Hungry diners line up around the block to try new Philadelphia restaurants, including Fishtown's headline-making Pizza Brain. (Photo by Steph Mantis courtesy Pizza Brain)
Philadelphia’s food scene is booming more than ever before, and this fall we’re adding a whole new batch of impressive names to our list of notable chefs and restaurants.
With these new installments on top of the city’s already acclaimed establishments, it’s obvious that this city’s culinary culture is making its way to new heights. And it’s not going unnoticed.
Get a taste of New York City chef transplants’ cuisine, experience new upscale Korean, try some fabulous dessert at a new pie-bakery destination — all within a five-mile radius.
Let us know your favorite new Philadelphia restaurant in the comments.
Old Chefs With New Tricks
• The Mildred: Mike Santoro, a former Talula’s Garden chef, has taken over in what was the now-closed Bella-Vista spot James. Paying tribute to the street in the historic neighborhood on which it lies, The Mildred gives back to the community with homemade pasta and entrees like a traditional bouillabaisse made for sharing and succulent oven-roasted quail served with braised lentils and beetroot. They have a brunch menu you’ll definitely want to look into, too.
• Gracie’s Cafe: Umesh Chhetri, the chef behind the flavors of Dmitri’s, teamed up with the talents of Susanna Foo’s Simon Vong to create an unlikely coupling of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines happen at Gracie’s Cafe. Shrimp pil pil, lamb randang and crab cakes are just a few examples of the menu items that are making this Worcester installment a force to be reckoned with. It’s also a BYOB.
• Tiramisu: You can get an upscale taste of delicious Jewish-meets-Roman-style cuisine in Philadelphia thanks to Chef Alberto DelBello, the man formerly behind II Portico. This time he’s taken things to new heights with dishes like matza lasagne, friend artichokes and naturally, Tiramisu.
• Red Owl Tavern: One of the things that stands out the most at Red Owl Tavern is quite an unlikely suspect: the Philly soft pretzel. Served with delicious raclette cheese and spicy mustard, this is a fresh take on the old traditional twist that likely won’t disappoint even the toughest of critics. They also have a great variety of mussel creations, house-made sausages, a simple yet refined breakfast menu, a creative list of Prohibition-style cocktails and so much more. Chef Guillermo Tellez is doing an impressive job so far at this new Hotel Monaco restuarant.
• Fette Sau: Thanks to a partnership between Stephen Starr and Brooklyn Restaurateur Joe Carroll, Philadelphia gets a taste of NYC’s prized BBQ spot, Fette Sau. Using all local meats and smoking them in house, this place puts up some serious competition for best BBQ in the city. The down-home vibe and extensive bourbon menu add some leverage, too.
• The Cambridge: With a deliciously indulgent pub menu including things like short-rib mac and cheese, fried oyster po’ boys, gourmet burgers and funnel cake-battered Snickers bars, we anticipate you won’t have to do much arm-twisting to talk someone into taking you to check The Cambridge out. The craft beers and cocktails won’t disappoint, either.
• 1 Tippling Place: This homey lounge serves the cocktails classic, simple, strong and delicious — just the way they ought to be. 1 Tippling Place matches that classic precedent with a speak-easy vibe and snacks like bitters pecans and sausage rolls to make for a seriously satisfying downtown dining experience.
• Pizza Brain: Fishtown artist Brian Dywer, aka Pizza Brain, joined by a few of his pizza obsessed friends, has amassed a Guinness World Record holding 1,000-piece collection of pizza memorabilia. And you can check it out for yourself at the world’s very first pizza museum, right here in Philadelphia, complete with artisanal pizza restaurant. It’s and vegan-friendly and BYO. Our favorite slices include the Charlie Mayfer with sweet potato, mozzarella and honey goat cheese; and the Feliz Huppert with gruyere, mozzarella and caramelized onions.
Read on for news on more restaurants, including a South Philly whiskey bar, a Fette Sau BBQ challenger, ramen galore and more.
• Fountain Porter: Kite & Key alums Evan Clancy and Scott Pawlicky have opened Fountain Porter on East Passyunk, a neighborhood beer bar with 20 craft taps and a menu of meat and cheese plates.
• Lloyd Whiskey Bar: Fishtown got a new whiskey bar called Lloyd, boasting 70 whiskey varietals, house-made syrups, eight taps and 15 bottled beers plus a comfort food-heavy menu. Try one of their opening featured drinks, the perfect fall cocktail: Applejack Brandy, citrus and apple pie spices.
• Bubba’s Texas BBQ: There’s another new BBQ challenger in town besides Fette Sau: Bubba’s Texas BBQ on W. Girard Avenue, offering unadulterated Texas BBQ, 10 craft beers on tap and finger-licking-good sides. BBQ-off, anyone?
Cravin’ Some Asian
• Baan Thai: Northern Liberties now has another new must-see Thai restaurant, and this one is also a BYOB. Baan Thai keeps things simple and traditional, working off owner Seangsupan’s mother’s dream of opening a restaurant, serving seafood in clay pots and featuring dishes like pineapple fried rice with a rainbow of curries.
• Spice 28: This place takes Asian Fusion to a whole new level, incorporating the cuisines of Japan, Thailand, Szechuan Malayasia and beyond into one mouth-watering list of menu options. Spice 28 isn’t afraid to chance it on some winning original dishes, either, like the roasted sea bass with soba noodles and miso sauce. (215) 928-8880.
• Jane G.’s: Taking pan-Asian the tapas route, Rittenhouse square bistro Jane G’s serves scrumptious small plates that push tradition with new-wave creations like the seafood bouillabaisse with lobster ravioli and coconut white wine broth.
Caffeine and Sugar Fixes
• Little Baby’s Ice Cream: At last Little Baby’s has a headquarters in addition to the tricycles and stands so we can enjoy the gourmet, milky goodness of their delicious ice-cream year-round. With crazy good flavors like Earl Grey Sririacha, Chai Coconut, Thai Peanut and even Pizza (paying homage to their pizza museum neighbors atPizza Brain), this place is a hit for good reason.
• Magpie: South Philly’s new “artisan pie boutique” Magpie is creating quite a stir in the neighborhood with its diet-disturbing aromas making their way down South Street. With pies that pack brilliant combinations of ingredients together to make for ones like the Pear Ginger Oatmeal Crumb and the Chocolate Cinnamon Coffee Pecan, these pastry pros aren’t messing around. Be sure to try one of the savory pies, as well. Currently on the menu: the Black Bean Chorizo Chili and the Smoked Gouda Butternut Squash.
• Green Line Café: Finally they’ve expanded beyond their three University City locations and brought their goods closer to the downtown. With the new location at 15th & Moravian Streets, Green Line Cafe is now serving their fair trade coffees, teas and menu of light snacks to a new audience. Vegans absolutely must try out the list of sweet and savory selections.
• Federal Donuts: Next time you think about “Running on Dunkin,” think again. Philadelphia’s new Federal Donuts now has a downtown location in addition to the Pennsport spot. With cool creations like maple bacon, strawberry fennel, turkish mocha, spicy PB&J and the Korean-style chicken and donuts, these guys are definitely upping the deep-fried ante.
• Ultimo Coffee: The locally legendary South Philly java headquarters run by Elizabeth and Aaron Ultimo has now spawned a second location in Graduate Hospital. Ultimo’s second-coming features the same coveted Counter Culture Coffee along with daily selections of yummy, locally-made baked goods.