Philadelphia’s Jewish Dining Scene Steps Into the Big Leagues
From bagel bakeries and hummus joints to upscale kosher eateries, new restaurants have changed the city’s culinary profile
Merion Station’s Orthodox population is currently expanding, but it will only grow so far without the right infrastructure and amenities. For Magerman, that means quality synagogues, robust day schools (another cause he has heavily funded), and a diverse range of great restaurants. “As I started looking to grow the community and attract more young families, I realized how important it is to give people places to eat that they can feel excited about.”
Outside of the CookNSolo and Six Points Restaurant Group spheres, a handful of other Jewish eateries have made their mark in recent years. Take Schlesinger’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in Center City, which opened in 2010 and serves (non-kosher) from-scratch classics like beef kreplach soup and poppy-seed hamantaschen. A few blocks away is Spread Bagelry, which has baked Montreal-style wood-fired bagels since 2011. And last year, The Avenue Delicatessen, which fuses Italian and Jewish food (think reuben arancini and Italian wedding soup with matzo balls) opened to acclaim in nearby Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, LaBan said that, much in thanks to influential chefs like Solomonov, Jewish cuisine is making its way into mainstream Philadelphia restaurants. “You are seeing a lot of restaurants using pastrami rubs outside of the traditional context, or making everything-bagel-spiced foods,” he said. “It is completely non-denominational. They are simply taking old Jewish flavors and borrowing them for a broader fusion palate.”
Taken together, there have never been more or better options to “eat Jewish”—both kosher and not—in Philadelphia than right now. And with any luck, it is just the beginning. “Nouveau Jewish cuisine has not nearly hit its peak,” LaBan said. “With such creative forces around, it is only going to grow.”
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