Restaurant Rankings: Laurel takes PhillyMag’s top spot; LaBan loves Townsend, Barbacoa

It’s not really a secret: South Philly is the place to eat in Philadelphia.

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Look no further than Philadelphia Magazine’s recent “50 Best Restaurants of Philadelphia” list. Not only did Laurel at 1617 E. Passyunk Ave. take the top spot (as a newcomer), 16 South Philly hot spots made the list.

With chef Nick Elmi at the helm, Laurel has been lauded by every critic that visits the restaurant. It came in at #6 on Zagat‘s recent list and received three bells from The Inquirer’s Craig LaBan. Philadelphia Magazine had this to say about the former Top Chef winner: “Elmi works wonders with one well-conceived plate after another, all from a tiny kitchen in a small BYOB on Passyunk Avenue, and Philadelphia is the lucky beneficiary.”

South Philly took four spots in the top ten: Laurel (#1), Pumpkin (#4), Townsend (#7) and Serpico (#9). Townsend, practically neighbors with Laurel at 1623 E. Passyunk Ave., was a favorite of LaBan as well, who marked black bass with cockles as one of the 15 best dishes he ate in 2014.

Also of note from LaBan’s list was the inclusion of Mole Poblano’s (1144 S. 9th St.) handmade mole tamales and South Philly’s Barbacoa food cart at 8th and Watkins, of which LaBan raved about the barbacoa lamb and pancita tacos with an earthy side of chickpea consomme. It’s nice to see the critics stray off the beaten path to get a true taste of South Philly.

Lastly, because a top 50 list isn’t enough, PhillyMag added one more to the list for good luck. To no one’s surprise, that restaurant is a South Philly staple: the “unabashedly French” Bistrot Le Minette at 623 S. 6th St