Last Week we profiled the top 12 food and dining happenings we most enjoyed in 2012, today, we bring you part two in the series, 13 things we are most looking forward to in 2013.
Next year, some of the city’s favorite restaurants are expanding, new restaurants are opening and a number of out-of-towners have set their eyes on Philly’s booming food scene and are opening outposts within the city. With a slew of new sure-to-be hotspot restaurants slated to open, more ramen and some new food trucks hitting the scene, we can’t think of a better place to be eating than Philadelphia.
13 to Look Forward to in 2013
1. Reading Terminal Grows Stronger: Last year brought renovations to Reading Terminal, this year, the fruits of that labor will be realized with the addition of a number of new stalls. Keven Parker (of Miss Tootie’s fame) will open his Soul Food Cafe in former Delilah’s space, Nanee’s Kitchen will expand and now also include an Indian and Pakistani grocery, Border Spring Lamb Farm will offer the Terminal’s first ever all-lamb deli and the much awaited Valley Shepherd Creamery will serve as the Terminal’s only in-house cheesemaker.
2. Serpico: Finally, Peter Serpico, of New York’s Momofuku fame, will be opening up an eponymously named eatery on South Street with the help of Stephen Starr.
3. Noord: A Dutch BYO from Chicago chef Joncarl Lachman is slated to open on Tasker Avenue in East Passyunk.
4. Sophia: Also in South Philly, one-time local chef Chris Lee will be developing a new concept where Salt and Pepper currently stands. Lee returns to the city after a highly touted stint in New York.
5. Ramen Revolution: 2013 may well be the year of the noodle. After decades of a relatively ramen-free existence, Philly’s got a whole slew of new Japanese style joints: Nom Nom, Hiro Ramen House, Terakawa Ramen, Green Wasabi and more. For 2013, there will be no more running around to find Cheu Noodle Bar, as the popular Philly pop-up has secured a spot in Midtown Village.
6. Volver: Jose Garces will be opening a street-level restaurant at the Kimmel Center called Volver. The restaurant is set to open in spring 2013.
7. Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat: At last, 2013 should see the opening of Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat’s second location, at 21st and South. The Northern Liberties favorite will be bringing their tasty comfort food to eager Graduate Hospital brunchers after much anticipation.
8. Metropolitan Cafe: Metropolitan Bakery will be opening a sit-down cafe a stone’s throw from their current location in Rittenhouse Square. The cafe will be full of tasty baked goods, soups, a full espresso bar and more.
9. Talula’s Daily : The folks at Talula’s Garden will be opening up Talula’s Daily right next door to the restaurant’s Washington Square spot. Talula’s Daily will be a market full of all of the same types of things that make Talula’s Garden awesome, but with an urban and high-end general store twist.
10. Boot & Saddle: South Broad Street’s Boot & Saddle will reopen in 2013, thanks to Avram Hornik and team. The bar will serve as a live music venue in South Philly. R5 Productions will book live acts at the establishment.
11. A Waffle For Every Occasion: Coming this spring, everyone’s favorite brunch item will get turned into both sweet and savory deliciousness by the folks behind the soon-to-be Frolic Waffles truck. Headed up by a trio of foodie friends, we think this truck is going to make it big with dishes like the Bahn-Mi Waffle (um, yes please!) and a variety of dessert options too.
12. Hub Bub Goes All Bricks and Mortar On Us: Everyone’s favorite mobile coffee shop has decided to put down roots this year. No longer will caffeine fiends have to troll Twitter to find their fix as Hub Bub is setting up shop at 1717 Arch Street as of January 14th.
13. Philadelphia Live Arts Building Restaurant: The old high pressure fire service building at Columbus Boulevard and Race Street has recently obtained a liquor license and will soon be the Philadelphia Live Arts’ fantastic new home. The building will boast a 225-seat theater, an outdoor area and a 2,000 square-foot restaurant and bar. Another snazzy addition to the revitalized Delaware River Waterfront.
When it comes to food, Philly’s got it covered. In 2012 we welcomed lots of great new bars and restaurants that have proved to be well worth the anticipation.
Philly restaurants have cleaned up in the awards and accolades department and our favorite chefs have been featured left and right.
But all of that’s not to say that 2013 won’t be just as exciting for the local restaurant scene. Next week, we’ll profile 13 things we’re looking forward to, so stay tuned.
Below, a look back at 12 Philadelphia dining highlights from 2012:
1. 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.
2. Charcoal BYOB: The food coming out of the kitchen in this creative BYOB in Yardley, PA is some of the best we had the pleasure to eat this year. From their inventive use of locally sourced ingredients (think parsnip panna cotta) to their refined use of technology (sous vide, liquid nitrogen) – only serves to enhance the food, not make it gimmicky or inaccessible. And, even though the restaurant has been around a few years, in 2012 we think they really hit their stride.
3. Brauhaus Schmitz expands and adds Wursthaus Schmitz in Reading Terminal Market: Nothing wrong with plattering up Parma ham and Spanish lomo, but the latest trend in Philly kitchens is do-it-yourself (DIY) sausages, terrines and pâtés. Meat eaters have already pounced on the German-style Wursthaus Schmitz in the Reading Terminal Market, a spinoff of South Street’s Brauhaus Schmitz, offering the restaurant’s acclaimed homemade sausages, salads, pretzels and sandwiches such as the Bavarian, complete with bauernwurst, horseradish mayo, Bavarian coleslaw and crispy fried onions. The restaurant’s South Street home base also expanded into to accommodate 2,000 additional square feet of space, and 10 more taps.
4. Red Owl Tavern and Stratus Lounge: The opening of Philadelphia’s first new hotel in Old City’s Historic District in years also brought two new bar/restaurants to Independence Mall: Red Owl Tavern, helmed by Chef Guillermo Tellez of Square 1682 fame, and the super chic Stratus Rooftop Lounge.
5. Pizza Brain and Little Baby’s Ice Cream: 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. Right next door is Little Baby’s headquarters, letting Philadelphians enjoy the gourmet, milky goodness of their delicious ice-cream year-round. With crazy good flavors like Earl Grey Sriracha, Chai Coconut, Thai Peanut and even Pizza (paying homage to their pizza museum neighbors at Pizza Brain), this place is a hit for good reason.
6. Federal Donuts opens a second location: 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.
7. Rittenhouse Tavern: Rittenhouse Square’s east stretch along 18th Street is one of the best dining corridors in the city, featuring Parc, Rouge and Devon plus a. kitchen and Serafina right across the street. Joining the cadre this year was the Rittenhouse Tavern, a brand new venture replacing Gardenia inside the Philadelphia Art Alliance featuring a quaint courtyard out back for outside dining sheltered by trees, the perfect compromise for dining on the Square without all the hustle and bustle.
8. 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 received across-the-board flattering reviews. For good reason.
9. 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.
10. Morgan’s Pier: A beer garden at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge, Morgan’s Pier offers 20 draft beer 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.
11. Le Bec-Fin: The reinvention of what some have called the country’s best French restaurant was one of the year’s most exciting (and relieving) success stories. The service is still impeccable, the food excellent, the atmosphere elegant — but it’s all just a little bit more accessible.
12. Alla Spina opens: Marc Vetri’s newest restaurant, Alla Spina, opened on North Broad Street and like the rest of his restaurants in the city, it did not disappoint.
Happily, the Sunday supper legacy is being carried on by restaurants in Philadelphia. Some serve traditional, family-style meals and others boast special offerings like prix-fixe menus and exclusive dishes.
And winter is kind of the perfect time of year to enjoy a heart meal at the end of the week.
Here are our picks for the best Sunday suppers in Philadelphia:
• Modo Mio: The “Sugo Sunday” special at Modo Mio is one of Northern Liberties’ best-kept foodie secrets. For $33, diners at the cash-only BYOB get a family-style meal including antipasti, salad, pasta, meat and dessert from acclaimed chef Peter McAndrews.
• Kanella: This center city traditional Greek hotspot serves a fabulous mutlit-course, family-style dinner they call Cypriot Meze. Small-plates are placed at the center of the table for all to take from. Take your pick of the vegetarian option for $30 or the meat/seafood for $35. The menu changes weekly but usually features things like beat-root felafel and spanakopita for the vegetarians and often different veal and pork dishes for the meat/seafood eaters. Pickled vegetables, bread, dips and marinated olives are served for course one, then a salad, then a few small plates for the the sort of main course, then another salad and finally, three meat or three vegetarian starches.
• Mercato: For only $35 for adults and $20 for children, enjoy a four-course, family-style meal at Mercato one Sunday a month. Grab your friends or family (and a bottle of wine) and dig into an antipasti course, a pasta course, an entree, and lastly a tasty dessert.
Special Prix Fixe Menus
Bistrot La Minette: Chef Peter Woolsey offers a Bistrot La Minette staples, like white wine-braised chicken or brown butter-basted fluke.
• Bibou: Wine critic Robert Parker once said that Bibou “might be the best French bistro in the entire country.” The oft-praised South Philly restaurant is known for exemplary French fare from chef Pierre Calmels, like escargot with fava beans and tarragon and braised, lentil-stuffed pig feet. The best deal at the BYOB is found on Sundays, when they offer a $45 prix fixe menu, with choices for each of four courses.
• Little Fish: The Sunday night tasting menu at Queen Village BYOB Little Fish has been gaining steam in recent years, and tables are harder to come by than they once were. But those diners who do snag a reservation — available in two seatings, at 5:30 and 8:00 — are treated to five courses of inspired dishes like halibut with orecchiette and bagna cauda or sturgeon with pork belly and spinach. The tab? A modest $33 — just $6.60 a course!
• Pumpkin: Cozy BYOB Pumpkin has long been a favorite for seasonal locavore cooking. Sunday nights, the restaurant offers a five-course prix fixe for $40, with a menu that changes weekly based on what’s fresh from local farms. Expect dishes like skate with pistachio, endive and Beurre Noisette, or Duroc pork loin with heirloom cauliflower.
• Amis: Marc Vetri’s industrial-chic small plates emporium followed up Sal’s Sunday Supper, a weekly menu named for Vetri’s father, with a traditional South Philly Sunday Gravy menu. Amis’ chef Brad Spence thinks up a new menu every weekend, combining the best of fresh, local ingredients with South Philly-style Italian tradition. Prices vary, but usually hover around $35.
• The Mildred: The Mildred just began serving a three-course prix-fixe menu every Sunday night. The meal costs $38 and includes ever-changing and decadent plates.
• Isabella: Get ready for Isabella’s new Supper Size Sunday menu starting on January 6, 2013. The menu will be offered every Sunday and will extend past Isabella’s traditional small plate dishes. Guests looking for bigger portioned comfort foods to end the weekend — short rib ragu, salmon, steak — can look no further than Conshohocken’s Isabella.
Special Sunday Dishes
• The Dandelion: Sometimes referred to as the best restaurant in the Stephen Starr empire, The Dandelion is an homage to old-fashioned English pubs, serving a carefully curated beer list and favorite across-the-pond staples like sticky toffee pudding and a mean fish and chips. But there’s one dish you can only get on Sunday nights (and on Bank holidays): a succulent sirloin roast for $28, complete with traditional horseradish sauce and yorkshire pudding.
• Rittenhouse Tavern: The just-opened upscale American restaurant in the Philadelphia Art Alliance digs offers a regular menu with kicked-up American classics, like deviled eggs with pork scrapple, and a burger with a custom Pat LaFrieda beef blend. But only on Sunday does the restaurant serve its signature fried chicken dinner for $18 per person. It includes whole-fried local Amish bird along with fresh-baked biscuits and a daily side.
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