Independence Day is almost here, and ahead of this epic movie-going weekend, we’re wondering which will be the big winner at the box office on July 4th (not to mention the summer). Jurassic World might claw its way to the top of the heap. Maybe Minions will take over the world. Or perhaps Terminator: Genisys will be the supersized success of the season. When the movie studios start binging on blockbusters, we get hungry for popcorn – and not just at the theater. Lucky for us, sweet and savory preparations featuring the puffy kernels have been popping up all over the country. In honor of the instances in which this concession-stand classic steals the show, we present nine show-stopping popcorn dishes to celebrate blockbuster season.
Almanac, New York, New York
Remember those nut-crusted cheese balls your grandmother always made at the holidays? Chef Galen Zamarra created an upscale riff: caramel popcorn-crusted goat cheese. The globe of goodness arrives with semolina crisps and golden raisin-fennel compote.
Americano Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco, California
There’s an old saying that bacon makes everything better. That certainly holds true with executive chef Josua Perez’s ballpark-inspired bacon-pecan caramel popcorn. The sweet, salty, briny, and buttery snack mix is a certifiable home run.
The Back Room at One57, New York, New York
There are éclairs and then there is pastry chef Scott Cio’s Cracker Jack éclair. The tubular treat is topped off with slightly salted caramel popcorn. Dig in and don’t worry; there’s not a prize hiding inside.
Barton G. The Restaurant, Los Angeles, California
You’ll feel like you’re making a trip to the concession stand when you order this fun-loving appetizer. A mix of fried shrimp and Old Bay-spiced popcorn arrive in a chipper red and white retro popcorn maker. The jumble of crispity, crunchity bites is accompanied with Sriracha aioli and sweet chili sesame sauce.
BLT Steak, Washington, D.C.
Executive chef Will Artley wasn’t content serving a conventional affogato. So, he created the beyond decadent “foieffogato.” Espresso and foie gras are blended together and accompanied by a scoop of buttery, movie-style popcorn ice cream.
Dirt Candy, New York, New York
More than a kernel of genius went into creating this sweet ‘n’ savory dessert. Corn cake gets showered with popcorn and salted caramel corn. As if that wasn’t enough, it comes with scoops of housemade popcorn ice cream.
Easy Bistro & Bar, Chattanooga, Tennessee
This popcorn has a Southern accent. Chef Erik Niel used popped sorghum – an ancient grain popular below the Mason-Dixon line – to garnish his tuna tartare. The dish is finished off with radish rounds, cucumber ribbons, and creamy avocado.
Root & Bone, New York, New York
Corn times four! Grilled sweet summer corn is topped with cornbread butter, crunchy hominy, and lemon popcorn. Making corny jokes while eating it isn’t just allowed – it’s encouraged.
Waterbar, San Francisco, California
Highbrow meets lowbrow in this inventive app. Executive chef Parke Ulrich dapples his salmon belly crudo with popcorn and fresh shaved black truffles. The starring couple definitely boasts some serious on-plate chemistry.
Do a popcorn-inspired dinner and a blockbuster movie sound like a delicious night? Which films are you going to be seeing – and which dishes are you going to sample? Let us know here or over on Facebook, G+, or Twitter, and then book a table to plan your night.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, DC-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell.