Food & Drink

A couple of February events

January 31, 2011

Here are two fun West Philly things to keep an eye out for in a couple of weeks.

First, Mariposa Food Co-op will hold a giant craft fair and flea market in the new building at 4824 Baltimore Ave. on February 12 and 13. The building isn’t officially open yet, but this will give folks an opportunity to get a sneak preview ahead of the fall 2011 official opening. This shindig will feature jewelry, baked goods, handcrafted items, clothes, books and much more. See the flyer below.

On February 21 Manakeesh, the new Lebanese cafe and bakery at 45th and Walnut, plans to celebrate its official grand opening with a party that will include free giveaways and all sorts of goodies. The party will run during regular business hours.

Mariposa Craft Fair flyer

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West Philly’s Four Worlds Bakery featured on NBC

January 28, 2011

In case you missed this …West Philly’s very own local bakery, Four Worlds Bakery (4634 Woodland Ave.), was featured on NBC10 earlier this week. This place takes the cake, as it were. We picked up three baguettes here the other day for a fondu shindig and they were very, very good. Enjoy.

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Philly mag writer doesn’t watch TV at Fiume

January 22, 2011

We found this breezy little piece on the Philadelphia Magazine website earlier this week that continues to chronicle the growing legend of Fiume, the perfectly quirky little beer and whiskey bar at 45th and Locust. Writer Robert Huber uses the lack of televisions at Fiume to underscore what happens every night at this place  – impromptu, elbow-to-elbow conversations with a wide swath of folks. In Huber’s case on this night, it’s a couple of Greek Ph.D. students and a social worker.

Huber writes:

There are no TVs. I am sorry to harp on a simple point but it is also so dark in here that reading would be a challenge, so there are three possibilities:


Listen to Billie Holliday, now singing. It could be Tammy Wynette. Or Tiny Tim.

Or talk.

Not bad choices these days. You can read the entire piece here.

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Mabrouk! Manakeesh opens at 45th and Walnut in West Philly

January 20, 2011

Should we start calling the pocket in West Philly around 45th and Walnut “Little Beirut” or maybe “New Lebanon”? The corner is anchored by the Association of Islamic Charity Projects mosque on the northeast corner, Saad’s Halal Restaurant on the southwest corner and now Manakeesh, a Lebanese bakery and cafe, in the old bank building on the southeast corner.

manakeesh insideAfter much anticipation, Manakeesh, named after its most popular dish, opened this week with a dazzling interior and vast assortment of Lebanese fare. The menu is built on the manakeesh, a Lebanese flatbread sandwich that is made to order in front of you. The standard manakeesh features zaatar, a mixture of thyme and olive oil spread on the bread before it is baked. Other traditional favorites are the cheese manakeesh, which includes an assortment of vegetables, and the lahm bajeen – minced lamb.

These are just three of the nearly 20 different kinds of manakeesh made to order. Some have a distinctly American twist, like manakeesh with pastrami or sausage, egg and cheese. But as vital as the manakeesh is to the menu, this place has a lot more to offer, including several kinds of baklava, cakes, salads and coffee. Oh the coffee. Perhaps the most prominent feature behind the counter at Manakeesh, besides the exceedingly friendly staff and the brick oven shipped over from Lebanon, is the Mac Daddy of espresso machines – the Excelsior. It’s orange and chrome and looks like something that might have come out of a Detroit auto factory in the 1950s.

Yunis Ali works the Excelsior.

The general manager of Manakeesh, Abd Ghazzawi, essentially grew up in the neighborhood. He attended the mosque school across the street from Manakeesh and has invited some of his old friends to work at the cafe. The result is an inviting atmosphere with a lot of chatter. That, he said, is the point. Ghazzawi hopes that Manakeesh becomes more than a cafe and bakery, but a “community centerpiece.” You can hear much more on his thoughts about the neighborhood around Manakeesh and the cafe itself in the interview below.

So stop by and give Abd and the others a hearty mabrouk (congratulations in Arabic). It’s been a long wait, but it was worth it. Here is the full menu.

Interview with Abd Ghazzawi:

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Manakeesh bakery/cafe to open Monday (Update – Lunch opening 1 or so on Monday)

January 12, 2011

Manakeesh in West PhillyMost of us have seen the Lebanese bakery and cafe take shape for the past several months at the old bank building on the southeast corner of 45th and Walnut. It appears the wait will be over on Monday. We don’t have a lot of details yet, but the Manakeesh is scheduled to open at 6 a.m. lunchtime (1 or 2 we’re told) on Jan. 17.

A “manakeesh” is a Lebanese flatbread sandwich and is the featured food item on the menu. There will be 14 kinds of manakeesh, both vegetarian and meat (halal, of course). A variety of soups, coffees and sweets (baklava!) are also on the menu.

Here is the full menu.

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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…

January 8, 2011


There are still a couple of hours left to catch today’s winter edition of the Clark Park Farmer’s Market. Several hearty vendors have braved the snow to offer some fresh vegetables, bread, eggs and the like. The market runs until 2 p.m. today.

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