There’s no such thing as a bad fried potato. French fries, home fries, hash browns, tots, potato chips — every variation is good. But there’s something about the Jewish potato pancake traditionally enjoyed during the Festival of Lights that’s extra satisfying.
Maybe it’s the way the tubers are grated into slivers, so the end result is like potato sticks and flapjacks had a love child. Or the contrasting textures of the crisp, crunchy outside and hot, soft inside, like a savory version of funnel cake. Or the wide variety of classic toppings, which range from applesauce to caviar.
Whatever the reason, latkes are straight up delicious. So whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah (or Chanukah) or just want to get in on good eating, here’s where to find them in Philly this year.
Special for Hanukkah
Just as they have for the past 26 years, proprietors Terry Berch McNally and Michael McNally are offering their Fairmount tavern as a Hanukkah home away from home. Every night from Dec. 12-20 at 5:30 there’s a menorah lighting, and on the menu is a latke trio, served with applesauce and sour cream for $12. Ask about special vodka flights for pairing.
2301 Fairmount Ave.
Dock Street Brewing
This West Philly brewpub is known for its pizza, but this time of year the menu gets a holiday boost with a plate of four potato pancakes. Available through Dec. 20, the dish comes with house applesauce and sour cream for $6.75.
701 S. 50th St.
If you’re into the idea of latkes + beer, this Rittenhouse draft specialist is the place to land. Chef Todd Van Wagner is doing snack plates of three latkes for $5 — they come with apple brown butter and horseradish cream — ideally paired with a special Troegs-Di Bruno collaboration Belgian double for $4.50. (You can also pair the potatoes with wine or cider, if that’s more your style.)
2005 Walnut St.
The Bagel Place
This Queen Village newcomer is getting down with its first Hanukkah in the neighborhood by offering housemade latkes, served hot with sour cream and applesauce. A set of two is yours for $3.50 total.
404 Queen St.
On Point Bistro
Give a boost to your weekday brunch at this Point Breeze cafe with a special platter of fried potato-onion patties. Offered through Sunday, Dec. 17, the savory pancakes come with apple-cinnamon compote and a dab of sour cream.
1200 Point Breeze Ave.
Latkes all the time
Of course Philly’s most central Jewish deli has latkes on the menu, offered morning through evening. A traditional trio with sour cream and apple goes for $9, or step up with the combo called “The North American,” which loads the pancakes with dripping hot brisket and brown gravy for $13.50.
1521 Locust St.
Day by Day
A year-round brunch favorite at this longtime classic on 21st and Sansom are the housemade potato pancakes. Get ‘em on their own in a trio with sour cream, applesauce and raspberry preserves ($9) or go nuts by using them as the base for eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and hollandaise ($15).
2101 Sansom St.
“I have to warn you, they’re not traditional latkes,” said a staffer at this Israeli falafel joint in Rittenhouse. No they’re not — they’re potentially even better, with grated carrots, celery, onions and other veg added to the potato. Offered as a single patty for a side ($4), in a pita with all the fixin’s ($8) or doubled up on a platter with hummus for $11.50.
18 S. 20th St.
The Dining Car
This beloved diner that recently restored 24-hour weekend service after customers begged for its return has potato pancakes on its all-day menu. A trio of the scratch-made latkes go for just $3.30 (choose applesauce or sour cream), or you can order a single patty on the side for $1.10.
8826 Frankford Ave.
Honey’s Sit n Eat
If you visit this brunch destination during the week, you might not even have to wait for an hour before you have a chance to order. On the list of $2 side dishes at both locations is an onion and potato latke, which comes laced with cheese for even more savory bliss.
2101 South St.; 800 N. 4th St.
Chef Yehuda Sichel changes the latke offering on the menu at his sleek modern Jewish dining room often, but right now the potato pancake is served with herb sour cream, horseradish and aged cheddar for $13. There’s also one on the special Dec. 13 Hanukkah dinner ($50 per person, reservations required), with with sour cream, Yemenite spiced apple sauce and green tomato ketchup.
1623 Sansom St.
Famous 4th Street Deli
Unlike the “zaftig” sandwiches and giant matzoh ball soup at this Queen Village standby, the latkes are actually on the small size — “about the size of a half-dollar,” per a deli employee. Which is why people usually get lots of them, especially during Hanukkah season: A plate of 10 goes for $9.50, served with applesauce on the side.
700 S. 4th St.
Hershel’s East Side Deli
If you’re near Reading Terminal Market, this stand is your best bet for a trio of potato pancakes — but don’t get your heart too set on them, as cooks only prepare a limited amount each day. Eaters with lucky timing can score the plate of three for just $5.35, sour cream and applesauce included.
51 N. 12th St.