Hey Philadelphia, do you like your food service to come in fast casual form? Buckle up, because after last week’s announcement of Neapolitan pizzeria MidiCi coming to town, Austin-based Mediterranean grill Verts is set to open in Center City on March 10 — just over a week away.
Verts is somewhat of an Austin success story — now six years old, it was founded by two University of Texas in Austin grads. Its twentysomething owners have expanded it to 27 stores, and it recently made the leap out of Texas to open locations in Boston and New York. Along with Philly, an expansion into Washington, DC, is also in the works for the near future.
The “Chipotle but for [insert food]” comparison seems to get wheeled out for all sorts of fast casual restaurants these days, but it’s reasonably accurate here — you sidle up the the counter, and pick a base from either salad, pita, and rice or quinoa bowl. Then choose your
meat or meat substitute “proteins” from a selection of beef, lamb, chicken, turkey mushroom meatballs, and falafel. Then there’s salad-equivalent toppings (which feel decidedly pan-Mediterranean) — spiced chickpeas, pickled jalapenos, carrot slaw, marinated green olives and sumac onions — and sauces, including hummus, harissa, and tzatziki.
The first Philly location at 1601 Market Street is luring customers to its opening day with the promise of free food: you can pick up one free entrée from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or while food lasts) on March 10. The first 100 customers to show up also get swag bags, containing (presumably Verts-branded) sunglasses, water bottles, and so forth.
Verts are also jumping on the giving back to the community bandwagon, and will donate all profits from their first day to the CAPA Foundation, which supports The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts in the wake of cuts to the arts school’s budget.