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Cherry blossoms are bursting in Philadelphia right now. Admiring the ethereal blooms while relaxing at a spring picnic is so special that the Japanese have a specific word for it: ohanami.
Thanks to Parks on Tap, that’ll be extra easy this year. The traveling beer garden, which was honestly considered groundbreaking when it launched in 2016 — serve beer? In city parks? — has remained super popular.
Run by outdoor dining experts FCM Hospitality (the team behind Craft House, Morgan’s Pier, Harper’s Garden) in partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the pop-up returns this weekend for its sixth season with two giant setups outside the Fairmount Horticulture Center, each covering more than an acre.
The location is right next to Shofuso Japanese House and smack in the middle of West Fairmount Park’s main cherry blossom groves, the original trees for which were gifted to Philadelphia by Japan in 1926.
Ohanami is being infused into all parts of Parks on Tap’s inaugural 2021 installation, which will run from Saturday, April 3, to Sunday, April 25.
There’s a cocktail called the Cherry Blossom Breeze, a cherry blossom custard dessert, and several Japanese-inspired dishes, like chilled soba noodles and soy-glazed chicken skewers. Also available to order from on-site food trucks are other snacks and cocktails, beers from Two Locals Brewing, Philly’s first Black-owned brewery, and options from FCM’s Mainstay Brewing, including Love Your Park Ale, which benefits Philly parks. (Check out the full menu below.)
You have to wear a mask to enter, but you can remove it to eat and drink once you’re sitting at a table, which will be spread among the pink-tinged trees and can have a maximum of six people.
To make sure there’s enough space to stay safely distanced, advance reservations are required, although walk-ups will be allowed if there’s seating available. Admission is free, and food and drink is pay-as-you-go via cash or card. There are multiple restrooms on site.
If you’re smitten with the cherry blossom gazing and want to continue after you leave the beer garden, you can pick up a new hand-painted map by artist Hiro Sakaguchi that shows good viewing spots in various neighborhoods (download a PDF here). The guide was produced by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, which runs Shofuso. The organization is also planning a virtual cherry blossom 10k run.
Expect live tunes to enhance the ohanami vibe. It’s not exactly on theme, but April is Jazz Appreciation Month, so free jazz performances are planned throughout the pop-up.
Stay tuned for info on other Parks on Tap locations as the beer garden moves around the city this summer.
Parks on Tap Cherry Blossom Menu
Chicken Skewers $9
Chilled Soba Noodle Salad $11 (VG)
Jalapeno Popper Dip $6 (GF, VG)
Pulled Pork $11
Eggplant Sloppy Joe $12 (VG)
All Beef Hot Dog $8
Pulled Pork Sliders $8
Pulled Pork $15
Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies (VG) $6
Cherry Blossom Custard (VG) $6
Blueberry Lemonade $10
Cherry Blossom Breeze $10
Love Your Park Pale $7
Bowline IPA $7
Constitution Lager $7
Two Locals Prolific – Hazy IPA $9
Two Locals Nubian Brown Ale $9
Downeast Cider Downeast $6
Povero Rose, Rose Wine, $8
Fresh House Lemonade $4