Center City District Restaurant Week means value. I help crack the list. Also this week, I make tracks to a cozy bar off Route 309 in Souderton, get roast(ed) at a new beer bar in Old City, and find tasty quote-unquote deli at Reading Terminal Market. 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 newsletter and you like what you're reading, sign up here to get it free every week.
Sunday opens the fall 2018 edition of Center City District Restaurant Week, and the now-semiannual promo has come a long way since 2003, when 40 restaurants offered $30 fixed-price dinners over six nights.
The week now actually spans two — Sept. 23 to Oct. 5 — with 123 restaurants offering dinner for $35 and some doing $20 lunches.
A mere $5 rise over 15 years suggests that many of the specials are true bargains.
The books are filling up at the big-name, bigger-ticket restaurants — such as the Stephen Starr places like Alma de Cuba and Buddakan, Michael Schulson's Sampan, Osteria and Harp & Crown, Jose Garces' Volver and Amada.
But the list is studded with unsung restaurants — joints without big marketing and PR budgets.
Where to try? I offer a start: Eight restaurants worth your while.
Also note that discounted dining is not limited to Center City: Conshohocken Restaurant Week is on through Sept. 23 at nine restaurants.
Felina | New Hope
Farm-to-table Italian is coming soon to 9 S Main St., the former Mansion Inn.
LUHV Vegan Deli | Reading Terminal Market
Rose Petals Cafe | Elkins Park
The sibling of the popular Germantown restaurant opens Sept. 21 at Yorktown Plaza with a waffle-cutting.
Avenue Deli | Lansdowne
The Jewish-Italian restaurant, once heralded as part of the Delco borough's revitalization, ran out of steam after five years.
Indian Restaurant 722 | Northern Liberties
It's gone in less than six months at 722 N. Second St.
Jasmine Rice | Old City
A sign on the window at 224 Market St. says the Thai yearling is temporarily closed due to staffing issues and steers folks to the location at 306 S. 16th St.
Usaquen | Kensington
The Colombian newcomer is buttoned up tight, and owner Mel Tenorio is not answering his phone.
123 Chestnut St., 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
Han Chiang's flagship Chinese restaurant in Old City has atmosphere aplenty, thanks to the soaring ceiling and dramatic lighting. (Trivia: This look dates to the first restaurant in the space: Rococo, which opened in 1996.) Happy hour includes a few discounted appetizers at the bar (such as the $5 dandan noodles you see here) plus $3 Chinese beers, $4 wine, and $5 mixed drinks.
One for the northern suburbs: Butcher & Barkeep in Harleysville and Boardroom Spirits in Lansdale are working together at the old train station in Souderton. Northbound (2 W. Broad St.) is a cozy bar with a solid cocktail list, a few small dining rooms and a killer outdoor patio alongside a rail siding. The tasty surprise from chef/co-owner Jeff Sacco: Detroit-style square pizza at dinner.
The rustic Glory Beer Bar & Kitchen, which recently took the Mad River space at 126 Chestnut St. in Old City, has a sterling collection of 36 beers on tap, plus wines and cocktails, and more than enough room for you and your gang. (Owner David Crudele knows the local scene. He helped run the old Eulogy a few doors away.) Chef Kevin Wieman creatively bases a good portion of his menu on roasts, including prime rib and porchetta, so the way to go here is a platter or a luscious sandwich.
Quotation marks fly at Reading Terminal Market's new deli; "brisket," "pastrami," "tuna," "sausage," "cheese." That's because it's LUHV Vegan Deli, an offshoot of LUHV Foods, the Hatboro cafe and manufacturer of Energy soup and other plant-based specialties. Menu at the Terminal includes sandwiches, black-bean burgers, wraps, soups, and assorted deli stuff available by the pound and half-pound. The Reuben's kraut, "cheese," "Russian dressing," and "corned" seitan — on "buttery" grilled rye — combine as an impressive sandwich.
Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin took a little field trip to Yards Brewing Company on Tuesday morning. After driving down from New York, where he now plays for the Giants, Barwin put on a pair of safety glasses, and set out for a tour of the facilities — currently processing a beer he helped to inspire.
The vendors at the new Bourse Food Hall — occupying the landmark Beaux Arts building between Fourth and Fifth Streets north of Ranstead Street — are opening in the next months, pending a scheduled Nov. 15 grand opening beneath the nine-story atrium. Try the Hotstepper sandwich (cheddar, bacon, and jalapeño on jalapeño cheddar Pullman bread) at Mighty Melt.