HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >

Discussion

Any great hole in the wall restaurants?

My boyfriend and I just moved to Philly. We've done a few of the trendier restaurants (Amada, Tinto, Districto, Morimoto, etc) and I am looking for a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere to take him for his birthday. Would love something hole in the wall with great food...Any ideas?

Thanks so much!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Not exactly holes in the wall, but here are a couple of my favorites that are a little more downscale then what you have done:

    For awesome Italian try Modo Mio in the NoLibs. It's a BYO prix fixe that is absolutely awesome.

    For great updated Chinese, go for Mustard Greens in Queen Village.

    Finally, for lovely French Bistro try Zinc across from Jefferson.

    Good luck!

    1. Have you been to any of the city's gastropubs? The best ones are laid back, relaxing, and have great food and drink. I like Standard Tap (Northern Liberties) and Royal Tavern (Italian Market area). People love Pub & Kitchen (Center City) but I have NOT found it be chill or relaxing, at least on the weekend nights that I have been there.

      There are also the small Mexican taquerias in South Philly which are truly holes in the wall and many have great food. I am not hugely experienced but some places that get mentioned favorably are are Taqueria Veracruzana, Los Taquitos de Puebla, and Plaza Gerabaldi.

      A few other options that spring to mind. None are hole in the wall by any means but they are very casual:

      Nam Phuong at 11th & Washington (South Philly) has the best Vietnamese in town at rock bottom prices. Try something from the misleadingly named "Vermicelli" section of the menu for an app. These are large plates of goodies served with rice paper rolls that you build yourself.

      Abyssinia, 45th & Locust (West Philly). Very good Ethiopian food in a chill atmosphere. There is a great little bar above it, Fiume, that is basically like hanging out in someone's living room.

      Mr. Martino's Trattoria, E. Passyunk near Morris (South Philly). Feels like a hole in the wall because the entrance is pretty obfuscated, but the inside is a very charming, homey atmosphere with friendly staff. The food for the most part won't blow you away but it is dependable Italian and BYOB. Good prices, too. I think they are only open Thursday through Saturday and you should make a reservation.

      1 Reply
      1. re: barryg

        Mr. Martino's is open Friday through Sunday.

        Tacquerias are a good idea, I used to love Los Taquitos de Puebla but have had two pretty bad experiences in a row there, I'll stick to Veracruzana (their salsas are fantastic) and La Lupe (the only place I know of that makes their own tortillas) for now.

        Cafe de Laos, also at 11th and Washington, has great Thai-Laotian food at good prices.

      2. Though not at all a true hole in the wall restaurant, try the BYOB Italian Bistro, L'Oca, which is truly attractive, authentic, highest quality Italian ingredients, and very fairly priced.
        Their variety of homemade pasta, with normally a Tuscan touch, is superb. We tried the pappardelle with rabbit recently and it was superb.

        1. My favorite hole-in-wall restaurant is Sang Kee in Chinatown.

          1. I just had my husband's 40th birthday at Picanha, a great brazilian spot in the northeast. Authentic brazilian food, great rodizo option, all you can eat meat similar to fogo de chao but much more "local", authentic, and cheaper.

            For great portuguese try A Taste of Portugual and Cafe Tio Pepe, also in the northeast.

            4 Replies
            1. re: AmblerGirl

              You beat me to it, AmblerGirl. I have had two great experiences at Picanha, and hopefully many more to come. Bring cachaca (brazilan rum) and they will prepare caprihana's for you. As with the style of Brazilian restaurants - you can take as long as long as you want and there will be a revolving door of meat. Can't beat it.

                1. re: bucksguy14

                  Picanha definately is BYOB. I have been going there for years. Just watch out for the pig ears in the black beans! yeah, that authentic. Tummy saying time to go again soon.....

                  1. re: bucksguy14

                    Yep Picanha is definitely byo, the other two are not but they both have a reasonably priced wine selection (a few portuguese finds). Tio Pepe also has a great sangria.

                2. Kind of depends on how you define "hole in the wall", but, for some off-the beaten path recs there's Rangoon in Chinatown for Burmese. Place is pleasant enough but definitely not fancy. And I love Roberto Cafe's for Italian BYOB in a relaxed, pretty, somewhat off-the-beaten-track setting.

                  1. Thanks a lot everybody...really helpful!

                    1. Hosteria Da Elio on 3rd between South and Bainbridge. Started going there 11 years ago and never stopped. I can't remember ever ordering off the menu in that time. Just leave it on the table and let the wonderful waitresses tell you the specials.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hotspur

                        If you are a sushi fan, I'd give Misso (13th and Spruce) a shot.

                      2. Have you been to Bar Ferdinand in Northern Liberties?
                        Tapas - relaxed, delicious food - one of our favorites!