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Line Up for Conchas and Breakfast Tacos at El Cafe, the New Destination From the Suraya Crew

The restaurant group behind Pizzeria Beddia and Suraya opens its Mexican coffee shop in Center City

a table lined with pastries with colorful woven chairs at the edge
Pastries at El Cafe in Philadelphia
Katherine Lundberg

As of right this minute (7 a.m. on Monday, September 23), the crew behind Philly hot spots Pizzeria Beddia and Suraya stands ready to take your order for an almond and tamarind–filled concha or a blue corn tortilla stuffed with egg, cheese, salsa, and hoja santa. Their newest eatery, El Cafe, is now open at 31 S. 19th Street inside the Pod Philly hotel.

This is the first of three Mexican-themed restaurants the Defined Hospitality group is opening at the hotel. The main restaurant, Condesa, set next door to the cafe with a dining room, bar, lounge, and patio, is up next. It’s named after a neighborhood in Mexico City, though co-owner/executive chef Nick Kennedy says his menu pulls from cuisines across Mexico. El Techo, an 11th-floor taqueria with a retractable glass roof, will open mid-October.

But here, now, there’s El Cafe, open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. with coffee from Stumptown Roasters, Mexican drinking chocolate, aguas frescas, horchatas, breakfast tacos, and an array of pastries from James Matty (the pastry chef at Suraya) and Michal Shelkowitz.

The pastry lineup includes a vanilla concha (a sweet, bread-y bun that looks like a shell), conchas packed with apple, almond and tamarind, guava, coconut, or cheese, olive oil cake, dulce de leche and coconut alfajores, and chocolate cookies.

a cafe with two tables, colorful chairs, and rattan lamps
El Cafe opens first, followed by Condesa and El Techo.
Katherine Lundberg

Big windows open the coffee shop up to 19th Street. There’s also an entrance around the corner at 1830 Ludlow.

This is a very different menu than at Kennedy, Greg Root, and Al Lucas of Defined Hospitality’s other projects. Suraya is a hit Lebanese market, cafe, and restaurant in Fishtown. Pizzeria Beddia is, of course, the buzzy collaboration with pizza maker Joe Beddia, also in Fishtown.

Look for more Mexican-inspired eats, plus lots of tequila and mezcal, at Condesa, on track to debut Tuesday, October 1.

a bright room with neutral colored vaguely mexican decor
El Cafe is in the Pod Philly hotel at 19th and Ludlow streets.
Katherine Lundberg


1830 Ludlow Street, , PA 19103 (267) 930-5600 Visit Website