐 heavymetalsausage.com
High Street Hospitality Group
🏆 Ellen Yin, semifinalist for outstanding restaurateur, 2017 and 2022-2023; nominee, 2018-2019; Eli Kulp, nominee for best chef Mid-Atlantic in 2016
Ellen Yin, the powerhouse behind Fork, a. kitchen + bar, and High Street Philly (formerly High Street on Market), has long been a leader in the country’s culinary food scene. You can visit Fork in Old City for a menu of fresh salads, zippy seafood, and larger meat and fish plates, a. kitchen and bar for a menu of shareable small plates and its popular burger, or High Street Philly for favorite sandwiches and pizza.
🏆 Semifinalist for best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2022-2023; nominee for best new restaurant, 2020
Nok Suntaranon’s Thai restaurant is always bustling and full of folks ordering dishes like colorful dumplings, flavor-packed curries, stir-fried rice dishes, and more.
🏆 Semifinalist for best new restaurant, 2022; Andrew Henshaw for semifinalist for best new chef Mid-Atlantic, 2023
CookNSolo’s Laser Wolf is described as an Israeli “shipudiya” or skewer-house by the chefs where the menu centers on grilled meats, fish, and veggies, in addition to a wide variety of salatim options.
🏆 Nicholas Elmi, semifinalist for best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2015, 2017-2020
Chef Nicholas Elmi’s Passyunk Avenue’s modern French restaurant is a special-occasion kind of place with a six-course tasting menu of seasonal dishes and ingredients from local farms.
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding wine program, 2020; semifinalist for outstanding bar, 2023
The upstairs wine bar ( located above Good King Tavern) offers visitors a cool, dimly lit spot for a good glass of wine, along with a small menu of items to go with that wine: cheese, charcuterie, olives, and more.
🏆 Emily Riddell, semifinalist for outstanding pastry chef or baker, 2023
One of Food & Wine’s best chefs, Emily Riddell serves goat cheese-filled croissants, kouign-amann, canelés and other pastries on the ground floor of the Bok Building in South Philly.
📍 1901 S 9th St., 🌐 machineshopphilly.com
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding bar program, 2017
Between its great hoagies and selection of natural wine, craft beer (with a focus on sours), and delightful cocktails made with local spirits, it’s easy to love Kensington bar/restaurant Martha.
Mighty Bread Co.
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding bakery, 2023
The neighborhood South Philly bakery is all about the small batch, naturally leavened breads and inventive baked goods.
🏆 Tom Peters, semifinalist for outstanding wine, spirits, or beer professional, 2013-2015; semifinalist for outstanding wine and other beverages program 2023
Monk’s owner Tom Peters has long been recognized for his influential role in the city (and country’s) craft beer scene — his Center City restaurant even has its own private label beer called Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale.
🏆 Nominee for best new restaurant, 2002
Between the color-changing tables and walls, and a menu of sushi, omakase, and more by iron chef Masaharu Morimoto, it’s easy to see why this Japanese restaurant has remained a favorite for locals and visitors for 20 years.
Pub and Kitchen
🏆 Jonathan McDonald, semifinalist for rising star chef of the year, 2009
The indoor-outdoor Graduate Hospital restaurant is popular for its burger, in particular, along with its menu of approachable food and drinks that one would hope to have at their corner neighborhood bar.
Royal Sushi & Izakaya
🏆 Jesse Ito, semifinalist for best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2022-2023, and rising star chef of the year, 2017-2018, 2020; nominee, 2019
There are two parts of Royal Sushi & Izakaya: the eight-seat sushi bar where a prix fixe omakase menu is served and a multiroom restaurant with a pay-as-you-go menu of sushi, Japanese small plates, sake and more.
Second Daughter Baking Co.
🏆 Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks, semifinalists for outstanding baker, 2022
The brownies made by sisters Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks at Second Daughter Baking Co. are, a Philly must-try. But the bakers create much more, like flower-decorated cakes, Nutella-brownie tarts, hand pies, and more out of the Bok building.
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding bar program, 2012
There are lots of local beers and natural wines available at the Northern Liberties favorite Standard Tap, along with a full menu of sandwiches, salads, fresh oysters, and more.
🏆 James Matty, semifinalist for outstanding pastry chef, 2019
Everything at Suraya is good: the mezza, kebabs, spice-rubbed meats, and grilled fish, but the James Beard Foundation recognized the baked goods when they named pastry chef James Matty a semifinalist for outstanding pastry chef in 2019.
The Olde Bar
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding bar program, 2016
Located within the historic Bookbinder’s Building, The Olde Bar serves lots of old-school charm along with a menu that focuses on fresh seafood. Visit for the decadent raw bar, raw bar tower, and Wednesday-through-Sunday happy hour..
🏆 Semifinalist for outstanding wine service, 2011; wine program, 2012
Bruschetta, toasts, salads, sandwiches, and charcuterie boards are all on the menu at these two Center City bars, but the draw at Tria is, and has always been, the wine. Wines are placed in easy-to-imagine categories like zippy whites, smooth whites, lighthearted reds, and bold reds with descriptions that give a good read on what’s in the glass, like a champagne that’s described as “brutally dry and brutally good.”
🏆 Semifinalist for best new restaurant, 2015
There have been a few iterations of Townsend since it nabbed this nomination, but the delightful French restaurant is back on East Passyunk Avenue with French staples like foie gras, escargots, a rotating braised meat, and a bar program that has more than a few fans.
🏆 Semifinalist for best new restaurant, 2008
Opening the door to Tinto, Jose Garces’ Rittenhouse restaurant, is like stepping into a Spanish wine cellar where there’s a menu of Basque region wines and a menu of tapas to boot.
🏆 Kate Jacoby, semifinalist for outstanding pastry chef, 2014-2016; Rich Landau, nominee for best chef Mid-Atlantic, 2016-2020
It’s all veggie everything at Vedge, a standby vegan restaurant in Center City. The menu rotates to match the produce and flavors available each season, but expect past favorites like the wood-fired carrot served with a black garlic glaze, stuffed avocado with a romesco sauce, and pastrami-spiced grilled broccoli.
🏆 Semifinalist for best new restaurant, 2008
Right by the Headhouse Shambles is Xochitl, where a menu of modern Mexican food is available, along with happy hour Tuesday through Friday where margaritas and wine are $6 a glass and beer is half-off.