The finishing touches are being applied to The Love, the romantic American restaurant near Rittenhouse Square from Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy. Also this week, I have info on a new fast-food sushi place near Logan Square, a great deal for hard-studying University City-zens, and a healthful breakfast option on the Main Line. And a drink that will have your teeth chattering. Critic Craig LaBan has tips for those who crave non-Mexican Latin fare. If you crave 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.
Getting inside The Love
Sometime in the next week — perhaps Monday — Stephen Starr will allow The Love to open at 18th and Sansom Streets, across from his Dandelion. I say "allow" because although you might think that the restaurant is finished — and the photos that I snapped late Tuesday might suggest that — Starr is in his tweaking phase. (Lighting, for one thing.) This partnership with Aimee Olexy (Talula's Garden, Talula's Daily) will serve seasonal American cuisine in a handsome, romantically lit setting (including an intimate, dozen-seat bar) that will make you forget previous occupant Serafina. Keep an eye on my Insider blog for updates, menus and more.
What we’re drinking
That bowl of Halloween candy in your kitchen may come to mind when you think of Guppy's Good Times, a fantastic corner watering hole in Conshohocken. The signature drink is the Conshy Crush, a tribute to vodka and glucose made with cherry- and clementine-flavored Svedka, Tang (still around!), and Sprite (or club soda). Owner Robin Gupta says he sells about 1,000 a month. They're $8 — and only $5 from opening till 10 p.m. Fridays. The South Philly location (8th and Fitzwater) discounts 'em to $6 on Wednesdays.
Where we’re eating: Zushi, Pod, Green Engine Coffee Co.
Terrific option for those in a hurry for sushi and related dishes: Zushi, new at 100 N. 18th St. (just north of 18th and Arch, next to Au Bon Pain). Order by touch screen. The signature "Zushi," built on a choice of protein, is a bowl including butter-toasted sushi rice, sashimi, avocado, caviar and garlic sauce. Info is here; it's open weekdays only.
Here's a whoa: Most Penn and Drexel freshman were in diapers in 2000 when Stephen Starr opened Pod, the then-and-now futuristic pan-Asian at the Inn at Penn in University City. Now they're up studying and Pod has a new slate of specials, served weeknights from 9 till 11, called the Cram Sesh. Sushi rolls from the conveyor belt are half-price, as are bar snacks, including wings, pork dumplings, duck samosas, chicken pot-stickers and robata-grilled street corn.
Green Engine Coffee Co. in Haverford not only whips up a great cup of Rival Bros. Joe, its terrific cafe menu and wide-open atmospherics make it a handy breakfast or lunch meeting spot. This Bondi bowl simply exudes morning goodness: goji, hemp, cacao, preserved and fresh fruit, and granola in coconut chia pudding. Note that in '18, owners are opening an all-day restaurant across from Head House Square in Philly.
This week’s openings
The Fishtown Korean fried chicken specialist opens Sunday at 1 p.m. with a free two-piece box for the first 150 people. It then goes to limited hours starting Tuesday It's more of a crunchy opening than a soft opening.
Korean cooking comes to the Main Line at this boldly decorated storefront.
Today is Day 1 for this D.C.-based bar/resto at the King of Prussia Town Center (255 Main St.), which opens at 7 ayem for weekday breakfast at a horseshoe-shaped diner counter-slash-bakery-cafe (at 9 on weekends for a buffet), and operates the rest of the day upstairs in a sprawling series of dining rooms. Here's the back story.
Whoa there. Let's stop for a moment to play a name game: Founding Farmers in KoP. Founding Fathers, the bar on South Street. Farmer's Keep, the salad and beer specialist on 20th near Market. The Farm & Fisherman in Cherry Hill and Horsham. The Farmer's Daughter in Blue Bell. Head spins.
The outdoor-apparel brand is setting up a breakfast/lunch/bruncherie at its new flagship store at the Bridge (205 Race St.). It should be open Nov. 8-ish.
This week’s closing
Levis Hot Dogs | Abington
The suburban successor to the South Street landmark has called it quits after five years. The location on Old York Road was tough, to be frank.
Your dining questions answered
Reader: The news of Loco Lucho opening at Reading Terminal Market got me thinking about the extent to which greater Center City lacks quality Latin American fare, other than our many delicious Mexican spots. Do you agree?
Craig LaBan: I'm excited to taste Loco Lucho's Puerto Rican food at the Reading Terminal Market in the coming months. And I'll agree that Philly's Latin food scene has largely been dominated by the great Mexican immigration of the last decade and a half – for which I'm very grateful! But Philly has a long tradition of other Latin American flavors, too, though the Nuevo Latino trend that brought us Pasion!, Cuba Libre and Alma de Cuba many years ago has cooled somewhat. We've still got some great restaurants serving traditional Latin cuisines in North Philly, like Tierra Colombiana, North Fifth Street's best destination for a wide range of cuisines in a surprisingly inviting setting (don't miss the Colombian tamale, roast pork or Cuban arroz con pollo), or Porky's Point (great roast pork sandwiches), or Freddy & Tony's at Second and Allegheny where just last week I had one of the best mofongos in recent memory – I can still taste the crunch of fried chicharron nuggets in that mashed plantain stuffing! There has also been a little bump in more diverse Latino options closer to Center City. There's Puyero, the new Venezuelan arepa shop on Fourth near South, where the patacones sub fried plantains in the sandwiches for bread. Sazon, another Venezuelan at 941 Spring Garden, is well-regarded for its hot chocolate. Parada Maimon is cooking fairly authentic Dominican plates (try the roast chicken) at 12th and Callowhill Streets (just north of Vine Street). I'm especially looking forward to Vista Peru, the new Old City location for El Balconcito, a favorite standby from Northeast Philly serving Peruvian (and Portuguese) fare. A Peruvian ceviche and pisco bar called Chalaco, meanwhile, is slated to replace Bar Ferdinand in early 2018. So… it's fair to say our non-Mexican Latin American comida scene is heating up nicely!