Brunch is on at Porto in South Philly

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Porto, 11th and Wharton Streets.

The southeast corner of 11th and Wharton Streets was for more than two decades Carman's Country Kitchen, arguably the city's quirkiest luncheonette.

More than a year ago, Carman Luntzel gave up the snug, little joint - with its phallic symbols and R-rated signs and lifesize Dora the Explorer doll and pickup truck outside that also served as seating.

Replacing it earlier this winter is a much more staid bruncherie, Porto (1301 S. 11th St., 267-928-3956).

Where Luntzel was a former cocktail waitress who took over the luncheonette as a lark, Porto chef/owner Christine Liskowicz did it because she said she had to.

Taught by her mother and formally trained years ago at the Culinary Institute of America, "I worked for everybody - For Pete's Sake, Sabrina's [on Callowhill Street], and I got to the point where I had to do this," she said. "Now, it's time for me to see what it's about."

Her first challenge was excavating Carman's primitive kitchen. Then came time to strip the interior. Only the tin ceiling remains, Liskowicz said.

Her menu has brunch staples, as well as Portuguese and Polish specialties. "This is not gluttony on a plate," she said, referring to the vogue of huge portions. "Everybody finishes their meals." The Inquirer's Craig LaBan praised her "Yo, Cuz," a chicken cutlet sandwiched between two bacon-cheddar waffles drizzled with jalapeño-maple yogurt butter. "It’s one tasty mouthful of 'Welcome to the neighborhood!' " he wrote.

Liskowicz is a plainspoken gal, but she said she is aiming to be "more family-oriented" than her predecessor. Hence the G-rated decor and smiling staff. Also, the cops from the Third District across the street are welcome; Carman had a frosty relationship with them. 

Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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