Flip-flops. Drunken watermelons. Sandy shoes. The scent of suntan lotion. Fresh lemonade. Windows down, top 40 on the radio. The signs of summer are in full swing, along with humanity’s other favorite hot weather pastime: eating. Hunting the freshest menus that scream summer is as festive as it gets until September rolls around. All across America, summertime offerings shine in OpenTable restaurants on plates that make us all pile into convertibles, mini-vans, Jitneys, trains, and planes, searching for the best seasonal bites. Here are the hottest summer menus to try before straw hats and blue skies give way to fall colors.
Canteen, Toronto, Canada
One of Toronto’s best hangouts, Canteen’s new summer menu offers a bevy of veggie-forward comfort dishes. It’s part of the restaurant’s “eat to live, live to eat” section highlighting contrasts — think beet burgers and beef burgers, steak salad and steak frites. Between a list of smoothies and dishes like squash pad Thai, calamari, or sweet potato tacos and salmon poke, this is where to find a few favorite summer goodies and fuel up for all its diversions. Make a reservation at Canteen.
Tii Gavo, Sedona, Arizona
Dining at Enchantment Resort’s Tii Gavo is more like a mini-vacation than just a meal. Located in Sedona’s most picturesque hideaway spa resort, looking out at the red rocks of Boynton Canyon, the positive energy that goes into the cuisine here adds an uplifting element to dishes like aji-grilled churrasco with smashed potatoes, calabacitas, and corn puree, while heart-healthy summer specials like fresh apricots, cotija cheese, crunchy quinoa, and a lime-tajin vinaigrette atop a baby kale salad are the perfect starter for Tii Gavo’s grilled salmon with tomato and peach salad and a cilantro-epazote pistou. Make a reservation at Enchantment’s Tii Gavo.
Bocce USQ, New York, New York
Brand new to the Union Square crowd, Bocce USQ Italian restaurant is already turning heads for a refreshing take on old favorites. Chief among them, and perhaps the best thing to happen to Caesar salad since Caesar, is the Bocce Caesar, prepared with snap peas, Parmesan cheese, mint, and black pepper. The pizzas are works of art here, in particular, the farm pizza topped with fresh mozzarella, green garlic, market greens, and fresh herbs. Make a reservation at Bocce USQ.
Eden, Chicago, Illinois
In perhaps the finest reason to challenge Chicago’s July and August heat wave, Eden’s onsite greenhouse is where to find English peas, green asparagus, lovage, mustards, nasturtium, cherry tomatoes, and arugula. Chef-partner Devon Quinn and his father built the 1800-square-foot greenhouse and, of course, the best place to enjoy this bounty is on Eden’s renovated patio. Swoon-worthy dishes include umami doughnut with pork confit and black cherry or roasted mushroom miso served with warm raclette sauce, or roasted sunchokes with pine nuts, sage, preserved lemon and piperade. Don’t miss entrées like crispy chicken Ballotine with ricotta gnocchi and summer squash. Make a reservation at Eden.
Halifax, Hoboken, New Jersey
If the outdoor patio with Manhattan skyline and Hudson River views don’t catch your eye at this Hoboken gem, the summer menu at Halifax should. As temperatures soar, it’s Halifax’s housemade sorbet to the rescue. Bring friends to share the clam flatbread with roasted garlic, chives, Parmesan, and lemon with a bowl of summer gazpacho with poached Gulf shrimp. Diners are crazy about the summer panzanella salad with cucumber, fennel, tomato confit, and feta-dill vinaigrette, but for a hungry crowd opt for the seafood risotto or lobster roll on toasted brioche with scallions and celery. Make a reservation at Halifax.
Auberge du Pommier, Toronto, Canada
On the floral terraces of this iconic Canadian dining destination, guests find classic French fare with that ever-so-slightly modern touch for which this country’s vibrant cuisine is known. Scrumptious dishes include smoked sablefish with bacon linguine, egg yolk custard, and black radish, and the impossible to resist black truffle risotto. Diners have had Auberge du Pommier on their list of summer favorites since 1987 when the doors of this rustic-chic eatery opened within the restored remnants of two 1860’s woodcutters’ cottages. Make a reservation at Auberge du Pommier.
Chianti–Mission Point Resort, Mackinac Island, Michigan
On Michigan’s legendary Mackinac Island, diners find a fresh take on Italian food at Chianti, where the bruschetta is prepared with roasted tomato and summer diners can dig into a chopped salad, housemade pastas, and Michigan-sourced fish, like seared wild-caught Lake Superior whitefish with lemon risotto, seared kale, and puttanesca sauce. Outdoor dining and live piano entertainment add to the lakeside atmosphere against the backdrop of Lake Huron. Make a reservation at Chianti.
Crossroads Kitchen, Los Angeles, California
As Crossroads approaches its five-year anniversary, this plant-based, Mediterranean cuisine restaurant is only gaining in popularity. The flavors of summer are on fire here in watermelon, corn, tomatoes, stone fruit, peppers, and green beans. Expect to find dishes like peach salad with blistered shishito peppers, Marcona almonds, and sumac mint yogurt dressing. Squash blossoms with almond ricotta are another delight, and, for dessert, tuck into the Key lime pie with kaffir lime-infused tequila. Make a reservation at Crossroads Kitchen.
Boulud Sud, Miami, Florida
The fireworks in July are on the menu at Boulud Sud Miami as the new summer dishes spice things up. This three-course menu at an affordable $39 includes chilled melon soup, summer chicken tagine, and lemon lavender cake – but several of the classics meld with summer munching, including octopus a la plancha, seared Mediterranean branzino, and summer cocktails like the lemonade imposter, a gin-centric ‘Lavandula’ with Mezcal, grapefruit, and lime. Make a reservation at Boulud Sud.
River Cafe, Calgary, Canada
In the middle of one of Alberta’s most picturesque locales, this Prince’s Island Park restaurant draws summer lovers to one of the most romantic places to dine in the province. The views from River Cafe include a quaint fishing hub from what was once the Park’s aging concession stand. This is the pace with which to spend a lazy afternoon, over plates of freshly shucked oysters, chicken liver terrine guanciale, and English pea flatbread or a fish and game board of smoked trout lox and bresaola. Make a reservation at River Cafe .
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, New York, New York
‘Tis the summer season to indulge at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse. Summer is all about juicy proteins on the grill, but better to beat the heat at a swanky steakhouse than sweltering in the backyard. Del Frisco’s has added a few tempting summer specials to the menu like their 14-ounce long bone veal chop served with that foodie-friendliest of all garnishes — crispy fried capers. On the veggie side, add a serving of butter-poached peas in a lemon-basil butter topped with grilled scallions and fresh basil. When available, Del Frisco’s offers a trio of Maryland soft shell crabs with summer strawberry tabbouleh with cucumbers, fresh mint, lemon, and a drizzle of black pepper butter. Make a reservation at Del Frisco’s.
Sally’s Fish House & Bar-Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, California
The new lunch menu has timeclock punchers ducking out to Sally’s Fish House & Bar. It’s an easy way to try a few different dishes and still have the energy to return to the daily grind. Notables include the ahi tuna and brown pearl rice poke bowl, wood-fire-grilled octopus and pan-roasted buffalo cauliflower, with satisfiers like the open-faced blackened swordfish and SoCal crab club. The basil-lime Greek yogurt laced quinoa-farro medley is a must for vegetarians, while the chilled scallop crudo with Meyer lemon oil and apple cider vinaigrette wins the prize for most flavor in a single bite. The chipotle fish tacos dish is a grand way to infuse some spice in an otherwise dull day along with a savory sushi menu. Make a reservation at Sally’s Fish House & Bar.
The White Bull, Decatur, Georgia
Literally inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s reference to the blank page as “the white bull,” this White Bull’s claim to fame is farm-forward fare. Georgia is home to some of America’s finest agricultural purveyors, the likes of which include Finch Creek Farm, Tucker Farms, Riverview Farms, Aluma Farm, Stone Mountain Cattle Co., Levity Farm, and others. More than a dozen summer dishes change daily at The White Bull based on farmers’ bounty, but a few to tempt include duck egg, polenta, chanterelles, blackberries, and green tomato. We’re loving the elotes with chili-espresso aioli, feta, lime, and peanuts. And potato gnocchi with Sea Island red peas, bacon, and tomato is a standout. The pastas here are unique to The White Bull, prepared with single-ingredient whole wheat flour stoneground in-house every day. Make a reservation at The White Bull.