When Hillary Bor and Ian Moroney opened Pumpkin in 2004, their only food-serving neighbors were Lazaro’s Pizza and the now-shuttered, but much beloved Ron’s Ribs. Fast forward almost a dozen years later and the South Street West corridor in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood is now one of hottest food and drink destinations in the city.
While Pumpkin has grown even more sophisticated within the last decade, where South Street really excels is with casual eats and comfort food.
From burritos to burgers and pies to pad Thai, one would be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying stretch of everyday eateries, whether you’re after a great cocktail and full meal or just a cup of coffee and something sweet.
All in all, the Graduate Hospital neighborhood – and specifically the South Street West corridor — is home to a delicious array of fantastic places to eat and drink.
Here, we’ve called out a few of our favorites, but we know options in the neighborhood go beyond our highlights, so share your South Street West favorites in the comments!
Haven’t been to the neighborhood in a while? Flag these for the next time you’re ready to head south again.
A new addition to the neighborhood, it’s no surprise that Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico’s new taco shop, Tio Flores, is going over well with the locals. This bright spot has more than 70 beers available (some of which are only $3 each during happy hour), plus nachos, guacamole and big, colorful salads. Still, the biggest draw is the tacos, which include classic pork carnitas with onion, cilantro and tomatillo salsa; and more original offerings such as the “gringa” taco with chicken tinga, avocado, queso fresco, lettuce and lime crema.
Little Spoon Cafe
When you see a big spoon on the facade of a brick wall you’ll know that you’ve found the Little Spoon Cafe. The goal behind this sunny daytime spot is to offer freshly-made, farm-driven food for breakfast, brunch and lunches, and locals love the original takes on standard plates. Look for the likes of oatmeal with blueberry lemon compote and whipped cream, savory pancakes with chives and cheddar, tempeh bacon in addition to turkey and pig varieties, and robust lunch offerings like a meatloaf sandwich with smoked garlic spread, and even a honey ham Monte Cristo.
Little Spoon Cafe
Eleven years ago Ian Moroney and Hillary Bor opened an unassuming little BYOB called Pumpkin on a stretch of South Street where there wasn’t much else. Now, the neighborhood has grown up around them and they continue to welcome guests for meals of earthy flavors. Dishes include such offerings as chilled cauliflower soup with verjus sorbet; pork belly with red cabbage, spaetzle and cider; or roasted beets with swiss chard, taleggio pistachio. An interior renovation a few years ago means that this sweet little farm-to-table spot is as fresh as ever.
A true family business, Michael and Marybeth Lynch opened Miles’ Table to be South Street West’s comfortable neighborhood spot for coffee and fresh, quick meals either to go or to stay. The result is a menu that moves smoothly from breakfast to lunch with a smoked fish platter, avocado toast with two eggs on multigrain, a handful of simple pizzas, and sandwiches such as the fresh mozzarella with greens, pesto, and roasted peppers. The food is always colorful and the restaurant itself is flooded with natural light, making for meals that feel satisfying without being overly indulgent.
Honey’s Sit n’ Eat
Part blue-plate special diner, part Jewish deli, and part southern waffle shop, Honey’s Sit N Eat brings the best of each to a cozy spot at the corner of 21st and South. Does that combination sound strange? Trust us. It totally works. It means country-fried steak with hand-cut fries and mac and cheese next to Bubby's brisket sandwich with onion rings and pickled green tomatoes. Honey’s is best known for a fantastic bunch, but is equally as good at dinner time and especially at dessert, with the likes of Jewish apple cake and deep-fried banana split.
Honey’s Sit n’ Eat
Sawatdee in Thai is an all-purpose greeting that can mean hello or goodbye. On the corner of 15th and South streets, say hello to Sawatdee for Thai classics. Beloved by neighborhood residents for its fresh ingredients and friendly staff, Sawatdee’s menu is easy to like. Tom-yum soup fragrant with kaffir lime and lemongrass; lahb-gai salad of chopped chicken with mint, chili, lime and toasted rice; the pleasant, slippery chew of stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp and bok choy in pad see ew, and warm curries of all colors.
The Cambridge is a comfortable, wood-paneled pub with a crowd-pleasing menu of playful dishes. Corndogs, mac and cheese and DIY mimosas at brunch, it’s a relaxed neighborhood spot perfect or a weeknight supper or a lazy brunch with friends. Plus? The menu of more substantial dishes, once you get past the sandwiches and bar snacks, doesn’t cut corners. The steak frites comes with cauliflower and rich demi-glace and the fish and chips, battered with a true English stout, are fortified properly with mushy peas, Amish slaw and a tartar sauce spiked with English mustard.
Rex 1516 beautifully walks a line between relaxed and luxe. Nail-head edged tables and big chandeliers offer a polished setting for nicely prepared casual plates, Chef Justin Swain’s take on relaxed Southern elegance. That means skillet cornbread, crawfish étouffée pot pie and pan-fried cornmeal catfish with mustard greens. For brunch? Fried chicken and waffles Benedict, shrimp and grits, and a bananas Foster French toast, plus an endless parade of creative burgers.
Why pie? Because pie makes us feel loved! Or so the thinking goes at Philly’s first pie boutique. Whether for lunch, dinner or dessert, Magpie has your pastry needs covered. Try a savory individual pot pie, each served with a side salad, in combinations like chicken pot pie with parmesan herb puff pastry crust or sweet potato and black bean chili pot pie with crema and blue corn tortilla chips. Or, simply stop in for a sweet pie treat dolled up with fresh whipped cream in five seasonal flavors each day. Take the whole thing or just a slice, and if you really need a treat go for a pie milkshake made with your choice of flavor and a scoop of Basset’s vanilla ice cream. It’ll give you something to crow about.
Some bars are cocktail bars, others dive bars, but Grace Tavern is the quintessential bar that every neighborhood needs. Craft beer signs glow in the window, low light bounces off the pressed tin ceiling and the burgers and sausage sandwiches keep up a steady parade through the room and onto the sidewalk tables. The list of beers is neither too rehearsed nor too esoteric, offering pours of interest for everyone, and the double-fried frites with bourbon mayonnaise and the blackened cajun-spiced green beans with remoulade are near-perfect bar snacks.
Ants Pants Cafe
A Graduate Hospital neighborhood go-to for breakfast and brunch, Ants Pants serves up Australian-style coffees (flat white or long black, anyone?) to accompany “brekkie platters” of eggs, Italian sausage- or veggie-filled hash and French toast with sour-cream sauce. Lunch-goers win, too, with stacked sandwiches and leafy salads.