While Philadelphia isn’t automatically associated with French culture, a booming culinary scene full of francophone favorites has long been the norm. From classic French bistros and crêperies to restaurants that feature the flavors of the French–speaking Maghreb region of North Africa, there’s a lot of food to explore.
First, a primer on what francophone actually means. While the group of francophone countries includes France, it makes reference to any French–speaking country. With 39 countries and areas that designate French as an official language ranging from West Africa to the Caribbean, there’s a lot of Francophone food to discover in Philly.
Even though it’s a trek from campus—located on South Street right in the middle of 4th and 5th streets—going to Marrakesh is worth it for the authenticity. $25 a head can get you a three course meal complete with dessert and tea. Full of aromatic spices and rich Middle Eastern flavors, a meal at Marrakesh is equal parts genuine and sophisticated. With lavish, brightly–colored interiors and huge portions, it’ll feel like you’ve been transported right from Philly to the streets of Morocco.
Location: 517 S. Leithgow St.
Situated on 43rd and Chestnut streets, Kilimandjaro specializes in authentic Senegalese fare. They serve lunch and dinner replete with dishes both classic and adventurous, like grilled tilapia, curry, and Poulet Senegal (Senegalese chicken). Considering its proximity to campus, there’s no reason not to try to branch out into less popularized Francophone fare.
Location: 4317 Chestnut St.
With French names and Tunisian flair in nearly all of his dishes, francophone influence is undoubtedly present at Chez Yasmine. The soup du jour, variations of couscous, and Wistar with brie are all equally scrumptious and evident of a love affair with deep French flavors. An added bonus? French speakers can converse with owner Jihed Chemimi in their mother tongue and hang around to chat with him about their lives. With its on–campus locale and many menu options, it’s a convenient way to sample one of Philly’s francophone treasures.
Location: Corner of 37th and Spruce streets
A Queen Village mainstay for French cuisine, Creperie Beau Monde has one of the most extensive crepe menus in Philadelphia. They make their crepes in the Breton style, meaning the savory crepes are made with buckwheat and the sweet crepes are made with wheat flour. Both are equally tasty, with tons of well–done options for all tastes. A personal favorite is the savory mushroom crepe, but you can’t go wrong with anything from the menu.
Location: 624 S. 6th St.
Bistrot La Minette is known as serving up the most authentic version of the classic French menu in Philly. French bistro classics like escargot, salade verte or niçoise, foie gras, and beef tartare pepper the menu, each made with reverence and passion. With occasional screenings of French movies on the patio and decor that transports you straight to Paris, it’s a great option for those looking to have the classic French experience.
Location: 623 S. 6th St.
In the end, it doesn't matter how you do it or where. Take advantage of Philly's francophone food explosion both near and far.