If kosher equals matzo to you, you've got a lot to learn, my friend. In Philly, you can keep kosher and eat cupcakes and pizza and cheesesteaks (oh, my). If needing a well-deserved break from the kitchen, here are some great places to eat kosher around town.
507 S. 6th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Hours: Mon to Sat – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If you're looking for kosher and vegan, you must try Blackbird Pizzeria. Even if you're not, you will find something to love here. Regulars sing the praises of the Seitan Cheesesteak ($8), made with seitan sliced thin and grilled with onions and peppers, crimini and white mushrooms and daiya cheese on a vegan steak roll. Fans love all of the pizzas at Blackbird, especially the Margherita, topped with red sauce and cherry tomatoes, shaved elephant garlic, fresh basil and tofu "mozzarella," for a measly $3.50 per slice or $17 for a whole pie. With the funky artwork and super cool soundtrack, you're sure to enjoy Blackbird too. And if you just can't leave the office (or couch), Blackbird now delivers.
811 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Hours: Mon to Thurs and Sun – 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In Hebrew, "Hamifgash" means "meeting place," and at Hamifgash Glatt Kosher Grill, people come from all over to hang out and enjoy tasty kosher, Turkish and vegetarian fare. Fans say Hamifgash has the best falafel in town. Served with crusty pita bread fresh out of the oven, it's a bargain at $5.75. Don't miss the chicken Schwarma, either--perfectly spiced and flame-broiled, you can get it as a platter with rice and salad ($11.95) or in a pita ($7). Hamifgash is BYOB, but please make sure that bottle is kosher!
18 S. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sun – Noon to 7 p.m.
Everybody loves to go to mama's place, especially when Mama's serves up hot, delicious kosher vegetarian Middle Eastern food. This tiny eatery in Rittenhouse Square has won over scores of fans with amazing falafel on freshly baked pita, which can be ordered according to your appetite (a large is $6 and a small is $3.50) along with heavenly hummus. There's a pickle bar that includes not only pickles, but also pickled carrots, peppers and cauliflower. A close cousin to the knish, Mama's Israeli Borekas ($5), which are puff pastry-like dough that's filled with spinach, potato or mushrooms, have been winning raves in the community. All good mamas love to feed a crowd and this one's no different; Mama's caters for any occasion.
Judah Mediterranean Grill
9311 Krewstown Road
Philadelphia, PA 19115
Hours: Sun to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In this authentic Israeli restaurant in the Bustleton area, you will love what Chef Mike Avitan calls "Modern Israeli" fare. Be sure to go hungry for the lunch special; you get your choice of soup or salad, choice of meat (Kabob, Shawarma, Chicken Breast, Baby Chicken or Schnitzel) and two of its 15-some sides, plus the homemade pickle mix, all for $14. And if you're (somehow) not stuffed after that, be sure to order a taste of "Heaven," vanilla ice cream, halvah shavings, cherry tomato jam and candied walnuts for $7. Although it's a small store-front joint in a strip mall, it has service like a 4-star brasserie, and you'll feel like a welcome guest.
Sweet Freedom Gluten Free Bakery
1424 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Hours: Tues to Sat – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun – 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, refined sugar-free, peanut-free and kosher? Sounds like a recipe for cardboard cookies, right? Nope. Sweet Freedom's baked goods are as good as (and sometimes better than) those filled with all of the above ingredients. Rittenhouse Square's Sweet Freedom's front case is always full of tempting cupcakes, cookies, brownies, donuts, pies and more, any of which would be a perfect ending to your dinner. Best buds and owners Allison Lubert and Heather Esposito opened their cute little bakery in 2010. Since all of their goodies are wheat and dairy-less, it was easy to have a rabbi come in and certify the bakery kosher. Easy as, if you'll forgive us, pie.
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Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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