Whether you’re a foodie or more of a “meat and potatoes” person, you will not lack for inexpensive dining options while visiting Philadelphia. If you find yourself pressed for time between visiting all the budget-friendly Philadelphia attractions, there are food trucks and food carts in every neighborhood. (You may agree with the locals that some of their food rivals the best “brick and mortar” restaurants!)
Plus, if you’re able to dine between 5pm and 7pm, Philadelphia offers one of the best Happy Hour scenes in the country.
And if you’re looking for something to do between meals, check out our list of the top budget-friendly Philadelphia attractions.
Check out our travel guide featuring the best budget-friendly restaurants to enjoy during your visit to Philadelphia:
Photo credit: http://www.dimsumgardenphilly.com/
Join the locals at this popular Chinatown restaurant. They offer an extensive menu with reasonable prices and courteous service. Be sure to try the soup dumplings, rated as the best in the city.
Photo credit: Fountain Porter’s Facebook Page
Located near trendy E. Passyunk Avenue, this award-winning South Philadelphia tavern specializes in craft beers. There are generally a dozen beers on tap. And their famous $5 cheeseburger is considered to be one of the best in the city.
Photo credit: the Italian Market’s Facebook Page
The 9th Street Italian Market is the largest outdoor continuous market in the country. It dates all the way back to the 1880’s! With the significant influx of immigrants from Vietnam, Korea, China and Mexico, the area’s restaurants and businesses now reflect this ethnic diversity. Each year the area is host to the annual Italian Market Festival, with music, activities and food. The market has often been included in cultural depictions of the city. Many will remember that the Italian Market was featured in Rocky I and II, as well as in episodes of Hack and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is no lack of cheap eats in the Italian Market. It’s home to two of the most famous Philly cheesesteak stands (Geno’s & Pat’s) as well as some of the best Vietnamese Pho and authentic Mexican cuisine in the city. The Italian market is a must see- for any Philly visitor!
4. Jim’s Steaks
Photo credit: Jim’s Steak’s Facebook Page.
No visit to Philadelphia is complete without sampling our city’s most famous culinary export: the Philadelphia Cheesesteak. In business for over 75 years, Zagat-rated and a five-time winner of Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philly”, Jim’s Steaks has proven to be one of the best in town. Don’t forget to ask a local for the proper lingo to order your sandwich!
Photo credit: www.mcgillins.com
Open since 1860 and located on a tiny street a few blocks from City Hall, McGillin’s is the oldest continually operating pub in the city. As expected, there is a vast beer selection, pub fare & karaoke. Stop by during lunch and enjoy a free soup with any order.
Photo credit: www.nanzhounoodlehouse.com
While the décor is basic, visitors and locals come to this Chinatown restaurant to enjoy the large soup bowls with hand-drawn noodles. You can “fill your belly” for less than $10!
Photo credit: www.primohoagies.com
For the best hoagie (aka sub or hero outside of the region) locals head to Primo’s. Deciding what to order may be challenging, as there are nearly 40 cold hoagies choices, (including vegetarian options) as well as hot chicken cutlet sandwiches. While some locations offer seating, others are take-out only. Be sure to order the Primos-size sandwich, as they are prepared on a delicious seeded Italian roll. There are several locations in the city. You may even be lucky and find one where you live or travel, as Primo has expanded and now offers authentic Philly hoagies in seven states.
Photo credit: www.readingterminalmarket.org
One of the top tourist destinations in the city (close to seven million people visited the market in 2016!), Reading Terminal Market opened in 1892, and offers a diverse selection of food, housewares, crafts and local specialties. Both tourists as well as locals stop at the market for locally grown produce, Amish specialities, meats, poultry, seafood, baked goods, cookbooks and flowers. Bassets Ice Cream, founded in 1861, has been located in the market since the opening date in 1892. Di Nic’s Roast Pork, another market favorite, was the winner of the Travel Channel’s best sandwich in America. And don’t forget to try the donuts at Beiler’s Bakery. Every visit to Philadelphia should include a stop at Reading Terminal Market!
Photo credit: http://sabrinascafe.com/
A recent (September, 2017) N.Y. Post included Sabrina’s Café in their “Where to Eat the Best Breakfast in America.” Prices can be high, but the portions are enormous and can be easily shared. Try the challah French toast, stuffed with cream cheese, bananas and honey. Sabrina’s is a BYOB, so feel welcome to bring champagne and enjoy mimosas with your pancakes, French toast or massive omelet. Breakfast is served all day. An extensive lunch and dinner menu is available as well.
If your plans include a weekend brunch visit, be advised that wait times can be lengthy. Sabrina’s does not accept reservations but feel free to call ahead and they will put you on the waiting list. There are three Sabrina’s locations in Philadelphia. The original one is in South Philadelphia, and the others are located near the museum district and University City.
Photo credit: Stargazy’ s Facebook Page.
Located in South Philadelphia along trendy East Passyunk Avenue, Stargazy offers a “slice of London” at this British pie shop, with both savory and sweet pies on the menu. Although there are a few tables, this is primarily take-out.
If you are planning a visit to Philadelphia and would like additional information, let us plan your trip for you! Our local experts will create a fully customized travel itinerary based on your family’s unique interests. Visit When in ROAM for more information!
This article was written by Fran Nachman, a Philadelphia ROAM concierge and hotel concierge. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Area Concierge Association as President, Treasurer and Philanthropic Director, and is currently the Director of Business & Social Events. In 2012 Fran was awarded Where Magazine’s Key to the City. Having traveled the world, she loves coming back to her hometown where there are always new restaurants, bars and venues to discover and share with visitors.