Midtown Village has gained a new jewel in the form of Bodega — a Latin-flavored bar and restaurant that offers an instant escape from the drab and ordinary. It’s not just the food — it’s the details everywhere you look. Bodega seems to be the result of a lifelong love affair with travel, adventure and living on impulse.
Created by brothers Alex and Stavros Vasiliadis and their partner George Karagiannis, every inch of the restaurant tells a story.
“All three of us have traveled extensively and it very much encapsulates that. Travel leaves an indelible image in an individual and collectively, we’re trying to mold that in the place we call home — which is Philly. We want to pay homage,” Alex commented.
Bodega’s intricate Saltillo and Andalusian tile work and big, bold murals are made even more beautiful under the glow of ornate hanging lanterns. But there’s much more to this place than ambiance, the food is spectacular, too — with inventive (and delectable) options for the most indulgent and even the most healthy of eaters. (I could eat the salmon a la plancha with broccoli and purple mashed potatoes everyday and die happy. But if you’re feeling a little naughty, the pretzel crusted fried chicken with sage cheddar waffle is a dish you’ll want to cheat on your diet with.)
The idea for Bodega was initially inspired by a family-run bodega in Delaware County.
“My mom when I was growing up had a Greek bodega in Upper Darby,” Alex says. “She sold everything from magazines to music to olives to food to cheeses — everything under the sun. The idea sprung from there to become this place where you could hear great music, taste great food and drinks and just have a nice time with people.”
It wasn’t until 2015, however, that the idea was put into action. The Vasiliadis brothers had owned a few other Philly establishments over the years, including the popular Monkey Bar, but for this new venture they also recruited their long-time friend of 22 years, George Karagiannis as partner. Their ultimate mission? To provide a completely immersive experience for customers and bring people together.
“I haven’t noticed too many people on their smartphones here. They are engaged,” Alex says. “We’re reaching our creative goal of people actually talking. When you bring perfect strangers together, who knows? The possibilities are endless for them. We’d love to be part of their experience: ‘We met a Bodega.’”
Stavros adds, “When a customer walks out of here happier than when they walked in, we did our job. That’s success to me.”
Bodega Bar and Kitchen is located at 1223 Walnut St. For more information, visit: bodegaphilly.com