Back to School in University City


The best part of going back to school is seeing your friends again and hearing about what they did this summer. And if you consider University City a friend, you’ll be excited to hear what happened over the summer to the neighborhood as new restaurants have opened and even more will swing open their doors this fall.

What, you didn’t know one University City campus is getting a Shake Shack put in right by the school cafeteria? And did you see that Irish bar take over space in the Left Bank? Did you hear about the anniversary discount happy hour at one of University City’s finest Mexican restaurants? No?

Catch up with look at what’s new, what’s opening soon and what events are coming up in the land of Penn and Drexel.

What’s New in University City

It’s not a pot of gold, but the Irish bar St. Declan’s Well popped up at the base of 3131 Walnut Street at the end of August. Named after a well in a monastery founded by the guy who brought Christianity to Ireland before St. Patrick, St. Declan’s Well offers 19 macro, micro and imported beers on draft plus a full bar. The bar is open for lunch and dinner with traditional bar fare like wings, nachos and quesadillas but this weekend marks the opening of the temporary brunch menu that will be made permanent in the upcoming weeks. But for now, expect omelets, veggie benedicts, poached eggs and asparagus, a breakfast sandwich and, of course, a traditional Irish breakfast with bangers, black and white pudding, tomatoes, beans and soda bread.

Famed brunch spot Rx has lived on through Rx The Farmacy, which has been serving brunch and dinner menu items from 4443 Spruce Street since August. The BYOB is known for using ingredients from local sustainable farms, but Ross Scofield’s place also sells pitchers and glasses of “infusions” (aka “mixers”) to mix with your alcohol.

What’s Opening Soon in University City

This little piggy went to Market Street, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy ate country-fried lobster at local Top Chef Kevin Sbraga’s The Fat Ham when the restaurant opens this fall, and this stupid piggy had none. Don’t be the stupid piggy. Sbraga’s empire-building second restaurant, which will open in Tria Wine Room’s old space at the Left Bank, lives up to its name with several pork items on its Southern supper-inspired menu. And for the over-21 crowd, expect Southern beers plus whiskey and bourbon cocktails—including seasonal julep and sweet tea cocktails on tap.

And if you’re too lazy to walk to the Left Bank for some Southern eats, head on up to Wishbone at 4034 Walnut Street for some fried chicken. With a tentative October opening, the restaurant will build its all-day lunch and dinner menu around fried chicken. Drexel alums are opening the spot, which took over the space formerly occupied by Lee’s Hoagie House.

hipcityveg-ucity-facadeNearby, at 214 S. 40th St., the vegan fast food that spawned long lunch lines at HipCityVeg’s Rittenhouse location will be coming to University City in early October. If you see a lot of students rushing to class with bio-degradale cups filled with a bright green liquid, now you know it’s the HipCityVeg Groothie and not weird radioactive goo from a lab.

Don’t worry, Drexel students, you too will have a cornucopia of new restaurants coming to Chestnut Square at 3200 Chestnut Street, once the construction that forced new pathways to the Hans dining hall and MacAlister building finally finishes this fall. Joe Coffee and Shake Shack will add new locations to their Rittenhouse counterparts in October, which is when fro-yo chain Yogorino is expected to open too. Zavino, a wine bar pizzeria, and coZara, which will come from the geniuses behind Zama in Rittenhouse, will open by December or January. An official grand opening of the property will happen towards the end of the quarter in December—which is a pretty good holiday gift, don’t you think?

Also at Drexel, students will find that Vegetate, a vegan and vegetarian friendly quick service spot, will take over the Creese Café space in MacAlister Hall. Now you can pick up healthier vegetarian and vegan options like tempura crusted quinoa and a chunky cucumber salsa in a pita, hickory smoked Portobello mushrooms with roasted pepper, apple slaw and a spicy vegenaise dressing n a seven-grain roll. Sure beats the standard college breakfast sandwiches and take-away cold sandwiches, huh? Opening in late October, Vegetate will cater to the vegetarians, vegans, and health-oriented students Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the weekend.

Events and Deals in University City

Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Mexican small plates restaurant Distrito is celebrating five years in University City on Thursday, September 12, which means a new happy hour menu, beer and cocktail happy hour specials, and raffles all night long. So now you can drink discounted margaritas and enter to win a Corona bicycle while a DJ gets the party started, all because it’s Cinco de Distrito.

The Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll also rolls in on September 12 to celebrate the end of the summer season to get you deals on almost anything you’ve ever wanted to get a deal on. Vendors will line up from 43rd to 51st streets along—you guessed it—Baltimore Avenue to give the growing amount of visitors discounts on goods and treats.

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