Philly Restaurants That Are Miraculously Opening in a Pandemic

City-defining French brasseries, small neighborhood bistros, and fast-casual sandwich shops — all, somehow, opening up, against all odds.

Set NoLibs, just opened in NoLibs | Photo provided

With all the bad news coming out of the restaurant world right now, it’s hard to even believe the good news. The fact that restaurants are opening right now seems impossible.

And yet.

These aren’t just pop-ups, either. They’re full-on dining rooms and bars with fancy lighting and chef-y menus opening their doors in the middle of a pandemic that’s making doing restaurant business in this town borderline unfeasible.

And yet.

Here, some new and noteworthy ones to keep an eye on.


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Clementine’s Stable Café

After absolutely nailing the whole neighborhood-y destination thing in Fairmount with Tela’s Market & Kitchen, owner Daniel Greenberg is onto his second spot: Clementine’s, a cute bistro on North Broad Street, doing a seasonal menu filled with special goodies like corn ravioli with chanterelle mushrooms, lamb chops with piri piri sauce, and simply prepared whole fish and rib-eyes for two. 631 North Broad Street, Fairmount


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Le Cavalier

Tyler Akin’s 118-seat revamp of Wilmington’s historic Green Room is easily one of the most ambitious openings of the year. Now a French brasserie, Akin is flexing his French culinary chops with Parisian gnocchi, trout amandine, and a whole veal shoulder for the table. 42 West 11th Street, Wilmington


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Kevin Addis, the chef-owner of Entrée BYOB on South Street, just opened a teensy seafood-focused BYO in the former Dmitri’s space in Queen Village. It’s got a Sicilian bent, so expect plenty of pasta and absolutely no-fuss. 795 South 3rd Street, Queen Village


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The Wayward

Gin and bubbles and freshly shucked oysters — plus some more classic French dishes by chef Yun Fuentes, like Lyonnaise salads and bowls of smoked mussels — in a pretty, twinkly-lit outdoor space in Center City. 1170 Ludlow Street, Midtown Village


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Zig Zag BBQ

Texas-style brisket is the house specialty, but there’s also Matt Lang’s Beefheart of the Rodeo sandwich, a thriller stuffed with both brisket and pulled pork, seasoned with fish sauce and lime, with BBQ sauce and pickles. Like, Jesus Christ. 2111 East York Street, Kensington


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(Opening soon)

We’ve seen maitake mushrooms (or as we’ve come to know them on Philly restaurant menus: hen of the woods mushrooms) baked in wood fire ovens and butter roasted in hot pans. But we’ve yet to see it breaded, deep fried and given the fancy burger treatment it so rightly deserves. Which, by itself, makes Huda, a soon-to-open sandwich shop by Yehuda Sichel (who launched and ran the show at Abe Fisher), one of the most exciting openings of the year. 32 South 18th Street, Rittenhouse


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Alma del Mar

Philly’s first restaurant born on Netflix’s Queer Eye, Alma del Mar is a Mexican seafood BYO by Marcos Tlacopilco smack in the middle of the 9th Street market — and one of the few restaurants on that street with its very own outdoor patio. 1007 South Ninth Street, Bella Vista


(Opening soon)

After a semi successful run in Point Breeze, Burg’s Hideaway Lounge is giving way to Community, a casual neighborhooder by the 33rd Street Hospitality crew (also behind Revolution Tacos in Rittenhouse) doing all the neighborhood-y things, according to the Inquirer, like prepared foods and pantry items, an easy bar menu filled with sandwiches. 1200 South 21st St, Point Breeze


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Set NoLibs

Another NYC expansion landing in Northern Liberties (a la Glu Hospitality, which recently opened Leda and the Swan in Midtown Village and Añejo just up the street), Set NoLibs is bringing Asian-fusion bar and comfort food (bulgogi cheesesteak sliders, Thai chili sriracha wings, and “Vietnamese buttered” skirt steak, etc.) to North 2nd Street in an “Instagram ready” graffiti’d (by local artist Dave Henry) space. Plus, brunch! 1030 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties