Herban Quality Eats Comes to University City!

Back in October, I scuttled over to Drexel’s Center for Hospitality and Sports Management to get school’d by restaurant professionals from throughout Philly. We learned from distillers and burger slingers alike, but I was most interested in a new-to-town restaurant opening down the street from where I worked. Herban Quality Eats, opening TODAY at 3601 Market Street, is a welcome newbie to the neighborhood of University City which hosts students and employees of Penn and Drexel, employees and patients from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and CHOP (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) alike.

And, while we do have Subway, Wawa, and food trucks nearby, sometimes you want something fast, something healthy, and something delicious. OR something to fuel a good workout.

Enter: The Bros from Herban.

IMG_2759

Snacketizers. Nice portmanteau.

This fine establishment was founded by two 2013 graduates from Wharton, the Penn MBA program. And if I know one thing about the graduates from Wharton, it’s that they’re savvy. If I know another thing, it’s that they appreciate the finer things. This is reflected in the quality of ingredients on Herban’s menu.

IMG_2758

Mini Menu

Monday, December 14th, 2015 some lucky locals (myself included) were invited to try out the goods at their exclusive preview lunch, a day before the grand opening. The mood was excited, the smells intoxicating, and the employees rocking like a well-oiled machine.

IMG_2761

Check out Amir Fardshisheh, one of the founders, prepping the squad!

We waited patiently, salivating as the goods started rolling out. The open kitchen allowed guests to watch the process, and I’ll admit, I eat with my eyes. It was no surprise, then that my tummy began growling watching the lean steak flavored with a house spice rub being sliced on the table.

IMG_2765

That quinoa and cheese is looking pretty fly

In an area where the only “healthy eats” are salads and…. mostly salads, it was awesome to see a hearty and healthy plate loaded with delicious ingredients that didn’t feel like bunny fodder.

IMG_2764

LOOK! There’s even some Vegan Jawn (also gluten free)

IMG_2768

My platter (plus Perrier)

I went for the Himalayan red rice as a base, the backyard steak, and sides of Brussels sprouts (roasted in coconut oil and tossed with dried cranberries and onions) and the quinoa and cheese (a high protein/fiber substitute for the often indulgent mac and cheese).

The Verdict?

IMG_2769

Moment of Truth

GOSH this was good. The steak was fantastic, still pink inside and super juicy. I loved the base of the red rice, full of antioxidants and fiber. Their hot sauce wasn’t quite to my tastes, but I’d put the walnut coriander (the green) sauce on EVERYTHING. Happily. I tried bites of the plantain chips and guac (nice deal for $3.70 when you need a quick snack) and the salmon, which was tasty, but the portion was a bit on the small side.

Taste-wise, this place is off the charts. And I think I could probably see myself grabbing lunch from here once every week or two. I’ll also admit that, truth be told, the prices are a pinch steep for what I typically budget for lunch. Luckily, they’re located in the heart of an area full of doctors, MBA students, and college kids LOADED with disposable income. I’m certain the gang from Herban is going to do very well for themselves.

IMG_2771

I see you, baby.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Herban. I still may not know exactly how to pronounce your name, but I’m so happy you’re here.

Wahoo’s Fish Taco Comes to Philly!

Gwen would totally love these tacos...

Gwen would totally love these tacos…

The first CD I ever bought with my OWN money (hilarious to think what a big deal that was growing up) was a Reel Big Fish album titled Turn the Radio Off. I have distinct memories of hearing these ska tuneskies and experiencing this uncontrollable desire to mosh with sweaty strangers. As I was about 10 years old at the time, I can’t say I followed up on that urge, but I always had this dream alterna-life where I was a Cali beach babe, maybe a hybrid of Hawaii hottie Kate Bosworth a la Blue Crush and Gwen Stefani. Other than a brief stint in during Halloween 2011, I can’t say I really embody this imaginary persona. But there’s a new spot in Philly that might let me live that dream, if only through my eats.

Wahoo’s Tacos, California’s premier fish taco joint, has somehow found their way to Philadelphia (specifically 3180 Chestnut Street). Recent graduate of UPenn and current employee in University City, I’ll let you know that few things excite me more than a new lunchtime opportunity nearby. And when I had the chance to check out UC’s newest West Coast transplant last weekend, I had no choice but to joyfully attend and snap photos when I wasn’t stuffing my face.

The story is nothing new. Just your standard Bro meets bro, one of those bros meets taco guru at snowboarding events, taco spot inspires bro, bro brings delicious taco spot (and guru) to City of Brotherly Love. We’ve all heard it, so I won’t bore you. But let’s get to the good stuff. The vibe is super Cali cool, skater and surfer and all that jazz.

Too cool, right?

Too cool, right?

Rad.

Rad.

The menu is simple and all about freshness. I learned that they literally only keep one small freezer in the back (for fries and onion rings). The rest of the stuff is straight up never frozen. Proteins, vegetables, slaw… All about that.

How is the food, you may ask? Well, luckily, I was able to try a bunch! (Though feel free to scan the menu yourself.)

Quesadillas and chicken taquitos!

Quesadillas and chicken taquitos!

Wahoo bowl and a delicious  Big Wave Golden Ale

Wahoo bowl and a delicious Big Wave Golden Ale

Can we just get on a new level about that spicy fish and that crunchy slaw? I really feel like slaw is what’s MISSING in my taco/burrito/bowl life.

Nachos topped with chicken, steak, and all the fixins!

Nachos topped with chicken, steak, and all the fixins!

With a full bar, some tasty brews on draft, and totally reasonable prices, I am certain this location is going to rock. But what really blew me away was the love that these two Philly owners, Bill Van Gilder and Jeff Mattes, seem to have for their franchise.

Pictured with Wing Lam, one of the original cofounders!

Pictured with Wing Lam, one of the original cofounders!

FESTIVE RIBBON CUTTING!

FESTIVE RIBBON CUTTING!

Listening to them speak about their new business is like hearing someone talk about their child. I can say that, having met one of Bill’s little ones….

Can't say no to this face, right?

Can’t say no to this face, right?

So come for the tacos…. stay for the atmosphere, the incredibly flavorful slaw, the taquitos, and maybe you’ll get lucky and stumble across the absolute cutest little Wahoo Mascot.

It’s a new addition to the Philly food scene that I will welcome with open arms. And an open mouth, waiting for spicy fish.