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10 Hottest New Restaurants in Philadelphia

By Danya Henninger
July 18, 2014
Photo by: Danya Henninger

What kind of food will you find at the 10 hottest new restaurants in Philadelphia? Just about everything, from burgers to cheese curds to burrito-size alt-sushi rolls. Most of these fresh arrivals fall on the casual side, so roll up your sleeves, don a pair of khakis and get to eating.

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Independence Beer Garden

    Why It’s Hot: Michael Schulson and Groundswell Design Group took a boring corporate plaza and turned it into an open-air greenery-filled oasis of food, drink and fun. It’s exactly what Independence Mall was missing.

    Must-Order: Fried cheese curds ($5), BLT ($6), milkshake ($5).

    Insider Tip: Nearly 75% of the seating has overhead shelter, so no need to change plans when it rains. Also, if you’re looking for a novel spot to host your next event, there’s actually an indoor-outdoor private dining area with patio available near the back of the space.

    100 S. Independence Mall West; 215-922-7100

  • a.bar 

    Why It’s Hot: This sleek Rittenhouse bar has actually been open for a year now, but chef Eli Kulp just dropped his first menu, and the expanded list of creative offerings lifts it beyond just a.kitchen’s cocktail sibling into a full-fledged dining destination.

    Must-Order: “Spicy tuna roll” ($12), a.Burger ($18), soft-shell shrimp ($14).

    Insider Tip: Hours were also extended, and food is available daily from noon onward. The raw bar is still in full swing, as is the 4-6 PM $1.50 oyster happy hour, available every day.

    135 S. 18th St.; 215-825-7030

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Distrito Moorestown

    Why It’s Hot: With a vibe that’s more Miami Beach than Jersey Shore, Jose Garces’ cantina in the Moorestown Mall has the surprising potential to become the most popular (family-friendly) party spot in South Jersey. Plus, the food’s good — possibly even better than at the original in University City.

    Must-Order: Guacamole ($10), chicken mole tamale ($10), enchilada trio ($24).

    Insider Tip: If you usually skip nachos because either a) they get too soggy too fast or b) you hate reaching the “naked chips” in the middle of the pile, order them here. Served on a cast-iron pan to keep them crisp, they’re also spread out flat, so each and every tortilla is covered with good stuff.

    400 New Jersey Rte. 38, Moorestown, NJ; 856-252-0300

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Good Stuff Eatery

    Why It’s Hot: Spike Mendelsohn chose Philly as the location for his first joint outside the DC area, and picked in-demand architect Ed Eimer to design it for him (he also does Kevin Sbraga’s spots). With a counter below and spacious seating area above, you can have your speedy burger and eat it in peace too.

    Must-Order: Prez Obama Burger ($7.25), Michelle Melt ($7), toasted marshmallow shake ($6).

    Insider Tip: It might be a classic combo, but we recommend skipping the fries and spending those calories on one of the hand-spun shakes instead.

    108 S. 18th St.; 267-928-2848

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Blue Corn

    Why It’s Hot: With a combined 15 years of restaurant service, brothers Amado, Maximino and Augustin Sandoval have gone out on their own at this relatively upscale Italian Market joint that’s much more than a taqueria. Tortillas for tacos, chips and huaraches are handmade on a wooden press from Mexico, and entrees like the huitlacoche-stuffed snapper (pescado parroquia) are as well executed as the quick bites.

    Must-Order: Blue huarache ($7), beef alambres ($12), pescado parroquia ($16).

    Insider Tip: Cocktails are a steal at $7.50, including the signature blue-tinted margarita and a frozen marg with tamarind. If you want to sip them on the early side, brunch has just launched and runs till 2 PM on the weekends.

    940 S. Ninth St.; 215-925-1010

  • Stock

    Why It’s Hot: Zahav alum Tyler Akin isn’t Vietnamese, but he fell in love with the cuisine and was determined to make it the basis for his first solo restaurant. Since his 18-seat BYO opened in Fishtown, chatter about the tiny menu has been overwhelmingly positive, not just for the richly flavored pho, but also the salads and raw plates.

    Must-Order: Beef pho ($9), mushroom pho ($9), green mango ($7).

    Insider Tip: Banh mi are available on the weekends, but usually sell out quickly, so head over soon after the noon opening if you want to be sure to score one.

    308 E. Girard Ave.; no phone

  • Hai Street Kitchen

    Why It’s Hot: Hybrids don’t always work out, but in the case of this fast-casual Rittenhouse arrival, the mash-up of burritos and maki rolls is a winning combination. Your choice of meats, fish, veggies and sauces is rolled up with rice in a nori wrapper, or can be ordered bowl-style instead.

    Must-Order: Slammin’ Salmon ($9), Sumo Steak ($9), Mexicana ($8).

    Insider Tip: Don’t miss the sides, including the chips with pungent wasabi guacamole and sweet-corn tempura. 

    32 S. 18th St.; 215-964-9465

  • Photo by: Danya Henninger

    Townsend

    Why It’s Hot: We said it right after it opened and it’s held true every time we’ve stopped in since — the graceful East Passyunk French bistro from Townsend Wentz is always filled with industry folks. If chefs and bartenders from all over the city are eating and drinking somewhere, you know it's worth checking out.

    Must-Order: Sweetbreads ($13), seared sea scallops ($12), rabbit pot-au-feu ($27).

    Insider Tip: Two rotating wines are available on draft, offering great value as well as a great sip, since general manager Lauren Harris is also a vino expert.

    1523 E. Passyunk Ave.; 267-639-3203

  • Masters Bar & Restaurant

    Why It’s Hot: Study lounge by day, cocktail lounge by night? Just what every campus needs, and Temple students will be glad to find the doors to this venture finally open when they return for the fall semester. Bars are spread over two floors, and the American comfort-food menu is served for both lunch and dinner.

    Must-Order: Burger stuffed with American cheese ($10), fried chicken ($14), sautéed corn with bacon ($5).

    Insider Tip: On Thursdays, take advantage of $5 shots and $2 Miller High Lifes from 8-10 PM.

    1535 N. Carlisle St.; 215-787-9933

  • Mamou

    Why It’s Hot: Chef Paul Martin is channeling his native Louisiana at the new incarnation of Tony Rim’s bi-level Midtown Village spot (most recently The Corner). The Cajun menu is best enjoyed on the outdoor roof deck, which is next to the upstairs whiskey and cocktail bar.

    Must-Order: Crawfish fritters ($9), raw and roasted beets ($10), fried oysters ($11).

    Insider Tip: Brunch is one of the best times to visit — flapjacks are made with blackstrap molasses and French toast is served with ricotta mousse, plus the Emmenthaler-topped burger gets the addition of a fried egg.

    102 S. 13th St.; 215-735-7500

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Places Mentioned

a.kitchen+bar

American • Rittenhouse Square

Food23 Decor21 Service21 Cost$46
 
 
 
Townsend

French • East Passyunk Crossing

Food- Decor- Service- Cost 
 
 
 
Hai Street Kitchen & Co.

Japanese • Rittenhouse Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Mamou

Cajun • Washington Square West

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Stock

Vietnamese • Fishtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Good Stuff Eatery

Burger • Rittenhouse Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Independence Beer Garden

Bar • Washington Square West

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
 
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