Philly 'Pop Up Garden' celebrates Mexican food, Mother's Day in May

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) -- "In the city, you don't have much outdoor space in a lot of homes," said Cristina Tessaro. "And so, the neighbors really see this as an addition to their backyard."

Tessaro was speaking about the Pop-Up Garden created by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Located at the intersection of 15th Street and South Street, this Philadelphia gem transports guests into an "urban oasis."

"Before we got here, there really was nothing," said Tessaro, who is the Associate Director of Urban Activation at PHS. "We clean and green vacant lots and then we build a beautiful garden on it and partner with a local bar restaurant group to run the daily operations of serving food and beverage."

Tessaro's favorite element of this natural space is how it changes with the seasons. The beer garden has just concluded its tulip season and is moving into the month of May with Cinco de Mayo and Mother's Day in mind.

"We have a few Mexican restaurants, so we're running specials from those," said General Manager Janelle Findlator.

Specialty dishes include Mexican street corn called, "Elote," which is made with chipotle mayo, queso fresco, and chili powder. Also on the menu are Chicken Achiote Tacos, which are made with slow-roasted pulled chicken, cilantro, and onion.

Guests can also enjoy the ever-popular drink, "Gritty Marg," made with Lunazul Blanco, Tang, Lime, and finished with a black-salt rim in honor of the Philadelphia Flyers mascot.

This coming Mother's Day, the garden will serve discounted glasses of Rosae.

Interested parties should know that no reservations are offered for small groups and guests are seated at a first-come-first-serve basis. All seating is outdoors and tables will have a 90-minute dining time limit. The garden can host parties of 10 or less individuals but also offers large-group reservation opportunities through their website.

Findlator says that safety is their top priority.

"We've had to downsize our business a little bit just to keep everybody safe in the beginning, but we do want to still have fun, so we're here for you," she said. "We have all of the drinks, all of the food, and all of the charisma."

Guests seem to agree.

"I like the environment, the ambiance is real nice," said Phil Palumbo from Williamstown, New Jersey. "It's crazy to think that this in the city."

Customers like Palumbo are return-visitors. But others like Patricia Schantz had simply stumbled upon the garden's gates while walking through the city.

"It's springtime and everything's alive again, look at this urban garden, it's so creative and charming," said Schantz, who was visiting her son from Washington D.C. "They're just so easy to enter and find a level of relaxation that you don't get in a thriving, busy Center City."

A portion of the proceeds earned at the garden benefit the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's mission to plant trees across the region and educate the community about the environment. To learn more about what is offered at the PHS Pop Up Garden, visit their website.

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