8 West Chester Restaurants I’m Dying to Try



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Slow Hand. West Chester. Image Slow Hand Instagram.

Update: I first posted this article in April a mere two months ago, and it already feels dated. There are so many new and interesting restaurants opening in and around West Chester, it is really hard to keep up. But I am trying, if only through an ever growing list of must-eats.

I am sad to report that I have missed out on what sounded like some seriously good local restaurants — the breakfasts at Mrs. Mikes, the Northern Italian cuisine of Laguna Miramare, a restaurant which had impressive reviews on Tripadvisor, the pizza at Nova (which was probably more decent then “seriously good,” but anyway it’s gone).  

I don’t know about you, but we have a tendency to fall into the routine of our usual places even when there is collective agreement we are ready for something new. Well, the next time the, “So where should we go?” conversation comes up, I’ll be prepared.   

New West Chester Restaurants

opa taverna
Opa Taverna. West Chester. Image Opa Taverna on Instagram.

Opa Taverna

This new greek restaurant from the folks behind Opa, Opa, sits in the gorgeously renovated spaces of West Chester’s now departed, wine bar (Gay and Walnut). The windows all open up completely to give you that outdoor feeling from the (temperature controlled) comfort of indoors plus, there is plenty of cafe-style seating lining the sidewalk out in front.

I haven’t received any first-hand reviews of the food yet, but the pictures sure make it look good and Greek is a nice break for the Italian, American, fusion, restaurants that dominate downtown. If anyone’s been let me know what you think.

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Apparently good enough to miss a Cardi B performance for… Note: This chicken is not from West Chester.

Bonchon

Ok, I am a little behind on this latest Asian fast-food trend. (When did we move on from Korean BBQ and Poke bowls?) Anyway, according to the New York Times Cooking Korean Fried Chicken took off in New York City around 2006 and has presumely been working its way around the U.S. from there, landing in West Chester, Spring 2019.   

While new to us, Bonchon is a pretty well-established chicken chain with 50 locations across the United States, more globally. Their fried chicken is known for a delicate, crispy crust that is achieved using a two-part frying process then lightly coated in a garlic-soy or spicy Korean chili sauce. I usually try to avoid chain restaurants in favor of independents (yes, I’m that person), however, I am too deep into reviews and out of other options, so on the list this stays.  

Slow hand
You’ve got to admire the artwork. Slow Hand on Instagram.

Slow Hand

In case you missed it, this is the new restaurant in the firehouse location formerly occupied by Restaurant 51. (I walked by at least three times before I put two and two together.) In my defense, it was a quick turnover. Restaurant 51 posted their last drink special on April 12 and by April 24, Slow Hand was online and ready for business.

While, the timing may have you believing this was a change in name only, this is not the case. The menus are completely different. While Restaurant 51, playing off the firehouse location, was casual with American-style bar food, aka, burgers and sandwiches. Slow Hand is decidedly more upscale featuring a fresh, locally-sourced, what I will call, “fusion” menu and craft cocktails.

I feel like we’ll get here for a cocktail before a full meal but the owners have gone the extra mile to make atmosphere and the menu feel original.

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Love a good BYOB. Photo from Yelp.

Ciao

So we missed out on Laguna Miramare, but I am determined not to miss this one. Ciao is an authentic-Italian BYOB under the personal leadership of Italy-native Chef Sandro Frusone. (Most of) the reviews sound promising like this one from Open Table user Linda:

“I usually don’t write reviews, but this was probably the first time in my life I walked into a restaurant and was blown away with how good the food that was cooking smelled.” 

There were several negative comments thrown in, especially early on, mostly about poor service. Since it’s still early I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Ciao is located at the corner of 926 and 202 – a short drive from the borough with plenty of parking.

La Forno

la forno
Could this be our new go-to pizza place?

With most things I’m not too particular, but when it comes to pizza and coffee, I can be a bit of a snob. As such I have been on a years-long quest to find a local pizza place I can really get behind. Now I don’t know if La Forno pizza on West Nields will be that place, but I am willing to give it a try.  

Taco Mar

One would think it would be easy to find a good, authentic Mexican place. Turns out it is surprisingly hard but I have high hopes for this one. Originally opened in 2017, Taco Mar started on High Street then closed briefly as it searched for a new location. Now it has reopened on Gay Street. They were recently featured on the Mainline Today blog in a roundup of new restaurants to try.

Andiario

Andario table
Andiario’s open kitchen allows patrons an inside look at meal preparations. Image from the Andiario website.

This is one’s probably not a surprise with all the buzz (this, this and most recently, this). I have, however, heard some mixed real people reviews. Plus, I’m not a big fan of mushrooms or game which tends to shortlist my options at a restaurant that sources locally, like Andiario does. Still, to have a near-James Beard award winning restaurant practically in the backyard, how could you not be curious?  

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I’ll take one with an IPA, please. Photo from Sterling Pig Brewery Instagram.

Sterling Pig Brewery

We walked by the other night and the place just looked fun. Since then I’ve been looking for a reason (actually, more like a babysitter and an opportunity) to check it out. Reviews look good and I am a sucker for some good barbecue and we are moving solidly into beer drinking weather.

So, who knows a good babysitter?  

Ok, thoughts? Where should I add?

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