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What’s up? The 13 best rooftop bars | Let’s Eat

Also: LaBan resumes his reviews, we meet a salt farmer, a hot Brooklyn brewery is coming, and restaurant news you can use.

The scene at Assembly Rooftop Lounge, overlooking the Ben Franklin Parkway.
The scene at Assembly Rooftop Lounge, overlooking the Ben Franklin Parkway.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

What’s up? Rooftop bars, and we run down 13 destinations in the Philly region. Also this week, critic Craig LaBan resumes his reviews (it’s a tasty Vietnamese BYOB in South Philly) and we tell you about an entrepreneur who is worth his salt, the impending arrival of a hot brewery out of Brooklyn, a hot dog worthy of a video, and a slate of restaurant tips and news.

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Michael Klein

We searched high and low for the best rooftop bars. OK, only high.

Service editor Jillian Wilson is well-grounded, all right, but she needed an altitude adjustment. She’s found the best rooftop bars in the Philly region — 13 of them, including an 11th-floor rooftop taqueria in Rittenhouse, an eight-stories-up bar on the top of a former high school in South Philly, and a pretty deck over looking downtown Media.

The flat-out best pancakes in the area

“Pancakes” are more than just the flapjacks that hit the griddle. Contributor Kae Lani Palmisano rises to the occasion as she scoured menus to find the region’s finest crepes, scallion pancakes, arepas, latkes, and more.

Craig LaBan returns to restaurant reviews with Gabriella’s Vietnam

Though he not yet assigning his signature Liberty Bell ratings, critic Craig LaBan has resumed his restaurant reviews. First up: A rave for Gabriella’s Vietnam, which in March 2021 succeeded Sate Kampar on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. Like Ange Branca at Sate Kampar, Gabriella’s has a gifted woman running the kitchen. She’s Thanh Nguyen, who owns Gabriella’s and Melody’s Grillhouse in Ambler with her husband, Chris. Craig describes “a repertoire of vividly flavored seafood dishes and regional specialties,” inspired by Thanh’s frequent trips back to Vietnam.

He sells sea salt by the sea shore

Twice a week, Dave Burris steps into the surf off Cape Henlopen in southern Delaware and carries water, bucket by bucket, up the beach and into his truck, whose license plate spells out Burris’ profession: “SALTMKR.” Contributor Sarah Maiellano got her feet wet to tell the story of Henlopen Hand Crafted Sea Salt, which works like magic in the kitchen. (I’d imagine that there’s danger in salt harvesting. One false step and you can tear your NaCl.)

Other Half Brewing to open in Philadelphia

The Brooklyn-based Other Half Brewing Co. — a darling of beer cognoscenti — will take over the shuttered Goose Island Brewhouse in Fishtown. The opening is penciled in for later this year.

Chef moves

Cornelia Sühr, a globe-trotting German chef whose primary background was at Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe (Atelier in Munich, Alain Ducasse in London), is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s new chef de cuisine at Jean-Georges at the Four Seasons Hotel, which is expected to reopen this fall on the 59th floor of the Comcast Technology Center. (JG SkyHigh, the lounge on the 60th floor, is open now.) After Sühr’s London stint, she relocated to Dubai (St. Regis) and then to NYC (The Carlyle and then SHUN).

Sühr’s predecessor, Nick Ugliarolo, is still in the Jean-Georges orbit, incidentally. This summer, he’s in the Hamptons at Topping Rose House, in advance of a new JG-related gig this fall in New York City.

Restaurant report

Western Massachusetts-raised Kyle Cuffie-Scott had a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales, but was working in Philadelphia radio at WURD-AM when he began baking to raise money for the Colours Organization and BEBASHI. The groups’ work with HIV/AIDS had special meaning after the 2013 death of his cousin Darnel. Which explains the name of Darnel’s Cakes, which Cuffie-Scott and business partner Joseph Lope opened last year at 444 N. Third St., in the lobby of an Old City office building.

It’s a counter setup with comfy seating inside as well as outside, weather-permitting. Don’t skip the breakfast sandwiches on biscuits, the quiche, and the cakes, which are also available by preorder at Lansdale Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

Darnel’s Cakes, 444 N. Third St., Philadelphia. Summer hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.

Jose Garces is getting into the pizza biz later this summer. But first, he’s tackling wings. Partnered with Louisiana-based Ballard Brands, which backs most of his Philadelphia restaurants, Garces is running World of Wings out of the kitchen at The Olde Bar in Old City; it’s a delivery-only service, opening Wednesday, July 7 on the major platforms. Three of the sauces are inspired by his restaurants, so the Village Whiskey Golden Hot Sauce might taste familiar.

Briefly noted

Philly fave Kismet Bagels has a pop-up Saturday, July 10 at Her Place Supper Club (1740 Sansom St.). Kismet’s Jacob and Alexandra Cohen tapped Her Place’s Amanda Schulman to create three bialy specials, including one topped with za’atar with baked egg and zhug drizzle; one topped with whipped feta and roasted cherry tomatoes; and a zucchini bialy topped with zucchini butter, pecorino, and basil. Fourth selection is the “Her Pop-Tart” — blueberry with a Kismet golden milk schmear glaze. It’s walk-up only, 10 a.m.-noon or till sellout. There will also be coffee from Vibrant Coffee Roasters.

Event planner Steph Irwin is behind Taste of the Town Night Market from 5-10 p.m. Friday, July 9 at the new Now + Then Marketplace at 2650 Castor Ave. in Port Richmond. Irwin has gathered food folks (Sugar Rush Macarons, Vannah Banana, Sazon Restaurant, Nardone Pasta), a full bar, a tarot reader, and a DJ. It’s also the reveal of Now +Then’s immersive light-up LED front fence installation from Klip Collective.

Lemarr Ingram and chef Todd Butler are saying “about two months” till the opening of a second location of Vegan-ish, the vegan-pescatarian sandwich shop they opened in January 2020 at 52nd and Girard. They’re fitting out the former Better Box at 1519 Spring Garden St., setting themselves up for a clearer shot at the Center City trade.

Restaurant vets and cousins Eric Connor and Shana Cox are laying their cods on the table with the Yankee Chipper, a fish-and-chips shop, in Wyndmoor, just over the city line in Springfield Township, Montgomery County. (The roomy, austere BYOB is set up in the former Turney’s Tavern at Pleasant and Elm.) Connor learned to love the local “chippers” during his four years in Ireland, and he and chef Eric Decker butcher and dry the cod and prep the potatoes for the chips, which have that distinctive crunchy exterior and soft center. Also on the menu: bangers and mash, wings, vegan sloppy Joe, shrimp roll, burger, fried chicken sandwich, and chips covered in curry sauce.

Yankee Chipper, 827 E. Pleasant Ave., Wyndmoor. Hours: 3-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 3-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Native New Yorker Lawrence Mach grew tired of waiting for his shot to join the New York Police Department, when in 2013 he got the chance to open a food cart — first next to a DMV office in Coney Island and then at Urban Space Food Hall in Manhattan. Coney Shack, with Southeast Asian-inspired hot dogs, burritos, and other street food, was shut down during the pandemic. That’s when he met Michael Tang, who was involved with SET L.E.S., a Lower East Side pub, and its newer branch in Philly’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. (See where this is going?) This week, Mach and Tang open Coney Shack at 3818 Chestnut St. in University City, complementing a cool collection of eateries at 39th and Chestnut including Nam Vietnamese Kitchen, Paris Baguette, Bonchon, and the Halal Guys.

Besides the snappy, natural-casing hot dogs, everything is from scratch — the shaking-beef short rib, lemongrass chicken, popcorn oyster mushroom, five-spice calamari, and caramelized honey pork for the tacos/burritos/bowls, the waffle fries, even the fruit drinks. To be frank — as evidenced by a video I shot last week — you’d be remiss not to order the Mach Dog, which gets a layer of caramelized glazed pork and a squirt of spicy mayo before a layer of cheese is added and then torched. It’s topped with beer-battered onions and scallions.

Grand-opening is Friday, July 9 with $1 tacos for the first 100 people (one per person) and there are BOGO tacos all day Saturday, July 10.

Coney Shack, 3818 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. Hours, starting Thursday, July 8: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.