For so many restaurants, this sunny season is a slow point. People are on vacation, at the beach, and escaping to distant relatives’ homes in the 'burbs so long as they have a pool. Take advantage of the dining lull by devouring seasonal menus at spots that are usually packed, gone-too-soon specials and quickie meals.
Tip: Seasonal is always in style, at least lately. It isn’t difficult to find a restaurant that dabbles in seasonal dishes, but your best bet is to head to the places that have mastered entire menus based around the changing months.
Try it at: Pumpkin
They’re a market and a restaurant, which means they’re willing to stand by the products and produce they use. If you’re running in to grab takeout the options include fresh Banh Mi, Greek salad and yogurt parfait. But you’ll want to hit up this BYOB for dinner. This month you’ll find swordfish, veal tongue and cauliflower Veloute with elephant garlic.
1713 South St., 215-545-4448, www.pumpkinphilly.com
Tip: Aside from taking advantage of summer-ripe ingredients (like the ubiquitous tomato in July), chefs tend to use the season to play around with new ideas and test them out on willing diners. Some dishes become so popular they find a place on the menu permanently. Often times they don’,t though, so make sure you sample what’s temporary.
Try it at:
Starting in July, this gourmet pizza joint will have “the slice of the month” at all three of their locations. First at bat is the rucola and pistachio pizza. Rethink what you know about pies with this complex recipe of olive oil, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, arugula, tomato, white truffle oil and of course, pistachios. You may never go back to pepperoni.
1180 S. 10th St., 215-463-0868; 1740 Sansom St., 215-557-9299; 4249 Ridge Ave., 215-843-4747, www.slicepa.com
The Old City staple is giving us the chance to, say it with us now, put some south in your mouth. Don’t sleep on the already buzzed-about fried chicken po’ boy sandwich that they have on special right now. Who said comfort food was reserved for the winter months?
48 S. 2nd St., 215-925-2317, www.sassafrasbar.com
Just up the street from Sassafras is Serrano, a joint that usually closes its doors for three weeks in the summer. Not this year. Instead, the restaurant will dedicate Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in July to their casual “Street Fare.” The kitchen will be preparing inexpensive, street-style food, plus refreshing sangria, with occasional live entertainment. You get all the glories of a street fair, only with more air conditioning and no sunburn.
20 S. 2nd. St., 215-928-0770, www.serranophilly.com
Scope out the deals
Tip: Keep your ear to the ground and you’ll learn that there are many tempting discounts that are meant to entice diners.
Try it at: Lolita’s
Before they close for renovations in early August, this Midtown Village stand-by will be serving up early week specials. On Sundays bring your favorite tequila, purchase a pitcher of house-made margarita mix and the second pitcher is free. Come back on Mondays for plates of family-style barbecue, and then again on Tuesdays for tacos.
106 S. 13th St., 215-546-7100, www.lolitabyob.com
Crave more dining out tips?
- When it comes to pricier joints, opt for lunch instead of dinner. You’ll still get a great meal, but your wallet won’t be left empty.
- While everyone is out of town, make a reservation at that place that normally has a three-month waiting list.
- It’s food truck season, so keep an eye out for vendors at your favorite outdoor events.