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Want to pick apples? Better do it now | Let’s Eat

Also: The impact of the coronavirus on the Center City lunch scene and drinking habits.

Stayman apples on the tree at Linvilla Orchards, 137 W. Knowlton Rd., Media.
Stayman apples on the tree at Linvilla Orchards, 137 W. Knowlton Rd., Media.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

Love apples? We’ll tell you where to get picking now, as the season is winding down. Read on for news about the impact of the coronavirus on the Center City lunch scene as well as drinking habits. And on the bright side, how about a preview of new Halloween-theme bars?

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Michael Klein

How about them apples?

Remember that late-spring frost? (Spring? Wasn’t that 20 years ago?) Well, it affected this year’s apple crop, which is expected to wrap up soon. Staff writer Nick Vadala offers eight orchards within a day’s drive of Philadelphia where you can enjoy that fall experience.

Your next step is eating a hot, crispy apple cider doughnut. Or several. Food editor Jamila Robinson shares her easy recipe, which calls for cake batter that is baked in specialty pans.

People are drinking more during the pandemic and experts are worried

Staff writer Aubrey Whelan reports on a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health that found that Americans over age 30 have been drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic. The assessment: Stressed adults looking for relief during months of lockdown may be putting themselves at risk for other health concerns. Researchers are particularly concerned about women, who saw a 41% increase, on average, in binge drinking.

Tofu is having a moment

When the pandemic hit, grocery stores were having trouble keeping up. First it was Clorox wipes and toilet paper. Then it was flour and … tofu? “In a matter of two weeks, we sold more tofu than we did in an entire year,” says Carmella Lanni, co-owner of South Philly’s vegan grocery store V Marks the Shop. From silken to firm, reporter Grace Dickinson explains it all and shows you how to prepare it.

How Center City’s lunch business is suffering

The pandemic has swept thousands of Philadelphia office workers out of the high-rises, particularly west of City Hall. That means the lunch trade is off substantially, and it’s affected everything from the food carts to fancier restaurants. Among the casualties: Le Bus on 18th Street near Rittenhouse Square and the Marathon Grill at 1818 Market St.

Peter Serpico goes back to work on South Street, and the menu is ‘kinda Korean’

Chef Peter Serpico has returned to work at his restaurant on South Street, but he and partner Stephen Starr have set out in a different direction. Serpico (604 South St.), his edgy atelier, remains closed. But out of the same kitchen he’s offering a separate option known as Pete’s Place, available only for pickup and delivery, with a menu that Serpico calls “kinda Korean."

Kalaya opens a Thai market near the restaurant in South Philadelphia

Riding the success of her Thai BYOB Kalaya, Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon has opened a Thai market in the middle of the Italian Market, about two blocks south from the restaurant. It carries a mix of groceries and prepared foods.

Guy Fieri coming to Philly with two ‘joints’ at a new casino

Ah, Phlavortown. Food Network personality Guy Fieri says he will open two “joints” — one specializing in tacos, the other in burgers — early next year at the new Philadelphia Live! Casino & Hotel coming together at Ninth Street and Packer Avenue in South Philadelphia.

Scary stuff

Let’s visit the usual haunts in Washington Square West again for Halloween-theme pop-up bars. There’s Nightmare Before Tinsel (116 S. 12th St.), with an indoor-outdoor setup near 12th and Sansom. Around the corner at the Pearl Tavern (1123 Walnut St.), chef Townsend Wentz has an Oct. 8 premiere for another season of his spooky spot, Haunt. It will take over the first floor of what used to be the Irish Pub. (It was on the second floor last year.) Socially distanced signature spooky cocktails and menu, and 90-minute seatings are available by reservation only. (Resy is handling the bookings.) There’s also a “first-come-first-served” outdoor pumpkin patch and takeaway window.

Restaurants opening Friday, Oct. 9

  1. High Street Philly, which moved out of Old City in September, will open in its new spot at 101 S. Ninth St. (between Chestnut and Sansom Streets). It’s now takeout and delivery only, though private dinners for up to six people will be offered soon. Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

  2. Sueño, a Mexican themer with Day of the Dead-inspired decor, traditional and fusion Mexican cuisine by executive chef Caroline Hough, Puerto Rican-style empanadas from Tata’s Empanadas, margaritas and cocktails, and an extensive list of tequilas, is a pop-up at 114 S. 12th St. Owner Teddy Sourias intends this as a dine-in/dine-out companion to Nightmare Before Tinsel next door. Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday, 1 to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

  3. Concourse Dance Bar returns to 1635 Market St. (rear) with a temporary setup: It’s a restaurant and 1,000-square-foot ice bar (how cool is that?) serving a three-course, small-plate menu that is paired with one of three cocktails (or non-alcoholic mocktails). While moving through the three-room space, patrons get what organizers call “a full sensory experience filled with nostalgia, ’90s tunes, eclectic and vintage decor, Instagrammable art, and colorful lights.” Tickets are $32.50 plus tax and 18% tip. Its website handles reservations. Hours: 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.