• Irene Levy Baker

Falling for Pumpkin Food & Drinks


Pumpkin Grilled Cheese at Solstice. Photo by Briana Louise of In Between Rivers.

When I was growing up, on the day after Halloween, my neighbor always took my jack-o-lantern and returned with a pumpkin pie. It seemed like a great way to indulge and recycle at the same time. It was decades before I realized that she probably tossed out my aging jack-o-lantern and used canned pumpkin for the pie. Some of the magic was suddenly gone but I never lost a taste for pumpkin foods. And here’s where you can find some of Philadelphia area’s best pumpkin food & drinks.



Pumpkin Grilled Cheese at Solstice


Solstice, a modern American restaurant in Newtown, is seasonally-focused and ingredient-driven so it's not surprising to find pumpkin on the menu. Look for Pumpkin Grilled Cheese with maple sage ricotta, smoked gouda, provolone, sautéed spinach and kale on toasted sourdough; Pumpkin Hummus served on housemaid focaccia; and Pumpkin Risotto with toasted walnuts, sherry gastrique, fall herbs and apple gelee.


Tip: Solstice is currently offering contactless menus and payment.


Pumpkin martini at McGillin's

Pumpkin Martini at McGillin’s Olde Ale House


The pumpkin martini is one of the most popular drinks at McGillin’s Olde Ale House, the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest in the country. A bar doesn’t last 160 years without knowing a thing or two about how to mix awesome drinks. The historic tavern’s pumpkin martini is made with vanilla vodka, pumpkin smash (a liquor), half and half and served in a chilled martini glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar.

Tip: The best place to drink it? Snuggled up by the fireplace at the historic bar. The bar is now open inside (with limited capacity) and out.


Pumpkin Drinks at Good Karma Cafe

Whether you’re a coffee or tea drinker, Good Karma has you covered. The fall line-up includes a Pumpkin Spice Latte with Belizean vanilla and Pumpkin Chai, with honey vanilla chai and pumpkin spice syrup. All four locations are open and ready to serve you. Good Karma is a sustainable coffee shop brewing organic, fair-trade beans. Go all in on the fall flavors and pair it with a bagel and a schmear of housemaid honey cinnamon cream cheese.


Tip: Good Karma offers a variety of gluten-free, vegan and all natural snacks.


Pumpkin Ice Cream at Bassetts Ice Cream

Pumpkin Ice Cream at Bassetts Ice Cream

You can only get the Bassett Ice Cream’s pumpkin ice cream this time of year and you can’t lick it! Actually, you can. And you should! It’s available at Bassetts in Reading Terminal Market. For the ultimate fall combination, take a pint home and put it on your pumpkin or apple pie for the world's best pie a la mode.


The Fall Mega Milkshake at The Pop Shop


It'll be worth the trip to South Jersey for The Pop Shop's Fall Mega Milkshake made with pumpkin ice cream blended with caramel. It has a candy corn rim and is topped with whipped cream, fall sprinkles and a whole slice of pumpkin pie! And for brunch, try the Pumpkin Pie Bettys - from-scratch pancakes filled with bits of pumpkin pie and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.


Tip: The Medford location is open for indoor/outdoor dining, take out and delivery. The Collingswood location is temporarily closed.


And don't miss:

From The Tahini Table. Photo by Jillian Guyette.

* The pumpkin spice bubble tea at Crunchik'n, at 11th & Walnut. Available for take out at the restaurant, which specializes in Korean fried chicken, rice bowls and dumplings. Tip: Order on the website.


* The chocolate pumpkin fudge bar with salted peanut butter and smoked pumpkin seeds at Vedge. Tip: It's vegan.


*If you're inspired to make your own pumpkin dish, try the pumpkin hummus recipe from the queen of tahini, Amy Zitelman, CEO and co-founder of Soom Foods. Her pumpkin hummus is moist and fresh, using white beans instead of chickpeas for better color and purer vegetable flavor. You'll find the recipe in her new cookbook, The Tahini Table: Go Beyond Hummus with 100 Recipes For Every Meal.


Tip: You'll have to wait until it's released in November. I suspect it'll be worth the wait.


Is it just me or do the suddenly cool evenings bring back childhood memories and make you crave pumpkin foods too?


by Irene Levy Baker, author, 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia and Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia. Both books are full of tips. For even more tips, visit www.100ThingsToDoInPhiladelphia.com. Planning a staycation? Go to the website for signed copies of books. For free shipping, use promo code TheCityPulse.

Click here for more blog postings by Irene Levy Baker including two posts with tips for how to help restaurants survive, Philly-themed masks, socially-distant tours and more.

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