Gazing into the crystal ball for 2018 Philadelphia-area restaurant openings …
A splashy French brasserie in Ardmore. A second Center City location for Greg Vernick. The Philadelphia debut of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. A trio of big openings in Fishtown: a restaurant from the team behind Princeton and King of Prussia's Mistral, and two brewpubs, one from one of the largest brewers in the world, and another massive spot that will include craft food.
An Old City bar-restaurant in a landmark location. A chic bistro in University City. An all-day cafe at 16th and JFK.
The long-long-delayed opening of a New York-rooted bar-restaurant on Washington Square. A sexy Spaniard and a wine garden in Rittenhouse. Peruvian bar-restaurants in Northern Liberties and Old City.
A brewery in West Poplar. A barbecue sit-downer in West Poplar. A Mediterranean grill in West Poplar. A rooftop bar in West Poplar. (Pop'lar part of town, eh?)
A sports bar in University City. A sports bar/lounge in South Philadelphia. At least two bars in Washington Square West. At least two bar-restaurants in Rittenhouse.
More? A subterranean 1980s-theme bar/dance club in Center City that you can enter on a slide. And an ice lounge coupled with multiple escape rooms.
How about a Nepalese restaurant in Roxborough? Something called Urban EEL in Fishtown? A South Broad Street taqueria called Illegal Tacos?
And — gulp! — the end of Pizzeria Beddia. Mozz whisperer Joe Beddia confirmed that his renowned Fishtown takeout will close at the end of March. But he will open a larger spot in Fishtown. Stay tuned.
Plus much more, as well as several possibilities, including the one about the return of a celeb chef to Philly.
In nearly 25 years of covering the local scene, I've never seen so many substantial projects in progress as the calendar flips to a new year. Is the market saturated? Quite possibly, and a rash of closings in December — during what is generally the busiest time of the year — may foreshadow more churn in 2018.
Here is a rundown, presented in (more or less) the order in which they're expected to open. In most cases, even rough opening dates are elusive, as restaurants hang on a million or so moving parts and government approvals. Follow my blog for updates, and subscribe to "Let's Eat," the free food newsletter, here.
Mike's BBQ (1703 S. 11th St.): Michael Strauss of Tap Room on 19th brings his mobile BBQ to the great indoors.
Illegal Tacos (427 S. Broad St., Avenue of the Arts): Taqueria at Broad and Lombard has picked up some preopening buzz for its name.
Lombardi's (Parx Casino, Bensalem): The New York pizzeria opens amid the slots.
Clubhouse Sports Lounge (111 S. 17th St., Rittenhouse Square): Jan. 26 is the debut of this sports lounge, which also will have an ice lounge in partnership with Malinalli Tequila, two themed escape rooms, and two full-service bars.
Redcrest Fried Chicken (1520 S. 11th St.): Adam Volk cooks chickens and sides at 11th and Passyunk.
Engimono (2319 Fairmount Ave.): Poke is the specialty here.
Chubby Cattle (146 N. 10th St., Chinatown): Flashy hot-pot specialist backed by Penn students.
Town Tap (13 W. Benedict Ave., Havertown): Conshohocken Brewing Co. opens another tasting room (January).
Bernie's Restaurant & Bar (3432 Sansom St., University City): The Montgomery County pub opens a branch on Penn's restaurant row (January). A Manayunk location is teed up for spring at 4311 Main St.
Glory Beer Bar & Kitchen (126 Chestnut St., Old City): David Crudele, a longtime bartender at the now-shuttered Eulogy Belgian Tavern, sets up a beer bar with 36 on tap and an American menu featuring roasted meats in the former Mad River/ Middle East restaurant space (January).
Concourse Dance Bar (1635 Market St., Center City): Avram Hornik is behind a retro dance club in the former Turf Club that can be entered by way of a slide. Ball pits and a killer sound system will complete the funhouse motif (January).
At Ramen (1608 Sansom St., Rittenhouse): Jason Kim of Jason's Toridasu in Ardmore spins off his Manayunk ramen restaurant to Rittenhouse.
TALK (2121 Walnut St., Center City): Marigold Kitchen spins off a classic eclectic new-American with an a la carte menu.
Acadia (824 S. Eighth St., Bella Vista): New Orleans style comes to South Philly (January).
Center Square Tavern (2303 Center Square Rd., Swedesboro): Jim Malaby of blueplate goes the tavern route in Woolwich Township, Gloucester County (January).
Tipsy Bistro (3131 Walnut St., the Left Bank, University City): Chef Anh Vongbandith and Fond former partner Tory Keomanivong do a sports bar with elevated food (February).
Hale & True Cider Co. (613 S. Seventh St., Bella Vista): Kerry and Risa McKenzie open a cidery and tasting room in a new building across from Nomad Pizza (February).
Love City (1016 Buttonwood St., West Poplar): Brews and snacks from beer geeks Kevin and Melissa Walter in an industrial setting.
Morrell Park (420 Schuylkill Rd., Phoenixville): Michael Falcone (Funky Lil' Kitchen, Heart FoodTruck) does an all-day cafe on the outskirts of Phoenixville.
Tradesman's (Juniper and Chestnut Streets, Center City): Teddy Sourias of BRU and U-Bahn goes with barbecue for this bar-restaurant (early March)
Louie Louie (3611 Walnut St., University City): Brasserie at the Inn of Penn from Marty and Sydney Grims, behind the White Dog Cafes.
Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft (29 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore): Cocktail bar in the heart of Ardmore.
The Pineville (2448 E. Huntingdon St.): The Bucks County tavern opens a bar-restaurant off Aramingo Avenue in the Port Richmond/Fishtown/Kensington triangle.
Nunu (1414 Frankford Ave., Fishtown): Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz open a Japanese-style bar next door to their Cheu Fishtown.
Somo SoPhi (3101 S 13th St.): Manayunk bistro turns up with a sports-bar theme in deep South Philly (spring).
L'Anima (1001 S. 17th St., Southwest Center City): A Roman seafooder from the Melograno/Fraschetta team. (March)
Kurant Cider (436 E. Girard Ave., Fishtown): The suburban cidery joins the Fishtown scene.
South Philly Smokhaus (Bok Building, 1901 S. Ninth St.): BBQ and butcher counter at the Bok (spring).
Chalaco's Ceviche & Pisco Bar (1030 N. Second St., Northern Liberties): Peruvian stylings come to Liberties Walk.
The Bercy (7 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore): French brasserie from Lansdale's Stove & Tap crew in the gorgeous Main Line building that last housed Primavera Pizza Kitchen. (March)
Brickwall Tavern (1215 Sansom St., Washington Square West): An American tavern from the operators of the new Porta, which shares a building and fronts at 1214 Chestnut St. (March).
Suraya (1528 Frankford Ave., Fishtown): The hit Middle Eastern cafe opens its dining room for dinner in March, followed by its garden.
Imbibe Food and Drink (101 W. Ford St., West Conshohocken): Sean Weinberg of Alba and Biga is behind this small-plater with a cocktail bar in the space now occupied by Stella Blu, which closes Jan. 27 (projected for March).
Tria Garden (31 S. 18th St., Rittenhouse): Note the new name of this wine garden set up at the United Engineers Building; it's a joint project between Avram Hornik and the crew from Tria.
Urban EEL (1000 Frankford Ave., Fishtown): Casual dining, cigar lounge, and theaters — it's all in this sibling to the bizarre post-apocalyptic-themed Mad Rex.
Classic Cake Co. (1617 JFK Blvd. Center City): The baker sets up an all-day cafe in the Suburban Station Building (spring).
Cafe Lift Narberth (724 Montgomery Ave., Narberth): The popular bruncherie branches out to the Main Line with a liquor license (spring).
White Yak (6118 Ridge Ave., Roxborough): It figures that Philly's first Nepalese restaurant will be in the highest point of the city. I've enlisted a sherpa to get more info.
The Lucky Well (990 Spring Garden St., West Poplar): Chad Rosenthal's Ambler barbecue hall joins Roy-Pitz Brewing in Spring Arts (June).
Rosy (2220 Walnut St., Center City): The former Roosevelt's Pub gets a redo as a Mexican bar (late June).
Goose Island (33 E. Laurel St., Fishtown): Brewpub from Goose Island and AB InBev, near the Fillmore.
Tatel (1908 Chestnut St., Rittenhouse): Elegant, Roaring '20s-style Spanish restaurant rooted in Madrid, with outposts in Ibiza and Miami Beach.
Del Frisco's Grille (Cambria Hotel, 219 S. Broad St., Avenue of the Arts): The city's busiest steak house (at 15th and Chestnut) adds a smaller eatery to the new Cambria Hotel.
The Institute (525 N. 11th St., West Poplar): The popular bar plans to move a block away, picking up a roof deck in the process.
P.J. Clarke's (Curtis Center, Sixth and Walnut Streets, Washington Square): Owner Phil Scotti says construction will begin in early January on the Philly branch of the popular New York City bar-restaurant (June).
Giuseppe & Sons (1500 block of Sansom Street, Rittenhouse): Take the cannoli. And the red-gravy pasta, as the Termini family partners with Michael Schulson next door to his Harp & Crown.
Aether (1832 Frankford Ave., Fishtown): Chef Scott Anderson and investor Stephen Distler of KoP's Mistral do a seafood spot specializing in affordable wines and cocktails (June).
Bourse Food Hall (Fifth Street north of Chestnut, Old City): Twenty seven food companies are setting up at this historic building (summer).
Comcast Technology Center: Up for fall are a second Center City restaurant for Greg Vernick — no grilling, but the same spirit as Vernick — and the Philadelphia debut of celeb chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Craft Hall (901 N. Delaware Ave.): Avram Hornik is taking over the former Yards Brewing building with a brewpub that also will include a food-making and gathering space that focuses on approachable "slow" food with a bakery, brewhouse, BBQ kitchen, and dining area that also will serve as a place to learn (late summer/fall).