14 Sep 2021

Where to Eat in Graduate Hospital

Graduate Hospital is a neighborhood in southern Philadelphia known for its family-friendly sidewalks, thriving downtown atmosphere and growing culinary scene. Whether you’re new to the area or here for a visit, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood offers plenty to do, see and eat.

These are seven of the best Graduate Hospital restaurants you should visit:

1. The Good King Tavern

If you’re looking for an authentic dining experience and a memorable menu, look no further than The Good King Tavern on South 7th Street. Eater recently named The Good King Tavern one of Philly’s can’t-miss late-night eats, thanks to its elevated menu and extensive wine options. As a French-inspired pub, you’ll find a blended menu of French cuisine and local favorites, like stone bass, duck confit, chicken-fried quail, escargots and steak frites.

In addition to the European fare, The Good King Tavern has plenty of red and white house wines, as well as shaken and stirred cocktails, cider, spirits and draft beer. Head up to the second floor of the restaurant, and enjoy even more wine offerings at Le Caveau, a French wine bar owned by the same family as the Good King Tavern.

If you happen to be in Philly on July 14, The Good King Tavern holds one of the city’s best Bastille Day celebrations. Similar to the United States’ Independence Day, Bastille Day is a national French holiday that celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution. The Good King Tavern’s annual block party closes off nearby streets for festivities, including food and drink options, face painting, music and games.

2. South Philly Barbacoa

Bon Appetit listed South 9th Street eatery South Philly Barbacoa one of the best new restaurants of 2016. Locals know and love South Philly Barbacoa for its famous lamb barbacoa tacos, which cause regular lines out the door and have helped restaurant owner Cristina Martinez earn several awards and accolades. In 2019, Martinez was a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef. In 2020, she appeared on a segment of MSNBC’s “What’s Eating America,” where she was interviewed by Andrew Zimmerman. While discussing the restaurant’s famed lamb barbacoa, Zimmerman also praised the restaurant’s “fluffy” tortillas.

In addition to the lamb and tortillas, the menu at South Philly Barbacoa also features quesadillas made with seasonal ingredients, including squash blossoms, huitlacoche and house-made Oaxaca cheese, as well as pancita tacos.

3. Middle Child

Middle Child is a quirky, friendly breakfast and lunch deli on South 11th Street known for its hand-rolled bagels and famous hoagie sandwiches. In addition to being labeled by Eater as the home of one of Philly’s best sandwiches, Philadelphia Magazine recently listed Middle Child as one of Philly’s 50 best restaurants.

The menu at Middle Child is inspired by the city’s traditional heritage of Italian hoagie shops, Jewish delis and Greek diners, and it’s complete with almost entirely house-made ingredients, like pickles, jams and meat. One of their popular sandwiches is the So Long Sal!, a hoagie with salami, prosciutto cotta, onion, provolone cheese, artichoke spread, arugula and house dressing. If meat and cheese aren’t your preference, consider the Phoagie, the deli’s take on a vegan hoagie.

4. Rex 1516

Rex 1516 on South Street is the place to go for brunch, dinner, dessert and happy hour. This southern-inspired eatery is renowned across the city for its delicious, smoky fried chicken, which it serves with a changing list of side dishes. The restaurant features other southern favorites, but with an interesting twist, like chicken and waffles benedict, elotes hushpuppies, pickled fried green tomatoes, crawfish pot pie, Carolina gold risotto and cornmeal-dusted rainbow trout.

If you’re in the area, you can’t leave without staying for dessert — not when milk and cookies are on the menu. Rex 1516’s signature milk-and-cookie dish includes chocolate-covered chocolate chip and pecan cookie dough, which the chefs deep fry in funnel cake batter and serve with a decadent vanilla RumChata milkshake.

5. Balkan Express

If you’re craving authentic Mediterranean food, Balkan Express has you covered. This Greys Ferry Avenue restaurant is family-run, and Chef Radovan serves Balkan recipes straight from the old country.

The appetizer cabbage rolls are a fan-favorite, but you would be remiss not to try one of the organic salads, which the family grows in their very own Balkan vegetable garden. You’ll also find menu items like Pasulj — a Serbian bean soup with smoked meat — a smoked fish appetizer plate and ražnjici, which is a skewer served with vegetables and cubes of grilled pork or chicken. For dessert, try their baklava or gluten-free poppy seed cake for a sweet treat to round off the meal.

The Eastern European-inspired dining room is also BYOB, and the owners suggest wine as a natural pairing with their dishes.

6. Kei Sushi Restaurant

Kei Sushi Restaurant on South Street is a familiar, welcoming eatery that blends a warm atmosphere with innovative design choices and modern Japanese fare prepared with traditional methods. Though this B.Y.O.B. space may be small, the flavor is not, with offerings like Nasuyaki — sauteed eggplant with garlic sauce — Takoyaki — fried octopus dumplings — and various nigiri, sashimi and authentic Japanese entrees.

Choose from regular sushi and hand rolls or opt for a specialty roll, like the deep-fried Flyers roll or Lobster Special. Large, artfully arranged party platters are available for groups. For dessert, have your pick of sesame or mochi ice cream.

7. Tortillería San Roman

The final entry on the list isn’t a traditional restaurant, but it’s a can’t-miss South Philly staple. Tortillería San Roman, located in the Italian Market, is owned and operated by Francisco Rivera, who spends each weekday morning cooking and preparing house-made corn tortillas that are inspired by authentic Mexican tortillerías. Tortillería San Roman is truly a family affair — Rivera named the restaurant “San Roman” after his father, and it was Rivera’s siblings who taught him the tortillería-making process.

Stop in for a bundle of 30 house-made corn tortillas to-go, or order a serving of tortilla chips with fresh pico de gallo salsa or guacamole.

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