After a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past 12 months.
Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editors’ choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.
Restaurant of the Year
Palizzi Social Club
1408 S. 12th Street
There’s a reason Palizzi Social Club — the snug, members-only restaurant tucked away in a South Philly rowhouse — made a national splash after opening earlier this year. A visit to Palizzi starts with the speakeasy-esque entry process that manages to come across as fun, not contrived. Read the list of rules during the inevitable wait (“What happens at Palizzi stays at Palizzi”) before stepping inside and back in time. Palizzi was founded a century ago for expats from a town in Italy. When chef Joey Baldino (Zeppoli), whose uncle belonged to the club, took the place over, he changed the membership rules but kept the throwback charm. The décor is delightfully retro, the menu consists of perfectly executed Italian-American classics, and the soundtrack doesn’t make it past the ’50s. By your third negroni you might just be singing along. Due to its popularity, the 35-seater isn’t accepting new members at the moment, but jump on the opportunity when it comes back around.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Walnut Street Cafe
Chef of the Year
Zahav, 237 St. James Place
Michael Solomonov has had a big year. The Zahav chef kicked off 2017 by making a splash with community-minded Rooster Soup Co., a retro luncheonette that gives all of its proceeds to Philadelphians in need through the Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative. A few months later, Solomonov surprised Philly with vegan falafel shop Goldie, which quickly gained a cult following for its tehina shakes. Goldie already has an offshoot in Whole Foods and a third location in the works at the upcoming Penn food hall — maybe it will even expand to Miami like Dizengoff and Federal Donuts did over the summer. Speaking of doughnuts, in September Solomonov and his partners released a Federal Donuts cookbook, not long before American Express debuted its swank airport lounge complete with Solomonov-designed menu. Last month, Eater’s national restaurant critic named Zahav one of the 38 essential restaurants in America. And somewhere in all that, Solomonov found time to pick up a 2017 James Beard Award for best chef in the country — to go with his three previous James Beard wins.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Chad Williams, Friday Saturday Sunday
Restaurant Design of the Year
Walnut Street Cafe
2929 Walnut Street
In the stone-cold stunner category, the new Walnut Street Cafe from Branden McRill, Patrick Cappiello, and chef Daniel Eddy is a shoo-in. With its tall ceiling, miles of windows, eye-catching brass light fixtures, light woods, marble tables, and curvy booths and chairs done in an unexpected blue-green, the all-day restaurant is nothing if not pretty to look at. It had some formidable competition in the category this year, but New York-based Parts and Labor Design took Walnut Street Cafe’s decor straight to the top.
Restaurant Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Barcelona
Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year
124 S. 19th Street
The food at Wiz Kid is good, quick, filling, flavorful — and vegan. With their new fast-casual restaurant, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of Vedge and V Street (and, long ago, Horizons) prove once again that keeping the kitchen meat- and dairy-free doesn’t have to mean bland knockoffs. At this bright Rittenhouse spot, diners can pop in for a vegan cheesesteak or ice cream that won’t leave them feeling like they’re missing a thing. Or go for the hearty King Cobb, one of the best salads around. And it would be a shame not to get a side of the okonomiyaki fries. Bonus: Unlike most fast-casual eateries, Wiz Kid serves alcohol.
Fast-Casual Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Love & Honey Fried Chicken
Saddest Restaurant Closure of the Year
219 S. 17th Street
It was hard to say goodbye to all of these long-running Philly eateries. But since Eater’s editors have to narrow it down to one, it’s the Little Pete’s shutter taking home the Saddest Restaurant Closure of the Year title. Pete Koutroubas opened the diner on June 20, 1978, a few days after his 20th birthday and six years after his family came to Philadelphia from Greece. For almost 40 years, the Rittenhouse institution at 17th and Chancellor welcomed regulars and visitors alike 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until Koutroubas was forced to close to make way for a high-end hotel. “I’m crying already,” Koutroubas told Eater shortly before the restaurant’s last day. He wasn’t the only one.