At SOMO SoPhi, an NFL star tackles a South Philly restaurant
Frankford High and Saints/Packers lineman Jahri Evans and his wife, Takia, are partners in a bistro near the stadium complex.
Medora's Mecca — for decades a homespun, family-run drop-in near the South Philadelphia stadiums, where neighbors and sports heroes would chat over beers and mussels — has moved on.
After more than a year, gutted almost to the studs, the building at 13th Street and Packer Avenue has been brought back. It opens Oct. 22 as SOMO SoPhi, a roomy bar, restaurant and lounge.
This is an offshoot of SOMO Manayunk, which designer-turned-restaurateur James Morrissey opened early last year on Main Street in Manayunk. (SOMO is a portmanteau of "Sophia Morrissey," his daughter's name.)
The new bistro — which Morrissey designed as well — is a partnership with Takia Evans and her husband, Jahri Evans, a football star with Frankford High, then with Bloomsburg University, and later an all-pro guard with the Saints (for whom he won a Super Bowl ring) and the Packers.
SOMO SoPhi (short for South Philadelphia and pronounced "soh-mo soh-fee") has outdoor seating on the Packer Avenue side (Medora's glassed-in enclosure is gone) and a first-floor bar with green moss on the back wall to add a pop of color, beside a separate lounge with comfy furniture and multiple TVs.
On the second floor are a 60-seat dining room with an antique mirror ceiling, board-formed concrete walls, and Steampunk-inspired pewter globe chandeliers, a small service bar, and the open kitchen (framed with antique bubble glass).
There also is a heated, covered terrace just outside, providing a truly Philly vantage point: the Center City skyline in the distance, as well as traffic zipping on the approach to the Walt Whitman Bridge.
A private dining room with a second kitchen are planned for the third floor, which once was an apartment.
Chef is the seasoned Waldemar (Val) Stryjewski, whose past includes both the posh (Le Bec-Fin, Le Cheri, a.kitchen) and the casual (Lloyd, Prohibition Taproom).
His dinner menu includes small and medium plates, salads, and pastas, all $19 and under. Large plates made for sharing include a 38-ounce porterhouse with duck fat fingerling potatoes, creamed truffles and Swiss chard, onion jam, and Burgundy sauce for $60 and a whole Lancaster County chicken with local succotash, potato filling, and mustard jus for $38.
Bar includes 24 draft beers, 14 wines by the glass, and cocktails. Also offered are wines from Napa's ONEHOPE Winery. The Evanses have a charitable partnership with founder Jake Kloberdanz.
Hours: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. Weekday lunch will begin in mid-November.