There's a spate of new restaurants that have opened during summer 2012 in Philadelphia, with more in the pipeline. (Photo credits clockwise from top left: courtesy Le Bec-Fin, courtesy Morgan's Pier, courtesy Urban Enotica, M. Edlow for GPTMC)
This summer has made Philadephia’s dining and drinks scene stronger than ever before.
Since the beginning of the season, we’ve been crazy about new restaurant openings, from the sensational Shake Shack and waterfront favorite Morgan’s Pier to the fully revamped Le Bec-Fin. But those are far from the only ones on our radar.
Check out our guide to this summer’s hottest new restaurants, below. And let us know in the comments if we’ve left off any of your favorites.
• Vernick: When a Jean-Georges Vongerichten protégé returns home to his native city after a blistering career in top restaurants around the world, Vernick Food & Drink is born. The new casual bistro from Chef Greg Vernick features urbane-yet-homey offerings like potato ravioli with braised lamb and long beans. It’s so. Good.
• The Industry: A booming restaurant town deserves an eatery geared toward service workers, and Pennsport’s The Industry obliges with flavorful bites like potted trout, testa nuggets and sweet-corn arepas, along with creative cocktails and 12 beers on tap.
• Le Bec-Fin: Georges Perrier’s legendary Le Bec-Fin, now under new ownership, has been given a 2012 reboot. The modern French menu features delicious delicacies like yolk wrapped in Swiss chard with potato fondant, truffle gelee and sweet corn.
• Barra: Old City gets a taste of Passyunk Avenue with Barra, the brand-new sibling to Gordon Dinerman’s Birra. Like its predecessor, the new resto-lounge specializes in brick-oven pizzas and Italian beer, along with delicate pastas and handcrafted cocktails.
• Spiga: From the owners of Le Castagne, the streamlined Italian spot Spiga is a more moderately priced affair, serving dishes like scamorza (pan-seared smoked mozzarella served over heirloom tomato bruschetta crostini and finished with vincotto).
• Circles: A Newbold neighborhood favorite, Circles now serves up its redefined contemporary Thai food to a new audience in Northern Liberties. Think sumptuous pumpkin curry, seitan satay and fried watercress salad.
Fast, Affordable & Out Of The Basket
• Shake Shack: The lines are already winding around the block for a taste of the legendary burgers, fries and milkshakes at New York City chain Shake Shack, now open in Rittenhouse Square.
• Spencer ETA Burger: The owners of famed bruncherie Sabrina’s have expanded their mini-empire with Spencer ETA Burger, a fast-service spot on Drexel’s campus, grilling up beef, turkey and veggie burgers with imaginative toppings like Rob’s Island Home Burger (Canadian bacon, melted pepper jack, fried plantain, creole dijonaise and pineapple salsa).
• Blue Belly BBQ: Cochon’s Gene Giuffi takes on barbecue with South Philly’s Blue Belly BBQ. The menu features smoked meat platters and sandwiches from Jamaican jerk chicken to Korean beef. Don’t forget to save room for the Southern-inspired sides.
• Cafe Soho: Proving that there’s no such thing as too much Korean fried chicken, Cheltenham’s Cafe Soho comes to Blue Bell, offering its spicy-sweet Ban Ban wings, along with sushi and Korean specialties such as rice cakes in spicy sauce.
Keep reading for more of this summer’s newest dining spots.
(Raising The) Bars
• Hop Sing Laundromat: The unmarked storefront of Chinatown’s mysterious speakeasy Hop Sing Laundromat belies the liquid delights within, which pay spirited tribute to the storming of Normandy, the first African-American woman doctor and the late author David Foster Wallace, among others.
• Urban Enoteca: With 24 wines by the glass and more than 50 bottles, savvy cocktails (Indian Summer features gin, St. Germain, Persian lime, cranberry, grapefruit and soda) and small Italian plates (braised beef arancini; prosciutto-crusted white prawns; cake flights), Urban Enoteca inside The Latham Hotel is Rittenhouse Square’s newest gathering spot for the sophisticated tippler.
• Morgan’s Pier: A beer garden at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge, Morgan’s Pier offers 20 draft beers, two craft cans and easygoing eats like corn-and-blue-crab fritters, blackened tuna burgers and fried-chicken tacos, along with Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Federal Donuts and a packed schedule of live music.
• The Cambridge: The team behind Hawthornes Cafe recently opened a new gastropub at the former music venue, Tritone, on South Street. The Cambridge offers 24 beers on tap and craft bottles in addition to expanded wine and cocktail selections. Enjoy the solid pub food menu outside on their outdoor patio.
• Drury Beer Garden: Owners George and Vasiliki Tsiouris take Midtown Village’s Opa to the next level with the Drury Beer Garden tucked behind the restaurant. Feast on plates like a crab boil served with corn on the cob, sausage and potatoes while hanging out at the picnic tables or playing a round of ping pong. Drink options are plentiful and include spiked lemonade, iced tea and punch poured in $6 pint and $55 cooler sizes; wine, drafts and over two dozen cans and bottles.
Good Day Cafes
• Milk and Honey Cafe: Locally sourced eats (La Colombe coffee, South Street Bagels, sandwiches made with Claudio’s mozzarella) are the foundation for Logan Square’s Milk and Honey Cafe, from the team behind West Philly’s same-named market. Don’t forget to grab a great cheese pairing during Sister Cities Park’s Pairings On The Parkway.
• La Petite Dauphine: From a Le Bec-Fin alum comes La Petite Dauphine, an elegant Francophile BYOB spot and coffeehouse featuring pastries from Au Fournil, all-day sandwiches, salads and quiches, and eventually, a dinner menu.
• Le Petite Cafe: Located on the ground floor of the Marketplace Design Center, Patrice Rames’ Le Petite Cafe offers coffee, breakfast pastries and serious sandwiches like Croque Monsieur, roast beef on homemade baguettes and black-olive tapenade and feta tartines.
• Garage: Taking the mobile food trend to the next level, Garage will be an East Passyunk Avenue gathering space for foosball, beer and modern street food, with a changing roster of local trucks.
• Harvest: Dave Magrogan brings farm-to-table to University City at the former Marathon Grill at 40th and Walnut Streets. Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar will feature seasonal menus, spotlighting local farmers.
• Will: Critically lauded Pumpkin chef Christopher Kearse is breaking out with his own 30-seat BYOB called Will, specializing in creative French-inspired fare.
• Red Owl Tavern: Old City’s much anticipated Hotel Monaco will not only feature a beautiful and comfortable stay right on 4th and Chestnut Streets but also the Red Owl Tavern, a 130-seat chef-driven restaurant on the ground floor. They will offer a chef’s table, mezzanine seating and outdoor seating on 5th Street adjacent to Independence Mall.