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Royal Tavern in South Philly returns after a long renovation

The repairs were a necessity, say its owners. Among changes is a subtle modification to its signature burger. Long-hots are out; shishitos are in.

The Royal Burger at Royal Tavern has shishito peppers instead of long-hots.
The Royal Burger at Royal Tavern has shishito peppers instead of long-hots.Read moreCOURTESY ROYAL TAVERN (custom credit)

Royal Tavern’s renovation, which had been estimated at “about eight weeks” when the popular South Philadelphia bar shut down on Aug. 10, is over — after about 15 weeks.

The Royal (937 E. Passyunk Ave.) reopened this week with a spruced-up dining room, new royal-blue facade, and a new basement kitchen, which was the main reason for the work. The sewer line also was replaced. Even the signature burger got a tweak.

Stephen Simons, who with David Frank opened the Royal in October 2002, said the work cost much more than their initial purchase price for the building and its liquor license. Simons and Frank also own Royal Sushi and Izakaya (with Jesse Ito), Royal Boucherie (with Nicholas Elmi), Cantina Dos Segundos and Cantina Dos Caballitos, Khyber Pass Pub, and Triangle Tavern.

Royal chef Mark McKinney’s new menu has additional entrees and vegan/vegetarian items. Most significantly, the signature Royal Burger has a subtle difference. It’s now a half-pounder with pickled shishitos (instead of long-hots), bacon, smoked Gouda, fried onions, and spicy mayo.

The bar has added two draft cocktails, two wines on tap, eight draft beers, and cider. The wine list now includes mostly natural wines.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. weekends.