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The Best & Worst of Summer Dining in Philadelphia

There’s plenty to enjoy during the warm weather, but also a lot to make those sticky days even more annoying
June 4, 2014
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by Danya Henninger

Used to be, summer was the dining doldrums as far as Philly was concerned, but in recent years restaurants have held onto their mojo through June, July and even August. There’s plenty to enjoy during the warm-weather months, but also a lot to make those sticky days even more annoying. Fear not: we’ve got solutions. Read on to make this your Best Summer Ever.

Sidewalk Dining

Best: Sitting in the fresh air and watching the world go by as you eat and sip.

Worst: Getting bumped and jostled by passersby (and often, their all-too-friendly pooches).

Solution: Choose restaurants and bars with raised patio areas (Kite & Key, Chops at Comcast) or clearly demarcated seating areas (Johnny Brenda’s, Cantina Los Caballitos).

Ice Cream Trucks

Best: Getting a cold, sweet treat at a moment’s notice.

Worst: Jingles that get stuck in your head (plus have a Pavlovian effect your kids’ cravings).

Solution: Short of an app that recognizes those melodies and plays back a phase-shifted version that silences them by destructive interference (think Bose headphones), we’re at a loss. Do seek out gourmet ice cream and fro-yo trucks instead when you can - the product is better and so is the soundtrack.

Waterfront Bars

Best: Sipping drinks with a view of the river and a breeze in your hair.

Worst: Bro-heavy summer crowds that make getting that drink take forever.

Solution: Hit up the bars on nonweekend nights, and skip prime-time brunch plans for early or late dates. (Also note that Morgan’s Pier added a third bar this year to help alleviate these pains.)

Phillies Games

Best: Cheering on the Phils with Federal Donuts fried chicken and Campo’s cheesesteaks.

Worst: Paying top-dollar for watery beer that doesn’t even give you a buzz. (And seeing the home team lose again and again...nothing we can do on that front, sorry.)

Solution: Go for full-bodied craft cans like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sly Fox 360 IPA or Troegs Troegenator (find out where to get them with this handy Citizens Bank Park brew locator).

Jersey Shore Boardwalk

Best: Funnel cake, Mack’s pizza, Dippin Dots and all those foods that taste better by the sea.

Worst: Getting stuck in hours-long traffic jams on the way in and out of town.

Solution: If at all possible, head down the shore on a weekday instead of getting swept up in the Friday-Sunday wave. If not, wake up early or leave late - it’s worth the extra effort.

Farmer’s Markets

Best: The bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and locally made goods all gathered in one spot.

Worst: Not that small farms don’t deserve (and need) a good payday, but prices can be way higher than at any regular store.

Solution: Do comparison shopping as you walk through the stalls - there’s often a big disparity (for whatever reason) between the cost of similar items.

Made in America Festival

Best: Hot stars like Jay Z and Beyoncé shouting out Philly and eating from our favorite food trucks and restaurants.

Worst: The entire area is fenced off and tickets are pricey.

Solution: Listen to the tunes while eating and drinking nearby instead of inside the actual gate - Lox, Stock & Barrel, Pizzeria Vetri and McCrossen’s Tavern are good contenders.

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