As per tradition, Eater asked a group of restaurant journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Here, dining experts share their favorite new restaurants of 2018.
The question: What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2018?
Kae Lani Kennedy, food and travel editor at USA Today 10Best: Nunu in Fishtown is the izakaya that Philadelphia deserves. I love the quick Japanese bites paired with the rich library of Japanese spirits going beyond sake with libations like umeshu and soju. The new Stock in Rittenhouse is also a pleasant surprise. I feel like it’s better than the original, serving up quick Asian-inspired comfort foods.
Sarah Maiellano, food and travel freelance writer for local and national outlets, including Eater: China Gourmet in the Northeast is great, fun, and across the street from my bubbie’s house. I also think that the Bourse is exciting; the Independence Mall area was in desperate need of decent, modern food options.
Regan Stephens, Philadelphia magazine managing editor and Food & Wine contributor: Vernick Coffee Bar is so impressive. Greg has managed to take everything special about his first restaurant and translate it to an actual coffee bar. The olive oil-poached salmon is a dish that would be at home on any fine dining menu. Spice Finch — the lamb ribs, the fattoush, the carrot hummus — it’s all so bright and memorable and I never feel bad when I leave. Plus the cocktails are just as thoughtful as the dishes. Oh, and Suraya’s dinner service. I already have three reservations for 2019.
Alex Tewfik, food editor at Philadelphia magazine: Sarvida. It’s really fun in there, and the food is straight from Lou Boquila’s heart. Cadence, too. It’s got an edge and I love it.
Adam Erace, freelance writer and co-author of the upcoming Laurel cookbook: Unquestionably it’s Andiario in West Chester. Bit of a hike, but well worth it. I first had Tony Andiario’s pastas at Tratto in Phoenix and was elated when I heard he was coming back to PA. Our best pasta-makers are Joe Cicala, Mike Millon, Michael Vincent Ferreri and Joey Baldino — and Tony Andiario is instantly a member of that hall of fame, maybe at the top of it.
Joy Manning, editor of Edible Philly: I am not sure what I expected from Spice Finch, but I almost couldn’t believe how much I liked it. The Mediterranean-inspired, vegetable-forward menu just really speaks my language. I could live off the warm grain salad, broccoli tabbouleh, and muhammara and be perfectly happy. I am also thrilled we have Cadence on the scene.
Drew Lazor, Philadelphia-based freelance writer and author of Session Cocktails (Ten Speed Press, May 2018): The International, Nunu, Spice Finch, Stock Rittenhouse. Not a restaurant, but I’ve really been enjoying Love City Brewing’s beers — they’re a great addition to the city.