University City is a vibrant hub, popular with college students from both Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Students and young professionals have an array of dining establishments to choose from when it comes to grabbing a quick meal or opting for a sit-down experience. Here’s our guide to the best restaurants in the area.
At Distrito, simple dishes like the Gazpacho Verde are paired with inventive textures and flavors for an upscale kick. Because it’s a tapas style locale, most plates are small, so it’s best to order a few plates for one or share with friends. The chef here is an expert when it comes to preparing a delectable fusion of flavors for each dish.
Address & phone number: 3945 Chestnut St Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-222-1657
New Delhi Indian Restaurant
Restaurant, Indian, $$$
New Delhi Indian Restaurant
Looking for quality Indian food on a budget? New Delhi offers an all-you-can-eat buffet or a sit down service, featuring food that is packed with flavorful spices. The diverse menu offers a range of courses suitable for both carnivores and vegetarians, and you won’t want to miss visiting the bar at the back of the restaurant after you’ve had your meal.
Address & phone number: 4004 Chestnut St Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-386-1941
White Dog Café
This award-wining restaurant, serving American contemporary cuisine, is a local favorite. White Dog uses only the best organic ingredients, sourced from local farms no farther than 50 miles away. Inside the restaurant, you’ll find yourself at home in an inviting environment, and you’ll be able to enjoy homestyle meals that come in filling portions. Be sure to check out their specialty cocktails at the bar during their happy hour.
Address & phone number: 3420 Sansom St Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-386-9224
Restaurant, African, $$$
Kilimandjaro is the premiere spot for Senegalese cuisine in University City. The most impressive menu options are fish-based, and the specials consist of grilled Tilapia with steamed vegetables and Chicken Sengalese with onions and peppers. Come to Kilimandjaro when you aren’t in a rush, as sometimes the food can take a while to prepare.
Address & phone number: 4317 Chestnut St Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-387-1970
Honest Tom’s Taco Shop
More modest than Distrito, Honest Tom’s Taco Shop is a spinoff of the popular Honest Tom’s Taco food truck. Praised by many Southern Californians as having the best-flavored tacos in the entire city, Honest Tom’s offers authentic burritos that are filled to the brim. The menu features a variety of taco options, from steak to sweet potato, along with other classic Mexican dishes, and there are specialty side sauces to help add a spicy kick. Perfect for a quick and filling meal, most people also go to the Lil’ Pop Shop afterward to pick up a popsicle – a perfect ending to a fantastic meal.
Address & phone number: 261 S 44th St Philadelphia, PA 19147 215-620-1851
Cafe, Asian, Thai, Vegan, $$$
Another BYO wonder, Vientiane Café is a fairly inexpensive option for tasty Thai and Laotian food. Fan favorites include the mango sticky rice, coconut soup and deep-fried bananas, to name a few. Although located a good distance from the main University City campus area, it is considered one of the better Laotian restaurants in the city.
Address & phone number: 4728 Baltimore Ave Philadelphia, PA 19143 215-726-1095
Sabrina's Café @ Powelton
Restaurant, American, $$$
Sabrina’s Café @ Powelton
Sabrina’s has locations in two other Philadelphia neighborhoods, but the one in University City has its own special brunch and dinner menu. Sabrina’s is known for its inventive and quirky recipes, often naming them after pop culture references. This New American restaurant serves classic homestyle meals like Challah French toast for brunch, or a spin on classic meatloaf with Brie cheese and roasted red onion-dill gravy.
Address & phone number: 227 N 34 St Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-222-1022
Located in a Victorian row house, this BYOB specializes in New American recipes. The menu changes seasonally, highlighting ingredients sourced from local farmers. If you have any dietary restrictions, Marigold is more than happy to be flexible and substitute ingredients in their dishes.
Address & phone number: 501 S 45th St Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-222-3699
The Fat Ham
Restaurant, South American, $$$
The Fat Ham
This southern comfort food joint, created by Kevin Sbraga, is a small tapas restaurant. The comprehensive menu features items such as the hot chicken, fried with brioche, ranch and dill, and oyster sliders with coleslaw, gribiche and a yeast roll. Be sure to call ahead to put your name on the wait list, as you could be in for a wait.
Address & phone number: 3131 Walnut St Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-735-1914
Restaurant, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Slightly further away from the main campus area, this Mediterranean restaurant has an extensive menu featuring many vegetarian and vegan options. Many dishes have seasonings and recipes that are not only from the European side of the Mediterranean, but also African and Middle Eastern countries. It’s perfect for a light brunch after strolling down Baltimore Avenue on a weekend afternoon.
Address & phone number: 4630 Baltimore Ave Philadelphia, PA 19143 267-275-8195