Where to eat as if you were on the beach (without leaving Philly)

Just because you don’t venture out to the Mediterranean or even head to the beach doesn’t mean you can’t fool your stomach with beach classics.

Shrimp Corner at Sid Booker/Photo by Jason Varney

Listen, I understand. There are a myriad of reasons not to travel the way you want to this summer: gas prices, COVID variables, airports full of people waiting for canceled flights, employers asking you to “do” your “job”. But just because you don’t venture out to the Mediterranean, or even head to the beach, doesn’t mean you can’t trick your stomach into thinking you’re at the beach enjoying classic seafood and cold snacks. This is where you come to. These are the things I look for on the hottest summer days when I wish I could be anywhere other than the city.

FDR Park Southeast Asian Food Market, South Philly
Beach snack: Slush with condensed milk, grilled skewers, fresh fruits
FDR Park is perhaps the closest thing Philly has to a lakeside experience. And if you go on a Saturday, you can combine that beachy feeling with the wonderland that is Southeast Asia’s food market. Take a tour around the dozens of vendors selling Laotian, Thai, Khmer and Vietnamese food. Then grab skewers of beef and chicken, some papaya salad, and sugarcane juice, and set up a poolside chair for a fun afternoon. Just bring cash – not all vendors accept cards and the park doesn’t have an ATM. 1500 Bateson Street.

unique and tony restaurant, North Philly
Beach snack: Whole fried fish
Fred & Tony’s offers a whole host of Puerto Rican classics, but the most transitional one, in my opinion, is the whole fried fish. I mostly nibble with my hands to avoid the bones, enjoying the perfectly crispy skin and moist interior. It’s just enough work to make you forget where you are for a few minutes. 201 West Allegheny Street.

Amazing Crab House, Queen’s Village
Beach snack: Fried Shrimp & Beyond
Everyone has their own dreams when it comes to beach seafood. Personally, I’m a huge fan of fried shrimp (which Sid Poker’s Shrimp Corner in North Philly is especially known for), but the Amazing Crab House is pretty much every sea creature you could want in most styles. Seafood boil with shrimp, crab legs, and potatoes? You are in the right place. Fried oysters? yes. Crab legs? she is gone. 604 South 2nd Street.

mini pastry oven, Point Breeze
Beach snack: easy service
Soft serve is a signature summer food to me, and you can find the best versions in town right now at Small Oven. The flavor combination varies every weekend (you track it here), but I mark my schedule to make sure I’m getting sweet corn, blackberries, plums, and raspberries. 2204 Washington Street.

La EuronaAnd the South Philly
Beach snack: Ceviche and Aguachile
There is a lot to love at La Llorona, but in summer the thing to remember is that their menu clearly serves seafood. If scallops, aguachile, shrimp ceviche, and plenty of mezcal can’t get you ashore, probably nothing. 1551 West Passyunk Avenue.

No No Fishtown
Beach snack: Watermelon Yuzu Salad
Eating this watermelon salad is the eight-year-old’s version of eating so much watermelon on the beach that it makes you sick. Nono blends in charred corn, avocado, jicama, and watercress, which all pair well with a bowl of skillet-fried black pepper udon noodles. 1416 Frankford Street.

sunset socialAnd the University City
Beach snack: Cheese Fries
If, like me, you’re not a member of a neighborhood pool where the snack bar serves up cheesy fries (read: perfect) for afternoon snacks after you’ve soaked in the sun, then let me direct you to the rooftop at Sunset Social. Here you can get better cheese fries than they need with a view of the river and horizon. Consider this one of the best dry land alternatives to beach we have. 129 South 30th Street.

The Craftman Row Saloon pop-up window operates on the beach all summer long. Photo by Laura Schwartz

artisan salonAnd the City center
Beach snack: Funnel cake and sausage
Stay with me here: I know we’re talking about a Center City beer bar, but Craftsman Row runs a beach-themed pop-up all summer long where you can order a funnel cake, hot dog, and watermelon cocktail. It’s decorated like granny’s cheesy beach house (in the best way) meets boardwalk, but without all the sand. 112 South 8th Street.

Frankford Hall, Fishtown
Beach snack: Bozy Milkshake
There is just something about a vacation that makes you eat things that might seem like too much in your daily life. Enter: an alcoholic milkshake on Frankford Hall’s dessert menu. Options include strawberry cake, malted chocolate-covered sorbet, and vanilla sorbet. Consume while playing a corn hole for full effect. 1210 Frankford Street.

Langolo Restaurant, South Philly
Beach snack: Pastries and seafood
I would spend my perfect summer day on a beach in Italy, getting up from my beach chair only to grab a perfect bowl of seafood pasta at a seaside restaurant. L’Angolo doesn’t have beach loungers or a sea view, but it does have satisfying pasta served with mussels, oysters, shrimp, and calamari rings resting on top like little halos. There’s also a BYO policy here, which means you can bring a cold bottle of Some nice Italian white wine. 1415 West Porter Street.

Hook and Mr.And the Kensington
Beach snack: rum cocktail
The concept of Chicago-style pizza, seafood entrees, and tiki-inspired cocktails don’t quite add up to me, but that doesn’t change the fact that a blended rum cocktail is the most you can drink. Hook & Master has very, very good stuff. Maybe if you drink enough, the rest of the list will start to make more sense. 1361 North 2nd Street.


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