For so long, Fishtown has been touted as an up-and-coming neighborhood, but restaurant-wise, there was little to show.

Until the last two weeks. A few newcomers have up and come.

The Girard Avenue strip now has life after dark, thanks to the long-in-the-works Hot Potato Cafe (529 E. Girard Ave., 215-425-0905), which has replaced a shuttered State Store near Montgomery Avenue. There's straight-ahead New American cuisine (sandwiches and salads for lunch) and honest entrees (and a mellow vibe) at dinner ($11 for shepherd's pie to $19 for filet mignon or prime rib). Logically, potatoes figure in, including hot potato chips and fries. It's open every day but Sunday. Owners are sisters Kathy, Erin and Claire Keller.

Further "inland" is the shoebox-size Ida Mae's (2302 E. Norris St., corner of Norris and Tulip, 215-426-4209). It bills itself as a "bruncherie" - that is, hearty, budget-priced, Irish-influenced fare (creamed chipped beef, omelettes, tofu scrambles) from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily from chef Mary Kate McCaughey (formerly of Standard Tap, Royal Tavern and Morning Glory), partnered with her husband, Fergus, a Realtor who's tended bar at Bridgid's.

Ida Mae's is a block down Norris Street from the new Paddy's Well (1873 Frankford Ave., 215-634-2151), which started out in the planning phase as Kenbo's. Kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, and specialties are ribs and crabcake sandwiches. It's across from one of the neighborhood's earlier entrants, the Rocket Cat Cafe (2001 Frankford Ave., 215-739-4526).

What's coming

Sushi master Matt Ito says "April 17" for the rollout of the relocated


, 116 Kings Highway East in Haddonfield.

Franco Faggi, one of the original partners at Monte Carlo Living Room, is refurbishing the Kelly Drive spot that briefly housed Verge. He'll call it Franco's Trattoria - yes, Italian - and he's aiming for the first half of May.

What's new

Back to Girard Avenue: The space at Hancock and Girard on the northern edge of Northern Liberties, which was the short-lived Taste, is about to become

Modo Mio

(161 W. Girard Ave., 215-203-8707). Chef-owner Peter McAndrews, who spent 12 years on and off at Rembrandt's in Fairmount before cooking in Italy, is specializing in cicchetti, or Italian small plates. Nothing over $16, and the four-course


menu is $30. The BYOB will be open from 2 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Radicchio vet Isidro Ramos has ventured into South Philly with Las Palmas (746 Snyder Ave., 215-463-1181), a simple spot whose cuisine reflects his Mexican heritage and the location's previous incarnation as a pizza parlor. (He still sells pizza, too.) It's open daily for lunch and dinner. Everything is under $14.

Gil Chavez and Maurizio DeGeronimi of Roxborough's PTG Caterers (6813 Ridge Ave., 215-487-2293) have opened it as an a la carte Italian restaurant, cleverly called PTG, Tuesdays through Sundays for dinner. Entrees start at $17, and it's getting good neighborhood word of mouth.

Also buzzed about is Ted's on Main, which opened in the fall on the Main Street drag in Medford (20 S. Main St., 609-654-7011), a homey, white-tablecloth BYO open Tuesdays through Fridays for lunch and Tuesdays through Saturdays for dinner; entrees top out in the mid-$20s. Ted is Ted Iwachiw, one of the opening chefs at Striped Bass in '94.

A sixth Kildare's Irish pub came online last month. It's near Scranton, at 7011 Shoppes Blvd. in Moosic.

Briefly noted

If plans held, the Old City branch of

Triumph Brewing Co.

(117-121 Chestnut St., 215-625-0855) opened last night for dinner, with lunch and dinner starting today. More next week.

Clementine's in South Philly has added Sunday brunch.

Center City's Mantra has added lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or Read his recent work at