When it comes to Philadelphia, the popularity of the food scene goes hand in hand with that of the Liberty Bell. But don’t let the hype surrounding cheesesteaks and Stephen Starr joints place blinders on your eating experiences.
In the summer months, Philadelphia’s food scene blossoms with fresh, seasonal ingredients, refreshing spirits and seating lining the streets, rooftops and backyards of restaurants everywhere. There may not be enough days in the summer to get to experience it all, so here are a few must-eats to keep you cool while the weather’s still warm.
116 Market St.
Brothers Eric and Ryan Berley’s soda jerks are serving up summer treats with a style that pays homage to a time our grandparents call “the good ol’ days.” Complete with hot fudge sundaes, banana splits and 25 soda flavors, Franklin Fountain has a menu that is reminiscent of when Clark Gable ran the big screen.
The past is kept alive through the use of locally sourced ingredients, lack of preservatives and candy-making machines dating back to the ‘30s as well as the staff’s genuine love for their products. Soda jerk Patrick Haggerty, a sophomore elementary education major, speaks of the oversized sundaes with an obvious passion for the handmade treats.
Pastry chef Davina Soondrum said Franklin Fountain is “where ice cream meets art…that is crafted with love.”
The passion of the Berley brothers is seen in the mission statement that hangs in the parlor above a portrait of Ben Franklin. It reads, “The Franklin Fountain aims to serve an experience steeped in ideals, drizzled with drollery, and sprinkled with the forgotten flavors of the American past.”
So let the sounds of Billie Holiday and the chime of the old register take you on an adventure of what once was.
Jamaican Jerk Hut
1436 South St.
Days where the sun lingers and a nice breeze blows, the outdoor dining area of the Jamaican Jerk Hut is where you want to be. The colorful tables and authentic Jamaican cuisine provide a nice break from the hustle of the popular South Street shopping area.
As told by the Hut’s website, the term ‘jerk’ refers to the traditional method of cooking spiced meat over an open fire. But don’t let your unfamiliarity with the menu items scare you away from this summertime gem – the Hut’s employees can recommend what is best for newcomers. The classic jerk chicken dish and the beef patties are nice dishes to ease you in, but for those more seasoned eaters, the oxtail stew is recommended by many Jerk Hut goers.
Along with great food, the Hut hosts karaoke, live reggae music and movies in its park-sized yard equipped with traditional smoker grills and plastic palm trees. There are new events every week so be sure to check their website, jajerkhut.com, for the full calendar.
Italiano’s Water Ice
2551 S. 12th St.
If you’re a newbie to the tri-state area, you probably know as much about water ice as you do the SEPTA railways. If that is the case, then Italiano’s is the first place you need to be when the summer heat keeps beating. This South Philly stand is a tradition for many Philadelphians and offers more than 20 flavors from iced tea and ginger ale to the classic lemon, made daily with hand-squeezed lemons. Another staple is their gelato, a layered treat of the water ice and hard ice cream of your choice.
The Italiano family, who can always be found outside reminiscing with the neighbors, has kept their family’s water ice tradition alive for 38 years. Just be sure not to wait too long, because the stand closes promptly at the end of the summer months.
One more thing for the newcomers – don’t go looking for a spoon with your water ice here, because it is known that all good water ice is served spoon-less.
2331 E. Cumberland St.
The Memphis Taproom Beer Garden is a summertime must in the heart of Fishtown that allows you to enjoy the weather while soaking up the neighborhood. The Beer Garden, open from April to October, is equipped with a hotdog truck that dishes out artisan dogs like the Mackinac, layered with chili, cheddar cheese, raw onions, yellow mustard and macaroni salad. Sticking to the Memphis Taproom way, there is a plethora of canned craft beer offered to pair with your all-beef or vegan hotdog creation.
The Beer Garden is topped off with a large projection television that airs Phillies’ night games as well as episodes of “Twin Peaks.” But don’t get too rowdy, for the Memphis Taproom is smack in the middle of a residential area that doesn’t want to be awoken by your reaction to a homerun by the Phillies.
Jenine Pilla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.