Making reservations for this week? Why not choose to dine out this Thursday, April 25 for a great cause? Over 150 local restaurants will donate 33% of the night's proceeds to the fight against HIV/AIDS as part of Dining out for Life Philadelphia, now in its 23rd year.
All you have to do is eat! Check out the list of participating restaurants here and make that reservation at hotspots like Alla Spina and Fette Sau. New this year? There will be a Food Truck Round-Up from 11am-3pm at the PPA Parking Lot on East Passyunk - see the flyer for details!
Metro's Philadelphia Eater's Guide noted some of our favorite foodie destinations beyond cheesesteak purveyors... the often overlooked Philly is full of exciting new restaurant concepts and incredible chefs and dishes that don't often get the recognition that they deserve. So this week's tip? Eat up! Here's a few more places to check out next time you're in town:
In Northern Liberties and Point Breeze:
Circles is the beloved thai BYO that opened a location in Northern Liberties earlier this year, bringing the spice to another hot neighborhood. Try the seitan satay and the best pad thai in the city, then take a stroll over to the Piazza or Liberties Walk to cool off.
In Rittenhouse Square:
Vernick Food & Drink is worth checking out for their delicious "toast" creations, such as the fromage blanc and pickled cherries or the charred spinach and leeks. This bistro knocks out some beautiful dishes and craft cocktails, all with a great view of Walnut Street. Head to Rittenhouse Square or to the Franklin for an after-dinner cocktail.
Both Frankford Hall and Loco Pez rank high on our list for excellent scene-watching in the eclectic Fishtown neighborhood. And the food and drink are swell, too! The former is a funky beer garden with enormous pretzels and even bigger beers to work those biceps. The latter pumps out super cheap tacos and margs for a lively crowd. We recommend visiting earlier or on a weekday to get a seat, as wait times can be long on weekends. Then experience the 14 Reasons to Live in Fishtown.
So welcome! We hope you can squeeze in a visit to one of these essential Philly eateries on your visit.
Pizza Brain, the long-awaited (and world's first!) Pizza Museum & Pizzeria, opens this Friday, September 7th, in Fishtown. Get over to 2313-2311 Frankford Avenue at 5pm for a taste of pizza, Little Baby's Ice Cream, music, free beer, and pizza history. Home to the world’s largest collection of pizza-memorabilia, Pizza Brain is sure to be a hit with Philly's pie-obsessed natives. Get your fill of all things pizza related, from movie posters and records to toys on display, along with a fresh slice or a full pie, all in one place. We're hungry just thinking about it.
For the truly pizza-obsessed, Norris Point is just around the corner. Modern, sustainably-designed townhomes within a block of the world's most prime pizza destination? This is piping hot property (cheesy, we know!).
[image via Pizza Brain's Facebook]
Seriously. If you find yourself in Northern Liberties with no lunch plans, dinner reservations, or no place to get your cocktail hour on, check out The Havana Room. If you are tired of the the same old "scene", or just looking for an outdoor venue this summer...just grab your neighbor, your friends, and head over to The Havana Room. They have a really good menu with fresh fish, meat, veggies and all at a decent price. You can sit under the sun shaded by the umbrellas on the patio or indoors, but the patio gets my vote. Check out your new neighbor, The Havana Room. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the cuisine (Cuban inspired) and the overall experience. Located at North Shore Beach Club in Northern Liberties. No membership required to chill at the bar or restaurant.
Green Eggs, Palm Tree Market, Architectural Exchange, Liberties, Flowers by Denise, Arcadia, The Foodery, Standard Tap, Padmini, Philadelphia Framing, Hyder's Gallery, Art Star, 700 Club, Koi, Soy Cafe...Those businesses are just the ones I can recall off the top of my head that are located on the South Side of North 2nd Street. There are plenty more and we even have a few new ones to add on to the list. So if you are looking to open up a business, or looking to do some fun shopping, take a second peek at the New and Improved South Side of North 2nd Street. Looking better and better every year!
Cafe Chismosa just passed its health inspection and is all set to open Saturday, March 17th in the former Almanac Market space at 900 N 4th Street in Northern Liberties. The latin-inspired cafe will serve coffee from One Village, in a funky wallpapered space along with ceviches, tortas, tostadas, and salsas. Other changes to the space include a new hardwood floor, hanging lamps, and a chalkboard menu. Check out their Facebook page to see all of the hard work that went into designing the space. We can't wait to take in both the interior and the food.
[photo from Cafe Chismosa's Twitter]
Modo Mio. Paesanos. Monsu. Il Porto. Popolino? Italian-lovers, get out your BYO wine totes and say Cin Cin, because Peter McAndrews is readying to open his next Philadelphia-area spot at 501 Fairmount Avenue. The chef-owner has chosen the former Lafayette Bistro space in Northern Liberties as his location for Popolino, a Roman concept that will feature an antipasti bar and an emphasis on offal. McAndrews is also partnering with Stephen Flis, most recently a server and Resident Cheese Expert at the Fountain Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. Flis will man the front-of-house, and of course, there will be a cheese plate on offer.
Seeing as it's ever more difficult to snag a reservation at Modo Mio, Northern Liberties should be a welcoming host to another helping of McAndrews' inspired rustic fare. Popolino opens in early March.
Some of the menu highlights:
Fried Calamari with Dates, Hard Cooked Eggs, Mint and Garum
Veal Saltimbocca with Prosciutto and Fried Sage
Tavole Calde (or “Hot Table”) which is a staple in Roman Trattorie, a large table of room temperature dishes, consisting of house made salads, pickled or marinated vegetables, cured meats and fish
$40 Menu Turista, antipasti or the tavole calde items, primi piatti (pasta), secondi (main) and dolce (dessert)
The hybrid Books N Beans aims to be the spot for both modern and old-fashioned coffee drinkers - those who like to browse the web and catch up on their tweets while they sip their latte and those who like to read a real live book that's not on a Kindle. They'll offer textbook rentals, accept book donations and buy used books, and sell digital readers. Opening soon at 155 W. Girard Avenue (across from the Superfresh).
Circles will fill the former 2nd Street Pizza space at 812 N. 2nd Street. The Thai byo that received 2 bells (Very Good) from Craig LaBan already has a strong following for its supremely spicy food (don't order Thai Hot unless you mean it) at very reasonable prices. For now you can follow the opening @CirclesNoLibsbut they are already teasing March.
The Blind Pig, or the Pig, as we already affectionately refer to it, feels like it's been open for ages.
You walk inside Northern Liberties' latest watering hole and friendly barkeep John hands over the Canned Beer List. The chalkboard wall next to the bar has the day's specials along with the draught list. You might see a Lime Rickey or an Alligator Sausage Sandwich next to a sketch of a flying pig, with his eyes X'ed out. And while that might have you wondering how comfortable you'll be here, just trust us: You will surely feel at ease here. The staff is incredibly nice and charming. Weird, right?
If you've ever walked into a local bar that has a very established "scene" and just feel out of place, well, that isn't going to happen at the Blind Pig. Crickets are not going to chirp when you sit down at the bar.
This isn't just a beer bar, there's a nicely edited wine list and a $3 chilled red wine special served in a mason jar that is just too good to be true. The food menu is certainly pork-influenced, but there are lighter salads, salmon, and falafel to please all ranges of hunger. One of the stand-out items that you'll see floating past you and wonder, what on earth? The Thanksgiving Balls, which happen to be a huge hit during July, are an almalgamation of turkey wrapped in mashed potatoes and stufﬁng. Breaded, fried and served with gravy and cranberry sauce. You know, in case you're a little impatient with the weather. It may just be the best cure for the summer doldrums in Northern Liberties.
We highly suggest you get over to 2nd Street and see for yourself. Maybe the pigs can't tell, but things are definitely looking up along this stretch of the neighborhood.
For hours and menu, check out http://blindpigphilly.com.
We dare someone to challenge us on this, but here it is: Northern Liberties is the capital of brunch in Philadelphia. Nobody does it better. Honeys, Cantina Dos Segundos, A Full Plate, Cafe Estelle, Cafe La Maude, Green Eggs Cafe, North 3rd, One Shot, and nearly every other restaurant and bar.
So it makes sense that we'd have an official Brunch Cart at 2nd and Poplar Streets. The La Copine Brunch Cart rolled out their amazing menu in the outdoor garden at the former Arbol Cafe this past weekend and will have its grand opening this weekend May 14-15 from 11-4pm. Shake up your normal eggs-and-Bloodys routine and stop by to see what's on offer from chef Nikki Hill (former sous chef at Barbuzzo).
The space is being called Garden Variety, and it's also a temporary home to your beloved Dapper Dog. Last week, we raved about the Lavender Honey Gastrique on the Bleu Cheese-Fig-Prosciutto Flatbread that's on the short & sweet menu, which elevates your traditional brunch fare with a sophisticated flair. All produce is locally sourced and organic.
Heidi Duffey gave us some more info on Garden Variety:
"Garden Variety will begin with a focus on food – featuring local chef/entrepreneurs. The open air food court will be open for weekend brunch (La Copine), dinner (chef to be announced soon), and late night snacks (Dapper Dog). We will also host a monthly full evening supper club presented by La Copine."
But it's not all about food. They'll also be hosting a monthly flea market presenting local artisans and their work, and curated thrift vending, along with evening music concerts open to the public and commissioned public art projects.
"Our mission will unfold as the season progresses. We hope to be an artistic and community hub that activates a vacant space into a vibrant destination," promises Duffey.
Well, we're looking forward to all of it, but let's start with some brunch first.
[images via Heidi Duffey of Garden Variety]