2014 was a big year for Philadelphia restaurants, and this year is looking to be even bigger. With several expansions, numerous openings and even a famous New York City ice cream shop headed to the City of Brotherly Love, here are the restaurants we’re most excited to try in 2015. – Chelsea Karnash

(credit: AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Okay, so it’s not a “restaurant,” per se, but we’re looking forward to drowning ourselves in a boatload of rainbow sprinkles and more than a few Salty Pimps when NYC’s Big Gay Ice Cream finally makes its way south to Philadelphia. While owners Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff can only say the Philly location will open “soon,” this fabulously out-there ice cream shop already has legions of fans in the City of BroLo…Which (let’s face it) is surprising in itself for any Big Apple transplant.

From the unofficial King of the Speakeasy Michael B. Welsh (of Franklin Mortgage) and slated to open in Philly’s Loft District/Eraserhood/the pretty dead Callowhill area comes this new “American tavern” with a neighborhood atmosphere and seating for 110. In addition to a menu consisting of both small and large plates of upscale comfort food, expect fresh, innovative cocktails that will also put hair on your chest.

From 1933 until 1986, this Center City restaurant was a steakhouse of (nearly) the same name. From 1996 to 2013, it was the city’s longest-running lesbian bar. Now, the eatery has reopened under its original name with a retro ambiance – think red banquettes, a U-shaped bar and bathroom walls bedecked in magazines and newspapers from the 70s. Food-wise, the menu ranges from sandwiches to pasta and steaks, and there’s a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails. Owner Mark Bee (of N. 3rd and Silk City) says an upstairs lounge/club is coming soon too, so stay tuned.

After a devastating fire that closed down this Bella Vista fave, the restaurant is back up and running – including its cozy fireplace! — with a full menu. Stop by for everything from brunch (drunken waffles and bloody marys, anyone?) to dinner or just for growlers of beer at this stylish but quirky neighborhood gem.

*No website yet*

The hip NoLibs ‘hood is getting another amazing-sounding addition. Heritage, a jazz-inspired eatery and “urban garden,” is expected to debut from the people behind Time, The Garage and Vintage sometime this year. While details are scant, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the spot across from North Bowl.

(Mike Siegel at Olde Bar, in the former Old Original Bookbinder's, at 2nd and Walnut  Streets.  Photo by Hadas Kuznits)

(Mike Siegel at Olde Bar, in the former Old Original Bookbinder’s, at 2nd and Walnut Streets. Photo by Hadas Kuznits)

Chef Jose Garces has expanded his empire again with the opening of The Olde Bar in the historic Bookbinder’s location. Whether you’re looking for buck-a-shuck oysters, classic snacks like Welsh rarebit or a full-on seafood feast, this new spot is still very much old, in the best possible way.

Photo by Hadas Kuznits

Photo by Hadas Kuznits

Marc Vetri has big plans for his beloved Callowhill pizza joint with this new location slated to open in an alley off Rittenhouse Square. Vetri fans will have all their faves – rotolos, crudo, inslatas and (obviously) pizza – in a new larger space, and while there is no official opening date, we’re hearing spring 2015. Cross your fingers!