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The Best Things People Ate at Diner en Blanc This Year

From Wawa hoagies to whole lobsters, here’s what attendees brought to the annual outdoor dinner party

The eighth Diner en Blanc in Philadelphia took place along Boathouse Row on August 22, 2019.
| Justin Blasi

Philadelphians aware of Diner en Blanc tend to have strong opinions about it. The ticketed outdoor dinner party where 6,000 attendees dress in all white and show up with their own food and drink is either a festive gathering and one of the year’s best photo ops, or an unnecessarily exclusive misuse of public space. But when Philly’s eighth annual Diner en Blanc — the biggest in the country — popped up along Boathouse Row last night, Eater just wanted to know what everyone brought to eat.

In keeping with the tradition of Diner en Blanc, which started in Paris 31 years ago and is now in cities around the world, the location was kept secret until just before the event started. Once word got out, thousands of party-goers — 500 more than last year and 4,700 more than the first time it was held in Philly — descended on Boathouse Row by the Art Museum with folding tables, chairs, decorations, bottles of bubbly, and bags of food. They set up, group by group, and began pulling out takeout containers and Tupperware.

people dressed in white carrying picnic supplies up a street

As in years past, cheese and charcuterie boards were spotted on a majority of tables. But not everyone went that route. Some diners embraced the fact that while this may be an event originated in France, this is more of a Cheez Whiz than a brie town:

a bucket of KFC with a fancy table setting
a catering box of wawa hoagies

Honeygrow worked for a potentially healthier option:

a paperbag printed with the word honeygrow

Some risk takers chanced tomato pie while wearing all white:

table setting with wine, antipasto, and a slice of tomato pie

Or why not just stop at Santucci’s on the way over:

santucci’s pizza boxes and a bowl of fruit

Sushi is always a popular choice — bonus points for setting it out on a tiered platter:

a tiered plate of sushi and a sign that says deb phl 2019

Lobster mac and cheese made several appearances, including on this well-composed plate:

plate of food, shrimp cocktails, glass of wine, and lit candles

Though if you’re sticking with seafood, a whole lobster is an option too:

hand holding a lobster

A pile of fried chicken is always a good call:

platter of chicken

These Diner en Blanc diners even remembered to bring the salt and pepper to season their steaks:

flowers behind plate of steak, beans, and potatoes

Some cheese boards could not be contained by one board:

board with cheese and meats

With limited table space, stacking sweet and savory items makes sense:

menu and tiered serving plate with sandwiches, grapes, and pastries

It’s not a dinner party without dessert, from an Indonesian ropang (grilled bread layered with Nutella, shredded cheese, and rainbow sprinkles) from D’jakarta Cafe:

sandwich with chocolate spread, shredded cheese, and rainbow sprinkles in front of vase of flowers Justin Blasi

to an Italian rum brick from Di Bruno Bros.:

plate with italian pastries

And it’s definitely not a dinner party with drinks, like this rum and pineapple mixture:

table with bottles of wine and bottle with orange drink mixture

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