Words like “unassuming,” “unexpected,” “neighborhood gem” and more come to mind when describing these six Delco haunts. They’re all popular, despite some being a bit off the beaten path, and run the gamut from kinda fancy to plain and simple. What ties them all together is their must-try (or try-again!) cuisine.
Take a tour of some of our favorite Delco dining spots:
Tucked away inside its namesake college’s boutique hotel, The Inn at Swarthmore, is a pleasingly cozy restaurant. Venture there to indulge in artisan fare sourced from local vendors and farms. The menu follows the seasons, as does the creative cocktail list. A few of our favorite things are the whipped ricotta toast with pistachio, truffled honey, baby arugula and black lava sea salt; the best-of-what’s-local meat board; and the grilled ribeye with shallots, mushrooms and a red wine reduction. Can’t choose? Make reservations for the monthly Chef’s Table event, which offers five tempting courses reflecting the chef’s mood and current muse. Bonus: An inviting kids menu; kiddos eat free Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m.
10 S. Chester Rd., Swarthmore; (610) 543-7500.
2. Inka Wall
Nestled among ethnic shops and restaurants along 69th Street and not far from the famed Tower Theater is an unassuming storefront that belies an authentic trip through Peruvian cuisine inside. Colorful tabletops fill quickly with equally eye-catching (and stomach-satisfying) dishes. Choose the lomo saltado of stir-fried beef, onions, tomatoes, fried potatoes and rice, or go veggie with the filling Inka Wall salad: quinoa, steamed broccoli, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado. You can also order a whole or one-quarter portion of the droolworthy pollo a la brasa (Peruvian rotisserie-style chicken). Save room for the famous tres leches (three-milk) cake and a cup of organic Peruvian coffee. Thirsty for something else? Inka Wall also has a full bar. Closed Mondays.
55 Garrett Rd., Upper Darby; (484) 466-4610.
It’s worth setting your GPS to head to Briarcliffe (that’s in Glenolden for out-of-towners) for next-level pub grub with a twist: Witness the “Mic,” grilled meatloaf, fontina cheese, caramelized onion, roasted peppers and garlic mayo. Dig into risotto, gluten-free options like the portobello entree, and bar stalwarts Buffalo wings and stuffed long hots. Ask about the specials — we can’t get enough of the mussels marinara when it’s available. Sip on something from the tight craft beer and wine menus, or cocktails that won’t break the bank. The vibe is casual and comfortable, with a lively bar scene — you can catch the game on several large TVs. Like music? Keep an eye on the restaurant’s Facebook page for live events.
1061 Cedarwood Rd., Glenolden, (610) 537-7003.
You want old-school? Check out this old-style fish house. It’s been no-frills nautical (think wood paneling and a captain’s wheel) for more than five decades, and that’s kept the prices reasonable — especially for fresh seafood. You’ll find lots of clams, of course: on the half shell, steamed, casino, baked, in chowder, over pasta and our guilty pleasure, clam imperial atop fries. Still, those mouthwatering dishes are the tip of the iceberg — you’ll find a full range of seafood and fish options, plus veal, chicken, beef, soups and salads. There’s a bar, but don’t ask for the latest craft darling — blue-collar brews reign here. Open for dinner only. Find free parking at the corner of Marple and Broadway.
339 E. Broadway Ave., Clifton Heights; (610) 623-9537.
5. Byrsa Bistro
Treat yourself to a tour through the western Mediterranean at this charming, intimate venue. Open for dinner only, the restaurant offers an a la carte menu Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and a three-course experience on Saturday, all influenced by tastes from Morocco, Spain, France, Malta, Italy and Tunisia. It’s a haven for vegans, vegetarians and those who eat gluten-free, but there’s plenty for the carnivores to adore. Whether you fill up on the paella bursting with seafood, chicken, beef and veggies; the slow-cooked cassoulet stuffed with meatballs, short ribs, chicken, white beans, chickpeas and veggies or any number of inspired options, we recommend you start with the Mediterranean sampler: hummus, spicy carrots, mixed olives, grape leaves, cucumbers, fresh mozzarella and toasted pita. Reservations are strongly encouraged, as the limited seating fills up fast. BYOB.
128 Glen Mills Rd., Glen Mills; (610) 558-4700.
Waterfront dining in Delco? Yup, you can watch boats pass at the Ridley Township Marina over lunch, dinner or drinks. Live music and happy hour specials are only half the story; the rest is an approachable menu offering everything from bar favorites such as Old Bay-spiced Stingers fries and beef short-rib tacos to two-fisted sandwiches like roasted pork Italiano, crabcake and the house special burger (with spicy bacon jam!). Or select sit-down-and-relax entrees of gnocchi and crab a la vodka, cast iron-seared salmon and the 8-ounce, center-cut filet stinger topped with crabmeat and finished in a Madeira cream sauce. Stingers’ tagline says it best: “It’s always a great time on the water!”
401 S. Swarthmore Ave., Ridley Park; (484) 540-7868.
Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for where to stay, what to do and more in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re the Destination Delco Tourism Bureau, and we’ve got you covered from Philly to the Brandywine. Find us at 1501 N. Providence Rd., Media, PA, 19063; (610) 565-3679 or online.