by April Lisante
As the afternoons seem to get hotter and hotter, the last thing I feel like doing is firing up the oven to make dinner.
Some nights, I just happily cave and order up a pizza, cheesesteaks or some burritos. Secretly, if I’m craving my favorite spinach, white and garlic pizza, I’ll order and pick it up for myself.
My family has been trying to support our favorite take-out places locally, and as a former restaurant owner, I have been very cognizant of how important it is during this unprecedented time to safely, responsibly help local restaurants that are struggling to stay afloat.
Even as restaurants begin to open their outside seating, or get city permission to place barriers in the street to extend seating, a lot of people are still ordering out, and they are ordering out a lot more than normal because of the pandemic. This left my foodie mind wondering: What are Hillers eating on these hot summer days?
Lobster rolls, wings and burgers top the list. So do “adult” frozen drinks and good old-fashioned ice cream.
As it turns out, there are a few interesting food trends occurring, according to the Hill restaurants I spoke with this week. Everyone is seeking comfort food. Everyone is actually going online to read restaurant menus for the first time, so they are trying new things, and a lot of people, with their take-out orders, are trying to recreate the experience of going out, even though they are eating it at home.
“When you don’t want to cook and you want those comfort foods, that’s what’s happening,” said Kathyn Egan, owner of Tavern on the Hill (8636 Germantown Ave).
Egan says the Tavern’s famous wings are flying out the door. Made five different ways, customers can’t get enough, walking up to the restaurant’s front door masked and ready for the spicy goodness.
Aside from wings, cheesesteaks are the most ordered take-out item, along with the no-filler homemade crabcakes, Egan said.
Comfort food is the main event at Iron Hill Brewery (8400 Germantown Ave.) as well, where the Brewski Burger with mushroom, cheese and bacon is king, as well as the Pub Burger with onion, two cheeses and pub sauce. At Campbell’s Place (8337 Germantown Ave.), it’s lobster rolls and fried chicken. And at Zipf’s (8433 Germantown Ave.), chocolate pretzels, licorice and gummies are the comfort food top sellers.
But salads have also been huge these past few weeks. Blame the heat, or maybe the fact that so many restaurants have ramped up their salad offerings to accompany the increase in take-out and round out family meals.
At the Chestnut Grill & Sidewalk Café (8229 Germantown Ave.), burgers are big business, but the Thai grilled shrimp and mango salad with a spicy Thai peanut dressing is the rage.
“Our most popular is the salad. It has chopped peanut, mango, cilantro, mint,” said Arena. “Everyone loves it.”
Ditto at Cosimo’s (8624 Germantown Ave.), said owner Enzo Mandarano. Sure, the plain and pepperoni pies are still the number one take-out or delivery, but the salads? Mamma mia.
“We’ve been doing a lot of salads,” Mandarano said. “Garden salads, Cesar salads, especially at lunch time.”
Another interesting trend has been take-out adult frozen drink orders. At McNally’s (8634 Germantown Ave.), it’s not the legendary Schmitter that ranks number one for take-outs, believe it or not. Owner Meg McNally said the adult slushies they concoct are racking up the orders for those folks who want to take it home and sip it al fresco in their yards.
“One of our most popular to-go items is the adult slushie,” McNally said. “We have a variety of flavors but this past week, we had strawberry lemonade and vodka, or the ever popular Froze’, a strawberry and rose elixir. Who knew?”
This week, patrons can look for the Stoli Bleu slushie with fresh blueberries, she said.
And even though El Poquito (8201 Germantown Ave.) has been packed nearly every night outside, the take-out orders continue. While the meat tacos are the number one food, people just need their frozen margaritas, said assistant general manager Sarah Henry.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be summer without some dessert, and it is good to see that despite how backward, sideways and upside down our lives have been, some things never change.
At Bredenbeck’s Bakery & Ice Cream Parlor (8126 Germantown Ave.), ice cream is alive and well, especially their gourmet ice cream sandwiches, made with five-inch cookies, ice cream and special toppings. Owner Karen Boyd Rohde attributes the increase in sales to the fact that many customers are looking at her menu offerings online before coming to the shop.
But even more heartening to her is that families are still coming to get their ice cream cones, just to have that seashore experience each night. She sees them order their cones and sit outside on the tried-and-true Bredenbeck’s benches to enjoy their treats.
“They still want to come in and experience ordering ice cream and sitting on the benches. They just want to give their families some sense of normalcy,” she said. “It’s peaceful. It’s something to look forward to.”
Please take the time to support our journalism. You can do that with a subscription or with a tax-deductible donation to the Chestnut Hill Community Fund, which launched a support fund for the Local to help us remain funded during this pandemic. Thank you for your support!