Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

🍸 The best in holiday spirits | Let’s Eat

Halal foods from around the world, a farmer grows her influence, and a look at the hottest new restaurant in Philly.

Monica Herndon / Staff Photographer

Need proof that it’s the holiday season? We’re here with many ideas for whiskeys and cocktails, whether you’re entertaining or gifting. Also this week: An international collection of halal foods, news about new restaurants, and word of a farmer who’s out standing in her field.

⬇️ Read on for a quiz and some Center City restaurant scoop.

📝 Send me 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.

If you see this 🔑 in today’s newsletter, that means we’re highlighting our exclusive journalism. You need to be a subscriber to read these stories.

Mike Klein

Our spirits issue

Making spirits bright, critic Craig LaBan is out with his annual crop of great whiskeys. This year, he says, he found some “extra octane in the snifters.” He’ll tell you how distillers are getting bolder as they read the market. 🔑

Distilling pioneer Andrew Aurwerda got the bright idea to buy small-batch spirits in bulk and to legally bottle them here in suburban Philly. The result: You can buy (and taste) small-batch booze legally, and his store, BOTLD, just opened near Rittenhouse Square.

Char & Stave, Bluebird Distilling’s coffee-and-spirits cafe in Ardmore, has just opened a pop-up shop in Chestnut Hill. Upshot: The 19118 now has a coffee shop, bar, and bottle shop.

Need ideas for a wintry cocktail? My colleague Hira Qureshi delivers six.

Jennifer Sabatino of Manatawny Still Works sat down with my colleague Jenn Ladd to follow the evolution of the local spirits scene. And how do they come up with cocktails?

Halal places worth checking out

Halal food in the Philadelphia area traditionally has been American food prepared according to Islamic dietary guidelines, as Hira writes. But as iMunch Cafe owner Karim Muhammad told her, the options have grown in the last 20 years as people arrive from Muslim-majority countries. Check out this rundown of tastiness, including Asad’s Hot Chicken in Northeast Philadelphia, where the hot chicken (above) is 🔥.

Christa Barfield’s FarmerJawn is growing, literally

FarmerJawn’s Christa Barfield, having planted the seeds for growth, is taking over Westtown School’s farm, and she is adding a new mission. The 123 acres south of West Chester will become 100% organic. FarmerJawn will farm half of the land, train people of color to farm the rest, and operate the popular farm stand.

Restaurants opening soon

Industry vets Kyle Wolak and Brendon Boudwin will open the doors at 11 a.m. Saturday to Carbon Copy, their beer/wine-focused restaurant at 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue, in the former West Philadelphia firehouse that formerly housed Dock Street Brewery. They’ve brightened it up, and the counter seating offers a view of the brewing equipment. (They make their wines in Kensington.) Menu from chefs Bill Braun and Alyston Upshaw is what you’d call easy pub food, with solid vegetarian options (chips and dip; a mixed salad with miso garlic dressing and quinoa crunch; charred cauliflower; gnocchi; and, for carnivores, pork belly). By the numbers: 18 taps for beer/wine/cocktails, 6 thin-crust, 14-inch pizzas, 50 seats indoors. (That’s Wolak at left, Boudwin at right in the photo below.)

Carbon Copy, 701 S. 50th St. Hours: 4-10 p.m. Monday (bar only), 4-11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Closed Tuesday.

FYI: Dock Street’s Fishtown tasting room is now on tap for late January.

You need to know about the nearly 40 new and soon-to-open restaurants in the Philadelphia area. Tap here for the rundown.

A few updates, besides Carbon Copy and Dock Street:

Delco Steaks opened Tuesday at Franklin’s Table food hall at 3401 Walnut St. on Penn’s campus. Wednesday is the grand opening of a Buena Onda location at the Concourse at Comcast Center (1701 JFK Blvd., lower level). Jose Garces’ taqueria will keep hours of 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. On Friday, Filipino food cart Tabachoy makes its pivot to sit-down BYOB at 932 S. 10th St. Also, Friday will be opening day for Kismet Bagels’ shop at 1700 Sansom St. “Next week” is the target for Noche, the revival of the bar upstairs at 1901 Chestnut St. Also, hard-seltzer maker Two Robbers is getting close to opening its tasting room/eatery in Fishtown; name had been Burgers & Seltzers but it’s back to Two Robbers.

Restaurant report

Hottest restaurant in town right now is the new home of Kalaya on Palmer Street between Front and Frankford on the Fishtown-Kensington line. The Resy book is sold out 30 days in advance, though you may be able to snag a walk-in at a table or the 14-seat bar. Chef Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon, partnered now with Defined Hospitality, redid a down-and-out warehouse into a lush Thai showpiece with high-style, high-ceilings, and high-decibels — much as they redid with the nearby Suraya and Pizzeria Beddia. Designer Katherine Lundberg of Studio Briquette installed soaring palm trees for a tropical effect.

There’s a grill here, unlike Kalaya’s previous location in Bella Vista, so you can dig into specialties like gai yaang naa por ($28, a grilled half-chicken glazed with coconut cream, dark soy, and fish sauce) and goong phao ($44, a whole grilled freshwater prawn with a dipping sauce called nam pla waan and various mix-ins).

To cool the fire, drop a $20 on pastry chef James Matty’s shaved-ice creations — the one shown below has coconut, a drizzle of passion fruit, and an inner core of milk chocolate. Drink list includes “ya dong” shots, a few beers, European and California wines, six tropical cocktails, and a zero-proof selection.

Parking is on-street; a ride-share may be the way to go on weekends.

More info on Kalaya is here.

Briefly noted

Groovy Smoovies, the Hollywood-theme smoothie shop at 223 Kings Highway East in Haddonfield, will host a meet-and-greet with ABC Shark Tank star Daymond John from 7-9 p.m. Dec. 14. He’s been friends with shop owner Antonne M. Jones for two decades.

Jet Wine Garden (1525 South St.) will host a one-day tamale market from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, and a portion of proceeds from food sales will be donated to Puentes de Salud, which promotes the health and well-being of the Latino immigrant community in South Philadelphia. It’s pay as you go.

Pita Chip cofounder Omar Alsaadi will remember his emigration from Syria in 1979 by offering comp falafel wraps or bowls to the first 79 customers at each location at its 11 a.m. opening on Friday. Locations are at 3601 Market St. in University City, 1600 N. Broad St. on the Temple University campus, and at Oxford Oaks Shopping Center (1623 Big Oak Rd.) in Yardley. Those who miss the giveaway can buy a bowl or wrap for 79 cents all that day.

Chef Art Cavaliere is the King of East Falls with In Riva, Black Squirrel, and Foghorn & Fletcher. So what is he doing 40 miles away in Coatesville?

More tasty things, it turns out, at the new Record Kitchen & Bar, joining developers Mark Sherman (his partner in Philly) and Lane Udis of Mark Lane Properties in adding a new piece of style to the city’s revival.

The Record keeps the old-time feel of the newsroom of the erstwhile Coatesville Record — talk about typecasting. Walls are festooned with old front pages. Cavaliere is keeping the menu tight: thin-crust wood-oven pizza, bruschetta, salads, three sandwiches, and a few apps such as Calabrian chili wings, olive-oil potatoes, and the sticky pork ribs shown below. Bar list includes 10 wines and mainly local beers. Cocktails bear newsy names, such as Fine Print, basically a gin and tonic with thyme.

Thyme, as in deadline!

The Record Kitchen & Bar, 206 E. Lincoln Highway, Coatesville. Hours: 3-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday: 3-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.


Orange liquor-license placards generally portend a new restaurant. I can’t suss out official word about the notice affixed to the Hyatt Concentric hotel at 16th and Chancellor Streets, on the former site of Little Pete’s and across from the Radisson Plaza Warwick Hotel. I see that it has the corporate name Artemis Restaurant Inc., doing business as Anthos Restaurant, and is attached to the Pashalis family, owner of the Greek gem Estia and Pietro’s Coal-Oven Pizzeria. (In fact, this was the license from Pietro’s now-shuttered South Street location.) I wouldn’t expect a return of Little Pete’s, which would be colloquially known as Little Repeat. I’m thinking that it will be a high-end Greek concept, as the family had been planning back in 2019 at 11th and Sansom Streets.

That quiz I promised you

Wine columnist Marnie Old suggests a $20 cabernet from California. Which of these phrases on the label suggests quality?

A) “contains sulfites”

B) “single vineyard designation”

C) “estate grown”

D) B & C

Take a guess and see what Marnie recommends.

🍲 Keep reading more food news.

📱 Follow me on Twitter. Or follow me on instagram.