For folks keeping kosher or eating halal on campus, the options can be disappointing. For those on the meal plan, there’s kosher food at Falk Dining at Penn Hillel (which has a $3 surcharge in addition to the one meal swipe needed to enter), and halal at the Kings Court English House dining hall, which students say has a history of making mistakes and is only open on weekdays. When these few options get tiring, here’s a handy roundup of some of the best kosher and halal places in Philly.
For those keeping kosher, retail options are especially limited in University City. Other than Goldie, Dottie’s Donuts, and Ben and Jerry’s, there’s not much else close to campus. That said, if you’re willing to venture into Center City (which is accessible by a long walk or a ten minute bus ride), the options open up.
Disclaimer: While most of the places listed are under IKC supervision, different restaurants are certified kosher by different certifying agencies, so check which one before going to make sure your dietary needs are being met!
While there are several options for lunch and dinner all around the city, there’s one original kosher go–to for vegetarians and observant Jews alike: Mama’s Vegetarian in Center City. With their fluffy pitas, warm falafel, and creamy hummus, it’s hard to go wrong with any one of the Israeli sandwiches or platters they offer. If you’re lucky, they might even have Krembo, an incredibly popular treat in Israel. Other good places in and around Center City include Hey Hummus, Miss Rachel’s Pantry (South Philly), Charlie was a sinner., Blackbird Pizzeria (Northern Liberties & Queen Village), and Hummusology.
For kosher health nuts, there are two downtown spots: P.S. & Co. and Sip–N–Glo. While P.S. & Co. is an all–day café with a full gluten–free, vegan menu along with drinks, Sip–N–Glo focuses solely on juices and smoothies, with monthly specials such as the "Flu Fighter" if you’ve been fighting off the freshman plague since NSO.
Eating halal is a whole other ball game, as it mostly centers around the preparation of meat (anything but pork) and the absence of alcohol. Luckily, West Philadelphia has a vibrant halal food scene that centers around the cuisines of different Muslim countries around the world.
Saad’s Halal Restaurant: The West Philly restaurant on 45th and Walnut streets is known for its large range of dishes and affordability. Whether it’s classic Middle Eastern dishes like falafel, shawarma, and shish kabobs, or American dishes like cheesesteaks, chicken wings, and hoagies, they cater to any craving.
4500 Walnut Street
Kabobeesh: Kabobeesh, on 42nd and Chestnut streets, centers mostly on Pakistani and Indian fare. They specialize in fluffy naan bread, kabobs made with a variety of meats, and curries using traditional recipes and spices.
4201 Chestnut Street
Marrakesh: Even though it’s a trek from campus (on South Street right in the middle of 4th and 5th streets), going to Marrakesh is worth it for its authenticity and the amazing experience. With lavish, brightly–colored interiors, and huge portions, it’ll feel like you’ve been transported right from Philly to the streets of Morocco.
517 S Leithgow Street
Kilimandjaro: Situated on 43rd and Chestnut streets, Kilimandjaro specializes in authentic Senegalese fare. They serve lunch and dinner, and dishes include grilled tilapia, curry, Poulet Senegal (Senegalese chicken), and more.
4317 Chestnut Street
Hadramout Restaurant: Hadramout Restaurant, a hidden gem serving Yemeni food, is situated on 45th and Sansom streets. They serve a wide variety of meat dishes, with some of their specialties being fahsah, a spiced lamb stew, and haneeth, a cut of roasted lamb meat.
136 S 45th Street
Manakeesh Cafe Bakery & Grill: Situated around several other halal restaurants, Manakeesh Cafe Bakery & Grill centers on Lebanese cuisine. From delectable Middle Eastern desserts like baklava, maamoul (middle eastern cookie filled with dates, figs, or nuts), and basboosa (syrup–soaked semolina cake) to traditional Lebanese specialties like fatteh (pita with chickpeas and yogurt) and lahm bajeen (otherwise known as lahmajoun, a type of Lebanese pizza topped with meat), anything you get there is sure to satisfy any craving whether it be sweet or savory.
4420 Walnut Street