Philly Fall Preview: Restaurants, Bars and More

By Danya Henninger  |  August 26, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

Summer is ending, which means the lights are about to come up on a slew of new Philly restaurant projects. Ventures are slated to open from big-name chefs and local favorites, along with some out-of-towners and national chains. New bars are coming and new cheap eats to go with them. Plus, fall is festival season, so along with all the Restaurant Weeks, there’s more than enough going on to keep any food-lover busy.

  • Big-Name Openings

    People aren’t surprised anymore when well-known chefs let on they’re planning new launches in Philadelphia. We’ll see more of our Iron Chef when Volver opens in the Kimmel Center - Jose Garces plans to be in the upscale show kitchen several nights each month. A couple of blocks away, Justin Bogle will be turning out his own tasting menus at Avance, the progressive American taking over for Le Bec Fin.

    Marc Vetri already has plenty of fine dining under his jiu jitsu belt; this fall, he’s going casual instead with Pizzeria Vetri, set to launch in two weeks on Callowhill by The Barnes. Eli Kulp will branch out with High Street on Market, turning the space next to Fork into a showcase for his inventive menus, and Nicholas Elmi, who stars in the upcoming season of Top Chef, has pegged November for Laurel, his East Passyunk BYO.

  • New From Local Favorites

    In Philly there are few names better known than Marcie Turney, who - along with partner Valerie Safran - is not only revamping Lolita for a liquor license but also launching yet another Midtown Village restaurant, the Italian grandma’s living room called Little Nonna’s.

    Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal are starting their own mini-dynasty by adding to Cantina Feliz and La Calaca Feliz with a street-food-oriented Manayunk spot called Taqueria Feliz. Lucio Palazzo will run the kitchen and, judging from photos posted to Twitter, it’s very close to ready.

  • Bars to Be

    Surprisingly, considering the number it already has, Philadelphia is nowhere near its saturation point for craft beer bars. Tria Taproom will become the new third sibling to Jon Myerow’s wine bars, focused on draft beer and wood-fired pizza. On the edge of Fishtown, where it turns into Kensington, will be Cook and Shaker, with eight taps, sandwiches and karaoke. In Lafayette Hill, a whole new brewpub is coming - Barren Hill Tavern beers are already in testing phase.

    Rittenhouse is getting two rather opposite newcomers: the high-end, Euro-classy Ashton Cigar Bar, taking over two floors above Holt’s Cigar Shop (directly across Walnut from Le Bec Fin). Not two blocks away - in the former Buca di Beppo at 15th and Spruce - will be Howl at the Moon, a dueling piano dance club that serves Jell-O shots and buckets of booze.

  • Cheap Eats Coming

    The best snack in the worst location in Chinatown is moving to a (relatively) luxe new home - instead of being shoehorned next to the bus station, Dim Sum Garden is set to begin turning out soup dumplings on Race Street soon. Ishkabibble’s is another iconic favorite getting more room - the South Street fries and steak shop is taking over the spacious pizzeria on Fifth and South.

    West Philly kebab specialists Kabobeesh will open an outpost just a block down South, in the former Latest Dish. An original is coming to Rittenhouse - Wokworks aims to be the Asian alternative to fast-casual, bringing its first build-your-own-noodles outlet to 19th and Chestnut this autumn.

  • Notable Chains

    Joining Shake Shack, Luke’s Lobster and Joe Coffee (and others) are several more gourmet chains. Ocean Prime is the most showy - Cameron Mitchell’s steakhouse will take up 8,500 sq. ft. of retail in the middle of Center City on 15th Street. It opens September 9.

    Just a couple of blocks around the corner was to be the new home of Medium Rare, the one-menu, one-price, all-you-can-eat steakhouse from DC, though we haven’t heard much about the project lately (except rumors that it was stalled). Definitely in the works is another DC-transplant, Spike Mendelsohn’s burger joint Good Stuff Eatery, going in at 18th and Market - though this opening looks like it may have to wait until “winter.”

  • To Market

    Di Bruno Bros. is opening an outlet in The Franklin building at Ninth and Chestnut, and it looks like it might rival the 18th Street location in amenities, including hand-poured coffee and personal shoppers. It will join just-launched Talula’s Daily in serving gourmet goods to the neighborhood.

    At 16th and Spruce, Rittenhouse gets the second branch of Plenty, the East Passyunk cafe with sandwiches as distinctive and fine-tuned as its coffee. On 20th, Spread Bagelry’s across-the-street sibling Spread Bake Shop - which will focus on loaves and pastries - is nearing completion.

  • In the ‘Burbs

    New Jersey will get a serious Philly infusion at the Moorestown Mall, which this year will welcome an outpost of Marc Vetri’s Osteria and then early next year get a Distrito from chef Jose Garces. Nearby in Magnolia, a huge, 250-seat Euro bistro called Royal Cracovia from real estate developer Stanislaw “Stosh” Stachowski is due to open in September.

    Food Network Star contestant Chad Rosenthal has already begun preview tastings for The Lucky Well, his Ambler BBQ house. Conshohocken has just welcomed Bar Lucca, an open-air trattoria from Brian Pieri of StoneRose, in the former Totaro’s.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Restaurant Weeks

    Yep, they’re coming. Here’s what to start making reservations for:

    Center City Restaurant Week: September 15-20 and 22-27
    Conshohocken Restaurant Week: September 16-27
    Main Line Restaurant Week: September 23-29

  • Festivals

    We’d run out of space trying to run down the whole season, so let’s just take a look at the busy month ahead. Jay-Z’s Made in America festival kicks it off this weekend, taking over the Ben Franklin Parkway with concerts and concessions on August 31 and September 1. Fairmount Park welcomes a quieter event from September 6-8, when Bartram’s Garden hosts the fourth annual Philadelphia Honey Festival (complete with a honey beermaking demo).

    September 9 is Feastival, the don’t-miss Delaware Riverfront culinary extravaganza from Audrey Claire Taichman and co. Back on South Street the next weekend, on September 19, Brauhaus Schmitz takes to the street for a huge Oktoberfest block party. That same evening, Mt. Airy plays host to Street Fare, a new food truck gathering similar to Night Market.