A First Look at Aqimero in the Ritz Carlton

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As part of the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton, the hotel has a new Richard Sandoval restaurant, Aqimero, opens today in the lobby of the historic building. Sandoval, who is originally from Denver, has opened almost 40 restaurants globally, but this is his first Philadelphia-based project. The restaurant will feature Latin American cuisine and the menu and dishes described as “Mexican beach campfire style.”

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Dilworth Park Cafe & Air Grille Throw Grand Opening Party During Sips

Dilworth Park Cage | Photo by Chelsea PortnerSummer is officially here and with it comes a new restaurant opening during this week’s Center City Sips. Dilworth Park Café and Air Grille will be opening for the summer this Wednesday, June 22.

The team at Brûlée Catering created an American focused menu with locally sourced dishes. So you can expect menu items like burgers, steaks, and salads made with ingredients from the area.

Air Grille | Photo by Chelsea Portner The grand opening will be a beach themed party, taking place during sips, with a ton (and dare I say too many) things happening. In addition to the usual Sips specials, there will be giveaways, a DJ, and an Instagram contest. So if you like free stuff, this will be the place to hit for Sips. To go with this beach theme, they will serving some boardwalk themed specials.

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The Decline of Lunch Counters and Diners in Center City

Midtown 2 inside - empty

An empty Midtown 2 last week. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

To a five-year old growing up in the Northeast, the lunch counter at Woolworth’s might as well have been Le Bec-Fin. Perched on a high stool, at an equal level with mom or dad, I’d watch the busy, uniformed cooks slap my hot dog on the hot grill right in front of me. It was the diner version of the dessert cart being rolled out at the famous Michelin-starred French institution.

Even now, long after it closed, I remember the experience. I wasn’t the only one who was a regular: Everyone from office workers to grandparents to teenagers flocked to the Woolworth’s lunch counters. There were three we went to: One at Knights and Woodhaven in the Northeast, and ones on Market and Chestnut streets in Center City. They were all glorious.

The Woolworth’s eateries began to disappear in the late 80s. The Far Northeast and Market Street locations were the first to go. The Chestnut Street one held on until the shuttering of all Woolworth’s in 1997. The building — 1330 Chestnut Street — is now West Elm, Blick and Lucky Strike, but the exterior still maintains the chain’s signature futuristic design.

There was a time when Center City was filled with diners and their iconic lunch counters. The two concepts went hand-in-hand and offered standard, greasy American fare cooked either directly in front of you or in a back kitchen. It was food that never changed. It was food that came out quickly. It was food you could rely on. These spots dotted the downtown streets well before gourmet taco shops and outdoor cafes became a thing. Perhaps the most-well known — the one that held on the longest — was the Midtown chain. At its height, there were four of them in Center City. Last Monday, word came that the Midtown II closed — driven out of business after 43 years. Midtown IV had closed in 2009 and was replaced by Stephen Starr’s El Rey and Ranstead Room. The Midtown I, which used to be on Jeweler’s Row at 7th and Sansom streets, was shuttered years earlier.

The owner of the sole remaining Midtown Diner, the Midtown III at 18th and Ranstead streets, told Philadelphia magazine’s Jared Brey last month she’d close up tomorrow if she could — but her mom still lives upstairs. “Tell them [Midtown II] was the best thing that ever happened to that neighborhood,” owner Vivian Tafuri said. Read more »

Sky Garten Is Now Open

SkyGarten is the highest beer garden in the world.

SkyGarten is the highest beer garden in the world.

SkyGarten is finally here.

It’s been a few months since we first heard about SkyGarten and tonight at 5 p.m. it will open its (elevator) doors for its grand opening.  If you head to the top of the tower on the 51st floor of 3 Logan Square (1717 Arch Street), you can experience the world’s highest beer garden. Finally, you can now combine the thrills of extreme heights and drinking.

The beer garden is curated by the team at Brauhaus Schmitz and covers 3,000 square feet inside and outside the building.

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Ai Ramen Opens at Liberty Place

Ai Ramen is now open at Liberty Place

Ai Ramen is now open at Liberty Place

Ai Ramen opens today in the food court at the Shops at Liberty Place. The ramen, bao and sushi quick-serve restaurant is from the same people who have given us the rapidly expanding Hai Street Kitchen and the just opened Wok Street. And for some reason, Wok Street is competing with the opening of Ai Ramen by offering their Asian-inspired bowls for just a dollar between noon and 3 p.m.

Ai Ramen offers four types of ramen, including their signature ramen, spicy miso, garlic butter miso and vegetarian ramen for $10.99.

The menu also features three kinds of bao buns and six sushi rolls that are made at the store. Read more »

Sizzle, Swizzle, Swirl: Get Ready for the New Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

A "cheater booth" at the new Ruth's Chris

A “cheater booth” at the new Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse| Photo by Chelsea Portner

Marsha Brown is back in Philly with her newest venture.

Today, June 6th at 1800 Market St. the new location of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse opens.

This is Brown’s first new restaurant in 12 years. She has been working on making the big move from Broad Street to Market Street for the past two years.

“Once I got a hold on this location I knew I couldn’t let it go,” says Brown.

So what should you expect at this new Ruth’s Chris?

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Oyster House’s Sam Mink Opening Mexican “Beer Garden”

Executive Chef Brett Naylor, Sam Mink and GM Daniel McLaughlin

Executive Chef Brett Naylor, Sam Mink and GM Daniel McLaughlin

Sam Mink is growing up. The owner of the popular Oyster House is opening Mission, a 4,500 square-foot Mexico City inspired “indoor beer garden and grill” upstairs from his Sansom Street restaurant. Mink is partnering with Oyster House executive chef Brett Naylor on the project that also taps Oyster House’s Daniel McLaughlin and chef Andrew Sabin to oversee Mission’s day-to-day operations. Sabin was most recently at El Poquito in Chestnut Hill and before that was a veteran of the Garces Group.

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Center City West Named America’s Most Bikeable Downtown

Bicycle transportation advocates would love for this to be a typical evening commute from Philly to South Jersey. Still, they have plenty to be proud of with Bike Score's ranking of Center City West as the nation's most walkable downtown.| Photo via Facebook

Bicycle transportation advocates would love for this to be a typical evening commute from Philly to South Jersey. Still, they have plenty to be proud of with Bike Score’s ranking of Center City West as the nation’s most walkable downtown.| Photo via Facebook

This is Bike to Work Week, and while I left my three-speed at home in Germantown and took SEPTA to work today,* I generally consider bicycling as practical transportation a great idea: you stay healthy and fit while performing a task you need to do every day.

The people at Walk Score, a Redfin subsidiary based in Seattle, say that there’s no place better for biking to work than the part of Center City that includes Philadelphia’s offices. According to the Bike Score rankings, Center City West — the area from Broad Street to the Schuylkill and Pine to Vine streets — is the nation’s most bikeable downtown, with a Bike Score of 96.4 out of a possible 100. Read more »

Uptown Beer Garden Announces Chef and Opening Date

uptown beer garden comcast building 940Uptown Beer Garden, the outdoor drinking bar from Teddy Sourias of BRU Craft & Wurst, U-Bahn and Cinder is going to open at 1735 JFK Boulevard on Thursday, May 19th. Sourias has turned to chef Jonathan Petruce (Petruce et al, Fish) to run the kitchen at the 9,000 square foot beer garden.

Petruce will be utilizing an outdoor grill to cook up elevated barbecue and street food favorites. Look for a selection of skewers, grilled corn, lobster roll and more. As the summer rolls along, look for other surprises to be added.

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Volver To Host Summer School This June and July

volver summer classes 400This June and July, Jose Garces’ Volver is hosting hands-on cooking classes on Wednesday and Thursday events. Each class is taught by Garces Group chefs and beverage experts and are aimed for all culinary skill levels.

The series kicks off on Wednesday, June 1st with Jose Garces leading a class to prepare a menu of recipes selected by Garces himself. The hands-on class will feature tips, techniques and tools from the Iron Chef. Tickets to the Garces led kickoff are $225 per person. Other tickets range from $100 for cocktail classes to $185 for a pasta class with Amada New York’s chef de cuisine, Justin Bogle.

Classes begin at 6:30 p.m. and last two to three hours.

Volver [Foobooz]
Volver Summer School
 [Official]

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