Today, Foobooz wonders whether Center City is “over”, at least when it comes to the restaurant scene. They take a look at the numbers, which reveal that Center is City is on pace to see the fewest restaurant openings in at least five years- kind of a surprise as we seem to be emerging from the economic doldrums. This comes as a bit of a shock to the system; it was Center City, after all, that put Philadelphia on the foodie map back in the 1990s, with Stephen Starr, Neil Stein, and a collection of BYOBs leading the way.
But just because restaurants aren’t opening at the expected rate in Center City doesn’t mean that there’s not a significant number of new places opening in other parts of town. In fact, developments that have taken place in the neighborhoods outside of Center City would have been nearly impossible to foresee back when Vetri, Rouge, and Buddakan were first opening their doors.
Northern Liberties/Fishtown: Standard Tap, considered to be a stalwart in Northern Liberties, only opened its doors in 1999. Other gastropubs like N. 3rd and the Abbaye followed a couple of years later. Today, restaurants like Bar Ferdinand, Dmitri’s, and Koo Zee Doo represent additions to the scene that mark a departure from the gastropub and mark a maturation of the neighborhood into a destination for people seeking high-end food and cocktails. Fishtown meanwhile, seems to be following the same track, with Johnny Brendas and Kraftwork paving the way for the soon-to-be-open Fette Sau and Beddia Pizza.
East Passyunk: Sure, restaurants never really left Passyunk Ave., but as much as we love Marra’s, it’s not exactly a foodie destination. But over the past several years, the mix has changed dramatically. From places like P.O.P.E. and Cantina bringing the hipster crowds, to places like Fond and Le Virtu attracting a differently heeled crowd, the Avenue may be too saturated already, after just a few years of dramatic growth.
Fairmount: Though this area has been more stable than either of the aforementioned neighborhoods, lots of new places have opened up on Fairmount Ave. in recent years. This includes Fare, La Calaca Feliz, and Hickory Lane, which have joined others that have been there for years like London Grill and Bishop’s Collar. This is an area that could probably sustain even more restaurants, both on Fairmount Avenue and in the Fairmount and Francisville neighborhoods.
All three of these neighborhoods have seen tremendous growth in the last few years, each becoming destinations for people looking for a delicious meal. But these areas can only grow so much, and others will surely step in to fill the void once they are saturated. Where can we expect to see the next boom? North Broad? Baltimore Avenue? Kensington? Brewerytown? Graduate Hospital?
Should be tasty, waiting for the next big thing…