Philadelphia

How to Eat, Drink, and Shop Your Way Around Philly's Little Saigon

We tapped Chris and Thanh Nguyen of Gabriella's Vietnam for a look at the best Vietnamese restaurants and businesses in the neighborhood.

Hung Vuong Food Market
Hung Vuong Food Market
Hung Vuong Food Market

Bordering Passyunk Square, the Italian Market, and Queen Village sits Little Saigon, a sliver of South Philadelphia stretching along Washington Avenue east of Broad Street that’s home to some of the city’s best Vietnamese restaurants and markets.

In the mid-1970s, after the Fall of Saigon, Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County became a relocation processing center for Vietnamese refugees and many made the move to nearby Philadelphia. More recently, according to an analysis from Pew Charitable Trusts in 2016, Vietnam was the second most common country of origin among foreign-born immigrants in Philadelphia-and these immigrants largely concentrated in South Philadelphia.

Flickr/Christopher Paquette
Flickr/Christopher Paquette
Flickr/Christopher Paquette

In the 1990s, Vietnamese strip malls Hoa Binh Plaza and Wing Phat Plaza opened along Washington Avenue, sparking what would become Little Saigon. In the years following, New World Plaza and 1st Oriental Supermarket opened, with dozens of restaurants, bakeries, groceries, spas, jewelers, and other businesses populating the plazas. “You definitely get a sense of the Vietnamese and Chinese vibe just driving down Washington Avenue,” Chris and Thanh Nguyen, owners of Gabriella’s Vietnam, say. “The language is posted all over storefronts along the avenue.”

When they’re not in the kitchen at their newly opened restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue, the Nguyens often venture to Little Saigon to grab a bite to eat. So we sat down with the duo to learn about all of their favorite restaurants and dishes in Little Saigon for an expert’s guide to the neighborhood. Here are their picks:

Pho 75
Pho 75
Pho 75

Pho 75

There’s one thing on the menu at this laid-back spot: Pho. The neon sign beckons you in and ample seating means it’s best to bring an entire crew to feast on these bowls. “They’ve been in business since I can remember,” Chris and Thanh say. “They’re always quick and consistent. You always know what you’ll get and it never disappoints.” When pressed for time, the Nguyens hit up Pho 75 since the soup comes out of the kitchen in no time at all. Even better? A whole meal (plus some leftovers) will run you less then $10.
What to order: Beef pho
How to book: Tables are first-come-first serve or call 215-271-5866 for carryout

Nam Phuong
Nam Phuong
Nam Phuong

Nam Phuong

With an expansive menu that boasts bò bía (spring rolls) and bò lúc lắc (sauteed flank steak with fresh watercress), Nam Phuong has a dish for every diet, taste, and hunger level. The space is huge and although the restaurant can get crowded, seats are seemingly always available.
What to order: Ba Vị (Triple Delight). For groups of two-to-four, this sharing dish comes with shrimp on sugarcane, beef in grape leaves, and grilled meatballs meant to be wrapped in lettuce or rice paper. “The Ba Vị is a huge platter that’s meant to be shared,” Chris and Thanh say. “We don’t want anyone reading to order it for themselves.”
How to book: Tables are first-come-first serve, reservations are available online, or call 215-468-0410 for takeout and delivery

Flickr/Molly Des Jardin
Flickr/Molly Des Jardin
Flickr/Molly Des Jardin

Cafe Diễm

If not for the awning and the massive sign, you might mistake Cafe Diễm for another South Philly rowhome. Inside, the small, no-frills space is populated with a handful of tables and the bun bo hue (beef noodle soup) comes spicy, packed to the brim with meat, and ready to please.
What to order: Aside from the bun bo hue, Chris and Thanh recommend bánh cuốn (rice flour rolls). “These are delicately steamed rice rolls that come with minced pork, pork roll, fresh cut veggies, and the traditional fish sauce vinaigrette,” they say. “It’s light but it’ll fill you up-great for lunch or brunch if you’re not looking for something heavy that’ll weigh you down.”
How to book: Tables are first-come-first-serve

Unsplash/Lynda Hinton
Unsplash/Lynda Hinton
Unsplash/Lynda Hinton

Phở Gà Thanh Thanh

As the name implies, no one does chicken pho quite like Phở Gà Thanh Thanh. The chicken pho is available in small and large bowls, or “you can do what the pros do and get a plain bowl of pho with half chicken on the side or whole chicken on the side,” Chris and Thanh say. Soak your poached chicken in the broth but “the dipping sauce is where it’s at though-salt, pepper, and lime leaf dipping sauce takes it to another level,” the Nguyens say.
What to order: Chicken pho. “The type of chicken they use can be a little chewy if you get the breast,” Chris and Thanh say. “If you opt for a bowl of chicken pho, I’ve heard others at different tables request dark meat only.”
How to order: Tables are first-come-first serve or call 215-427-0483 for takeout

Ba Le Bakery
Ba Le Bakery
Ba Le Bakery

Ba Le Bakery

Banh mi is the name of the game at this snug deli and bakery. Choose from 20 sandwich varieties, ranging from lemongrass vegetarian pork to the Ba Le combination (crispy pork belly, pork ham, and pork bologna). They even offer party trays of 10 banh mi sandwiches, 15 summer rolls, 50 pork spring rolls, heaping platters of rice cakes stuffed with pork and mushroom and topped with pork, papaya salad, and more.
What to order: Ba Le Combination
How to order: Stop in or takeout and delivery online

Flickr/su-lin
Flickr/su-lin
Flickr/su-lin

Cafe Thanh Truc

A menu comprised of nothing but the hits-summer rolls, bun bo hue, hu tieu nam vang (noodle soup with pork, liver, heart, minced pork, and shrimp), and banh mi-and prices under $10, Cafe Thanh Truc is perfect for a delicious quick service meal.
What to order: Bun bo hue
How to book: Tables are first-come-first serve or order takeout and delivery online

Hung Vuong Food Market
Hung Vuong Food Market
Hung Vuong Food Market

Hung Vuong Food Market

Although this local grocery chain’s original location is in Chinatown, its Little Saigon location boasts a wide variety of products, from freshly sliced beef tongue to frozen rice cakes. With aisles and aisles of Asian delicacies to peruse, you might need an afternoon to properly make it through.
What to order: Fresh seafood
How to order: Visit the market or order takeout and delivery onlineWant more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn’t slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.

Philadelphia

Museum Exhibits in Philly to Check Out Before They Disappear

Get in some culture (and selfies) at the best art exhibits in Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney

From the historical to the artistic, Philadelphia is jam packed with museums. Art aficionados of all ages can get lost inside the likes of tourist-friendly museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of the American Revolution or feast their eyes on unique exhibitions at institutions like the Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Museum for Art In Wood.

Between big-ticket exhibitions honouring the House of Mouse to collections showcasing the legacy of a prominent Black family in early America, there’s plenty of material to dig into. After you’ve planned a date night and rounded up friends to explore the city, here are the most exciting museum exhibits in Philly right now-before they’re gone for good.

Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney

The Franklin Institute

Exhibition: Disney 100: The Exhibition
Mickey Mouse, you look good for your age. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Disney is a retrospective exhibition, which got its world premiere right here in Philly. Between rarely-seen artworks and artifacts, costumes and props, and interactive installations where you can listen to hit Disney songs, the exhibit is a Disney lover’s wish-upon-a-star-come-true.
Dates: Until August 27, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Monday through Sunday. Tickets are available online and at the door.

Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS
Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS
Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS

Academy of Natural Sciences

Exhibition: Conversations With Birds
No, not an allusion to the Eagles, this exhibition is dedicated to actual birds, their migration patterns, and humans’ relationship with avian creatures. Expect avian photography and video by local birders and wildlife photographers along with an interactive exhibit showing five migratory birds that pass through the Philadelphia region on their seasonal passage between North and South America.
Dates: Until May 21, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Barnes Foundation

Exhibition: Sue Williamson & Lebohang Kganye: Tell Me What You Remember
The work of two contemporary South African artists-Sue Williamson and Lebohang Kganye-are shown side by side, offering a cross-generational dialogue. Both artists utilize video installations, photographs, sculptural installations, and textiles “to consider how the stories our elders tell us shape family narratives and personal identities.”
Dates: Until May 21, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Photo by Jonathan Horowitz
Photo by Jonathan Horowitz
Photo by Jonathan Horowitz

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

Exhibition: The Future Will Follow the Past: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz
Exploring the rapid change of societal issues in America since 2020-antisemitism, racial violence, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights-Jonathan Horowitz designed installations inspired by recent occurrences. His works explore specific events like the infamous far-right rally from white supremacists in Charlottesville as well as recent themes in American history, like attacks on those within the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Dates: Until July 4, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Friday through Sunday. Admission is available online and at the door.

Photo by Hoda Tawakol
Photo by Hoda Tawakol
Photo by Hoda Tawakol

The Museum for Art In Wood

Exhibition: The Mashrabiya Project
The newly renamed Museum for Art in Wood (formerly The Center for Art In Wood) celebrates the rebrand with a brand new project. Focusing on mashrabiya, the traditional Islamic architectural design, The Mashrabiya Project is a first of its kind effort in the U.S. to examine this aesthetic. As a part of the larger mission, a new exhibition Seeing Through Space features newly-commissioned, never-before-seen works by six female-identifying artists.
Dates: Until July 23, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are not required.

Photo by Carlos Avenda├▒o
Photo by Carlos Avenda├▒o
Photo by Carlos Avenda├▒o

Fabric Workshop and Museum

Exhibition: Henry Taylor: Nothing Change, Nothing Strange
Combining painting and sculpture, Henry Taylor utilized recycled objects in this exhibition, the product of an 18-month residency. The entire second floor of the museum houses the large scale assemblages, tapestries, and textiles. Think: 30-foot billowing canvases and towering totems created from compressed blocks of paint buckets, vinyl home siding, and black plastic planters.
Dates: Until July 23, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available but advanced registration is encouraged.

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition: Judith Joy Ross
More than 200 photographs from renowned portrait photographer Judith Joy Ross will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, chronicling her career from the 1980s to today. Her black-and-white portraits are intimate reflections of everyday Americans, and this show features work from all her major projects, plus, never-before-seen images.
Dates: April 24 to August 6, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

American Swedish Historical Museum

Exhibition: Radically Marimekko
Famous for their bright and bold fabrics, Finnish textiles, clothing, and home furnishings, the company Marimekko is showcased at this special exhibit. Drawing attention to Finnish design, the collection traces the brand’s path from industrial art house to fashion icon.
Dates: March 30 to September 24, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and African American Museum in Philadelphia

Exhibition: Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America
A collaboration between the African American Museum in Philadelphia and PAFA, Rising Sun showcases new work from 20 artists examining the question of Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy? With pieces shown in both museums, visitors can reflect on, challenge, and expand their view of democracy through art.
Dates: March 23 to October 8, 2023
How to visit: The African American Museum in Philadelphia is open Thursday through Sunday; admission is available online and at the door. PAFA is open Thursday through Sunday; admission can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Museum of the American Revolution
Museum of the American Revolution
Museum of the American Revolution

Museum of the American Revolution

Exhibition: Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia
James Forten may not be a familiar name within early American history, but this new exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution is looking to change that. Telling the story of Forten and his family through 100 historical artifacts, Black Founders explores the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and the abolitionist movement.
Dates: Until November 26, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open daily. Admission is available online and at the door.

National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center

Exhibition: The 19th Amendment: How Women Won The Vote
That lofty document known as the Constitution and its values, interpretations, and amendments are explored in great detail at the National Constitution Center, naturally. This semi-permanent exhibit examines the 19th Amendment-the one which granted women the right to vote-and the road to its ratification. Out of the near 100 artifacts, expect to see a rare printing of the Declaration of Sentiments from the first women’s convention at Seneca Falls, a ballot box used to collect women’s votes in the late 1800s, Pennsylvania’s ratification copy of the 19th Amendment, and various “Votes for Women” ephemera.
Dates: Semi-permanent, no end date announced
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

M├╝tter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
M├╝tter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
M├╝tter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

M├╝tter Museum

Exhibition: Spit Spreads Death
Eerily topical, the M├╝tter’s latest special exhibit, Spit Spreads Death, an exhibit about the 1918 flu pandemic, opened in the fall of 2019, less than six months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibit traces the disease’s spread throughout Philadelphia neighbourhoods a century ago and how the pandemic impacted the city with artifacts like photos, newspaper clippings, and more.
Dates: Now through 2024
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Monday. Advanced tickets are required.

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Allie Volpe┬áis a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn’t slept in days. Follow her on Twitter:┬á@allieevolpe.

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