Food in the New Year.
Two local restaurateurs who found success serving the cuisines of Spain are venturing out into new culinary territory. Owen Kamihira (Bar Ferdinand) recently opened El Camino Real, "a Texas-Mexico border cowboy bar," in Northern Liberties. For inspiration, chef Jennifer Zavala visited border towns and tapped into her own Mexican heritage to create the restaurant's two distinct menus. One features smoky Texas BBQ and the other offers classic Northern Mexican dishes like burritos wrapped in fresh house-made flour tortillas. The restaurant has a cool, dusky mood that'll make you feel more like you're in the Southwest than in NoLibs. Bourbon, tequila and Southern sweet tea quench your thirst after a long day on the urban range.
Switching focus from Spain to South America, Jose Garces of Amada, Tinto and Distrito will introduce Peruvian-Cantonese fare to Philadelphia with Chifa. Named after the cuisine created by Chinese workers in 19th-century Peru, Chifa celebrates the blend of both food cultures with dishes like Roast Duck Buns (steamed Chinese buns filled with crispy duck, foie gras mousse and plum sauce) and Aji Gallina (a classic Peruvian chicken dish with walnuts, purple Peruvian olives and a spicy sauce). Chifa will also feature a ceviche bar serving fresh, made-to-order ceviches like Oyster Shooters with Pisco (a potent Peruvian liquor). Word on the street says Chifa will open later this month at 707 Chestnut St.
Jan. 25 to 30 is Center City District's Restaurant Week. At more than 100 Philly eateries, get three courses for $35 (plus drinks, tax and gratuity). Restaurant Week is a great time to dine on a budget at an elegant spot like 10 Arts, Lacroix or Fork. For a list of participating restaurants and reservations go to opentable.com.
In the New Year, resolve to learn more about wine. The Wine School offers a fun and popular Wine 101 class every week in February. The first class is on Thurs., Feb. 5, at Pinot Boutique in Old City, and later classes will be at the school's Fairmount location. After you ace 101, move up to Wine 201 or classes on specific regions like South Africa and Italy. To sign up visit www.vinology.com.
The bartenders of Apothecary in Midtown Village can help you end the day and keep most of those hard-earned dollars in your pocket with their happy hour specials. Every Tuesday through Friday classic cocktails (barkeep's choice) are $6, house wines are $5 and select beers are $4. Outside of the specials, I recommend the mood-altering elixirs like Livin's Easy with vodka, raspberry liqueur and ginger beer, or Tippling Brothers Magical Pain Extractor with invigorating fresh mint and rosemary.