Cafe Ayla: Thai food with a modern twist

Cafe Ayla is a small byob Thai restaurant cafe that recently opened at the corner of Sixth and Morris Streets, a few blocks off of East Passyunk. This husband and wife owned restaurant by Nina Thivarath and Christian Reneau was named after the couple's adorable newborn, who you will often find in the restaurant with her parents.

Cafe Ayla in Pennsport Philadelphia

The couple are involved in every process of the wonderful decoration and delicious menu. We've visited the cafe during Christmas season and witnessed the festive decorations and warm welcome. We ate up the drunken noodles and enjoyed their crispy duck served with Thai curry over jasmine rice and vegetables.

More recently, we were invited to their photoshoot and had the lucky opportunity to try all their teas and dishes. We are huge fans of Cafe Ayla's Thai tea, but their hot teas brewed from homegrown organic tea leaves were too much to past up. Safe to say, we bought some tea leaves to go.

Our favorite starters were their crispy tofu with sweet chili sauce, Thai chili wings hand tossed with chef's house special sauce, Thai spicy cucumbers, and the delectable tom yum soup.

And even though the starters were more than enough to fill us over the top, we continued to the main courses and happily devoured the Thai fried rice, massaman/green Thai basil stir fry, and shiitake tofu lettuce wrap.

We finished the meal with bites of unbelievably delicious homemade banana bread pudding. Every part of the meal, from the tea to the appetizers, to the main course and dessert were impeccable.

Cafe Ayla
1700 South 6th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Vietnamese coffee and hoagies at Cafe Vinh Long

Cafe Vinh Long is a family-owned Vietnamese cafe located in the Lower Moyamensing neighborhood of South Philadelphia. This authentic coffee shop has been a staple along the 7th st business corridor for nearly 20 years. The neighborhood has changed plenty throughout the decades, but the made-to-order Vietnamese hoagie (banh mi) and coffee (ca phe) has remained the same as when the shop first opened.

The owners brought the recipes and coffee extraction method from South Vietnam when they arrived in Philadelphia in the late 80's. They opened Cafe Vinh Long (originally named Minh Chau) at a time when Vietnamese restaurants and coffee shops were a rare commodity in Philadelphia.

Today, we can find Vietnamese dining in nearly every neighborhood. Vietnamese coffee is sold at pho restaurants, Asian bakeries, and hip coffee shops. There's even Cà Phê Roasters, a Vietnamese coffee roaster in Kensington.

At Cafe Vinh Long, Vietnamese coffee is not reinvented. It is the same coffee your grandparents would have found at their favorite coffee hut served on the sidewalk of Vietnam. It's simple, it's robust, and it's delicious.

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Cafe Vinh Long
2230 S 7th St
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 334-8505

Best Charcuterie Boards in Philadelphia

Charcuterie and cheese are amongst the best things in life. We've listed some of our favorite spots in Philadelphia for charcuterie boards below. (The cheese list will be much longer.)



1137 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Tria has three locations in the city, all worth checking out. The mostarda on the charcuterie board really makes it. Get the charcuterie board, some featured cheese, and your choice of wine or beer.

Royal Boucherie

52 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Chef Nick Elmi puts together a delicately thorough charcuterie board with items like foie gras terrine, pate, wild boar terrine, chicken liver mousse, and house cured meats.


105 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Jamonera's charcuterie board allows pairing of jamon serrano with various cheeses, banderillas, house pickles and more.

Di Bruno Bros.

930 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

How could a list be complete without Di Bruno Brothers? Di Bruno has a few locations throughout the city, but the original Italian Market location is our favorite. The best charcuterie board is one you construct yourself. The knowledgable staff and cheesemongers at Di Brunos will pair your charcuterie with the best cheese.

Philadelphia C-CAP Ignite Benefit

Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) is a program that empowers underserved youth through the culinary arts by providing job training, life skills, and work opportunities. C-CAP partners with 150 public high schools throughout the country to support 15,000 students nationwide each year to develop their interest and skills for careers in the culinary and hospitality industry.

Every year for the past five years, C-CAP Philadelphia has hosted an Ignite Benefit to raise donation for the program. We were fortunate enough to attend this year's benefit at the Crystal Tea Room to enjoy the grand tasting of culinary creations from over 20 of Philadelphia’s chefs who were assisted by talented C-CAP students and alumni. In addition to enjoying the fine cuisine and drinks, guests were also encouraged to bid on silent auction items and learn more about the programs that have been helping C-CAP Philadelphia students for over 25 years.


This year's chef lineup includes some of our favorites, including chef Ari Miller of Musi. The Ignite Benefit was eye-opening and an amazing opportunity to meet both seasoned and up-and-coming chefs. The food and drinks were delicious and bountiful, but it was the inspiring students that made the event truly unforgettable!

In Philadelphia, C-CAP prepares 1,000 high school students in 17 schools for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. In addition to job training and internships, C-CAP provides curriculum enrichment for high school culinary classrooms, career exploration and advising opportunities, scholarships through cooking competitions, college advising, teacher professional development and product donations for classrooms.

Tostado Sate Kampar Delicious pate C-CAP philadelphia C-CAP Philadelphia annual benefit edible spoons delicious Pastry C-CAP Philadelphia annual benefit Ice cream sandwich

Learn more about C-CAP at and keep an eye out for next year's amazing benefit.

Dalessandro's versus Chubby's cheesesteaks

The best cheesesteak in Philadelphia debate is a tiresome and endless one. Every Philadelphian has their personal favorite spot and every other person will tell you that Geno’s and Pat’s are tourist traps. We are not going to resolve the great cheesesteak debate today, but we will attempt to address the Dalessandro's versus Chubby’s one once and for all.

Dalessandro's and Chubby’s come up regularly when you ask a local for the best cheesesteak recommendation. Usually, Dalessandro's is mentioned and someone will quickly tell you to check out the underrated Chubby’s across the street. The two shops sit across from each other, separated by Henry ave in Roxborough.


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In our experiment, we ordered a cheesesteak each from Dalessandro’s and Chubby’s steaks. Both places had a line, but Dallesandro's had a much longer wait time. Dalessandro's bread seemed higher quality and their meat was more heavily seasoned, although still a bit lacking in flavor. The onions from both shops were buttery, but not so thoroughly distributed. They kind of just dropped the onions on top of the meat. Chubby’s onions were also overwhelmingly drenched in butter. Personally, we prefer our onions cooked in steak grease.

As the lines of people had foreshadowed, Dalessandro's cheesesteaks beat out Chubby's in this competition. We would recommend you check either of these cheesesteaks if you’re in the Roxborough neighborhood, but there are enough quality cheesesteaks in the city that you don't have to go out of your way.

Angelo's Pizzeria South Philly

We are not so bold as to declare Angelo's Pizzeria the best in Philadelphia, but isn't it? Angelo's Pizzeria served their famous thick-crusted cheesy upside-down in Haddonfield for years before moving to South Philly earlier this year.

Angelo's Pizzeria is currently located in Bella Vista in South Philly. They open noon-9pm daily, are closed Mondays, and have no phone you can reach. You cannot order in advance and must line up after they open to place your order. You can follow them on social media for updates in case they sell out early. Otherwise, it's a total gamble. But trust us, it's a worthwhile gamble. The pizza dough and sandwiches are all made to perfection. At Angelo's, food is art in its purest and simplest form.






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@angelos_pizzeria_south_philly you make it so incredibly nice and #Philly is lucky to have you and we are also all in love with you❤️

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Mike Solomonov of Zahav recently said of Angelo's, "Philly is lucky to have you and we are also all in love with you." We at Pharm2Philly have to agree!






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Angelo's Pizzeria South Philly
736 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

America's best new restaurant, Musi, is "utterly charmless"

Musi BYOB, which opened earlier this year in the Pennsport neighborhood of South Philly, won a spot on Eater’s national list of the best new restaurants in America

Musi is an intimate BYOB restaurant in South Philadelphia where chef Ari Miller pioneers relationship-based cuisine, focusing on the farmers, foragers, and makers supplying the goods for his peak-season and flavor-packed plates. Chef Ari Miller is an alum of Zahav and High Street on Market.

Named for chef Ari Miller’s legendary fishmonger in Tel Aviv, Musi serves relationship-based cuisine. Each plate is intentional and represents the kitchen's relationships to the farmers, foragers, makers and artisans who inspire with unique products and one of a kind collaborations. Musi’s small, daily menu offers guests the opportunity to choose a few plates on their own or simply let the kitchen cook for them.

Musi also made PhillyMag's list of 50 best restaurants in Philadelphia and received high praises from Craig Laban, though he did call the cramped space "utterly charmless." Personally, we think Craig just doesn't quite get the South Philly charm.

100 Morris St
Philadelphia, PA 19148


Remembering Bok's South Philly Smokhaus

Philadelphia is not a barbecue town. That is not to say that we do not have some amazing barbecue joints, because we do.

South Philadelphia Smokhaus, once lauded as one of the best barbecue spot in Philadelphia, closed after a short stint in the Bok Building in South Philly. The shop was a brainchild of Eric Daelhousen, along with Robert Passio of Reading Terminal Market’s Giunta’s Prime. Smokhaus' closure was a great loss to Philadelphia and its emerging, yet struggling barbecue scene.






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Missing the burnt end short rib and brisket mac and cheese from South Philly Smokhaus (now closed). #bokphilly #southphilly #phillyfood

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South Philly Smokhaus may be closed, but the BOK building that housed it is filled with a thriving community of artists and businesses. Visit their website for information on tours and events.

1901 S 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148