Philly may be a cheesesteak town with a lot of love for neighborhood dives and no-frills family-run spots, but there’s something to be said for dining in a gorgeous new restaurant — especially one that combines style and substance. Here are five of the most eye-catching eateries to open in Philly in 2017.
Top Chef winner Nick Elmi’s sexy new brasserie in Old City transports diners right out of, well, Old City. Brick walls, dark woods, original floors, and flickering candles set the scene. Suzanne O’Brien and Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design picked out the pieces to give Royal Boucherie its signature look, which pairs well with classic cocktails and charcuterie. (O’Brien works with Stephen Simons and David Frank, who are behind this project, along with Royal Sushi & Izayaka, Royal Tavern, Khyber Pass Pub, and other hits.)
It’s hard to begrudge this New York restaurant team using a New York design firm when the results are so appealing. With its high ceiling, huge windows, marble tables, and unexpected color scheme, Walnut Street Cafe is pure eye candy. The University City stunner opened in June on the ground floor of the new FMC Tower.
Chad and Hanna Williams got rid of everything but the name when they took over this 40-year-old Rittenhouse institution. A top-to-bottom renovation saw the layout flipped: The elegant bar, with its marble bar top and checkerboard floor, is downstairs, with the dining room on the second floor. Setting the scene upstairs are several large, tree-filled landscape paintings lining the wall. (For the sticklers: Friday Saturday Sunday opened at the end of 2016.)
This converted horse stable on Frankford Avenue might be more cool than classically beautiful, but it’s definitely one of Philly’s most interesting designs of 2017. Rohe Creative transformed the long, narrow space with a red bar, colorful cushions, custom-made light fixtures, a chain-link fence, and funky drawings. The mural of an octopus slurping up noodles is from street artists Yok and Sheryo.
As the first chain to hit East Passyunk Avenue, Barcelona Wine Bar was under a lot of scrutiny when it opened over the summer. But it’s hard to argue with the way Connecticut-based Barteca restaurant group designed the space. What was once a men’s clothing shop is now an attractive, bustling tapas spot. Choose from a table, a booth, a stool at the big, U-shaped bar, or, in warm weather, a spot on the greenery-ringed patio.