Fifty-eight varieties of tequila fill the shelves at the bar at Kokopelli (1904 Chestnut St., 215-557-7510), a new, high-energy, Southwestern, small-plate operation named after the American Indian fertility god.
Aside from the polished wood tables, not much has been done to the dining room from its previous incarnation as the lounge-y Akoya @ Pearl. Beaded curtains separate the tables along the walls, and the bar and seating are bathed in lights that change color.
Chef Gina Rodriguez, an Arizona import, is cooking such dishes as tamales, garlic chili-glazed prawns, baby-back ribs, and crispy quail with cayenne honey. Figure on three small plates per person for dinner, bringing the estimated per-person tab to $37 plus beverages. Menu is at http://media.philly.com/documents/koko.doc.
Spanish reds and white dominate the wine list, and tequila is the basis for many cocktails. It's open daily for dinner; Friday and Saturday hours stretch till 2 a.m.
The Dresher Inn, dark for 17 years, has an occupant: Umami Umami (1708 Limekiln Pike, Dresher, 215-542-6993), a bi-level Japanese with a cute, seven-seat sushi bar and club tables on the first floor, and an 80-seat dining room for sushi and cooked dishes upstairs. Most entrée prices are in the high teens. Owner Myung Kim, who invested millions in upgrading the property, and manager Phil Park are open for lunch and dinner daily as they settle on hours.
Munish Narula of Tiffin does not yet have a name for his restaurant coming to 777 S. Broad St., but he has named a chef: the credentialed Sylva Senat, a grad of the Paul Bocuse Cooking School, whose resume includes positions with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Marcus Samuelsson, and Stephen Starr (he just left the executive sous chef's post at Buddakan after two-plus years). Cuisine will be Indian, but "we're going to make it sexy," says Narula.
What's coming and going
Freshii, an eco-friendly, health-minded quick-serve, will mark its Philly debut Wednesday with a shop at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton (on Penn Square, across from City Hall). Menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner) includes salads, burritos, wraps, rice bowls, yogurts, and soups.
Le Pain Quotidien expects to open its first Philly location, at 1423-25 Walnut St., in early January.
Jose Garces' people are saying "spring" for Frohmans Wursthaus, his brats-and-beer joint at 13th and Chancellor Streets.
After eight-plus years, Vesuvio at Eighth and Fitzwater Streets has gone dark. Apartments above the restaurant are being extensively renovated, and the construction likely would affect business, said co-owner Jerry D'Addesi, who wants to reopen eventually.