Yesterday we wrote about some exciting stuff happening for National Empanada Day–arguably the best day of the year.
But wait, there’s more!
Everyone’s favorite weekend ritual is about to get some more variety. As the weather warms up, restaurants are launching new brunches, complete with drink deals and outdoor seating. Whether you’re nursing a hangover with endless Bloody Marys or trying to find a place you can bring crying kids, there’s something new for you.
This past Sunday, SkyBrunch commenced at Top of the Tower at Three Logan Center (18th and Arch). Each week you can head up to the 51st floor for an all-inclusive brunch and an unbeatable panorama of the city. Brunch costs $50 per person.
Jose Garces is opening Nacional 56 downstairs from Rosa Blanca at 707 Chestnut Street on Wednesday, November 26th. The lounge will offer Latin music, cocktails and light Cuban fare four nights a week.
While Garces handles the food and drink, David Pena and Pena Productions (Boogie Nights at the Tropicana in Atlantic City and a host of other casino venues around the country) will handle the DJs and live music. Pena says “he [Garces] does food. We do nightlife and we’re both Latino; you know it will be the real deal.”
Philadelphia super-chef Jose Garces will operate a new Rosa Blanca Cafe on the north end of the renovated Dilworth Park when that spot — on the west side of City Hall — re-opens next month.
Garces was on hand for a press conference Tuesday morning describing the renovations. He said the cafe will offer “Cuban-inspired” cuisine and be open in time for the breakfast crowd.
Volver isn’t the only restaurant in the Garces family that’s getting some action these days. Because now we’ve got news coming down about fresh developments at both Garces Trading Co. and Rosa Blanca.
First, on the Cuban front, Rosa Blanca is launching a new Happy Hour program. From 4pm-6pm daily, the kitchen will be offering a menu of their classic Cuban comfort food at reduced prices, plus $6 mojitos and (this is the awesome part) a $9 all-you-can-eat empanada deal. I’m pretty sure I could bankrupt that place all alone just by stuffing my snack-hole full of all-you-can-eat empanadas, but far be it from me to have all the fun. I suggest you all attempt to do the same.
Craig LaBan finds that Jose Garces’s Rosa Blanca may suffer from a split personality but is worth it when it comes to Cuban classics.
Rosa Blanca is at its best when embracing its Cuban comida soul. The ropa vieja was stewed to brisket silk, profound with a subtle molasses sweetness and sneaky red fresno chili spice. Flavorful cubes of pork-shoulder masitas were intense with savory adobo seasoning, practically melting on the tongue. The garlicky roast chickens, meanwhile, are among the most flavorful in town, dripping oregano and achiote-tinted essence down from the spit onto baby potatoes that turn yellow with flavor. With a crock of perfect black beans and rice on the side, it’s a satisfying value for $18.
Two Bells – Very Good
The registrar of food holidays has declared that today, April 8th is National Empanada Day and that means bargain empanadas around Philadelphia.
Cuba Libre is celebrating by offering empanadas for just one dollar between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Also, all month, the Old City Cuban restaurant is donating 50 cents of all empanada sales to Philabundance. In addition to the charitable effort, each empanada purchased will earn a raffle ticket. At the end of the month, all tickets will be entered into a drawing with the winner claiming free empanadas for a year.
Jose Garces’s Rosa Blanca is also offering dollar empanadas. All day, the cheese empanadas are being discounted. So head out and celebrate the empanada.
Jose Garces can take you places. And the most compelling ones are those you’d have the hardest time reaching on your own. That’s why Amada, with its broad embrace of Spain, has always been second in my book to Tinto’s deep dive into Basque country. And it’s one reason JG Domestic’s all-American pantry, for all its ambition, has always felt more expendable than Distrito’s gaudy fantasia of luchador masks and tequila-cured ceviche.
So if there was any silver lining to the closure of Chifa, whose Peruvian-Chinese cuisine was Garces’s most inspired adventure, it was the news that its replacement would be a destination that gets stamped on even fewer American passports: a Cuban diner.
Yeah, the place has only been open about a month. And yeah, it seemed like Fuentes was doing good work there. And double-yeah, he’s been with the Garces organization for a long time. But it looks like he’s out of the kitchen (and the Garces Group entirely) and ex Tinto sous chef Jose Olmeda is now standing in his place.
You can check out the whole story (or what there is of it at the moment) over at Eater.
The Foobooz News Team rolled up on Rosa Blanca (the former Chifa, 707 Chestnut Street) just ahead of tonight’s staff-on-staff dinner, and can I tell you how much I loved this place? Seriously, I’ve been pining for some seriously good Cuban food since leaving Tampa more years ago than I care to mention, and this might finally be the place that brings it home. We didn’t get to try a lot–just a few rum-heavy cocktails (including a very well-served Cuba Libre), some ropa vieja (which was excellent), a bowl of black beans and rice and the best fried yucca I’ve had in a decade or more of looking EVERYWHERE for it.