Stephen Starr’s latest venue opens in Fishtown next week

Jason Varney

Stephen Starr is no stranger to the Philly restaurant scene, and his influence is growing even more with an all-new concept opening next week.

Starr’s latest venue, LMNO, features an authentic Baja-inspired menu centered around a custom live-fire grill—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg at the eatery, which also acts as an art gallery, a bookstore, and an intimate music venue, all under one roof. This multi-purpose concept will allow artists, musicians, and creators to showcase work alongside a rich, authentic culinary and beverage experience in Philadelphia.

According to a release, LMNO is the long-anticipated brainchild of Stephen Starr and was designed by Serge Becker, who was behind New York City unique nightlife concepts such as The Box, La Esquina, Miss Lily’s, and more. The 6,000 square-foot space will feature over 200 seats dispersed across multiple spaces — the verdant garden room, the sprawling outdoor veranda, and a curated bookshop in partnership with New York City’s Dashwood Books that converts into a private dining area. LMNO also features an intimate listening lounge designed with audiophiles in mind. The largest main dining space is the grill room which centers around the physical and spiritual heart of LMNO — its custom live-fire grill, and the conduit through which Executive Chef Francisco Ramirez channels Mexico’s distinct culinary soul.

Chef RamirezJason Varney

“LMNO isn’t like anything else. It’s a dynamic space that, beyond a laid back, authentic dining experience, lends itself to live music, art exhibits, DJ sets, workshops, cooking classes, and anything collaborative” said Stephen Starr in a statement. “Fishtown has bred world-renowned artists and makers, and now creatives from around the world will be showcased back in Fishtown under LMNO’s roof.”

The Baja-inspired cuisine comes from the coasts of Mexico, and diners will get to sink their teeth into a selection of aguachiles, ceviches, and coctels that are made with the freshest raw product. Flavors range from all across the board thanks to Starr’s collaboration with Chef Javier Plascencia, a noted ambassador of Mexican cuisine.

The menu of course has tacos front and center, which come from house-made masa or authentic flour tortillas in the custom of northern Mexico filled with traditional carne asada, chicken thigh, or shrimp. There’s also a central figure of the large custom grill where two slow-rotating trompos gently cook chile-marinated pork with pineapple. As the release states, Suadero, a little-utilized cut with great marbling is slow-confited, then crisped on the plancha, only to be doused in a hefty pasilla oaxaca mole. The requisite beer-battered fish taco is minimal and topped with dressed cabbage, pico de gallo, and avocado.

Jason Varney

The cocktail menu also pairs perfectly with the menu spotlighting agave and craft spirit offerings. Some cocktail highlights, which were all conjured by Director of Beverage Operations Mark Murphy, include “Our Daily Veg” (prepared with a fresh blend of cucumber, green bell pepper, poblano, tomatillo, and cactus juices, along with a choice of spirit), the LMNO Margarita (their signature made with fresh 100% agave tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and lime-infused sea salt) and a selection of Micheladas from traditional to over-the-top, to be paired with any draft, bottled, and canned beer.

But as mentioned before, the food and drinks are just the start at this creative concept, which adds to the already ever-growing and innovative Fishtown area of the city.

“Philadelphia’s young creatives have long rooted themselves in the Fishtown neighborhood, so the aesthetic reflects that,” said Becker in a statement. “Sunny, bright afternoons turn slowly into moody evenings where anything can happen, and we tried to accomplish that by working with a combination of natural light and simple but effective LED installations.”

Jason Varney

The bookshop, in partnership with Dashwood Books, offers hand-selected rare and out-of-print art and photography books curated by Dashwood founder David Strettell. As the release states, also available for purchase will be a custom zine that corresponds with the restaurant’s current photography exhibit. As part of its programming, the shop will also host signings and curated events alongside current exhibits. LMNO also features vintage 70’s and 80’s furniture, and rotating photography exhibitions curated by Strettell. The inaugural show features a selection of Bill Bernstein’s iconic 70’s Disco images, taken at the legendary clubs of the era such as Paradise Garage, the Loft, GG Barnum’s, Studio 54, Xenon, Ice Palace etc.

Lastly, as icing on top of the creative cake, there’s also a curated 200-hour soundtrack created by LMNO Creative Director Jason Carroll. Most notably, DJ sets will also take place in the intimate listening room. Filled with classic vinyl, this one-of-a-kind listening space sports a Two Channel analogue sound system with a pair of Klipsch La Scala speakers. This cements the idea that everything put into this venue was hand-crafted and carefully selected for the ultimate artistic experience for eyes, ears and tastebuds.

Jason Varney

LMNO will officially open next Wednesday, Oct. 6. For information on the venue, visit lmnophilly.com

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