It is easy to argue that Port Richmond has some of the most culturally diverse food in the city of Philadelphia. Residents range from multiple nationalities, creating a melting pot of eateries in the neighborhood. Most of these establishments are well known to people in and outside of the city, but there are some unknown facts about these dining spots that we deemed worthy of writing about.
Ask anyone in Port Richmond where to eat and they will simply reply, “Byrne’s.” Byrne’s Tavern has been a local neighborhood favorite since opening its doors 36 years ago. The establishment, located on 3301 Richmond St., is known for its friendly atmosphere as well as its delicious crabs, chicken wings and potato logs.
While many residents eat at Byrne’s on a weekly basis, there are still some facts about the tavern that patrons would be anxious to learn. Until only three years ago, the beloved establishment is now open on Sundays, which is a surprise to most residents. Ever wonder where Byrne’s famous crabs come from? Maryland is not the answer. The tavern brings in its hard shell blue claw crabs from Florida, Louisiana and sometimes even Mexico.
“The crabs we get from Mexico are huge,” said Catherine Byrne, sister of owner Frank Byrne. “We haven’t gotten them in a while, but when we have them they are full and meaty.”
The staff at Byrne’s pride itself on the relationships they make with their customers. Multiple generations of patrons come in daily. Because of this, Byrne’s found it fitting to start selling onesies for newborns. Now, expecting mothers can have their little ones flaunt their soon to be favorite Port Richmond eatery.
Czerw’s Kielbasy (pronounced as Shev’s) on 3370 Tilton St. is known locally for having some of the best Polish meats and pierogies in the Port Richmond area.
Unlike most establishments that cater to serving Polish delicacies, Czerw’s not only sells the original Polish pierogi, they also sell specialty flavors such as buffalo chicken and Philly cheesesteak.
Along with their smoked kielbasa, fresh kielbasa, smoked bacon, pork butts and old fashioned Polish hot dogs, Czerw’s recently added homemade lunchmeats to their menu, expanding their already booming business even more.
Marianne VanZalen, a resident of the neighborhood Fox Chase in Northeast Philadelphia, doesn’t mind making the 20 minute drive to Czerw’s Kielbasy.
“Once you have a pierogi from there, you don’t want one from anywhere else,” said VanZalen. “The Philly cheesesteak pierogi is just so good, words don’t do it justice.”
Craving a taste of Poland with a twist of Philly? Czerw’s is the perfect stop for you.
It is pretty hard to find someone in Port Richmond who is not fond of Tacconelli’s Pizzeria on 2604 E. Somerset St. For decades the beloved restaurant has been serving delicious pizza baked the original way, in a brick oven.
Throughout the years Tacconelli’s has even become popular outside the city limits, attracting tourists from all over the area. There are a few things that tourists and maybe even some Philadelphians don’t know about Tacconelli’s. For starters, the folks at Tacconelli’s used the same brick oven for more than 70 years before they needed to replace it in 1992. To this day, the establishment is a one-man, one-oven operation. Customers need to call in advance to reserve their pizza dough if they plan on dining there that day.
Now in their fifth generation, Tacconelli’s still specializes in serving founder Giovanni Tacconelli’s homemade tomato pies. For a real Port Richmond experience, Tacconelli’s is a must eat.
Located on 2712 E. Somerset St., Kitty’s Luncheonette is considered a Port Richmond landmark by local residents. The corner eatery opened 61 years ago by Raymond Yanette, who named his luncheonette after his wife Catherine. Although Yanette has since passed away, local residents still refer to Kitty’s as “Ratz’s” after his nickname that Yanette acquired as a teen.
What most people do not know about their favorite breakfast and lunch spot is that everything, down to the croutons on its salads, is homemade and made to order. One of the most popular items on the menu is Kitty’s hot roast pork sandwiches, which are only offered on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. Because there is so much featured on the menu, many customers overlook ordering their famous chicken cutlets which are considered some of “The best in Philadelphia” according to patrons and current owner John Yanette.
“I haven’t been in here for two days and as soon as I walk in I was hit with this delicious smell,” said John Yanette. “Everything is just so good.”
Kitty’s is located only a few blocks away from Tacconelli’s, which makes Somerset Street a popular one-stop location for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Sam’s Water Ice
Located on 2946 Richmond St., Sam’s Water Ice has been a summer favorite of the neighborhood for 21 years. It is owned by Joe Petaccio, also the owner of JP Tee’s and Richmond Street Beach Tanning Salon along the same block.
What some may not know about this summer stop is that it gets transformed into “Sam’s Christmas Land” for the holiday season. Starting every year on Black Friday, Sam’s Christmas Land sells decorations, gift wrap, wreaths and of course, Christmas trees.
“Every Saturday we have a cookout with Santa and the kids love it,” said Petaccio. “Anyone who buys a tree gets free burgers, hotdogs and sausage.”
While Sam’s Water Ice is currently closed due to the construction on Richmond Street, Sam’s Christmas Land will be opening in November as planned. Petaccio is hoping that the water ice shop will be open by mid-July.
– Text and images by Catherine Palmer and Angelise Stuhl.