restaurant in the summer time

Even if you got into the restaurant business because you have endless ideas for dishes to cook, everyone runs into a creative slump once in a while. If you’re a chef in a bit of a rut or are tackling your first summer season and looking for some inspiration, here are some summertime restaurant menu ideas for restaurants looking to design a killer seasonal menu.

Whether they temper the heat of summer or feature in season flavors, these seasonal menu ideas are sure to get your creative juices flowing.

Gazpacho

When the heat of summer rolls in, temper it with Gazpacho, a cold tomato-based soup that hails from Andalucia. This chilly dish highlights cucumber and pepper flavors which makes for a melody of summer-y flavors. If you haven’t introduced cold soup to your summer menu yet you should—it’s seriously refreshing and allows for soup to be offered year round.

Bruschetta

While these little pieces of bread topped with fresh tomatoes and pesto is often considered to be an appetizer, a slightly bigger portion makes for a lovely light summer dinner. When it’s super hot and humid outside, your guests might not need much more than a few bites to feel satisfied. Plus bruschetta is pretty much a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Ceviche

Served throughout Latin America, this cool (literally) dish is comprised of fish or seafood that’s been cured only in lime. Because it’s never been cooked but still includes elements often found in main dishes, it’s a delicious way to offer your guests seafood or fish without the heat required to cook it.

Watermelon fruity cocktail mocktail drink decorated with cubes of fresh watermelon and rosemary

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Watermelon

There are few things that say summer more than a slice of dripping, ruby red watermelon. Delicious on its own or pressed into a juice, this fruit is not only a summer staple but a tasty way for your guests to stay hydrated as well.

Affogato

Caffeine is key even in the sweltering summer months, but there’s only so much iced coffee that can be consumed before guests tire of that as well. Consider offering affogato—a scoop of ice cream plopped into a shot of espresso—as an alternative option. You can even dress it up as a boozy dessert by adding a shot of coffee liqueur to the mix as well.

Elote

This Latin American dish is essentially elevated corn on the cob and makes for a fun spin on the classic summer staple. While elote is usually served as a street food in places like Mexico, it’s easy to adapt to kitchen production and all it takes is some mayo, chili and other spaces, and some fresh cilantro and lime juice to really make it sing.

Summer-y salads

Whether you go for something unique like a peach and avocado salad or choose something more traditional like a cucumber salad with cream dressing, there’s simply no escaping that salads are popular in the summertime. Not only do they make it easy to feature fresh, seasonal ingredients, they pair well with a good glass of wine and a nice view from patio table.

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Cinnamon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and journalist who paid a large part of her way through college and graduate school by serving. Her work has been published with outlets like National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. You can read more about her at www.cinnamon-janzer.com.