The Philly area has come out smokin’ in recent years, and we run down the finest in barbecue this week while noting two new barbecue sauces from two social-minded entrepreneurs. Also for you: a South Jersey specialty food market, an inside look at the quirkiest bagel shop around, and restaurant news.

Oh, and note: This weekend is shaping up as clear with highs in the low 70s. If you need a picnic spot, my colleague Nick Vadala rounds up the best in the region. BYOB = bring your own blanket.

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Michael Klein

Take our cue for the best barbecue

For years, Philly’s barbecue scene left much to be desired. Today, though, things are vastly different from local chefs as well as Texas-trained chefs. Critic Craig LaBan, staff writer Jill Wilson, and I have smoked ‘em out, from South Philly to South Jersey and the suburbs.

Barbecue sauces you need to try

Just as we’re gnawing bones, word of two local barbecue sauces crossed the desk this week — both with social causes in mind.

  • Let me tell you about Ron’s Ribs sauce from Brandon Washington, who is continuing his dad’s community activism in the neighborhood along South Street now called Graduate Hospital. You can try it Sunday for free at a cookout featuring 400 ribs and lots of good vibes.

  • Kai’s Drip Sauce is coming to market from Akai Clarke-Perry, a fourth grader who has her own nonprofit focused on the environment. She’s also worth a follow on social media.

Barbecue news: There’s a new shop in Old City called BBQ Unlimited, and there’s one more on the way across from Jefferson Hospital, Huff & Puff BBQ, that will have corn ribs and smoked watermelon on the menu for vegetarians.

Philip Korshak and the Zen of the bagel

Philip Korshak, who is about to open a long-awaited bagel shop in South Philly, says happy workers make tasty bagels. He tells me that Korshak Bagels is “a place of beauty and light.” And if you don’t know what to order, he has a neat device on the wall of the shop to help.

A one-stop shop for Middle Eastern groceries in South Jersey

If you seek Middle Eastern bread, halal meat — maybe green apricots, green almonds, cousa squash, or persil — check out Ammon Mediterranean Market in Cherry Hill. Staff writer Jenn Ladd hit the aisles at this one-of-a-kind store that’s become a hot destination for those in the know.

Fighting anti-Asian racism through food

Restaurateur Ellen Yin (Fork, High Street Hospitality Group) has turned her mother’s Shanghai-style dumpling recipe into The Wonton Project, which supports two nonprofits fighting anti-Asian racism. “No race or culture or religion should have to suffer discrimination or racism. I think that should be obvious to everyone, but food is something that can connect people,” Ellen told colleague Grace Dickinson. Snag an order online, with pickup/delivery out of Fork in Old City.

Germantown Farmers Market is back, with a mission

The Germantown Farmers Market is back on Saturdays, and its goal is much bigger than what meets the eye, one of the sponsors told my colleague Bethany Ao. It’s about changing the narrative of the neighborhood, as it offers fresh merchandise along with hope.

Restaurant report

The sexy Bar Poulet, which just opened at the former Tria Taproom just off 20th and Walnut Streets, is focused on comfort food and champagne — specifically, buckets of fried chicken served beside buckets of bubbly. There’s also a fried chicken sandwich topped with pickles and French onion dip, plus a vegetarian version made with mushrooms. Hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Aldo Lamberti and family, who own some of the region’s swankier Italian joints (Caffe Aldo Lamberti, Positano Coast), this week rolled out a smart pandemic pivot at 707 Chestnut St., a block from the Liberty Bell in the space that was Rosa Blanca and Chifa. Lamberti’s Pizza & Market is just that: a pizzeria with made-to-order food for indoor dining and delivery, alongside a takeout market with ready-to-go food. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Pinefish, the seafooder at 12th and Pine Streets, has brought in Lê, the mono-named owner of the idled Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown, to consult on the drink menu. He’s added six cocktails and three mocktails, priced at only 10 bucks. Hop Sing is poised for a return at some point.

After 12-plus years, it’s last call for cocktail destination Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. Owners say they’re location-hunting.

Syndicated chef Spike Mendelsohn is opening his eighth PLNT Burger eatery on May 14 inside the Whole Foods store in Jenkintown, following the opening last July at the Whole Foods in Wynnewood. By the way, PLNT now pronounced “planet burger,” as he’s thinking bigger than just “plants.”

Remember Uptown Beer Garden when it was at 18th and Market Streets? Just heard it’s returning for 2021 outside of Two Penn Center, two blocks away at 16th and JFK, where the 7-Eleven store was. Stay tuned.