I remember the first time I went to The Lunar Inn. It was January 2020, and I was spending blustery afternoon exploring my new-ish neighborhood. Lunar had been open about a year, and I hadn’t made it there yet (I’m regretting that now). I was unemployed at the time, so I only ordered fries and a drink. A few weeks later, the pandemic started.
It was more than year before Lunar was open again for indoor dining, and I was glad to see it survive that long. I think I went back one of those very first nights, if not the very first night. We had to show proof of vaccination, and I appreciated that. I had ordered takeout occasionally during lockdown, but I think that first night back was when the love affair really started. I remember sitting at the bar, making random conversation with two couples. Those types of spontaneous, organic conversations that feel emblematic of city life and third places. The type of connection that I was craving after a long COVID winter and spring.
In a great food city, Lunar offered very good comfort food. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, BLTs, amazing boardwalk-style fries… I’m remembering so many good dishes while looking through old photos (I guess there might be a reason phone eats first). But where Lunar really excelled was the vibes. I mean this in the best way possible. The vibes — and the cocktails — were immaculate. Lunar’s motto, borrowed from Bill and Ted, was “be excellent to each other.” The staff really personified this. Lunar was always a warm, welcoming place.
Since the pandemic, partly out of necessity, I’ve become much more comfortable solo dining. But Lunar Inn was always where I was most comfortable sitting by myself, striking up conversations with strangers and bartenders. I think it’s what I’ll miss the most about it.
Philadelphia is such a great food city that for years when people asked me what my favorite restaurant was, I didn’t have a real answer. It was more like “This is my favorite Mexican place, my favorite pizza place, my favorite brewery, my other favorite brewery…” But Lunar became my favorite. It was the place I took visitors, celebrated special occasions and just stopped by just because.
Lunar closing is a real lesson in taking things for granted. Nothing lasts forever. But it’s still special while it’s here. I wrote this by hand in a notebook I borrowed from the bar. It’s the last real day, and I was still making memories, playing exquisite corpse with people sitting nearby. Little memories I’ll treasure.
Thank you Emily, Ryan, Sean, et. al. for creating such a magical place. You’ll be missed, Lunar.