Without question, this will be an unusual Fourth of July, one without (officially sanctioned) fireworks and the usual (guilt-free) gatherings. The food, however, remains the same. There will be grilling. There will be burgers and dogs, corn on the cob, summer berries, and ice cream.
If you’ve canceled your long-standing Fourth of July party, or you’re missing real-life Philly fireworks (last year’s will be broadcast on television), forget it by shaking up this year’s holiday menu, if only a little. Whether your plan includes a picnic, a backyard barbecue, or a nice night out, the city has options.
At Queen Village’s Fiore Fine Foods, chef-owners Justine MacNeil and Ed Crochet have been churning out creative gelati, pizzas, soups, and pastries during the pandemic. Their July 4th lunch, available for preordered pickup, includes pork sandwiches, herbed potato salad, cucumber-tomato salad, and MacNeil’s homemade take on Krispie Kreme doughnuts. There are also vodka-soaked watermelons (the bowling ball-sized kind) and amaro cream sodas.
757 S. Front St., 215-339-0509, fiore-finefoods.com
For a holiday splurge, order a lobster roll kit from Center City’s Oyster House. The $138 kit includes enough fresh Maine lobster meat, split-top buns, and lobster salad dressing to make six hefty rolls. Clarified butter and house-made Old Bay chips come on the side. Orders need to be made 24 hours in advance. And keep in mind for another week Oyster House’s cook-it-yourself clambake kit ($74) and surf and turf grill kits ($72), which need to be ordered each week by Wednesday for weekend pickups.
1516 Sansom St., 215-567-7683, oysterhousephilly.com
For dessert, order a strawberry shortcake from the recently opened brick-and-mortar outpost of Darnel’s Cakes. Chef-owner Kyle Cuffie-Scott’s eggy yellow cake is soaked in juices from macerated strawberries, topped with fluffy whipped cream cheese frosting, and topped with berries. (Other flavor options: red velvet, carrot cake, chocolate stout, lemon-poppy pound cake, and chocolate-hazelnut.) A Johnson and Wales-trained pastry chef, Cuffie-Scott grew Darnel’s Cakes from a bake sale named in honor of his cousin, who died of AIDS in 2013, into a regular presence at the bustling Lansdale farmers market. Now he has a full-fledged retail presence in the lobby of the 444 building on North Third Street in Old City. Full- and half-size cakes, brownies, bars, cookies, and Càphê Roasters coffee are available for pickup at the cafe Friday and Sunday, as is watermelon-feta salad, dill potato salad, and everything biscuit and rib sandwiches. A similar lineup of baked goods is available for preorder at the Lansdale farmers market on Saturdays.
444 N. Third St., darnelscakes.com
For meat-eating Philadelphians, Esposito’s Meats has July 4th covered. The family-owned Italian Market butcher shop has prime packages for a full weekend’s worth of grilling. The grill master box includes four New York strip steaks, eight half-pound beef patties, eight all-beef franks, two slabs of baby back ribs, and two pounds of chicken breast. Prefer sweet Italian sausage to burgers and hot dogs? Try the 9th Street special box, which also includes four 8-ounce center-cut filets. Both boxes cost $119 and can be ordered in-store or online for pickup or delivery.
1001 S. Ninth St., 215-922-2659, espositosmeats.com
Farmers market season is in full swing, despite the pandemic. Markets are open across the region, from Collingswood and Haddonfield to West Chester and Yardley and everywhere in between. Though mask-wearing and social distancing are universal, each market’s policies and procedures differ. Some require preorders with assigned pickup times, others allow walk-up ordering, and many offer a combination of both, so you’ll want to check the farmers market’s social media or website for more information. Get sweet cherries and blueberries from Sharrah Orchards at the Media market, summer squash and snow peas from Pennypack Farm at the Ambler market, and heirloom tomatoes and watermelon from Homestead Gardens at the Overbrook market.
Beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, corn bread, corn on the cob, coleslaw — July 4th wouldn’t be complete without them. They’re all on the menu at West Philly’s Dibbs BBQ, owned by husband-and-wife team Darren and Pierrette Pearson, who spent years perfecting family recipes before opening their restaurant in 2018. The barbecue is slow-cooked daily and served with a homemade Kansas City-style BBQ sauce, a house-made chipotle hot sauce, plus a third sauce that blends both. Don’t miss the collard greens and potato salad, Pierrette’s favorite sides. Dibbs is open for dining in and takeout on Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., with eight socially distanced picnic tables set up in its large Lancaster Avenue lot.
5617 Lancaster Ave., 215-876-6500, dibbsbbq.com
South Philly’s best skyline views, Bok Bar and Irwin’s, are back open for the summer, with a reservations-only policy, limited seating, and a schedule of social-minded events. For Fourth of July weekend, the venue hosts a five-course pop-up dinner from Noord chef Joncarl Lachman and South Philly-born chef Malik Ali (Neuf, the Blue Duck); a portion of the proceeds will go to Everybody Eats Philly. The menu features chilled tomato and blue crab soup, soft-shell crabs with watermelon and feta, grilled quail with rhubarb BBQ sauce or Amsterdam-style spare ribs with Ali’s collards and mac and cheese, plus blueberry shortcake. The crowd for each seating is limited to 25 people, and parties are limited to six people or less. Dogs and kids are allowed.
800 Mifflin St., 267-270-5894, bok-bar.com