When the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation opened the pop-up Spruce Street Harbor Park last June, it quickly turned into a popular summertime version of the Winterfest at Blue Cross RiverRink next door. A manmade beach with a boardwalk, lush green landscaping and rows of hammocks turned Harbor Park into summer’s hottest hit.
Food and drink were available for sale throughout the sprawling space, on a set of floating barges and inside stationary shipping containers repurposed into oversized culinary kiosks helmed by Iron Chef Jose Garces and concessionaire Dan Rivera. But it still wasn’t enough for us.
Feedback to the DRWC included complaints that there weren’t enough food options beyond small snacks. “There was an active search for restaurateurs last summer, but creating partnerships was difficult with a park that hadn’t been tested yet,” says the DRWC’s Emma Fried-Cassorla.
This year, the park will open on May 22, with a lot more to eat.
Eric and Ryan Berley, the quirky brothers behind Franklin Fountain and Shane Confectionery, will set up several sweet riverfront outposts, including the S.S. Franklin Fountain, a shipping container done up like a World War II battleship. Over in the Lodge, near the ice rink-turned-roller skating rink, Shane Confectionery will sell salt water taffy, fudge and cotton candy.
Garces Group is back, bringing more options like Village Whiskey burgers and a version of the chef’s (now-closed) Peruvian-Chinese restaurant, Chifa. Along the boardwalk, the Garces crew will offer Chicago-style hot dogs and sausages (a riff on the Abe Froman concept Garces had long promised for Midtown Village, but never opened). On weekends, the Distrito taco truck will be cooking up Mexican food.
Also on the boardwalk: PortFedNuts, a summer-only spot from the Federal Donuts team, with a special spin on its usual chicken and donuts menu. “People have been asking us for a fried chicken sandwich forever, so this is a natural,” says Federal Donuts co-owner Steve Cook. “We really wanted to bring something special to Harbor Park.”
Your culinary game plan
• On the boardwalk, head to the hot dog stand for bacon knockwursts and fondue-topped fries.
• When you’re buying a fried chicken sandwich at PortFedNuts, grab a cold-brewed iced coffee and, for dessert, cinnamon sugar donuts.
• From Chifa, expect easy-to-nibble savory treats like glazed pork ribs, pork belly bao buns and chicken wings with spicy garlic-ginger sauce.
• Salute the S.S. Franklin Fountain while you dig into a “waffle boat” sundae.
See it first
Get a sneak peek of what you'll be enjoying all summer long at the Endless Summer Preview Party for Spruce Street Harbor Park and Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest on Thursday, May 21, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets to the party, which supports the park and its summer of free programming, are $20 ($30 includes roller skating) at www.delawareriverwaterfront.com and include a free drink.