At the recently opened Falafel House, chefs use fresh ingredients and original recipes to handcraft a menu of Lebanese-style cuisine. They transform chickpeas into daily batches of hummus and employ halal meats in signature dishes such as charbroiled-lamb shish kebab or the kafta kabob sandwich with minced sirloin, onions, and parsley. In addition to welcoming diners at their cheerful yellow-and-green storefront, the crew adds Middle Eastern flavor to family gatherings with catering services and Village People routines sung in Arabic.
The chefs at Desi Village Indian assert dominance over hunger by mixing powerful spices into creamy curries and colorful veggie stews. They pair housemade cheese with spinach to create palak paneer, a filling and nutritious dish that both vegetarians and meat eaters can dip into with garlic naan or roti bread. Similarly, yellow lentils serve as the main protein in dal chana’s mix of tomatoes, ginger, cumin, onions, and fresh garlic. Meatier meals include tandoori shrimp, marinated in yogurt and spices, and chicken kebabs. The dining room is just as colorful as the food-prep station, with marigold and cream fabrics sweeping across the ceiling and green chairs tucking up to tables.
Executive chef Robert Halpern oversees Marigold’s menu, which bends minds and tempts taste buds with creative preparations of American classics. Menu items change regularly based on the availability of seasonal ingredients; recent offerings include an appetizer of tomatoes “in various forms and textures” ($11) and dippable and delectable corn fritters ($12). A Painted Hills rib eye comes partnered with a savory symphony of feijoada beans, braised kale, chimichurri, farofa, and a plantain chip ($31), and pork, beans & beer puts a new spin on the traditional repast of the UN’s bingo luncheons by combining pork tenderloin with white-bean puree, apple and butterscotch gels, and Guinness foam ($26). Ginger-crusted scallops ($29), monkfish Romesco ($27), and wild king salmon ($28) disprove the theory that saltwater taffy is the only seafood safe for human consumption.
Housed inside what was once an old pharmacy, Rimedio—which is Italian for “remedy”—serves refined northern Italian cuisine amid white tablecloths and vintage light fixtures. Chef Dan Freeman seeks out quality proteins—including free-range chicken and grass-fed beef—to fill his seasonal menu, and even incorporates homemade flavors by curing his own pork belly and making his own pastas and sausages. Although the space has an old-timey ambiance, contemporary art adorns its walls alongside a large chalkboard imported from the future.
The culinary crew at Ethio Cafe whips up vegetarian, vegan, and carnivorous dishes using traditional Ethiopian recipes. Begin gastronomical globetrotting with a small-portioned delicacy such as fuul—crushed fava beans with onion, jalapeño, and sour cream ($5)—served with pita and a spare vowel. Dig into entrees such as traditional kitfo, a beef tartar with red pepper and cardamom ($12) or vegetarian alicha kik wot, a yellow-pea stew served with two veggie sides ($7).
Within a warmly lit exposed-brick interior, the flavor mavens at Manakeesh Cafe Bakery prepare a bounty of Lebanese-American fusion dishes lauded by ABC-6 news and Philadelphia magazine. Halal meats share the menu with vegetarian and vegan options as well as savory starters. Freshly baked manakeesh flatbread sandwiches journey through an open-flame oven, allowing guests to detail each movement with their own suspenseful voiceover narration. Diners can opt for a yogurt-cheese-spread labneh sandwich or invite the shawarma, which tucks sirloin into a fluffy flatbread coverlet, to a mouth sleepover party. A piece of the café's signature baklava soothes sweet teeth, and a strong Turkish coffee can fortify an extended stay inside a Trojan horse.