Philadelphia's complement of Peruvian restaurants has risen by two in the last month.
Vista Peru, an upscale bar-lounge from the crew behind El Balconcito's locations in Northeast Philadelphia, recently took over the two-level space at 20 S. Second St. in Old City that housed Serrano and Tin Angel for many years. Bars (including a second-floor lounge that is open Friday and Saturday nights) feature cocktails made from the Peruvian brandy known as pisco.
Atmosphere is clean and spare, with some seating in front of the bar and a similarly appointed dining room. Menu runs the gamut of Peruvian plates, including generous-portioned cebiches, pollo à la brazza ($38 for a whole chicken and fries), risotto, shrimp on the plancha, paella, steak, and chaufa (as in, chifa) rice dishes. Entrées range from the mid-teens to $55 for stuffed lobster tail. It's open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Just up the street in Northern Liberties, where Bar Ferdinand was at 1030 N. Second St. (215-923-3293), is the brand-new Chalaco's, a slightly more casual Peruvian restaurant and pisco bar. Colombian-born chef Jordi Harper, not yet 30 and in his first Philadelphia venture, is running it for a silent partner based in the Washington area.
Bold graphics, including the words "Good conversation starts with a Pisco" over the 17-seat bar, establish a lively mood. Harper says he is tapping local sources for his vegetables, rather than importing ingredients.
Dishes on Chalaco's menu, including classics such as lomo saltado (beef tips) and ceviche (here spelled with a "v"), are priced at $18 and under. The signature roast chicken is priced at $24 for a whole, $16 for a half, including potatoes and salad. A three-course lunch is available for $10.
The restaurant, which has a decent-sized outdoor seating area, is open for lunch, dinner, and late night daily.
Saige Cafe, already in Spring Garden and on Temple's campus (plus Jackson and Toms River, N.J.) has added a location in the Schmidt's Commons in Northern Liberties. Hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, till 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Deli/sandwich shop Wursthaus Schmitz will end its five-plus-year run at Reading Terminal Market on April 29. Doug Hager — who also owns the popular Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South St.) and Whetstone (Fifth and Bainbridge Streets) and has four kids ages 6 and under — said it was getting to be too much for him, given the departure of longtime manager Beate Schartner. She is headed to Germany to open a restaurant.