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This may be one of the toughest situations the U.S. restaurant industry has ever faced, with health and financial challenges piling up for everyone involved, whether they’re owners, chefs, suppliers, cooks, cleaners or servers.
Yet in true Philly fashion, the city’s dining scene refuses to call it quits.
Without sugar coating: worries still abound, from the ongoing fight for a federal bailout (two bills are pending in Congress) to the troublesome flouting of social distancing rules by unscrupulous operators. That hasn’t stopped several local proprietors from bringing their dreams to fruition.
Indoor dining is still prohibited, so some of the city’s new spots focus on pickup and delivery, while others take advantage of built-in patios or decks.
There’s also been a slew of revamps, with existing restaurants flipping their concept into something more pandemic- and seasonally friendly. (Can we keep some of these seafood shacks even when coronavirus danger has subsided?)
Here’s a roundup of new dining and drinking opportunities in Philadelphia.
Safety note: If you go, wear a mask whenever possible, maintain distance from others, and don’t congregate at the door if waiting for a table or pickup order. Restaurant workers’ health depends on it. Know a new spot we missed? Send an email.
The Breakfast Den
1500 South St. (South Street West)
Southwest Philly native Thai Dinh returned from a stint in L.A., per the Inquirer, to take over the corner spot that previously housed Little Spoon Cafe. Her nook will similarly concentrate on daytime favorites. Alongside American breakfast classics like eggs and pancakes there’s a banh mi, rice paper wraps and Vietnamese coffee.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
4229 Main St. (Manayunk)
Banh mi and bubble tea are the main event at this bright cafe from brother and sister Troy and Kim Dieu, which launched mid-April. Inspired by their parents, restaurant veterans who moved from Vietnam to South Philly but never got to open their own place, the siblings offer family favorite sandwiches (including veg-only options), plus several kinds of pick-me-up drinks. Order online here.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
1149 N. 3rd St. (Northern Liberties)
The flavors of Puerto Rico landed just south of Girard Avenue at the beginning of June, thanks to brother and sister Jazmin Serrano and Hector Serrano. Recipes come from mom Iris, according to Juniata News, a cook known for her carts at festivals around the city. Order via Grubhub or UberEats for pickup or delivery.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday
2111 E. York St. (Kensington)
Philly’s slowly-emerging barbecue scene got a boost when this newcomer launched just in time for the Fourth of July. Chef Matt Lang puts out Texas-style smoked meats — ribs, pulled pork, brisket, turkey — plus classic sides, informed by his time at Hill Country Barbecue in D.C. and Fette Sau in NYC. Order via the resto’s own site here.
Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday
107 S. 9th St. (Italian Market)
With a design assist from “Queer Eye,” where it was a featured makeover, this Mexican-owned seafood joint opened in early July. A venture from proprietors of nearby retail stand Marco’s Fish and Crab House, it sports a spacious back patio with umbrella-covered tables, and also offers takeout (find the menu here). Breakfast is a specialty, as recommended by the Fab Five.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
1033 Spring Garden St. (Spring Arts)
Mexican-American is the theme for food and drink at this long-vacant restaurant space, most previously home to Llama’s Tooth. There’s a large fenced-in patio, where restaurateur Avram Hornik (Morgan’s Pier, Craft Hall, Harper’s Garden, Rosy’s Tacos) is offering table service through late-night — reservations required.
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight, Monday and Tuesday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
1427 South St. (South Street West), currently closed for renovations
Proudly declaring itself a Black-owned business, this flower-filled patio just off Broad launched at the end of June. Specialties include frosé and boozy ice pops, plus $6 wines at happy hour. There’s a menu of cheese plates, fries, wings and other snacks to go along. Update, July 14: According to its Instagram page, the garden is currently closed for renovations.
Hours: 2 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday
Originally 1839 Poplar St. (Francisville), but moving
Chef-owners Bryon and Natasha Dockett are all about plant-based versions of Southern classics (their vegan mac ‘n ‘ cheese has been dubbed best in the city). They’ve been offering an all-day menu in the former Greyhouse Cafe since June, but were recently forced to shut down because of a situation they describe as “beyond their control.” As they move to a new location nearby, they’re accepting donations.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (currently on hold)
105 S. 13th St. (Midtown Village)
Many of the Safran Turney Restaurants on 13th Street have reopened (Lolita, Barbuzzo, Bud & Marilyn’s) but Jamonera will not. Instead, the proprietors flipped it into an outdoor dining and delivery pop-up offering seaside specialties (there are two kinds of lobster rolls), plus burgers, ice cream sundaes, floats, slush pops and other drinks.
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Monday + Tuesday; 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday + Thursday; 2 to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday + Sunday
1001 N 2nd St. (Northern Liberties)
With cooking classes and private dinners on hold, this culinary space that launched just before the pandemic is doing a weekend pickup menu of summertime faves. Shellfish play a big role, along with burgers, crispy chicken, ice cream and unsweetened iced tea. A few outdoor tables are also available.
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
1935 Chestnut St. (Rittenhouse)
Recognizing that soup isn’t the most summery of options, chef-owner Tyler Akin added this new concept to the Center City outpost of his pho specialist Stock. Three kinds of lobster rolls are on the menu, plus a hot dog and fried chicken sandwich. Add fries or refreshing soda when you order online for pickup.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday
1642 Fairmount Ave. (Fairmount)
While the huge library of board games languishes on its shelves, this grownup play place has reinvented itself as an ice cream and snack stand. Bassetts flavors are available in cones, cups, sundays and shakes — including boozy versions — along with espresso drinks and a selection of take-out dishes.
Hours: 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 12 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
24 S. 24th St. (Logan Square)
Unlike the rest of this swish lifestyle club overlooking the Schuylkill River, the new outdoor patio is open to the public. Guests must fill out a form confirming lack of symptoms before entering, but once inside can order from a menu of apps, salads, sandwiches and large plates, plus beer, wine and cocktails.
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday; Dinner: 5 to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Brunch: 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Sunday