Today, we checked out HipCityVeg, the vegan sandwich shop that replaced Pad Thai Shack at 127 S. 18th St., just north of Rittenhouse Square. This brand new spot had a line out the door for the second day in a row today, as suits and hipsters alike piled in to sample the wares of Nicole Marquis, previously of Horizons.
We bring this to your attention not to brag about the delicious curry tofu wrap we devoured for lunch, but to bring into focus the significant changes to the commercial landscape on this little stretch over the past couple of years. Retail spaces turn over all the time in this town, but the new places on this extremely trafficked stretch have really changed the vibe here recently. Let’s take a look:
On the ground floor of the newly renovated AKA Hotel, A. Kitchen has garnered rave reviews (three bells from Craig Laban!) since it opened last year. We suppose it’s an upgrade over the Ben & Jerry’s that held down the fort at this location for many years, but we were kind of bummed on Free Cone Day.
Across the street, Serafina has received almost the exact opposite response from patrons and critics, and just brought in a new chef, according to Foobooz. Rindelaub’s row once stood here, demolished years ago to make way for the rear of 10 Rittenhouse Square. When Serafina opened last June, it was the first commercial activity at this address since Lombardi’s Pizza closed in 2005.
A little further to the north, The Dandelion, which opened a little over a year ago, serves up tasty British-style pub food. It replaced Stiletto and Mantra, a shoe store and a failed bar. And it features wonderful greenery outside all year long.
To the south of HipCityVeg, we expected the arrival of a Dunkin Donuts, and then a Crumbs Bakery. Neither one has materialized, and the Leehe Fai space remains vacant. It seems like an interesting opportunity for another high-end merchant to step in and add to the classy retail scene that’s developed here over the past couple of years.
We’ll keep an eye out…