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Let's Eat: Cheers to the new Yards

Philly's largest brewery opens. Where to eat before the show? Craig LaBan has ideas.


Yards Brewing Co. is counting down the hours till its new Taproom opens at 500 Spring Garden St. — a high point in the hometown suds-maker's 23-year history. Also this week, we visit a LOUD pizza specialist in KoP, a Rittenhouse bistro with deeply discounted happy hours, and a civilized Spanish BYOB in Ambler. Craig LaBan is here to guide you to delicious options before the theater. If you need food news, click here and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Email tips, suggestions, and questions here. If someone forwarded you this free newsletter and you like what you're reading, sign up here to get it free every week.

— Michael Klein

This should bring all the boys to the Yards

Yards moves to the edge of Northern Liberties with a soaring, 70,000-square-foot taproom, event space, 100-bbl brewery, and canning line at 500 Spring Garden St. The taproom and event space open Thursday, Nov. 16, while brewing and canning will pick up in early 2018. This marks the return of chef Jim Burke, whose menu includes beer-influenced pub food. (Foie gras poutine! And yes, there most certainly is a shake — malted or banana-coffee — that brings all the boys to the Yards.) The bar features 20 total taps, including all Yards signature beers plus limited releases available only on-site. Picnic-style seating faces the brew house (to the right in the photo) as well as the canning line (along the rear window), and there's a mezzanine private-event space overlooking the proceedings. Opening weekend hours are 6 to 11 p.m. Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

What we’re drinking

Puns & Roses

Spicy, herbal, bubbly, citrusy, sweet, tart — all the flavors bounce across your palate at Jerry's Bar, the back-street bar-restaurant in Northern Liberties. The Puns & Roses has it all, thanks to gin, rose (not Axl), Triple Sec, Lofi amaro, champagne, and cardamom bitters ($12).

Where we’re eating: MidiCi, SuGa, 555 Lagiola

Friday, Nov. 17 is opening day of MidiCi, a Neapolitan pizza specialist at King of Prussia Town Center. Rather than show you a pie from the wood-burning oven, I offer a sliced-to-order house meat board — a steal at $9.50. Wide-open dining room features a live black olive tree, ultra-cheery staff, and deliberate LOUDNESS. The point, management says: When it's loud, you put the cellphone away and talk among yourselves.

SuGa, Susanna Foo's Chinese bistro at 1720 Sansom St., just rolled out a new happy-hour menu, from 5-7 p.m. seven days, that knocks $13 cocktail prices down to $7. (You can also get a canned Ikezo peach sparkling jelly sake, which is a ton of sweet, jiggly fun for 5 bucks.) Food, budget priced at $3-$6, includes popcorn pork ravioli (shown here), scallion pancakes, and curried chicken dumplings. More happy-hour tips? See Allison Steele's article.

Chef Antonio Rondinelli is Italian-born, but he has all the Spanish kitchen moves down beautifully at 555 Lagiola (10 W. Butler Pike, Ambler), including various tapas, sliced-to-order hams, and this generously appointed paella. Yes, it's $32, but the combo of Spanish rice, saffron, mussels, clams, shrimp, chorizo, chicken, red bell peppers, and peas is enough for two people. BYOB, order a cheese plate, and you're golden.

Dining notes

From 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, head into the Headhouse Square Shambles on Second Street for a benefit to raise funds to aid displaced employees of Bridget Foy's restaurant, Saved Me Inc. animal rescue, and the American Red Cross/Red Paws. Thirty-plus chefs, bartenders, and restaurants will feed the crowd, and beer and wine sampling will be included in the $50 ticket price. The landmark restaurant was ravaged last month by a fire.

The SliCE pizza shop in Fishtown marks its first anniversary Friday, Nov. 17, with free slices from 11 a.m-1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. Varieties will rotate through the day.

Fork in Old City has produced a 2-minute video to mark its 20th anniversary.

This week’s openings

Keen | Southwest Center City

Keep an eye on The Insider blog for the who/what/where/when on this bar-restaurant/labor of love in the old Astral Plane location. For now, see what's set up in the men's restroom.

HipCityVeg | Rittenhouse

The flagship location of this vegan fast-casual (127 S. 18th St.) has reopened after a three-week redo. Get there Wednesday, Nov. 15, at noon; the first 100 who order will get free sweet potato fries.

United by Blue | Old City

The eco-minded apparel and outdoors shop opens a new location with a full-fledged cafe inside on Thursday, Nov. 16. Could be a smart brunch choice.

Westy's | North Wildwood

The Shore landmark's new owners intend to brand it as The Inlet on Olde.

This week’s closings

Drafting Room | Exton

Gone after 23 years. A note from the Weintraub family says, "It is time for us to move forward onto other endeavors in our lives."

Harry's Blue Bell Taproom | Blue Bell

There's a "closed indefinitely — hope to see you soon" sign on the window — clearly a mixed message. Management did not return a call seeking comment.

Wyebrook Farm | Honey Brook

Sunday, Nov. 19, will be the last dinner at this luxe farm in Chester County — at least for the meantime — as owners figure out whether it's worth correcting zoning issues raised by governmental agencies.

Your dining questions, answered

Reader:  I am going to the Walnut Street Theatre for a show and would like some recommendations for dinner beforehand within a couple of blocks. Doesn't seems to be a lot of choices other than Talula's.

Craig LaBan: Well, Talula's Garden is a good choice if you can get in and have the time for a leisurely meal. But there are other options nearby, like Fat Salmon, the sleek sushi place off Washington Square that has recently begun making some creative maki rolls with Korean influences. M Restaurant, the handsome garden space in the Morris House Hotel on Eighth Street, has a new operator — but a good one in Joncarl Lachman from Noord, who has installed talented young chef Aila DeVowe in charge of a menu that offers modern nods to some historic local flavors. Head to Tenth Street, which has good options, from very casual Cheu Noodle Bar for a quick ramen fusion slurp to the Mediterranean flavors of Kanella Grill. A couple blocks to the west, meanwhile, there is Strangelove's, a good gastropub that's traditionally had some Southern inspirations and good veggie options, plus a beer list that should mellow you out for any performance. If you're up for a slightly longer walk, there are plenty of choices around 13th and Sansom. But just a little closer, it's worth stopping into Caribou Café, the longstanding French brasserie that is not just a gorgeous space full of evocative art nouveau statuary, but does a good job with regional Gallic classics, like French onion soup, cassoulet, endive salad with Roquefort, and the Alsatian-style pizzas called flammenküches. I know from experience that Caribou is good at handling a pre-theater rush. It's right next door to the Forrest Theatre, so in case you're planning to see The Color Purple there this December, that recommendation works for both.

Email Craig here. His Tuesday chat will resume Nov. 28 at

The best dining in the suburbs

After 4,000 miles and countless calories, Craig LaBan has come up with 150-plus excellent food destinations in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs.

Go to for the full guide, or buy the print version  at