The entire circumference of Queen Village is only about a mile, so if you’re planning on running a marathon, you’d have to circle the neighborhood approximately 26 times in order to train effectively. If you’re not a superstar athlete, though, and just want to get a good meal in the area, use this guide to choose where to go for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner when you’re here.
Hungry Pigeon is an all-day cafe that has more Feel Good Factor than most other places in the city combined. It also has enough hanging plants to make you consider becoming a full-time plant parent, and the only communal tables you’ll actually enjoy sharing with other people. They do breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and everything they serve tastes like something your friend who’s a great cook would make. It’s also one of the few places in the city that you can go to for a cup of coffee and some pancakes in the morning, and then come back for dinner that night and not get any weird looks for it.
Walk into the unmarked door on 2nd street with a lantern hanging out front and you’ll find Royal Izakaya - a Japanese bar that serves a bunch of small plates like yakitori skewers and shishito peppers. Behind that is Royal Sushi, a 15-seat omakase-only room that’s owned by the same people and is basically Queen Village royalty. It’s the city’s best sushi bar, so you’ll have to make a reservation a month in advance if you want to get in. Royal Izakaya, on the other hand, doesn’t take reservations and is relatively easy to walk into for a light weeknight meal or if you just want a drink.
Cry Baby is one of the only places in Queen Village that you can walk into on a weeknight with a few friends for a reasonably-priced bowl of pasta and a few glasses of wine. It’s in a category we like to call “Nice-Looking Places To Eat Pasta With Your Friends On A Tuesday” (NLPTEPWYFOAT), but unlike a lot of spots that fit into this category, Cry Baby has some personality. For example, the walls are fitted with leather jacket-printed wallpaper and there’s a banner with “I’m so tired of being good” printed in black gothic script. Everything on the menu, from toasts to cacio e pepe, is around $20 or less, and it also has a great natural wine list and cocktail menu.
Neighborhood Ramen started out as a pop-up shop that we’d chase around the city for a bowl of their incredible shoyu ramen. Then they finally grew up and established a permanent location in Queen Village. The space is small and pretty minimal, with about 15 tables and a black-and-white mural on the walls. One thing you should know before coming here is they don’t do reservations or take-out, which ensures a pretty reliable line out the door during prime dinner hours. But the line moves quickly, and the five ramen options, plus sides like shishito and sesame salad, are definitely worth waiting for.
Fiore Fine Foods is an all-day Italian place in Queen Village that, like Hungry Pigeon, you could show up to three times in the same day for three totally different experiences. You could stop by in the morning for a coffee and a cinnamon bun on your way to work, make a second trip for a long lunch of wine and pizza with a friend, and then return yet again with a group for some more wine and pasta. At the end of the day, you probably wouldn’t even be sick of it, but you need to leave and go home at some point. Don’t worry, Fiore will still be there tomorrow.
There are a few pho places in the city that everyone flocks to, but Ngon Ngon quietly keeps to itself in Queen Village. Their menu has vermicelli noodles, rice bowls, and beef/chicken pho, but Ngon Ngon’s vegetarian pho is the best we’ve found. It comes with tofu and mixed vegetables and is a solid lunch or dinner option for when you want something light and healthy.
There are a few places where you can eat outside in Queen Village, but nowhere has a better back patio than Southwark. The French-American restaurant has a brick backyard full of plants that runs the length of the restaurant, and you can order the full dining room menu out there as well. Inside, there’s a large bar area that serves a long list of cocktails named after famous lines from movies, and a dining room for when you want to share a bunch of their half-sized pasta dishes in the AC. For a date night that feels both casual and intimate, you can’t do much better than Southwark.
Ambra is right next door to Southwark and is owned by the same people, but serves Italian food and feels much more upscale. The tiny, 16-seat restaurant only has one option - a four-course tasting menu for $72, with things like squid-ink spaghetti and Sicilian lamb breast. Plus, you get a complimentary glass of champagne when you first arrive. If you want to continue drinking wine after you finish your free glass, they also have one of the better lists in the city - with a focus on Italian reds.
Marrakesh is a cash-only Moroccan spot in between Queen Village and Society Hill. Come here to recline on the low couches and admire the colorful pillows lining the walls while you eat things like spicy cumin chicken, eggplant and carrot salads, and Moroccan pastries. You’ll have to make a reservation at least a week out, especially if you’re coming with a big group, but for a birthday dinner or reunion with all your best friends from college, there aren’t many places in the city where you’ll have more fun.
You have a lot of decisions to make in a day, from where to get lunch to how to answer Janet’s passive aggressive email about your doctor’s appointment next week. At Little Fish in Queen Village, dinner doesn’t have to be another list of choices. The menu is made up entirely of seafood, it changes every day, and it only has six to seven items at a time. So whether you go for the tasting menu they serve on Sundays or on a regular Tuesday night, you should just order one of everything and leave the rest of the decision-making for tomorrow.
Jim’s on South Street is a Queen Village staple, and it’s always in the conversation when talking about Philly’s best cheesesteaks. Because of that, there’s constantly a line out the door, so you have two options. You could bring a beach chair, suck it up, and wait it out for this messy, cheesy sandwich. Or, if you’d rather sit down in a coffee shop and eat your sandwich at a table, you could head across the street to Milkboy and order your Jim’s cheesesteak there. They’ll usually deliver it to your table before you would have gotten to the front of the line at Jim’s anyway.
If breakfast for you means a side of smoked fish and a bagel topped with a huge dollop of cream cheese, you should start your morning at Famous 4th Street Deli. The Jewish deli is one of the best in Philly, and definitely our favorite place for breakfast in Queen Village. It can get loud and busy on weekend mornings, but you can always order your bagel sandwich to-go and eat it in the safety of your bed when you get home.
Olly is also from the team behind Southwark and Ambra, and it’s the most casual of the three places. Their menu includes a mix of bar food, like wings and a burger, as well as lighter options like mushroom carpaccio and beet salad. The restaurant has a 10-table dining room and sidewalk seating when it’s nice outside, but there’s also a bar area with TVs that’s a big step up from the other spots in Queen Village where you usually watch the Phillies.