Monday, July 10, 2006

Somebody pinch us - Rick Nichols is on fire

We’ve gotten three great pieces from Rick in the past two weeks. Let’s recap.

First, there was “South Street west at its blooming best,“ an article about G-Ho’s piece of South Street and the many virtues of the newcomer Apamate:
Welcome to the other South Street, west of Broad, home to the funky backyard garden at the Jamaican Jerk Hut and, toward Graduate Hospital, the estimable pies at Lazaro's ($2 for a giant, thin-crust slice), and, recently, a lovely storefront cafe called Pumpkin. …

I say let the east end of South keep its sneaker franchises and Johnny Rockets and Starbucks. This end is for truer grit. But it's not exactly gritty. Which brings me to the latest addition, a paprika-colored boite by the name of Cafe Apamate.
Word, Rick. Word.

That apparently got his juices flowing. He followed it up with “Applebee's and the chainifying of the city,” a little ditty dedicated to all the chain restaurants assaulting Center City:
It is that Orwellian quality that gets you - the slavish display of the genuine to legitimize the fake. Buca di Beppo does it a few blocks south, and also the nearby Fox & Hound and Fado, the Irish pub franchise.

The ring of the chain zombies has surrounded the Convention Center (Maggiano's, Chili's and Hard Rock Cafe), and taken up position on South Broad's ballyhooed Avenue of the Arts (McCormick & Schmick, Capitol Grill, Palm, Ted's Montana Grill).

Across from the Borders on Chestnut you've got Olive Garden. There's a Ruby Tuesday's. And a Roy's.

You are not family in these places. Far from it. They are not, as Applebee's sloganizes, your "neighborhood grill & bar."
(As we’ve said before, we don’t much care for chains.)

And then just yesterday, he hit us up with “Mexican, everyday to elegant,” a piece about all the new Mexican spots adding some flavor to South Philly… with a splash of social commentary tossed in there for good measure:
It's been a busy and expansive five years since South Philly got its first taste of taqueria food…

On a recent Wednesday, the latest taqueria was gestating on East Passyunk Avenue, near where 12th Street crosses Morris. It's in the bones of an old, wedge-shaped hair-cuttery, its gray window grates still pulled gloomily down, but a festive sign already promising new life. El Zarape, it says.

Down the block, near Mancuso's ricotta shop, a combo called By Design was toying with a bit of jazz on the sidewalk. And along the stretch of old and new Italian eateries, the lone, gringo-owned Mexican-style place - Cantina El Caballito - was abuzz with the neighborhood's fresh-faced newcomers seated at the full-service tequila bar and outdoor tables.

Was the cantina anxious about El Zarape opening across the avenue? Hardly, manager Suzanne O'Brien said: "We think of them as the taqueria across from [our] liquor license."

Not quite the paranoid Geno's take on the Mexican influx, but, on the contrary, a confident and generously optimistic American one.

Rick, we have to say it: we like the ‘tude you’ve been sporting lately. Keep it coming.

South Street is alright, but only if G-Ho is involved [Inky]
Good god, the fucking casinos are going to kill whatever authenticity Philadelphia still has [Inky]
Some people in South Philadelphia actually like the influx of Spanish speakers [Inky]

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