Fall Restaurant Preview: What Has Us Excited


Fall officially arrives this weekend and the season promises to be a busy one for Philadelphia’s restaurant scene. Here are some of the projects that we’re most looking forward to checking out.

Jose Garces’s gaze has been beyond Philadelphia for the past couple years as he’s opened versions of his Philadelphia restaurants far and wide. But we’re excited to see what he does as he opens a couple of new projects this fall in Philadelphia. First up will be Rosa Blanca, his Cuban diner that will replace Chifa. The concept should be more palpable to nearby tourists but we’re intrigued by how late it might be open. Volver is his project at the Kimmel Center which will feature a section that will only be open when the Iron Chef is cooking. Talk about exclusive.

Pierre and Charlotte Calmels are taking the step from their intimate Bibou to the Art Alliance building. The couple looks to eradicate the ghosts of restaurants past in the attractive building. Le Chéri will be the name, classic French will be the game. And with the praise heaped on Bibou, we expect them to do just fine on Rittenhouse Square.

Speaking of ghosts, ridding 1523 Walnut Street of the spirit of Le Bec Fin is the task that Justin Bogle and Chris Scarduzzio have signed up for. Avance promises to be a very different restaurant from Le Bec, and Bogle has the Michelin starred pedigree to pull it off.

Nick Elmi, who spent the past few years at Le Bec and Rittenhouse Tavern is opening his own spot on Passyunk Avenue. Elmi, who will be on Top Chef New Orleans opens Laurel in November, where Fond got its start.

Kevin Sbraga has picked a location for his second restaurant. The Fat Ham will take over the space that was Tria Wine Room in University City. The 45-seat restaurant will focus on Southern cuisine and as you might guess, will have a focus on pork.

Tria took its liquor license from the Wine Room and is applying it to Tria Taproom . This will be Tria’s take on pizza and beer. The bar promises it will be all draft, from wine to cider, no bottles to be found.

Manyunk is about to get happy. Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal have brought us Fairmount’s La Calaca Feliz and Fort Washington’s Cantina Feliz and now they’re opening Taqueria Feliz. As the Garces alums have expanded they’ve brought in good people. The Main Street taqueria will have Lucio Palazzo (Xochitl, La Calaca Feliz) in the kitchen and good guy, Anthony Gualtieri will be in the front of the house.

Fans of Dim Sum Garden will be thrilled to check out the new location of the soup dumpling hot spot. Opposite of Hop Sing Laundromat, the new spot is much bigger and will even have a gas line.

Call us crazy, but we’re excited to check out Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co. Sure it is following quickly behind Ralic’s on South, which reconceptualized almost immediately. And yes, Mike Stollenwerk is a flight risk in the kitchen. But Philadelphia really needs a crab house. So maybe this will be it.

Speaking of crazy. What’s crazier than opening a $3.5 million restaurant in tiny Magnolia, New Jersey? Royal Cracovia has been promised for a year or more but will open with an underground “pierogie lab.” How can you not be excited for that?

Chestnut Square is bringing three newsworthy openings to Drexel’s campus. CoZara will be Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s second restaurant. Zavino is opening its second location at 3200 Chestnut  and the area’s second Shake Shack will also occupy the new complex.

The old General Lafayette has been acquired by the Devil’s Den team and being made over into Barren Hill Tavern. Get a sneak peek of the beers brewed at Barren Hill this October at Devil’s Den. Brewer Scott Morrison is brewing up a French Oktoberfest beer and a double Berlinner Weisse.