September 19, 2023
Three Philadelphia restaurants – El Chingon in South Philly, My Loup in Rittnehouse and Kalaya in Fishtown – made the New York Times' latest list of the best restaurants in the United States.
The list highlights the 50 restaurants that most excite a panel of the newspaper's reporters, editors and critics. Philly tied with Los Angeles for the second-most restaurants on the 2023 list. New York City has four restaurants on it.
The three Philly restaurants each were classified as "new," meaning they have opened since the 2022 list was released.
Juan Carlos Aparicio opened Mexican restaurant El Chingon last November. Aparicio had spent time working in French and Italian fine dining establishments, but returned to his roots to serve Pueblan dishes inspired by his mother.
El Chingon, at 1524 S. 10th St., was spotlighted in a New York Times article about where to eat in Philadelphia in April and, before that, was named a top lunch spot in Philly by Food & Wine in February. The ham and cheese cemita, a Pueblan-style sandwich on "springy bread," and the ceviche-like aguachile with scallops were a few of the menu items noted in the New York Times' 2023 list.
"El Chingon doesn't clamor for attention or traffic in gimmicks; it's simply a neighborhood restaurant, albeit one of the highest order," New York Times food editor Nikita Richardson writes.
My Loup, a collaboration between married chefs Alex Kemp and Amanda Shulman, opened in May.
The fine dining restaurant and bar, at 2005 Walnut St., has a library-like atmosphere with a menu inspired by fresh market cuisine from France. The Times notes its seasonal menu surprises — ranging from seafood platters to pork chops with peaches — and a "dinner party" vibe that mirrors Montreal's Joe Beef, where the couple previously worked.
Kalaya, which serves authentic southern Thai cuisine with an array of spices and curries made on-site, opened in 2019. But it's considered "new" because it relocated last November from its former 39-seat Italian Market space to a new 144-seat location at 4 W. Palmer St. in Fishtown.
The latest nod adds to Kalaya's numerous accolades, which include being named among the best restaurants in the country by Esquire and Food & Wine. Chef Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon won this year's James Beard Award for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. She was nominated for the same award in 2022, two years after Kalaya was a semifinalist for best new restaurant.
The shaw muang, venison curry and the goong phao are some of the Kalaya dishes that dazzled the Times.
The New York Times 2022 best restaurant list included Gabriella's Vietnam, in East Passyunk, and Andiario, in West Chester. The Times' inaugural list in 2021 honored three Philly restaurants – Down North Pizza, Korshak Bagels and Laser Wolf.
Korshak Bagels, which also had been praised by Bon Appétit and Forbes, is closing permanently this weekend. In a letter posted to Instagram on Monday, owner Phil Korshak wrote that the South Philly bagel shop "simply can't function economically."