Michael Klein: New x 2 at 5th and Chestnut

Red Owl Tavern, with an industrial look, opening Thursday at the Hotel Monaco.
Red Owl Tavern, with an industrial look, opening Thursday at the Hotel Monaco. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 04, 2012

Two completely different vibes are at work at the two dining options at the Hotel Monaco, opening Thursday at the corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets, in the former Lafayette Building.

Red Owl Tavern - with its wide-open, industrial look (pulleys, white steel girders, reclaimed barn siding) - offers locally sourced American fare from Guillermo Tellez Cruz (doing double duty, as he is also chef at Square 1682 at Kimpton's Hotel Palomar) and cocktails. A to-go counter is set up for lunch with sandwiches and salads, and for desserts in the evening. Not counting the cafe at the Bourse, it's the first restaurant along Independence Mall in modern times - outdoor seating is in the works. Many seats look out into the mall, particularly those on the mezzanine.

There's a chef's table in the basement next to the building's original vault. Average check: breakfast about $12, lunch $19, dinner $47.

At opening, it will serve breakfast and dinner. Lunch starts the week of Oct. 15, with weekend brunch to follow shortly thereafter.

Its roof-deck lounge Stratus, 11 stories up, has a more contemporary feel. Its main bar, open year-round, is tucked behind roll-up garage doors, which open to a patio with comfy furniture and a 30-foot wall of fire. You get sky but not skyline. Small windows in two rooftop rooms afford the only real views - a design shortcoming attributed to building regulations.

What's coming

Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal opened Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington in January 2011 and followed up a year later with La Calaca Feliz in Fairmount. They are going to Manayunk with location numero tres: They'll take 4410 Main St., previously Mainly Shoes, and a small space now occupied by a fortune-teller (who apparently did not know this deal was coming). Taqueria Feliz, a casual Mexican taqueria with modern touches, is due to open in spring.

Two transplanted Michiganders, having sold their restaurant in Myrtle Beach, S.C., heard that "Philly is the hottest food area in the Northeast," says Gregg Methot. He and partner Dawn Hone have taken over the Santa Fe Burrito Co. at 212 S. 11th St. and are creating the optimistically named Famous Detroit Coney Company. Menu, built around the signature Detroit Coney Island hot dog, sounds like fast-food heaven (and thank goodness they're a block from Jefferson's emergency room): They'll import Koegel dogs, grind their own burgers, roast lamb for kebabs and gyros, cook onion rings to order, and spin their own shakes. They hope for a fall opening.

Chinatown's former House of Chen (932 Race St.) is being reconfigured as a still-unnamed Cantonese restaurant on the ground floor with two floors of karaoke above: six private rooms on the second floor and two larger rooms on the third. The crew from Banana Leaf on Arch Street is behind it. It's up for a fall opening.


The busiest bar in the city - according to the Liquor Control Board, which tallies wine and spirits sales but not beer - last year was the Del Frisco's steak house at 15th and Chestnut Streets. Del's bought more than $879,000 in hooch from the LCB. See chart at www.philly.com/toplcb.

Briefly noted

The year's last Food Trust Night Market is 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday around 10th and Race Streets in Chinatown.

Adam Kanter closed Rum Bar, his spirited Caribbean themer at 2005 Walnut St., after 5½ years. He said his lease was not being renewed. One little-known story about Kanter and Rum Bar: He decided to distill his own rum in the basement. State police, tipped off by a former employee, paid him a visit and strongly suggested that he dump his batch. He was fined $500.


Photos, menus, and additional details about these restaurants, plus dining news, can be found at www.philly.com/mike. Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com.

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