New restaurants popping up, and visiting old favorites | Let's Eat

Happy Ate-Ate

It’s the best day for food lovers. How so? Say it with me: “8-8-18.” And what a time to be eating in Philly, as we’re seeing a sudden pop in openings. This week, I visited the new Tradesman’s in Center City as well as the Cafe Lift that just opened in Narberth, and I checked out a few favorites, including an Old City destination that excels at happy hour. If you need food news, click here and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Email tips, suggestions, and questions here. If someone forwarded you this free newsletter and you like what you’re reading, sign up here to get it every week.

— Michael Klein

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Main bar at Tradesman’s, 1322 Chestnut St. At rear is the sidewalk drink rail.

A BBQ-and-brew destination in Center City

The stretch of Center City south of Market and just east of Broad, once so sleepy after nightfall, is now a nightlife magnet. BRU Craft & Wurst and U-BAHN have been joined this week by Trademan’s, a barbecue, beer, and whiskey specialist that backs up to McGillin’s Olde Ale House — and sits just a few hundred feet from such joints as Time, Bar, and the 13th Street restaurant corridor. Tradesman boss Teddy Sourias, whose holdings include BRU and U-BAHN, set up this vast 200-seater (at Chestnut and Juniper) with a mezzanine that overlooks a main bar dispensing 34 beers on tap and an expanding selection of whiskeys (120 by fall). Outdoor seating includes a drink rail set up along the Chestnut Street windows; from your perch on the sidewalk, you can face a friend seated inside. Chef Craig Meyers’ menu includes Carolina pulled pork, Kansas City ribs, brisket, chicken, and tri-tip. It’s open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. weekends, for now. Lunch and brunch are on the way. But wait. There’s more: The Hale Building on the southwest corner of Juniper and Chestnut is supposed to get two restaurants.

Where we’re enjoying happy hour

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Mussels at happy hour at Olde Bar.

The Olde Bar
125 Walnut St., 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 

Jose Garces’ reimagination of Old Original Bookbinder’s — a tribute richly wrought in 19th-century mahogany, globe lighting, and intricate tile — delivers a classic/classy happy hour. Check the blackboard for drink specials above and beyond those on the printed menu. A perfectly mixed Air Mail ($8) paired well with richly flavored mussels (only $5, as are the other HH snacks).

Where we’re eating: Cafe Lift Narberth, Winnie’s Manayunk, Vic Sushi & Thai 

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Egg cheesesteak at Cafe Lift.

Cafe Lift, a vanguard of Philly’s urban-brunch scene, has ventured out to Narberth for its second location. It’s open at 7 a.m. for coffee and pastry, followed at 8 a.m. by a hearty menu in a vaguely industrial atmosphere — as industrial as you can make a former bank branch (724 Montgomery Ave.) Free parking and outdoor seating, and it’s notably kid-friendly. There’s also a liquor license, so you can tip a beer or cocktail with your cannoli French toast. Closes at 3 p.m. daily.

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Pork belly Benedict at Winnie’s Manayunk.

Every town and neighborhood needs a wholesome, Cheers-y American bar-restaurant, and Manayunk has Winnie’s Manayunk (4266 Main St.), which Winnie Clowry and her husband, Bob, bought in 2003 when it was Le Bus. (Confusion reigns since founder David Braverman recently revived the Le Bus name as a restaurant nearby in East Falls. Winnie cheekily uses #notlebus in her branding.) Winnie’s menu goes beyond the basics, including all-day brunch and happy hour from 5-7 p.m. daily (try the snarky peppers — roasted long hots stuffed with prosciutto and Provolone — accompanied by a $6 cocktail, $4 beer, or $5 wine).

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Volcano roll at Vic Sushi.

The Vic name — and you might be able to picture the swooshy, red lettering — hangs over four sushi restaurants in the Philly area. The always-packed Rittenhouse flagship is unrelated to the newer locations in Willow Grove, Ambler, and Bryn Mawr, which offer Thai dishes in addition to the quality fish at reasonable prices. It’s many locals’ go-to for takeout. Dining in means spare surroundings (Ambler, in particular, is snug) and brisk service.

Been anywhere good lately in the Greater Philadelphia area? Let me know.

At-home sushi at doesn’t need to be intimidating.

This week on

Pro tips for making sushi rolls at home

As long as you have a fresh fish supplier and a sharp knife, making sushi at home can be easy.

Why it’s not so easy to create ‘safe space’ in Philly’s bar scene

This particular safe space remains perhaps Philly’s best sleeper cocktail bar. Thanks to the perma-pop-up Pizza Gutt, it has also lately emerged as one of its most coveted foodie destinations.

Skyrocketing vanilla prices a challenge for Philly bakers, ice cream makers

If you’ve noticed that the price of Bassetts Ice Cream has gone up, this is why.

Dining Notes

Cherry Hill Restaurant Week returns Saturday, Aug. 11, and runs to Aug. 19.

Chestnut Hill Summer Restaurant Week starts Sunday, Aug. 12, and runs till  Aug. 17 with $35 meal deals at 14 restos.

Center City District Restaurant Week runs from Sunday, Sept. 23-Oct. 5, including Saturday at most restaurants.

La Famiglia in Old City is repeating its summertime deal: Owner Giuseppe Sena rolls back menu prices to 1976, the year of its opening. Call for details and a table.

Chef Ben Thomas is refashioning Restaurant Cerise in Bryn Mawr as Cerise Craft Steakhouse, and he’s set an Aug. 24 debut. Meanwhile, he’ll lead a food demo at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at Bryn Mawr Farmer’s Market.

This week’s openings

Amis Trattoria | Devon

The Main Line location of the Washington Square West Italian restaurant founded by Marc Vetri but now owned by Urban Outfitters is expected to open next week, along with Terrain Cafe.

Cafe Lift | Narberth

See above.

Glory Beer Bar | Old City

David Crudele, a longtime bartender at the now-shuttered Eulogy Belgian Tavern, has set up a beer bar at 126 Chestnut St. with 36 on tap and an American menu featuring roasted meats. Should open this weekend.

Market on Ninth | South Philly

The crew from Ralph’s and BarOne has opened a market (by day) and American BYOB (by night) at 943 S. Ninth St. in the Italian Market.

Saxbys | West Chester

The coffee chain has opened its sixth “Experiential Learning Program” — a student-run cafe at 701 S. High St. on the West Chester U campus. Go, Rams.

Tradesman’s | Center City

See above.

This week’s closing

The Farmhouse | Cherry Hill

The redo of the landmark building on Kresson Road closed after 15 months. Owner Stu Wanicur did not respond to my messages.

Craig LaBan is on vacation.