The Nourishing Force of Honeysuckle Provisions
West Philly’s new Afrocentric cafe is putting out hoagies, beef patties, and breakfast sandwiches that are among the most thoughtful dishes in Philly right now.
In the kitchen, the crew works with heads down, assembling salads and griyo and pop tarts under bright white lights. Out front, labels in the bakery case promise yam bread, homemade oatmeal cream pies, and plantain cakes sticky with sugar — some of which sold out before you were even awake.
Forever ago, back in 2020, Honeysuckle Provisions was mostly a dream. Omar Tate was a chef on the rise sidetracked by the pandemic, living with his mom in West Philly and trying to figure out what came next. He believed that every dish came with a story, and he cooked that way, too. He and Cybille St. Aude-Tate found each other in March of 2020 and got married six months later. They launched a crowdfunding effort to get Honeysuckle off the ground.
For Omar, Cybille and their team, this neighborhood market and takeout spot in West Philly is just one part of Honeysuckle Provisions’ larger commitment to Afrocentric foods, sustainable farming practices, and memories. A small storefront on 48th Street with a cooler stocked with pimento cheese, pickled vegetables and local eggs; beets and Brussels sprouts in oppositely labeled baskets; produce boxes of plantain and cabbage; Bustelo coffee on a wire rack, along with some cereal and rice. They have that kitchen, putting out hoagies, breakfast sandwiches and beef patties that are among the most thoughtful dishes in the whole city right now.
Honeysuckle’s “Dolla” hoagie is like a memory of the best hoagie you can recall eating, lifted whole from some mythical Philly of your youth and made stronger. The benne-seed roll is soft, a little nutty. The roasted turkey hails from Smith Poultry in New Jersey. The hoagie oil has a vinegar-and-pepper kick that’ll snap your head back. You can smell it through two layers of sandwich paper and the bag it comes in. This hoagie feels handmade in a way that speaks to the consideration of every single ingredient — from the thin-sliced tomatoes to the local havarti cheese.
The kitchen does breakfast all day — handmade hot pockets stuffed with eggs scrambled soft and the savory green smokiness of collards cooked for hours. Blueberry pop tarts that run out before lunchtime. For lunch, that hoagie, or another version made with thin-sliced turnip in place of the turkey. Golden-brown beef patties in tender dough pockets, the meat ground and chopped and rich with turmeric and coriander and warm West Indian spices.
It’s small, this market. But there’s more to Cybille and Omar’s vision. They’ve also got a Black farmers CSA box. Dreams of a whole community center. A supper club, maybe, centering Black chefs and producers. Some stories take longer to tell than others. And Honeysuckle is just getting started.
2 Stars — Come if you’re in the neighborhood
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country
Published as “A Small But Mighty Market” in the March 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.