January 31, 2016

9 Restaurants That Should Replace L2

In February 2014 we wrote a post about eight restaurants that should replace Dmitri's on Fitler Square after it closed much nearby residents' dismay. Even though new tenant Tria Fitler Square has turned out to be a pleasant addition to the neighborhood, it was not on our original list.

With the former L2 space at 23rd and South available again after a pizza/growler concept fell through, we're revisiting our original list. It's a great location that, with some renovations, could help continue the growth in commercial vibrancy in the neighborhood and be a great corner spot to eat.

Without further adieu, here are many the original ideas we'd still like see move in, with some tweaks:

1. Koo Zee Doo. We have not been shy about claiming Koo Zee Doo to be one of our all-time favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. But it fell victim to rent hikes in Northern Liberties and slow weeknights, closing in 2013 to widespread outcry from fans all over the area. Chef David Gilberg is at William Street Common now, but maybe he and co-owner/wife Carla Goncalves will consider a resurgence. The neighborhood could use something unconventional like Portuguese food. Only question will be... is the rent still too high?

2. Manakeesh. Along the same lines, Lebanese fusion could be a nice "something different" for Fitler Square. Manakeesh Cafe at 45th & Walnut is a huge hit for its flatbread sandwiches, platters and baked goods (we are obsessed with the baklava). We'd love to see them create a casual sit-down dinner menu, while also opening for breakfast and lunch, reminiscent of the original cafe style.

3. Chimu. On a recent trip to Brooklyn, we were tipped off to try Peruvian restaurant Chimu. Holy cow was it good. Skirt steak, chimichurri, ceviche... Is there any Peruvian food in Philly? If so, please advise on where we can get this. And then bring it closer!

4. Girl and The Fig. Another transplant idea. If you've ever been to Sonoma, CA, and didn't try the fresh, locally-sourced French cooking at Girl and The Fig, you missed out. Best meal we had in wine country. Not to mention that its owner/chef was raised and launched her career in Philadelphia. Come back, Sondra Bernstein! Your East Coast outpost awaits!

5. Gayle: The Revival. Daniel Stern's byob off South Street was the first restaurant we tried after moving to Philadelphia that really made an impact. (blog post from 2009, yikes!) The creative twists he put on dishes like pork & beans, shepherd's pie and "breakfast" blew our minds at the time, and the fact that a chef came out to talk to us made a real impact on the way we looked at food.

One vote for dim sum! (photo at Bing Bing)
6. Bring back Pat! Friends had mixed experiences at 943 during its run on 9th Street in the Italian Market. Maybe it was the wrong spot? Struggled like other BYOBs to bring in enough revenue? We really liked the Argentinian/Italian blend at 943 and would love to see Chef Pascual Cancelliere (such a nice dude) give it another shot with a liquor license and new audience.

7. El Bulli. I mean, why not. Best restaurant in the world is now closed, so let's see it re-open in Philadelphia! A foodie can dream.

8. Dim Sum Anything. We cherish dumplings and would love to see an outpost outside of Chinatown. While we'd take a Dim Sum Garden or another Bing Bing, we'd be happy with anything serving up piping hot soup dumplings.

9. Anything Good AND Kid Friendly. As new parents our needs and wants have changed. No longer can we just show up and sit at the bar or count on sticking with reservations. We enjoy taking our son out but it's a lot of work at the same time, and expensive to hire babysitters. (And when we do get out, it's even harder to find time to blog about it!) So, how about a place that provides the best of both worlds. L2 is a big enough spot for families and highchairs, while still catering to the masses. Give us the chance to enjoy a great meal along with a kid friendly dining experience. We would thank you for it.

What we don't need: Brunch joint like Honey's, more Neapolitan pizza like Vetri or $27 entree bistro a la Fitler Dining Room. We're not criticizing any of those spots, just don't need another one so close.

What are your suggestions??

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