Philadelphia's restaurant scene continues to shine this summer with a slew of recent openings and coming-soon hotspots. (Photos clockwise from left courtesy Sophia's, courtesy Bru, courtesy Victoria Freehouse, by Michael Persico)
Summer in Philadelphia means more than baseball and brews: It also means brand-new BYOBs, gastropubs, a beer garden, a raw bar, a noodle bar and more.
Among the crowd of new culinary destinations are a number of second and third acts by some of the region’s hottest restaurateurs. And, as is appropriate in the warm weather, there’s fresh frozen treats, too.
Here’s what’s cooking in Philly this summer.
**Update: As of September 2013, we’ve published a brand new guide to Philadelphia’s new and notable restaurants, which you can check out right here.
• a.bar: Now Open! On the ground floor of AKA Rittenhouse and adjacent to a.kitchen, a.bar opened in July with a curated selection of snacks, raw shellfish and oysters, small plates and some charcuterie. The intimate new bar has a similar aesthetic as a.kitchen (the two were both designed by architect Edward Asfour of New York’s Asfour Guzy), with natural finishes, coffered ceilings and a 17-seat pewtered bronze bar.
• Brü Craft & Wurst: The city’s first self-serve beer taps are among the novelties at Midtown Village’s Brü Craft & Wurst, an indoor beer garden. Communal seating and plenty of TVs make for a relaxed setting to enjoy spaetzle, fried liverwurst, pork-rib sauerbraten, braised bacon and big- and small-maker beers.
• Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen: Kale makes its way into veggie burgers and martinis at Fishtown Southern comfort foodery Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen. Food scene alums Shannon Dougherty and Liz Petersen came up with the relaxed brunch-through-late-night concept, where beet ravioli, red flannel hash, okra fritters and fried chicken and waffles star.
• Cheu Noodle Bar: Laid-back, graffiti-dappled Cheu occupies a narrow storefront in the city’s Washington West neighborhood. The brainchild of Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz of Matyson features clever, reasonably priced hand-torn noodle dishes like pork ramen and lamb neck pho, plus BBQ pig tails, black garlic wings and killer house-made kimchi. While still BYOB for the time being, a full bar is in the works.
• Chili Szechuan: Spice heads can’t get enough of West Philly’s Chili Szechuan, new home of classic Chinese dry pots, chili frog and Dongpo pork belly, plus Americanized Asian cuisine in the form of General Tso’s, Mongolian chicken and orange beef.
• The Corner Foodery: Born on Antique Row, expanded to Northern Liberties and Roxborough, beer and sandwich specialist The Corner Foodery performs its fourth act in Rittenhouse Square. Up for grabs at the eat-in or takeout spot: 600 kinds of bottled beer, house-cured charcuterie and hearty hoagies.
• Farmer’s Road: Brand new for Chadds Ford in scenic Brandywine Valley is a Farmer’s Road, a KFC-turned- farm-to-table drive-thru offering grass-fed burgers, all-natural hotdogs and other quick-yet-conscientious fare to go.
• Fitler Dining Room: The crew from Fitler Square’s über-popular gastro Pub & Kitchen recently opened nearby Fitler Dining Room, a one-room, 30-seat corner bistro, where the only alcohol served is wine and two craft beers and the only meals are dinner and Sunday brunch. The small, hyper-seasonal menu might feature escargot-studded gnocchi one day and truffled skate wing the next.
• The Goat’s Beard: House-made pastas, burgers and steak mac and cheese comprise the perfect accompaniments to a bar menu of American whiskey, wine and craft beer at The Goat’s Beard, a rustic, two-floor Manayunk gastropub that, just in time for spring, introduces its 44-seat outdoor cafe.
• The Igloo: Fro-yo to-go is the name of the game at the just-opened The Igloo, where hot and cold toppings, plus non-fat Greek frozen yogurt are among the standout offerings.
• IndeBlue: Midtown Village has a new modern Indian eatery, thanks to IndeBlue. The Collingswood original opened on 13th Street in June and serves an internationally influenced menu.
• Kermit’s Bake Shoppe: Now Open! Adam Ritter, owner of Kraftwork and The Sidecar, opened a decidedly less drink-centric spot in Kermit’s Bake Shoppe this July, supplying thick-crust pizzas, soups, salads, plus just-baked cinnamon buns, cakes and bread for take-out and (coming soon) delivery.
• Lil’ Pop Shop: A West Philly-born popsicle shop, Lil’ Pop Shop now serves up its sweet treats on the other side of town, bringing flavors like mango-chile pepper, coconut hibiscus and chocolate with salted caramel brownie to 4th and South streets this summer.
• Little Baby’s Ice Cream: A new West Philly brick-and-mortar spot means even more cups and cones from local fave Little Baby’s Ice Cream, whose Port Richmond shop and fleet of roaming Ice Cream Tricycles satisfy cold cravings with inventive flavors (think red-velvet Spodee chocolate swirl) of premium, small-batch ice cream.
• Lorenzo & Sons: When South Street’s much loved Lorenzo & Sons pizza shop suffered a fire last June, late-night eaters shed a tear. They’re rejoicing once again—the no-nonsense by-the-huge-slice store reopened with a new look.
• Mugshot Diner: A new breakfast, lunch and dinner spot is the newest addition to East York Street. Mugshot Diner features an extensive menu (and all-day breakfast) with all-American favorites like chicken parmesan, burgers, omelettes, french toast, salads, wraps and milkshakes. A late night menu even rears its heads during the wee hours.
• Noord: Northern European cuisine, including smoked fish, smørrebrød, bitterballen and lots of beets, get their day in the sun thanks to chef Joncarl Lachman’s BYOB Noord, which opened in early May in the hopping Passyunk Square neighborhood.
• Pennsylvania 6: Raw bar plus cocktail bar equals Pennsylvania 6, a classically appointed two-tier spot that restaurateur Gary Cardi named after the reputedly longest-held phone number in Manhattan (at the Hotel Pennsylvania). Chef Marc Plessis’ specialties are crudos (read: don’t miss the hamachi), but his forward-thinking American menu also includes roasted bone marrow, charred octopus, delicate scallops and hearty lobster rolls. The cocktails — both traditional and contemporary — are not to be passed over.
• Pizzeria Beddia: A couple of 16-inch pizzas of the day, both made with old-world methods and loyally local ingredients (think dinosaur kale and cream or homemade mozzarella and cremini mushrooms, pickled chiles or salami — all finished with aged Gouda) are what’s for lunch and dinner at Fishtown’s wee, bare-bones bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot Pizzeria Beddia.
• Serpico: Now Open! June saw the opening of the highly anticipated Serpico by New York’s Peter Serpico (of Momofuku Ko fame) and Philadelphia’s own Stephen Starr. To Philly foodies, the one-room, 59-seat project represents a culinary renaissance for South Street, via dehydrated country ham and Brussels sprouts and oxtail consommé with shaved raw daikon ravioli.
• Sophia’s: South Philly dining-out hotspot East Passyunk Avenue got even more gourmet cred when chef Christopher Lee opened Sophia’s, a refined American brasserie where the menu offers patrons dressed-up sliders and note-perfect seafood.
• Strangelove’s: Midtown Village gets another spot to quaff in Strangelove’s, a microbrew lover’s fantasy, where 18 tap lines and two cask-conditioned ales complement chef Paul Martin’s Southern-touched menu of duck and sausage gumbo, bacon barbecue-sauced burgers, po’ boys and beer-braised mussels.
• Talula’s Daily: Now Open! Restaurateur Aimee Olexy, owner of Kennett Square’s Talula’s Table and Washington Square’s Talula’s Garden, brings a smaller, quicker spot next door to Talula’s Garden. With Talula’s Daily, Olexy shoots to bring the same high quality of fare her diners have come to associate with the moniker “Talula,” but in a far more accessible way — with grab-and-go prepared eats, a coffee bar, a curated wine and beer menu, culinary merchandise and plenty of the signature uber-fresh, flavorful and creative cuisine.
• The Victoria Freehouse: Fish and chips, Scotch eggs, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and British ales are the staples at The Victoria Freehouse, a London-inspired Old City public house named for one of Britain’s best-loved monarchs.
• Honey’s Sit ’n Eat: Beloved Northern Liberties Southern-and-Jewish diner Honey’s Sit ’n Eat chose Graduate Hospital for its coolly countrified sequel. Brisket, fried green tomatoes, matzoh-ball soup, grits and limeade are among the stars here.
• Little Nonna’s: Midtown Village magnates Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, owners of Barbuzzo, Lolita (which has a liquor license in the works), Jamonera, Grocery, Open House and Verde, are working on spaces within the Independent Hotel, with plans to open a casual Italian-American eatery soon. The opening menu is set and highlights include appealing home-style comfort food like stuffed artichokes, house-ground meatballs with polenta and crabs and spaghetti. 13th and Locust streets.
• Pizzeria Vetri: Chef-restaurateur Marc Vetri plans his fifth Philly spot in Pizzeria Vetri, where a 8,500-pound Renato ARS700 oven will crank out sublime pies just around the corner from the Barnes Foundation. This one is slated for a July opening. 1939 Callowhill Street.
• Plenty Rittenhouse: Stylish East Passyunk catering cafe, known for its bulgogi sandwich and chicken pesto panino, Plenty plans a sister spot near Rittenhouse Square, with an opening planned for May. 1602 Spruce Street.
• Taqueria Feliz: Tacos, enchiladas and tortas—done authentically, but with modern twists—will be the basis of a casual third spot for restaurant partners Brian Sirhal and Tim Spinner (of Cantina Feliz and La Calaca Feliz), when Taqueria Feliz opens this spring on Manayunk’s Main Street. Chef is Lucio Palazzo, most recently of Calaca Feliz. 440 Main Street.