Whats New On Philly's Hotel & Restaurant Scene 2016: In the decades since acclaimed classical French Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix opened his eponymous restaurant in a four-star hotel across the street from Center City’s Swann Fountain, the Philadelphia hotel dining scene has emerged a foodie force. Today, Lacroix, now flourishing in The Rittenhouse hotel, remains a destination dining spot.
But so do newcomers to the scene: locally focused Urban Farmer Steakhouse at The Logan and culinary-kitschy Bud & Marilyn’s at boutique operation The Independent Hotel, along with springtime productions by eminent steakhouse Ruth’s Chris, destined for the Sonesta Philadelphia, and acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval’s Aqimero at The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia.
- Midtown Village, Center City’s thriving district just east of the Avenue of the Arts, has long been the dining purview of Chef Marcie Turney and restaurateur-partner Valerie Safran. The pair opened the neighborhood’s first modern Mexican, Spanish and Italian bistros, all located along 13th Street. In 2015, they debuted fun and funky Bud & Marilyn’s, located just below The Independent Hotel. The mid-century-informed American restaubar, opened for lunch, brunch and dinner, quickly became known for its refined comfort foods. The menu refers to one appetizer as “cheese and crackers;” another is a bona fide pu pu platter, and then there are the outrageously popular cheese curds. Bacon-topped skillet bread, Nashville hot buns, fried chicken, and kielbasa with pierogies take retro fare to refined levels—as does the list of classic whiskeys and old-school cocktails. 1234 Locust Street, (215) 546-2220, budandmarilyns.com
- The Logan, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection of hotels, recently welcomed the country’s third Urban Farmer Steakhouse overlooking elegant Logan Square. Although the expansive restaurant is located in the heart of Center City, its look remains stylishly rural, keeping an eye toward the regional farms, fisheries and breweries that furnish the menu’s ingredients and libations. Steaks butchered and dry-aged in-house are certainly the centerpiece here, but also of note are the regionally focused cheese cart and charcuterie station and bar pouring suds fermented in the region. 1 Logan Square, (215) 963-2788, urbanfarmerphiladelphia.com
- In May 2016, The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia welcomes the highly anticipated Aqimero, Denver-based Chef Richard Sandoval’s latest restaurant showpiece. Beneath the hotel’s Pantheonic dome, the redesigned, 206-seat dining room serves as the newest seafood play space for the Mexican-born chef, who already operates a few dozen successes across the country. On the menu? Wood-grilled wild salmon, black bass, Atlantic halibut and other fresh fish entrees served up with made-to-order marinades, as well as steak and poultry dishes. An expansive sushi and ceviche raw bar overflows with oysters, King crab legs, octopus, spicy tuna and more. The breakfast-through-dinner restaurant, which comprises the lobby’s bar and lounge, is expected to be the most visible of the hotel’s multimillion-dollar update. 10 Avenue of the Arts, (215) 523-8000, richardsandoval.com/aqimero
- The famously sizzling steaks of Ruth’s Chris Steak House make their anticipated return to Center City when owner Marsha Brown reopens her popular, upscale operation in May 2016 in the refreshed Sonesta Philadelphia Hotel. Prime beef (filets, New York strips, cowboy ribeyes, Porterhouse for two, all served on 500°F plates) and potatoes (baked, au gratin, in fries and casseroles, along with creamed spinach and massive onion rings) star on the handsome franchise’s menu, as do Caribbean lobster tails and succulent barbecue shrimp. The steakhouse joins the hotel’s Art Bar, a modern, communal-minded cocktail space featuring artwork furnished by The Center for Emerging Visual Artists. 1800 Market Street, (215) 790-1515, ruthschris.com
- The AKA Rittenhouse Square’s a.kitchen and bar can’t seem to stay out of the news. While owner Ellen Yin and Chef Eli Kulp have opened their fourth restaurant in Manhattan, they’ve also stepped up the offerings at their sleek west of Broad Street spot. New additions include a non-traditional Sunday brunch during which burgers outsell eggs, oyster happy hours Monday through Saturday, a power lunch (including martini) and a fixed-price menu for clients having dinner at the restaurant’s kitchen counter. 135 S. 18th Street, (215) 825-7030, akitchenphilly.com
- Long known for its Philly-themed cocktails, Le Méridien Philadelphia’s Amuse is also getting attention for its new, globetrotting, locally focused Chef Daniel Tyrell. A vet of Philly’s hotel dining scene, Tyrell plans to roll out a new modern French-inspired menu in early 2016 and will switch up items seasonally. 1421 Arch Street, (215) 422-8222, amusephiladelphia.com
- Bank & Bourbon at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel welcomed a Bourbon Master Paul Zuber to helm its spirits operation in late 2015. Zuber got his start in the libations business via Philly’s craft beer scene and spent more than a decade behind bars before taking charge of the extensive whisky and bourbon collection—including the onsite barrel-aging program—at the American brasserie. 1200 Market Street, (215) 231-7300, bankandbourbon.com
- Melbourne, Australia-born Bluestone Lane Coffee opened its first U.S. location outside Manhattan in the historic yet contemporary Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, a block from Rittenhouse Square. The sleek, early morning through late afternoon spot includes a bustling center La Marzocco coffee bar, amazing coconut quinoa porridge for breakfast and the brand’s celebrated “avocado smash” open-faced sandwich all day long. 1701 Locust Street, (215) 735-6000, bluestonelaneny.com/cafes/rittenhouse-square
- Named after the floor it fills, elegant and towering American destination dining spot XIX (Nineteen) at the Hyatt at The Bellevue has added Sunday evening (5:00-7:00 p.m.) and Wednesday later-night happy hours (9:00-11:00 p.m.) to its already popular roster of weekday happy hours. During these times, patrons enjoy $4 draft beers, $6 house wines and $6 specialty cocktails. 200 S. Broad Street, 19th Floor, (215) 790-1919, nineteenrestaurant.com
- The DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia’s all-American Standing O bistro has taken a turn for the local. Regionally sourced ingredients now go into the 16-item small plates menu. The cocktail list also leans toward the handcrafted, with a focus on scotch and bourbons. 237 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1600, doubletree.hilton.com/Philadelphia
- Menu upgrades at Taste, the restaurant at Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel, include a better burger and updated Wine Spectator-worthy wine list, plus additions such as stout onion soup; Brussels sprouts with apples, pumpkin seeds and cranberry; and Portobello mushroom Caprese on ciabatta. 1 Dock Street, (215) 238-6000, tastesocietyhill.com
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