What’s in a name? When it comes to restaurant names, quite a bit.
I’m sure naming a restaurant can be quite the process. A name is the restaurant’s brand, after all. It’s the first thing people will notice; so it should be easy to pronounce and memorable. Restaurant names are often times descriptive of its concept (The Boiling Pot) or evocative of an experience (Bliss). Sometimes restaurant names are more personal, such as eponymous restaurant names (Vetri Cucina) or restaurant’s named after family members (Rosalie). Restaurant names can be inspired by geography (Positano Coast), inanimate objects (Fork), or just for fun (Cry Baby Pasta). A lot of restaurant names leave me scratching my head sometimes, though.
I’m not quite sure what prompted me to think of Philadelphia restaurant names more deeply, but here I am. It occurred to me that I do indeed have some favorite names for reasons I will get into in a bit. Many of these restaurants I haven’t even been to yet and would go simply because I like their names.
Philadelphia Restaurants Named After Names
- Bud & Marilyn’s (Gayborhood) – I think it’s obvious why I love this name. 🙂
- Chloe (Old City) – I know this name is becoming more popular, but I always found it unique.
- Elwood (Fishtown) – I love unusual, uncommon names.
- Talula’s Garden (Center City) – Talula is not a common name; combined with garden, it sounds like a magical place.
- James (Center City) – biblical, but strong.
- June (East Passyunk) – my second favorite month!
- Olly (Queen Village) – Possibly short for Oliver; either way, I like it.
- Stina (South Philly) – It’s more about how Chef Bobby Saritsoglou decided to name the restaurant after his wife – Christina – in shortened form. Plus it’s just different.
- Suraya (Fishtown) – I love Middle Eastern names – they just sound beautiful and exotic.
- Townsend (East Passyunk, soon to be Rittenhouse Square) – it’s more common as a last name than a first name, but it is the first name of the chef (Townsend Wentz) even though he goes by ‘Tod’ for short. Very distinguished.
- Zorba’s Tavern (Fairmount) – named after the character of the movie Zorba the Green perhaps? Either way, I know it’s a Greek restaurant based on the name. Plus this is one of the first restaurants, if not the first, I ate at when I first moved to Philadelphia in 2002.
Philadelphia Restaurants Named After Food
- American Sardine Bar (Point Breeze) – Sardines are so underrated. Nuff said.
- Amuse (Center City) – as in amuse-bouche; which is a fun way to start a meal and often overlooked.
- Banana Leaf (Chinatown) – it evokes a tropical vibe as soon as I hear it and that is tantalizing to me.
- Bing Bing Dim Sum (East Passyunk) – it’s a clever and playful way of saying, “We serve Chinese small plates with a Jewish twist.”
- Branzino (Rittenhouse Square) – when I think of branzino, I think of the whole, grilled fish and that gets the taste buds excited.
- Burrata (Passyunk Square) – cheese, glorious cheese. Nuff said.
- Figs (Fairmount) – when I think of figs (which I adore) I think of the Mediterranean and I love the cuisine of the region.
- Mustard Greens (Queen Village) – I love mustard greens and they just aren’t used enough.
- Pierogie Kitchen (Roxborough) – I grew up in a predominantly Eastern European coal region of Pennsylvania, so I grew up eating a lot of pierogies. One of my favorite comfort meals.
- Poi Dog (Rittenhouse Square) – I was late to discovering Hawaiian and Hawaiian-inspired foods. I’ve yet to visit the islands and I’ve never had poi, but it’s on the old bucket list.
- Porcini (Rittenhouse Square) – Ahhh, one of my favorite mushrooms. So earthy!
- Pumpkin (Graduate Hospital) – My favorite squash and yes, I do love everything pumpkin.
- Samosa (Center City) – deep-fried Indian dumpling – YUM!
- Vedge (Center City) – Veg is usually the shortened version of vegetable or vegetarian; I just love this alternative spelling.
- Zeppoli (Collingswood) – A different spelling of the word zeppole, a deep-fried ricotta fritter covered with powdered sugar popular in Italy.
Philadelphia Restaurants Named After Flowers, Animals, or Whimsical Things
- Cactus Cantina (Manayunk) – the name screams what it does: a restaurant serving Southwestern & Mexican cuisine with lots of tequila. What’s not to love about that?
- Cosmic Cafe (Boathouse Row) – I love anything with a space theme.
- Forsythia (Old City) – this was one of my Mom’s favorite flowers.
- Hearthside (Collingswood) – this just evokes a wonderful image in my head of food cooking on a hearth like they did in the olden days.
- Hibiscus Cafe (West Philly) – Hibiscus flowers are lovely and I love anything hibiscus-flavored.
- Laurel (East Passyunk) – when I think of laurel, I think of the mountain laurel, which is Pennsylvania’s beautiful state flower. Plenty of them up in the mountains where I grew up.
- Little Lion (Old City) – this restaurant won’t be reopening until 2020, but I love that it is named after Alexander Hamilton’s nickname (I’m a history buff!) – so I guess it’s not altogether appropriate in this category.
- Midnight Iris (Rittenhouse Square) – my inner “eldergoth” is loving this. Sounds like it could be the name of a goth band. Heh.
- Moonstruck (Northeast Philly) – love anything to do with the moon and it was also a great movie starring Cher.
- Red Owl Tavern (Old City) – gorgeous creatures, Nuff said.
- The Black Cat Tavern (South Philly) – I used to have a black cat.
- The Dandelion (Rittenhouse) – a bright flower you can’t miss in the Springtime. We used to pick them when I was a little girl. Dandelion greens are also quite tasty.
- Three Monkey’s Cafe (Torresdale) – because: monkeys!
- Stargazy (East Passyunk) – again with the space theme, but also English pies are heavenly!
Philadelphia Restaurants Named After Places
- Alpen Rose (Center City) – I think less steakhouse and more Alpine chalet. But it works.
- Barcelona (East Passyunk) – Naturally, a city in Spain.
- Chengdu Famous Food (Powelton Village) – A city in China. And this just isn’t any Chinese food in Philadelphia, it’s FAMOUS!
- Fuji Mountain – one of the first Japanese restaurants I dined at when I moved here.
- Koreana (Rittenhouse Square) – in my “alternate universe,” both North and South Korea have come back together and is simply known as Koreana.
- Laos Cafe (Girard Estates) – A cuisine (Lao) I don’t eat near enough of!
- Paris Bistro (Chestnut Hill) – Oh, la, la!
- Uzbekistan Restaurant (Somerton) – Yet another cuisine (Uzbek) I’ve never had but would love to try!
- Vietnam (Chinatown) – Probably the best Vietnamese in the city.
Other Restaurant Names
- Devil’s Den (South Philly)- this says, “Come on in for a devilishly good time!”
- Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Rittenhouse Square) – my 3 favorite days of the week!
- Gran Caffe L’Aquila (Rittenhouse Square) – I butcher the pronunciation of this name all of the time, but I think it’s great!
- Grey Lodge Pub (Mayfair) – Simply one of the best beer bars in the city with respectable food. For a brief time, I lived around the corner from here and would bother owner Scoats a lot. I just always liked the name. 🙂
- Kalaya (Italian Market) – this means “beautiful lady” in Thai, but can also be a woman’s name. It just sounds pretty!
- Kraftwork (Fishtown) – sounds so close to one of my favorite band’s name Kraftwerk.
- M Restaurant (Washington Square West) – because hubby’s nickname for me is simply: M.
- Noord (East Passyunk) – I think it’s the double o’s.
- Rose Tattoo Cafe (Callowhill) – maybe because I have a rose tattoo?
- The Continental Martini Bar (Old City) – This is exactly what it says it is. Classy space with great martinis.
Phew, what a list! I’ll stop there for now, but I’m may add to it over time, who knows. But it sure is fun thinking about restaurant names and making a personal connection.
What are your favorite Philadelphia restaurant names?
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