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The Hottest Restaurants in Philly Right Now, December 2014

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More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? What are the new restaurants? What's everyone talking about? While the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the 'it' places of the moment.

Thus, we offer the Eater Heat Map, which will change continually to highlight where the crowds are flocking to, rightthisverymoment. This month's update brings a slew of new casual options, including notable bagels at Knead near Washington Square and Brooklyn-style Sicilian pizzas at Square Pie. Brunch-happy Girard joined both the Fishtown community and the no-tipping-necessary trend this month, while a seasonal favorite is back on the riverfront, with the return of the Lodge at Winterfest.

Restaurants are listed in order of opening date - newest first. Feedback always welcome via the comments section or the tipline.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Abe Fisher

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1623 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 867-0088
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"Foods of the Jewish diaspora" might not be the catchiest tagline you'll ever hear, but it turns out to be a killer concept for a restaurant. The menu of small plates (all sized very comfortably to split) pulls influence from Jewish traditions all over the world and is just unabashedly fun - if you think the very presence of shrimp fried rice on the menu is a surprise, wait until you see the actual dish. Drinks follow suit: all the cocktails (with awesome touches like barrel-aged Manischewitz) and wines (only by the glass) are the same price, encouraging you to explore and mix and match some lesser-known finds. If you're coming with a group, don't miss the Montreal-style smoked short rib feast (but specify you want it when you reserve your table; otherwise they only prep a couple per night). And now, they've got a great happy hour, too.

2. La Peg

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140 N. Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 375-7744
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Chef Peter Woolsey landed a killer venue for his second restaurant: It's in the brand-new FringeArts building, with lofty ceilings, tons of outdoor space, and waterfront views. The majority of the (very French) menu is made up of small plates, snacks, and raw bar items, making it easy to customize your visit - whether you're looking to grab a bite or two at one of the bars or splashing out for a special occasion.

3. Dizengoff

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1625 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
CookNSolo added two new hits to their portfolio at pretty much the same time, and they're next door neighbors. But while sibling Abe Fisher is a dinner spot with a wide-ranging menu, Dizengoff opens early, features picnic-table seating, and focuses mostly on one thing: seriously good hummus. It comes in a handful of different configurations each day (the toppings are highly seasonal and have been changing daily since they've into their groove), and arrives alongside a couple of salads and some top-notch pita - but there's nothing else on the menu except for a few drinks (including beer). Luckily, you don't really need anything else. NB: Keep an eye on Twitter if you're heading over later in the day, as they may sell out early.

4. La Colombe Fishtown

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1335 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA
Ambitious La Colombe has a new home base in Fishtown, and it's pretty bonkers. In addition to the actual cafe (which has a full food menu), the massive warehouse space houses offices, roasting facilities, a tasting room, a bakery, and the distillery for the brand's signature rum. You won't find any wifi, but you will find some really good food, drinks, and plenty of room to spread out.

5. Capofitto

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223 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 897-9999
The Capogiro team has extended way beyond gelato with Capofitto in Old City. At the heart of the new concept are Neapolitan-style pizzas, fired in a custom wood-burning oven. Also on the menu are ripieni (think calzone), salads, starters, and — of course — gelato. Capofitto has a liquor license, and will be open until 1 a.m on weekends. For breakfast, they're serving pastries and La Colombe coffee.

6. Kensington Quarters

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1310 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(267) 314-5086
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Packed into this Fishtown space (just steps from another current Heatmap inductee, La Colombe HQ) is a bar, classroom and event space, restaurant with open kitchen, and a full-service butcher shop with windows in the meat locker. That means, depending on where you sit down to eat, you could have a full-on view of your meal being cooked and the animals that gave their life for your dinner. The theme of the place is sustainability and respect, all-around. The butcher shop (which retails dairy products in addition to fresh meat) is open six days a week, and the restaurant serves dinner nightly.

7. Aldine

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(215) 454-6529
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Aldine is the highly anticipated showcase for chef George Sabatino, who caught the attention of pretty much everyone while running the show at Stateside on East Passyunk. The a la carte menu (expect tasting menu options, both carnivore and omnivore, to crop up soon) offers a small handful each of vegetable, seafood, and meat dishes showcasing Sabatino's progressive-but-grounded style. Jennifer Sabatino has put forth a really strong bar program, too, treating even the non-alcoholic options with considerable finesse.

8. Lo Spiedo

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4501 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19112
(215) 282-3184
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Its Navy Yard location puts Marc Vetri's latest project well outside the usual Center City scene, but the quirky menu and killer bar program make it worth a special trip. Less dogmatically Italian than most Vetri spots, the concept here melds Italian sensibilities and flavors with American rotisserie and barbecue standards. It's a no-brainer for lunch if you work in the complex (they've thoughtfully included many low- and no-alcohol beverage options), and they're doing happy hour, too. Behind the bar, they're putting extra effort into their cocktails, with housemade ginger beer, tonic water, amaro, and more. (If you tend toward savory or boozy cocktails, don't miss the porcini Martinez, garnished with sesame oil.)

9. V Street

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126 S. 19th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 278-7943
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The owners of nationally renowned Vedge went a simpler route with their second concept: a hip yet casual cocktail bar serving street-food inspired small plates. As with Vedge, both food and drink menus offer selections that are at once approachable and exciting, that will appeal whether you adhere to a vegan diet or not. (Learn much, much more about the cocktails here.)

10. Brigantessa

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1520 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267) 318-7341
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Owing in large part to the devoted following of sibling restaurant Le Virtu, Brigantessa has been busy from the start, with the bustling first level built around a welcoming bar and imposing Gianni Acunto wood-fired oven. (An upstairs dining room provides a quieter, cozier environment.) The menu draws influence from all over southern Italy, offering a wide variety of choices from antipasti and housemade charcuterie to true Neapolitan pizza, compelling pastas, and wood-grilled meats.

11. The Lodge at Winterfest

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Penn's Landing
Philadelphia, PA 19099
Returning for its second year, the Lodge at Blue Cross River Rink Winterfest is a tented wonderland of food, drink, games, cozy couches, fireplaces, and more. Worth a visit whether you're skating or not, Winterfest features multiple food and drink options (including a full bar) executed by Garces Events. It's open daily from now through March 1. [Photo: Matt Stanley/DRWC]

12. Girard

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300 East Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(267) 457-2486
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This French-inflected newcomer to Fishtown is big on breakfast and brunch, but it's also serving lunch and dinner, as well as housing a coffee bar and grab-and-go options. It's also veggie-friendly, meaning it could be pretty much all things to all people (aside from those looking for a stiff drink - it's BYOB). There are no tips required here - the restaurant's business model strives to provide a living wage and benefits to employees without the uncertainty of customer-granted gratuities. (There's also no reserved seating for walk-ins, so reservations are strongly encouraged.)

13. Knead Bagels

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Jewelers' Row, 725 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 644-1175
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One of the major players in the apparent bagel renaissance Philly's finally undergoing is this "chef-driven" shop. The chef in question is Adam Wilner, who used to run the show at Matyson byob before opening this shop with his wife Cheri. Expect plenty of unique and compelling flavor combos (like togarashi-spiced bagels, or black sesame bagels with kimchi spread) in addition to the classics. They have some great breakfast sandwiches, too, and as of this week, they've also started serving soups, salads, and sandwiches at lunch.

14. Square Pie

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600 Catharine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 238-0615
Visit Website
Gene and Amy Giuffi (who also own Cochon) held onto this space after shuttering Blue Belly BBQ early this year, and after a makeover, are selling pizza and pasta out of the same storefront. The excellent pies are Brooklyn-style Sicilian, and you'll also find some starters, pastas, sides, and changing chalkboard specials. It's small, but the regular menu is all available for takeout if you can't snag a seat.

1. Abe Fisher

1623 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
"Foods of the Jewish diaspora" might not be the catchiest tagline you'll ever hear, but it turns out to be a killer concept for a restaurant. The menu of small plates (all sized very comfortably to split) pulls influence from Jewish traditions all over the world and is just unabashedly fun - if you think the very presence of shrimp fried rice on the menu is a surprise, wait until you see the actual dish. Drinks follow suit: all the cocktails (with awesome touches like barrel-aged Manischewitz) and wines (only by the glass) are the same price, encouraging you to explore and mix and match some lesser-known finds. If you're coming with a group, don't miss the Montreal-style smoked short rib feast (but specify you want it when you reserve your table; otherwise they only prep a couple per night). And now, they've got a great happy hour, too.
1623 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

2. La Peg

140 N. Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Chef Peter Woolsey landed a killer venue for his second restaurant: It's in the brand-new FringeArts building, with lofty ceilings, tons of outdoor space, and waterfront views. The majority of the (very French) menu is made up of small plates, snacks, and raw bar items, making it easy to customize your visit - whether you're looking to grab a bite or two at one of the bars or splashing out for a special occasion.
140 N. Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19106

3. Dizengoff

1625 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
CookNSolo added two new hits to their portfolio at pretty much the same time, and they're next door neighbors. But while sibling Abe Fisher is a dinner spot with a wide-ranging menu, Dizengoff opens early, features picnic-table seating, and focuses mostly on one thing: seriously good hummus. It comes in a handful of different configurations each day (the toppings are highly seasonal and have been changing daily since they've into their groove), and arrives alongside a couple of salads and some top-notch pita - but there's nothing else on the menu except for a few drinks (including beer). Luckily, you don't really need anything else. NB: Keep an eye on Twitter if you're heading over later in the day, as they may sell out early.
1625 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

4. La Colombe Fishtown

1335 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Ambitious La Colombe has a new home base in Fishtown, and it's pretty bonkers. In addition to the actual cafe (which has a full food menu), the massive warehouse space houses offices, roasting facilities, a tasting room, a bakery, and the distillery for the brand's signature rum. You won't find any wifi, but you will find some really good food, drinks, and plenty of room to spread out.
1335 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA

5. Capofitto

223 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106
The Capogiro team has extended way beyond gelato with Capofitto in Old City. At the heart of the new concept are Neapolitan-style pizzas, fired in a custom wood-burning oven. Also on the menu are ripieni (think calzone), salads, starters, and — of course — gelato. Capofitto has a liquor license, and will be open until 1 a.m on weekends. For breakfast, they're serving pastries and La Colombe coffee.
223 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106

6. Kensington Quarters

1310 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Packed into this Fishtown space (just steps from another current Heatmap inductee, La Colombe HQ) is a bar, classroom and event space, restaurant with open kitchen, and a full-service butcher shop with windows in the meat locker. That means, depending on where you sit down to eat, you could have a full-on view of your meal being cooked and the animals that gave their life for your dinner. The theme of the place is sustainability and respect, all-around. The butcher shop (which retails dairy products in addition to fresh meat) is open six days a week, and the restaurant serves dinner nightly.
1310 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125

7. Aldine

Philadelphia, PA
Aldine is the highly anticipated showcase for chef George Sabatino, who caught the attention of pretty much everyone while running the show at Stateside on East Passyunk. The a la carte menu (expect tasting menu options, both carnivore and omnivore, to crop up soon) offers a small handful each of vegetable, seafood, and meat dishes showcasing Sabatino's progressive-but-grounded style. Jennifer Sabatino has put forth a really strong bar program, too, treating even the non-alcoholic options with considerable finesse.

8. Lo Spiedo

4501 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19112
Its Navy Yard location puts Marc Vetri's latest project well outside the usual Center City scene, but the quirky menu and killer bar program make it worth a special trip. Less dogmatically Italian than most Vetri spots, the concept here melds Italian sensibilities and flavors with American rotisserie and barbecue standards. It's a no-brainer for lunch if you work in the complex (they've thoughtfully included many low- and no-alcohol beverage options), and they're doing happy hour, too. Behind the bar, they're putting extra effort into their cocktails, with housemade ginger beer, tonic water, amaro, and more. (If you tend toward savory or boozy cocktails, don't miss the porcini Martinez, garnished with sesame oil.)
4501 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19112

9. V Street

126 S. 19th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
The owners of nationally renowned Vedge went a simpler route with their second concept: a hip yet casual cocktail bar serving street-food inspired small plates. As with Vedge, both food and drink menus offer selections that are at once approachable and exciting, that will appeal whether you adhere to a vegan diet or not. (Learn much, much more about the cocktails here.)
126 S. 19th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103

10. Brigantessa

1520 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Owing in large part to the devoted following of sibling restaurant Le Virtu, Brigantessa has been busy from the start, with the bustling first level built around a welcoming bar and imposing Gianni Acunto wood-fired oven. (An upstairs dining room provides a quieter, cozier environment.) The menu draws influence from all over southern Italy, offering a wide variety of choices from antipasti and housemade charcuterie to true Neapolitan pizza, compelling pastas, and wood-grilled meats.
1520 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147

11. The Lodge at Winterfest

Penn's Landing, Philadelphia, PA 19099
Returning for its second year, the Lodge at Blue Cross River Rink Winterfest is a tented wonderland of food, drink, games, cozy couches, fireplaces, and more. Worth a visit whether you're skating or not, Winterfest features multiple food and drink options (including a full bar) executed by Garces Events. It's open daily from now through March 1. [Photo: Matt Stanley/DRWC]
Penn's Landing
Philadelphia, PA 19099

12. Girard

300 East Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125
This French-inflected newcomer to Fishtown is big on breakfast and brunch, but it's also serving lunch and dinner, as well as housing a coffee bar and grab-and-go options. It's also veggie-friendly, meaning it could be pretty much all things to all people (aside from those looking for a stiff drink - it's BYOB). There are no tips required here - the restaurant's business model strives to provide a living wage and benefits to employees without the uncertainty of customer-granted gratuities. (There's also no reserved seating for walk-ins, so reservations are strongly encouraged.)
300 East Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125

13. Knead Bagels

Jewelers' Row, 725 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
One of the major players in the apparent bagel renaissance Philly's finally undergoing is this "chef-driven" shop. The chef in question is Adam Wilner, who used to run the show at Matyson byob before opening this shop with his wife Cheri. Expect plenty of unique and compelling flavor combos (like togarashi-spiced bagels, or black sesame bagels with kimchi spread) in addition to the classics. They have some great breakfast sandwiches, too, and as of this week, they've also started serving soups, salads, and sandwiches at lunch.
Jewelers' Row, 725 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

14. Square Pie

600 Catharine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Gene and Amy Giuffi (who also own Cochon) held onto this space after shuttering Blue Belly BBQ early this year, and after a makeover, are selling pizza and pasta out of the same storefront. The excellent pies are Brooklyn-style Sicilian, and you'll also find some starters, pastas, sides, and changing chalkboard specials. It's small, but the regular menu is all available for takeout if you can't snag a seat.
600 Catharine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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