8 Must-Try Watermelon Dishes & Drinks Around the U.S.

By Kelly Dobkin  |  July 18, 2013

What would an American summer be without watermelon? (And perhaps more importantly: how did America ever do without this guy slicing one up in less than 30 seconds?) The picnic staple is getting gussied up in kitchens around the U.S. in a number of dishes and drinks. Check out the slide show to see how chefs are using the all-American pink fruit in a number of creative ways on their menus.

  • Watermelon Margarita, Mo-Chica, Los Angeles, CA

    At chef Ricardo Zarate’s trendy Peruvian spot, modern interpretations of traditional comfort food are the name of the game. Behind the bar, mixologist Deysi Alverez utilizes the pink fruit in his watermelon margarita made with jalapeno-infused Espolon Blanco, watermelon, lime juice and agave nectar.

  • Glazed Ribs With Watermelon Salad, Distilled, NYC

    At newly opened Distilled in Tribeca, chef Shane Lyons slow cooks pork ribs in a mix of tomato paste, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, chiles and Korean gochujang and serves them on a wooden board alongside a salad of compressed watermelon cubes (sous vide to concentrate the flavors) tossed with fresh mint, basil, thinly sliced red onion and mustard seeds. The watermelon salad is the perfect cooling complement to the spicy ribs.

  • H20 Melon Salad, Havana Beach Bar & Grill at the Pearl, Rosemary Beach, FL

    Executive chef Michael Guerra fuses the cuisines of the Creole back country, Mexican fishing villages and the soul of Cuba in his diverse menu. Available on the lunch and dinner menus, the H20 Melon Salad utilizes the summer fruit and mixes it with feta cheese, baby arugula, diced cucumber and Marcona almonds with a honey vinaigrette made from local honey.

  • The Sleepover, DBGB, NYC

    Daniel Boulud's slick brasserie in Downtown Manhattan is utilizing watermelon in a summer cocktail. Behold the Sleepover, a refreshing libation mixed with tequila, watermelon juice, lime juice, lemon-juniper syrup and garnished with a candied watermelon rind. 

  • Pressed Watermelon Salad, Stetsons Modern Steak + Sushi at Hyatt Regency Chicago, Chicago, IL

    At Stetsons Modern Steak House at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, chef Kostas helps Chicagoans beat the heat with his famed pressed watermelon salad. The combination of watermelon, aged feta, arugula and Serrano pepper vinaigrette is a cool yet spicy starter to a summer meal.


  • Kiwi Watermelon Lemonade, Hash House A Go Go, (Chicago and Orlando locations)

    Because everyone loves a good mocktail. At this national chainlet, guests can enjoy the Kiwi Watermelon Lemonade, a nonalcoholic chiller that offers a colorful concoction made with kiwi syrup, fresh watermelon juice and homemade lemonade, the three layers resembling the colors of a watermelon ($4.95). A spiked version with vodka is also available for $12.95.

  • Grilled Octopus with Watermelon Curry, Avocado and Chinese Sausage, Departure, Portland, OR 

    At Pan-Asian spot Departure, chef de cuisine Gregory Gourdet utilizes watermelon in an extremely unique way, incorporating it into a savory dish. He starts by "currying it" - aka simmering it in a spice mix of tumeric, coriander, sweet chili powder and cumin and then mixes it with grilled octopus, Chinese sausage and avocado. 

  • Cold Watermelon Soup, FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar, Minneapolis, MN

    The new gazpacho? Mediterranean-inflected eatery FireLake in Minnesota uses watermelon in a refreshing cold summer soup. Executive chef Paul Lynch tops the chilled soup with minted yogurt to add richness and depth of flavor.