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Dec 13 2012

Trending Flavors For Philadelphia's Dining Scene

Philadelphia’s Kitchens Are Attracting Big-Name Chefs, Producing Homemade Meats, Going Southern Style & More In 2013

Philadelphia’s restaurants are poised to cook up a whole new menu of deliciousness in the coming year. With increased attention from national press and an influx of talent from other cities swooping in to join the scene, local eateries are becoming ever more cosmopolitan, seeking inspiration from influences as varied as Southern and Japanese cuisines while still maintaining the region’s rootsy culinary identity. Meanwhile, chefs are going deeper into DIY to make their own charcuterie and spirits and working to elevate vegan eating to the next level of sophistication. In all, these trends should make for a very tasty twelve months ahead.

Imported Chefs
It was only a matter of time, really, before out-of-town chefs caught on to the top-notch dining scene in Philadelphia, bolstered equally by Philly’s own big-time restaurateurs like Stephen Starr, Jose Garces and Marc Vetri, along with the concentrated talents of bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) chef-owners who have elevated the region’s collective palate with inventive cooking. Add in Philly’s high quality of life and (still) affordable real estate and the result is an influx of chef imports planning to set up shop in the area. Already in 2012, New Yorkers Kim and Joe Carroll opened Fette Sau barbecue, while a Berwyn native who worked in London, New York and Washington, DC debuted Brit-inspired bistro The Mildred. There was also the reinvention of Le Bec-Fin by French Laundry vet Nicolas Fanucci. In 2013, Noord, a Dutch BYO from Chicago chef Joncarl Lachman, is slated to open on Tasker Avenue in East Passyunk. Also in Passyunk, 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. 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.

Charcuterie Chic
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. Fishtown’s French bistro The Pickled Heron smokes its own Armagnac sausages and bacon and cures its own duck prosciutto. At the newly opened Red Owl Tavern in the Hotel Monaco Philadelphia, the meaty offerings include a signature charcuterie plate, sausages and pickled lamb’s tongue. Meanwhile, at the Rittenhouse Tavern, one of the hottest menu items is chef Nicholas Elmi’s inventive terrine board.

Because not everyone indulges in charcuterie, a new vegan renaissance, inspired by last year’s openings of fine dining mecca Vedge and fast foodery HipCityVeg, is making it even easier to eat deliciously in Philadelphia without animal products. Miss Rachel’s Pantry’s serves up a weekend farmhouse table prix-fixe meal, along with private parties for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegan Tree offers easygoing, eclectic fare, including stir-fries and smoothies. In 2013, more chefs at mainstream restaurants and gastropubs will develop their own vegan creations as demand continues to grow.

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: The past several months have seen the opening of Nom Nom Ramen in Rittenhouse Square, Market 16 Noodle Bar and Ramen Bar in University City, Hiro Ramen House in Washington Square and Terakawa Ramen in Chinatown. Each brings its own distinctive spins on the trend, offering quick and inexpensive eats to aspiring slurpers.

Southern Swing & Third-Wave Barbecue
The Mid-Atlantic region is poised for some deep-fried crunch with a spate of new Southern-style eateries. On the heels of 2012’s stylish Rex 1516, which offers contemporary spins on classics such as savory shrimp-stuffed beignets, pork chops over rosemary grits and curried collard greens, come two more openings with sub-Mason-Dixon influences. The muffaletta-starved masses are welcoming a second location of Beck’s Cajun Café, a Reading Terminal Market gem, in 30th Street Station, and the Reading Terminal Market has likewise prepared for the arrival of Ms. Tootsie’s soul food stand, serving up chicken and waffles, candied yams and mac and cheese. Add in a swirl of fried chicken and biscuit dinners on menus around the city and the Southern trend seems to be catching on as surely as a pot of beans to a ham hock.

In the meantime, the local fervor for pit-smoked meats has been steadily growing for a decade now, with the first major wave coming in the early aughts (Sweet Lucy’s, Tommy Gunn’s), the second in 2009 (Percy Street Barbecue, Smokin’ Betty’s). Now, the third wave of barbecue joints brings a decidedly sophisticated, artisan sensibility to the picnic table. The Fishtown branch of Brooklyn’s hipster hangout Fette Sau serves up meat by the pound, along with German potato salad and half-sour pickles. Nearby, Bubba’s Texas BBQ is one Texan’s vision of a carnivorous heaven: custom smoker-cooked brisket, wings, ribs and bacon mac and cheese. At the tiny but cheerful Blue Belly BBQ in Bella Vista, the emphasis is on international selections: Korean beef, jerk chicken and Mexican lamb barbacoa, in addition to á la cart meats and sides. Next up to open is Rubb BBQ in Manayunk.

Locally Made Spirits
With so many inspired bartenders making craft cocktails in the area, Philly deserves some original spirits to call its own, and the local distilling industry, with established favorites like Bluecoat gin, Vieux Carre absinthe and Snap liqueur, is seeing a boom. The latest entrees to the bar are Art in the Age’s Sage liqueur, Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey (the first rye whiskey to be produced in Pennsylvania since Prohibition) and Pollyodd’s ’cellos (lemon, lime, orange and chocolate). Pollyodd even hopes to open its own retail outlet on Passyunk Avenue in 2013.


Imported Chefs:

Charcuterie Chic:



Southern Swing & Third-Wave Barbecue:

  • Rex 1516, 1516 South Street, (267) 319-1366,
  • Beck’s Cajun Café, Reading Terminal Market, 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 592-0505; 2955 Market Street, (215) 382-2800,
  • Ms. Tootsies, Reading Terminal Market, 12th & Arch Streets,
  • Sweet Lucy’s, 7500 State Road, (215) 333-9663,
  • Tommy Gunn’s, 4901 Ridge Avenue, (215) 508-1030,
  • Percy Street Barbecue, 900 South Street, (215) 625-8510; 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (215) 964-9014,
  • Smokin’ Betty’s, 116 S. 11th Street, (215) 922-6500,
  • Fette Sau, 1208 Frankford Avenue, (215) 391-4888,
  • Bubba’s Texas BBQ, 19 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 324-3530,
  • Blue Belly Barbecue, 600 Catherine Street, (215) 238-0615,
  • Rubb BBQ, 4311 Main Street, (215) 482-9800,

Locally Made Spirits:

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Related Releases

Mar 16 2018

Those Famous Philly Flavors—Delicious And Deciphered

A Guide To The Philadelphia Region’s Legendary Foods

Philadelphia’s signature flavor is a dynamic mix of traditional recipes, new culinary inventions, well-known treats and obscure dishes—specialties that can be found everywhere—from corner stores to the fanciest restaurants. Among the region’s best-known foods are Italian water ice, Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels and the ever-popular cheesesteak. More local favorites include pork roll and scrapple, which are available here in the region and through services such as Taste of Philadelphia, one of many companies that ship Philly goodies across the United States.

Here are some of the sandwiches, snacks, meats and more that have left a lasting mark on the Pennsylvania palate:

Mar 13 2018

20 Must-Try Eateries For First-Time Visitors To Philadelphia

The Ultimate Dining List For The Philly First-Timer

Philadelphia’s abundance of craft restaurants, independent cafes and food-forward bars poses a delicious mealtime dilemma for every diner—especially first-time visitors. No matter how a newcomer chooses where to eat in Philly—pre-arrival research, an app, a stroll along a neighborhood food corridor—certain iconic spots serve as great culinary starting points.

These essentials of Philadelphia’s restaurant scene include fine-dining stalwarts, historic seafood houses, international standouts and classic sandwich joints. They’re places locals who’ve moved away dream of from afar and make a point of returning to each time they come home. Beloved for their unpretentious settings and unforgettable food, these spots are

Feb 15 2018

Philadelphia’s Fabulous Brunch Scene, Neighborhood By Neighborhood

Philly’s Many Great Brunch Spots Offer Classic-To-Global Meals

Philadelphia’s brunch scene has always been strong, thanks to beloved line-out-the-door spots such as Sam’s Morning Glory Diner, Sabrina’s and Honey’s Sit ’N Eat. But more and more, Philly’s brunch options have gone truly global. On the a.m. rise right now: sweet bao and kimchi Bloody Mary’s (Bing Bing Dim Sum), bologna eggs Benedict and Dutch baby pancakes (The Dutch), huevos rancheros and scrapple-stuffed tortas (Mission Taqueria), lobster frittatas (Fork) and vegan Monte Cristos (The Tasty). Here’s a look at some of the region’s best brunch options:

Center City East, Old City & Washington

Jan 30 2018

“Greased Pole” Doughnuts And More Fun Philly Foods For Super Bowl LII

Philadelphia Chefs Come Up With Clever Fare As the Philadelphia Eagles Head To The Big Show

In Philadelphia, the excitement for the Eagles’ trip to Super Bowl LII isn’t just palpable: It’s edible. The ultimate football turn of events has inspired the city’s chefs, cooks and bartenders to come up with clever, quirky—delicious—Birds-inspired food and drink.

Among the ever-growing list of Eagles fan fare are vegan pastry inspired by Broad Street’s greased poles (Dottie’s Donuts), all-green Bloody Mary cocktails (Pub & Kitchen), broccolini cheesesteaks (Rooster Soup Co.) and underdog everything, including soft pretzels (Philly Pretzel Factory) and mac-and-cheese (Mac Mart). Here are the details:

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Jan 23 2018

What's In The Neighborhood?


Beyond Philadelphia’s historic Friendship Arch at 10th and Arch Streets lives a thriving Asian neighborhood, settled in the mid-19th century by Cantonese immigrants. Stretching from Vine to Arch Streets between 9th and 12th Streets, Philly’s Chinatown is packed end-to-end with restaurants and stores that represent Hong Kong, Cantonese, Fujianese, Northern Sichuan and Taiwanese cultures, with a sprinkling of Korean, Thai, Malaysian, Burmese, Vietnamese and hipster thrown in for good measure. On any given day or night, Chinatown is active and authentic, popular for steaming platters of hand-stretched noodles, seasonal street festivals, a new food hall (

Jan 22 2018

Philadelphia Bakeries: More Delicious By The Dozen

A Guide To The Region’s Top Makers Of Bread, Buns, Cakes And Pastries

Philadelphia, a city of neighborhoods, is also a city of neighborhood bakeries. Cannoli from the 9th Street Italian Market’s Isgro’s and Termini Brothers, tomato pie from Manayunk’s Marchiano’s Bakery and pound cake from Port Richmond’s Stock’s Bakery are just some of the crumbs of Philly’s culinary makeup. Today, the city’s blocks also burst with modern French patisseries and boulangeries (J’aime French Bakery, Machine Shop), specialized bakeries (Dottie’s Donuts, ICI Macarons and Café and gluten- and allergen-free specialist Sweet Freedom Bakery) and artisans with modern ideas about heritage ingredients (High Street on Market, Lost Bread

Jan 3 2018

Taquerias And Taco Trucks Dot Philadelphia Neighborhoods

South Philly Leads The City’s Taco Craze

Philly’s turned into a bona fide taco town. Between the authentic, mom-and-pop taquerias of South Philly, tried-and-true tequila bars, roving food trucks and the newest crop of Mexican joints, there’s truly a taco for everyone and their hermano. Here’s where:

South Philly:

  • Blue Corn – Distinguished among its quick-serve counterparts on the 9th Street Italian Market, this family-owned and operated restaurant has genuine warmth and hospitality—not to mention a liquor license and incredible tacos made with a rotating lineup of specialty tortillas pressed on the premises. 940 S. 9th Street, (215) 925-1010, @bluecornrestaurant
  • El Compadre –
Nov 30 2017

The BYOB Restaurant: A Philly Phenomenon

Region Boasts 300-Plus Bring-Your-Own-Bottle Restaurants

Despite decades of popularity and expansion, one quintessential Philadelphia dining phenomenon continues to fly deliciously under the radar. It’s the BYOB, the bring-your-own-bottle restaurant—BYO, for short. Typically independently owned and operated, Philly’s BYOBs number into the three hundreds. Diners find them on dozens of corners in Center City, along avenues of renewed urban neighborhoods and tucked down rural roads. It’s a curious trend with an interesting backstory—and an even more interesting present.

Here’s a short explanation of how the BYOB scene came to be—and advice on navigating the landscape.

What Is A BYOB?:
A BYOB restaurant allows patrons to

Nov 6 2017

Classic Holiday Eating, One Philadelphia Mom-And-Pop Shop At A Time

Lines Out The Door Are Part Of The Fun Among These Philly Holiday Food Makers

Philadelphia does festive food and drink right. The proof: Wintertime lines out the doors of the city’s beloved mom-and-pop purveyors. For decades, Philadelphia’s proudly diverse population has represented a variety of home-cooked holiday food traditions holidays: classic latkes, old-world confections, Italian pastry, Polish kielbasa and handmade tamales. Here’s a field guide to eating through the holiday season the authentic way:

Thanksgiving Turkey & Pies:

  • Cacia’s Bakery – Since the 1950s, this venerable deep South Philly bread maker has played a special role in local holiday dinners. Each Thanksgiving, the Cacia family offers their services—their massive, brick-lined bread oven, really—to
Oct 16 2017

When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out

Philadelphia Offers An Array Of Vegan Fine Dining, Bar Eats, Fast Food & Café Fare

It’s a curious thing that Philadelphia, a city so renowned for its cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches, could also foster one of the nation’s most robust vegan food scenes, with new additions popping up every year. Upscale diners can find delight in the shared plates at Vedge and the coursed and home-style elegance of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, while those seeking a quick bite can swing by Goldie for falafel or Blackbird Pizza for fare that is more traditionally Philadelphian. Factor in some coffee shops, bars and even a diner, and vegan eaters will see—and taste—that the city’s offerings have