A rendering of the forthcoming Rosa Blanca cafe.
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.
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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.
But wait, there’s more!
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
Rosa Blanca still seeking an identity [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Rosa Blanca [Foobooz]
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.
Masitas de puerco. Photography by Michael Persico
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.
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Citypaper is reporting (and Eater is confirming) that Yun Fuentes is out at Rosa Blanca. Already.
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.
Jose Olmeda Replaces Yun Fuentes At Rosa Blanca [Eater]
So Avance’s opening might be the big news tonight, but come Monday at 7am, Jose Garces’s dead-on rendition of a classic Miami Cuban diner, Rosa Blanca, will be hitting the scene.
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.
More on Rosa Blanca »
Construction is underway at 707 Chestnut Street as Jose Garces continues work converting Chifa into Rosa Blanca, a Cuban diner. The diner will be similar to retro-Cuban diners found in South Florida and will feature an open kitchen with stainless steel and white subway tile. A pink and faux-marble lunch counter runs along the open kitchen. Black-and-white tile flooring completes the diner feel. The main dining room is laid out similar to Chifa’s, with booths along the walls and tables down the middle.
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Over at the Insider, they’re reporting that Jose Garces has recently signed a lease on the Old Original Bookbinder’s space at 2nd and Walnut.
This is a huge deal for Garces–and I mean that in every sense of the word.
For starters, it’s literally HUGE. Better than 10,000 square feet. Which is bigger than any of his local spaces (with the possible exception of his operations at the Kimmel Center, depending on how he utilizes all the space available to him).
Second, it’s huge because it’s the old Bookbinder’s–a name that still swings a lot of weight in this town. The last guys to take over a restaurant with a name saddled with that kind of history? Nicolas Fanucci and his crew at Le Bec Fin. And we all know how that went.
Third, the Iron Chef already has a pretty full plate. He’s got Rosa Blanca set to open next month in the old Chifa space. Then Volver at the Kimmel Center. Then his other out-of-town operations to worry about. Taking on a space like this is a bold move no matter what he decides to do with it. And the one thing no one knows right this minute? What, exactly, Garces is planning to do with it.
The Insider has some details on the deal itself. You can check out the full story there.
Garces Leases Old Original Bookbinder’s [Insider]
We know quite a few things about the new Cuban diner that Jose Garces is going to be dropping into the space on Chestnut Street that once housed his occasionally-underrated Latino-Asian fusion restaurant, Chifa. We know that there’ll be Cuban sandwiches and we know that there’ll be empanadas. That there’ll be an integral take-out component to the concept, with a counter selling completas and pasteles right inside the door. We know that there’ll be a rotisserie and a rum menu, that Yun Fuentes will be running the kitchen. And we know that the big man himself really wanted the place to be open 24 hours, but still isn’t sure whether or not that’s going to fly.
And now, we know two other very important things: The name of the place and it’s opening date.
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