Stuck between New York and Washington, D.C. and too established to be considered an “up-and-comer” like Minneapolis or Charleston, South Carolina, Philadelphia’s food scene too often gets overlooked by the national dining intelligentsia. Though Philly does earn its share of accolades – recent nods have included best U.S. pizza and coffee shoprankings as well as James Beard Foundation outstanding chef, outstanding restaurateur and Rising Star Chef of the Year awards – overall, Philadelphians feel somewhat (unfairly) snubbed.
So the city is celebrating mightily this month after being named as home to both James Beard’s outstanding restaurant of 2019 (Zahav) and Food & Wine magazine’s best new restaurant (Cadence). The Beard Foundation doesn’t explain its selections but Food & Wine wrote four lengthy paragraphs of love to Cadence, a BYOB opened last year by three veterans of High Street Hospitality, a powerhouse restaurant group in its own right.
Disclosure: I periodically contribute to foodandwine.com.
Likely on F&W’s radar because of an earlier online story contributed by a local writer, Cadence charmed Restaurant Editor at Large Jordana Rothman with its “simple pleasures and serious food.”
“Where did the feel-good restaurants go?” she writes. “The ones that restore the spirit, the ones that make us feel fed in ways that transcend the obvious, the ones where the hospitality isn’t an algorithmic triple axel but human, heartfelt—’How’s the family?’ You know the type: Hearth in New York City; Rustic Canyon in Los Angeles. To that list, add Cadence in Philadelphia.”
Roth, a New Jersey native, once told New Jersey Monthly magazine (for which I write a regular column) that she loves Philly dining: “Fantastic dining city. I could not be a more ardent fan of Michael Solomonov [chef/owner of Zahav].”
So has something gotten into the wooder (Philadelphian for water) to make dining critics and award committees suddenly move the city of cheesesteak love from the perpetual runners-up column to the top of the big best-of lists? I asked a few noted local restaurant writers what they think has or hasn’t happened here lately.
If you’re looking to book a table at either restaurant, don’t let rumors of a three-month waiting list fool you. On Thursday night, Zahav’s website showed a two-person table available the following Tuesday evening at 9:30, though management has reportedly told this blogger that patrons typically wait two months for a table at a more reasonable hour. Insiders know they can eat at the bar without a reservation but need to show up around 4:30 to score a seat for the night when the modern Israeli restaurant opens at 5.
As a lesser-known restaurant, Cadence seats are easier to get. A late Thursday search for a two-top on OpenTable.com showed tables free at 6, 6:15 and 9:45 the following (Friday) night.
[“source=forbes”]Tags: ..., best, city, dining, for, Is, Month, the, this