For authentic pit BBQ, Fette Sau in Fishtown is practically an immersive experience.
When you think of a barbeque food establishment, you might picture a hole-in-the-wall Southern-style building with picnic tables, rolls of paper towels, and mouth-watering tender meat and cheesy sides. You may not imagine that one of these places is right in the heart of Fishtown.
Located at 1208 Frankford Ave, “Fette Sau,” or “fat pig” 🐷 in German, stands as a hidden gem amid the neighborhood’s sprawling assortment of restaurants. Drawing inspiration from traditional American barbecue, a neon pink sign marks its location. It leads to a quaint courtyard that gives way to a surprisingly expansive storefront — a sight far larger than a casual passerby might anticipate. Thematic wallpaper, laden with various depictions of meat cuts and chandeliers fashioned from tin cans, adds a charming touch to the overall theme. When you step into the restaurant, it transports you to a small Southern town, instantly making you forget that Philadelphia is right outside the doors.
Once you’re seated at one of the wooden picnic tables and check the menu, feel free to walk up to the meat counter to order your meal and then to the bar for a few drinks, all brought to your table by the staff.
The menu is vast, and there are options for dining in, takeout, and catering, and you can order by the pound for large parties.
Fette Sau specializes in dry-rubbed meats, sourced from small, local farms and smoked in-house. Their rotating selection includes brisket, pulled pork, chicken, sausage, and ribs, along with a wide selection of sides like mac and cheese, burnt-end baked beans, cornbread, potato salad, and more.
The food is served family-style on large trays, but you can easily grab some paper plates and cutlery to split it up. Different flavored sauces are available on each table – sweet BBQ, hot BBQ, and vinegar.
My party opted for an order of pulled pork, brisket, mashed sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, and cornbread. The meats come plain, and I chose the sweet barbeque sauce on the table to flavor my meal. The brisket was tender and fell apart in my mouth, while the pulled pork was savory and perfectly cooked. The mac and cheese and mashed sweet potatoes were unbelievable as well. 🤤🤤🤤
There’s also a bar that has nine beers on tap, plus a cider, and an extensive list of North American bourbon and whiskeys (with cocktail specials, too). 🍺🥃🍹
It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Philly, and although the portions were large, we made sure to savor every last bite on the tray. For dessert, we ordered a strawberry blondie, which was a seasonal item. 🍓😋
I love themed dining establishments, and this was no exception. The atmosphere felt authentic without bordering on cheesy. Feeling like I traveled down south for a few hours made the night even more enjoyable. Thanks to its ever-changing menu, the restaurant boasts that no two meals will ever be the same, but I’ll have to keep returning to find out for myself.
COMMENTS WELCOME! Have you been to Fette Sau — any feedback to share, or favorites to recommend? Let’s hear from the BBQ fans, too! Always open to your tips and recommendations for great local places and menu items to try. Please chime in below, or catch up with me on Instagram, @gingersliketoeat. Read Eleni’s last Local column, “Sweet Nostalgia,” here, on Franklin Fountain’s vintage ice cream parlor in Old City.
WANT MORE ‘Q? Local contributor Sandy Smith is a lifelong connoisseur, see his articles on home grilling in the city, recommendations for dining out, and a fascinating guide to America’s regional BBQ traditions. Enjoy!