— The James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards finalists were announced this afternoon, whittling the Philly-area pool of 17 semi-finalists down to six, with no big surprises. Acclaimed modern Israeli restaurant Zahav racked up the most nods, scoring a nomination in the service category, which goes to a restaurant that’s been in operation for five years or more. Zahav’s Michael Solomonov is up for outstanding chef and Camille Cogswell, his colleague in the kitchen, made the James Beard rising star chef of the year list, for a chef 30 years old or younger who “is likely to make a significant impact on the industry in years to come.” Rich Landau at Vedge and Greg Vernick of Vernick Food & Drink are both up for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic region and Stephen Starr is in the running for outstanding restaurateur. The full list of nominees is here. The winners will be announced on May 1 at a gala in Chicago.
— Tickets for Dizengoff’s new dinner series sold out in less than a day. The Israeli restaurant (1625 Sansom Street) from the folks behind Zahav is usually a lunch spot, but starting on Saturday evenings in April it’ll be adding a three-course, family-style meal for $60 per person, not including drinks. The series started at Dizengoff’s New York location; for the Philly version, Elaine Gardner, the chef at Dizengoff Whole Foods, and Henry Morgan of Dizengoff Center City (the Sansom Street location) will take the reins. The next chance to snag a ticket is April 15 at 7 a.m., for one of the May dinners.
— Due to Tuesday’s snow, Union Taco postponed its opening day. There’s no firm date set yet for the opening, which will include a taco giveaway, but it should happen very soon. The new location, at 4061 Main Street, is just up the block from Union Taco’s first Manayunk address. This one is significantly bigger and has the added bonuses of a liquor license and a deck with outdoor seating.
— 2SP Brewing Company out of Delaware County gets gently political with Alternative Facts, a 7-percent ABV blonde stout available starting Monday, March 20. The name, in addition to being a nod to White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway’s innovative word choice, refers to head brewer Bob Barrar ’s “alternative” ingredient list for the beer, which is made without roasted malts, usually a stout staple. 2SP describes Alternative Facts as full-bodied and hearty — cocoa nibs mimic the stout flavor — but with “the look of a clean golden ale.” Look for it at Johnny Brenda’s, Local 44, Standard Tap, City Tap House, Bru, Butcher Bar, Varga, Bottle Bar East, Industry Bar and Beer Love in the city and at Pinocchio’s in Media.
— It’s last call for SkyLodge, the ski resort–themed bar on the 51st floor of 1717 Arch Street. The goodbye party is Saturday, March 18, from 5 to 11 p.m., with music from DJ Love City, plus spiked hot chocolate and specials on Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Quaker City Malting Co. drinks. There’s a $5 cover after 7 p.m. The space will reopen as SkyGarten, its original incarnation, on April 19.
— LeBus is coming back in restaurant form, according to Philly.com. David Braverman, who started the LeBus concept out of a stationary school bus in 1978 and ran the popular Manayunk location from 1991 to 2003, plans to open LeBus Bistro this summer at Midvale and Ridge Avenues in East Falls. [Philly.com]