May 02, 2023
Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, the restauranteurs responsible for some of Midtown Village's most popular restaurants, are preparing to open their latest concept, a cozy, casual dining spot inspired by small neighborhood eateries from around the world.
To design Darling Jack's Tavern, which opens Friday, Safran and Turney, gutted the former spaces of Lolita, their shuttered Mexican restaurant, and Carre D' artistes, their art shop and gallery, which moved across the street. When guests enter the restaurant, at 104 S. 13th St., they will walk by red and white velvet drapes to be greeted by a host sitting at a podium made from a vintage radio. They then will be seated at the marble bar or in the main dining room, which features antique chairs.
The restaurant's decor – retro bar stools, old-fashioned glassware and vintage artwork – is meant to represent the feeling of being enveloped in a painting, Safran and Turney said. In addition to the 75 indoor seats, Darling Jack's offers outdoor seating, depending on the weather.
The menu features foods that Safran and Turney love to eat, including tavern-style pizza — thin-crust pan pizza cut into small squares for sharing before the main course. The pizzas are available in a variety of flavors and textures, like spicy pepperoni and green garlic, clam and ham and potato and spring onion.
"I've been cooking professionally for over 20 years, opened over a dozen restaurants and event spaces and written countless menus," Turney, head of culinary operations at Darling Jack's, said in a press release. "And we've loved it all, but this one means a lot. It's been a rough few years for our industry, and we're excited to get back to basics and cook everything and anything we love to eat."
The appetizers and large plate options include French onion soup, crispy potatoes, steamed mussels, fried oyster and shrimp sandwiches, skirt steak frites, glazed lamb ribs, burgers, branzino and short rib platters.
The drink menu features the restaurant's signature Darling Buck, made with vodka, fresh ginger, mint and bitters, in addition to classic cocktails like martinis, espresso martinis and palomas. Darling Jack's also offers natural wines and craft beers.
"We've always loved creating spaces that take you elsewhere," said Safran, the head of front-of-house operations. "Darling Jack's might be our best, most fun time warp yet."
About 21 years ago, Turney and Safran, who are married, helped revitalize 13th Street in Midtown Village by opening their first store, Open House. Two years later, they opened their first restaurant, Lolita, just a few doors away. Though the Mexican spot closed due to economic difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, their tiny gift shop remains, along with a collection of restaurants the couple has opened in the neighborhood.
Safran and Turney operate Barbuzzo, the Mediterranean bar Barbuzzo, the retro eatery Bud & Marilyn's and the Italian restaurant Little Nonna's. They also run a chocolate shop, a jewelry store and a novelty shop – all under the umbrella organization of Safran Turney Hospitality, which they formed in 2018.
There is a second Bud & Marilyn's location at Philadelphia International Airport, where the couple also runs Good Luck Pizza Co.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Turney and Safran had planned to open Loveluck, a restaurant and bar, at the long-vacant, flying saucer-shaped visitors center in LOVE Park. But they did not follow through on those plans, instead focusing on their Midtown Village restaurants and outposts at PHL.
Darling Jack's will be open for dinner service from 5-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A separate, midday menu will be offered from 3-5 p.m. daily. Happy hour deals will be available from 4-7 p.m. On weekends, brunch will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Reservations are available via Resy. Darling Jack's is participating in Center City Sips, the summer happy hour event hosted by various bars on Wednesdays during the summer. This map includes the establishments participating.