The crystal ball for the 2014 Philadelphia-area restaurant scene shows assorted bright spots: a Jose Garces restaurant where he himself will cook, a Marc Vetri project at the Navy Yard, George Sabatino's solo debut in Rittenhouse, a Mexican restaurant in Rittenhouse, a few brewpubs, a restaurant within a butcher shop, two vegan bars, a locavore-themed bar-restaurant for Washington Square West, and Spike Mendelsohn's Good Stuff Eatery.
The Pop Shop in Collingswood is opening a second location, in downtown Medford.
This year's hot restaurant neighborhoods look to be on Center City's fringe.
There's East Passyunk, which will get Brigantessa from Le Virtu's crew in the spring and a Chris Scarduzio bistro in the fall.
There also is the western sliver of Fishtown along Frankford Avenue where it meets Kensington. La Colombe's new distillery and cafe is due April 15 at 1335 Frankford Ave. . . . This spring at 1310 Frankford Ave., Michael Pasquarello (Bufad, Prohibition, Cafe Lift) and butcher Bryan Mayer will open Kensington Quarters, a whole-animal butcher shop inside a bar-restaurant with a lofted educational/secondary dining space. . . . PYT's Tommy Up is working on a 1950s-theme tiki bar at 1444 Frankford Ave.
Another hot spot could be Brewerytown, where a bar called Sarah's Place is being readied at 1216 N. 29th St. . . . Crime & Punishment Brewing Co., a brewpub, is under construction at 2711 W. Girard Ave.
It may still be 2014 when Cheesecake Factory opens at 15th and Walnut Streets. Though demolition of the buildings has not begun, a zoning hearing on the restaurant's signs is scheduled for next month.
And speaking of zoning, the operators of the Trestle Inn, the whiskey/go-go bar at 11th and Callowhill Streets, are seeking a variance to construct a roof deck to service a new restaurant to be built on the second and fourth floors. The Trestle is not going anywhere.
In more or less chronological order, here is what to expect to open in at least the first half of the year:
In Chestnut Hill, chef Al Paris and partners Robert and Benjamin Bynum are looking for a January opening of Paris Bistro, in the Chestnut Hill Hotel. A jazz club downstairs will open later.
In the burbs, chef Chip Roman and pastry chef Fred Ortega are going next door to Roman's Blackfish to open Tradestone Confections, a luxe candy shop/cafe, at 117 Fayette St. in January.
Simply Shabu (1023 Cherry St.) will bring hot pot to Chinatown in January.
Quincy's Original Lobster Rolls is looking for a January rollout in Swedesford Plaza, off Route 202 in Berwyn.
Sabrina's Cafe expects to open a fourth bruncherie, in Wynnewood Shopping Center, in January.
Sancho Pistola's, from Jose Pistola's, is targeted for late January at 19 W. Girard Ave. in Fishtown.
Jose Garces looks at a late-January opening of his atelier, Volver, at the Kimmel Center.
Zavino's second location, at Chestnut Square (3200 Chestnut St.) is up for late January.
Stock - the pho shop from Zahav sous chef Tyler Akin - is targeting late January/early February at 308 E. Girard in Fishtown.
Chefs-brothers Jonathan and Justin Petruce are saying "early 2014" for Petruce et al., their rustic 60-seater at 1121 Walnut St.
Early February should see the debut of coZara, the izakaya from Zama Tanaka, at Chestnut Square (3200 Chestnut St.).
The new Federal Donuts shop at 3428 Sansom St. is due in February. Another FedNuts, at 701 Fairmount Ave., should follow a few weeks later.
Crow & the Pitcher - the collab of Alex Capasso and Michael Franco - is looking at January/February at 267 S. 19th St.
Ishkabibble's II at 517 South St. - a larger, sitdown offshoot of the South Street sandwich window - appears to be opening soon.
Junto - a Pennsylvania-centric BYOB in Chadds Ford from erstwhile Jose Garces lieutenant MacGregor Mann - is pegged to March.
March is the target for a still-unnamed, vegetable-themed boîte from Vedge's Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby at 126 S. 19th St.
Estia Greek Taverna - midprice Greek fare in Marlton - has an "early 2014" target.
Conshohocken Brewing Co. on East Elm Street has an "early 2014" target.
April is the due date for Chops at the Comcast Center (1701 JFK Blvd.), the former Table 31.
"Spring" is the expected opening of: Bank & Bourbon on the ground floor of the Loews Hotel, 1200 Market St.; Royal Izakaya at 780 S. Second St. in Queen Village; Kensington Quarters in Fishtown; George Sabatino's Aldine at 1901 Chestnut St.; Good Stuff Eatery at 108 S. 18th St.; Distrito in Moorestown Mall; Brigantessa at 1520 E. Passyunk Ave.; Charlie Was a Sinner, the vegan bar at 131 S. 13th St.; and the Michael Solomonov/Steve Cook-owned duo Dizengoff and Abe Fisher at 1605-27 Sansom St.
Marc Vetri is saying late April/early May for his project at the Navy Yard. The name will be Lo Spiedo - that translates to a spit from a rotisserie - which will be the cooking focus. (The restaurant name initially was the Brig.)
Mad Mex hopes to open another cantina in April or May at the former Borders store in Wynnewood Shopping Center.
Guild Hall Brewing Company, a brewpub next to the Hiway theater in Jenkintown, hopes to roll out the barrel in May.
May is the target for a new Honey's Sit N Eat at 228 Vine St. in Old City.
We're looking at "late spring" for a Pietro's, Estia Greek Taverna, honeygrow, and HubBub Coffee - all at 200 Radnor-Chester Rd. in Villanova.
Late spring is the target for Nashville fun spot Tin Roof at 1521 Sansom St.
Summer is the word for Mercadito, a stylish Mexican restaurant coming to 2116 Chestnut St.
See www.philly.com/mike for updates.