By Michelle Reese
It’s ALWAYS a good time to eat in Philadelphia, but the Philly Food Scene really comes alive in spring. Get out of your house, meet up with friends, go on a date night! Now is the perfect time to enjoy all of the food (and drinks!) that the city offers.
To get some tips on where the hot places to eat are this year, we talked to Irene Levy Baker – author of Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia and 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia Before You Die.
PH: Tis the season to dine al fresco! Our readers voted Morgan’s Pier Best Outdoor Dining in our 2019 Happening List. Where’s YOUR favorite spot for outdoor dining? And where’s a place that we might not think to try?
ILB: While it’s always fun to sit on the sidewalk on 18th Street in Rittenhouse and elsewhere, sometimes it’s nice to sit in a quieter setting like a garden, courtyard or patio. And it’s more romantic, too. One of my favorite spots for outside dining or drinks is Talula’s Garden on Washington Square. With the greenery and twinkling lights, it’s just enchanting. Other favorites are Suraya and Front Street Cafe in Fishtown, Little Nonna’s in Midtown Village, Royal Boucherie’s rooftop deck in Old City and La Calaca Feliz’s courtyard in Fairmount.
PH: Everyone’s familiar with winery tours and pub crawls, but what about an ice cream crawl for the warm weather?! What would you consider the “must stop” spots if our readers were looking to try an assortment of frozen treats.
ILB: Oh, that’s a fun question! I love sweets, especially ice cream. Must-try scoops: Arctic Scoop on East Passyunk in South Philly (& check them out on Instagram too), Little Baby’s Ice Cream (which recently added a Center City location), Bassett’s Ice Cream in Reading Terminal Market and Franklin Fountain in the Historic District.
Did you know Metropolitan Cafe in Rittenhouse is now selling ice cream too (& pizza too). Plus, I’d add water ice at Pop’s Water Ice at 13th & Oregon, gelato at Gran Caffe L’Aquila (check my book Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia for a gelato-related secret menu item) and the Turkish Coffee Tehina Shake at Goldie (which is vegan).
PH: Where should we be drinking outside this summer?
ILB: Bok Bar, atop the old Bok Technical High School has great views of the skyline from South Philly. Spruce Street Harbor Park offers multicolored hammocks, life-size board games and color-changing lights hanging from the trees. Cherry Street Pier is a formerly abandoned warehouse with a pier jutting out into the Delaware River turned industrial chic urban space with beer and food trucks, artists studios and events. And there are beer gardens at the Free Library of Philadelphia with views of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Kimmel Center with views of South Broad Street and the Rodin Museum.
PH: What are some new restaurants that everyone should check out?
ILB: Joe Beddia’s much-anticipated Pizzeria Beddia in Fishtown. (You might not be able to get a reservation, but much of the seating is reserved for walk-ins so give it a try.) Fiore Foods is an all-day cafe in Queen Village. Avalon Bistro is a restaurant/bar next to the movie theater on Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr. And Olly is a family-friendly and vegetarian-friendly neighborhood restaurant by the couple that owns Southwark and Ambra.
Most anticipated openings and where you’ll spot me eating in the months ahead….
Vernick Coffee, Greg Vernick’s breakfast/lunch restaurant in the new Comcast Technology Center is amazing. I can’t wait until he opens Vernick Fish on the ground floor.
Jean Georges Vongerichten (who Greg Vernick spent many years working for) will be opening a restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel at the top of the building.
Another restaurant that is sure to make national headlines is K’far, an all-day cafe on 19th Street by Michael Solmonov and his business partner Steve Cook, along with their James Beard winning pastry chef Camille Cogswell.
Lê, the enigmatic one-named owner of Hop Sing Laundromat (a speakeasy in Chinatown), is poised to open Pussyfoot Johnson at a so far undisclosed location. It’s a bahn mi place named for a guy who pushed Prohibition.
Chris Kearse is closing Will on East Passyunk and opening Forsythia in Old City.
And JonCarl Larchman of Noord is opening Winkle, a breakfast/lunch spot in Midtown Village.
About Irene Levy Baker
Irene Levy Baker is the author of Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia which tells the stories behind 90 of Philadelphia’s most fascinating restaurants and chefs along with tips like how to get reservations at the area’s trendiest restaurants, how to get into speakeasies, order secret menu items, spot celebs and more. She also wrote 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia Before You Die. Irene is owner of Spotlight Public Relations, a public relations firm specializing in restaurants and hospitality. Get signed copies of the books at: www.UniqueEatsPhilly.com. Also available at Shakespeare Books and other independent bookstores, Bella Turka, Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.