What to Eat (and Drink) on Memorial Day Weekend

Soft-shell crab, a la carte at Asta, a new brunch menu at Citrus & Salt, and more.

A soft-shell crab dish at Café du Pays

A soft-shell crab dish is on the menu this weekend at Café du Pays. / Photo provided by Dan Amighi

Soft-Shell Crab

One of the sweetest things about springtime? Soft-shell crab. This seasonal delicacy starts appearing on menus in May, and is best before the season gets too warm. So, it should taste perfect this weekend. Find softies at Café du Pays, where chef Dan Amighi is frying them in duckfat and serving them with a potato aioli “and a spice mix that is somewhere between a togarashi and Old Bay,” he says. At Eventide Fenway, chef Ian Maschal has a softie sandwich with kimchi and spicy mayo. The crabs have been tacoed at the Painted Burro, and they are on the menu at this weekend’s Nightshade pop-up—see the final entry of this post for more info on that one. Generally, a good tip for optimal weekend enjoyment: If you see soft-shell, order soft-shell!

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A La Carte at Asta

While it’s not anyone’s typical tasting menu with chef Alex Crabb’s ambitious and esoteric dishes, Asta is generally a reservations-and-prix-fixe place. But not this summer: It recently launched “the happiest hours” with a la carte plates from 4-7ish p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Wine director Theresa Paopao is hosting “wine school,” inspired by New York Times critic Eric Asimov’s essential monthly column, with by-the-glass pours to go with snacks like seared octopus with a corn cake and preserved lemon (pictured), and more. The latest “Asta distraction” continues throughout the months of May and June.

Wine School, Tuesday-Friday through June, 4-7ish p.m., Asta, 47 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, 617-585-9575, Instagram, astaboston.com.

Chef Jody Adams' favorite dish, lamb chops with rosemary potatoes

One of chef Jody Adams’ favorite dishes, lamb chops with rosemary potatoes, is on special at Trade to celebrate the chef’s recent James Beard Foundation honor. / Photo provided by Trade

An Undisputed Tastemaker’s Favorite Dish

The incomparable chef Jody Adams launched her career under the tutelage of the legendary Lydia Shire. As a business owner herself now for more than two decades—of the celebrated Rialto, and now Trade, Saloniki, and Porto—Adams has influenced the culinary careers of countless more women and men. The James Beard Foundation, which named her Best Chef: Northeast in 1997, recently cemented her legacy by inducting Adams into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America. To celebrate that honor, Adams is just continuing to pay it forward. Throughout the month of May, her Greenway restaurant Trade is selling grilled lamb chops with thyme-roasted potatoes and rosemary yogurt—one of Adams’ favorite dishes—as a dinner special, with a portion of proceeds directly benefitting the JBF’s Women in Culinary Leadership mentoring program. Trade is open for dinner at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, though it is closed this Saturday, Sunday as usual, and on the holiday Monday this weekend. The lamb special is on the dinner menu next week, as well.

540 Atlantic Ave., Boston, 617-451-1234, trade-boston.com.

Citrus & Salt in Boston's Back Bay

Citrus & Salt debuts Sunday brunch this weekend. / Photo provided

Chicken and Waffle Tacos

Chef Jason Santos’ Citrus & Salt debuts a Mexi-Cali brunch menu this Sunday, May 27, with a few regular-menu favorites (grilled street corn; jalapeño kettle chips and guacamole), and new dishes including blue corn and tequila waffle tacos with fried chicken, spicy agave syrup, avocado butter, and watermelon pico de gallo; and grapefruit brûlée with coconut-almond relish, minted sugar, and agave syrup. There are raw bar items, new brunch cocktails, and soft serve sorbet for dessert—including soft-serve mimosas. Brunch continues every Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Looking for a place to have brunch this Monday? These 10 spots have Memorial Day brunch service.)

142 Berkeley St., Back Bay, Boston, 833-324-8787, citrusandsaltboston.com.

A beer in the shade at the Trillium Garden on the Greenway

A beer in the shade at the Trillium Garden on the Greenway, which reopens this weekend. / Photo by Tyler Machado

Beer, Outside

Obviously! This weekend is the unofficial kickoff of summer—and it’s the summer of the beer garden, after all. If you are looking to get out of town, may we suggest these destination breweries. Closer to home, the holiday weekend lineup at Sunday’s SoWa Beer Barn is looking particularly strong. Plus: Trillium Garden on the Greenway officially reopens today, while the Downeast Back Porch debuted Wednesday night; both centrally located spots are open this weekend, and Downeast is also open on Memorial Day proper for all your day-off drinking needs. While the Garden on the Greenway is closed Monday, Trillium Canton will be open, with Parlor Ice Cream for sale and the patio rockin’. Night Shift is open extended hours in Everett (Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and Monday noon-11 p.m.), Turtle Swamp is partying all weekend long in Jamaica Plain (noon-10 p.m. Sunday and 1-6 p.m. Monday, on top of regular weekend hours), and Remnant Brewing celebrates its first Memorial Day in Somerville with help from future Bow Market neighbors Buenas, who are bringing the hot dogs. Cheers!

Nahant Beach

Nahant Beach. / Photo by Charlene McBride via “North Shore vs. South Shore

A Memorial Day Barbecue, Vietnamese-Style

Here are the holiday destination-and-dining plans you’re looking for: Hit up Nahant, one of the area’s absolute best beaches, then cool down with a blowout barbecue from the fine folks of the Nightshade pop-up, on the Bent Water brewery patio. Chef Rachel Miller is doing four courses of her Vietnamese-style fare, including a green papaya salad, grilled soft-shell crab (see the first entry, above, for how we feel about this ingredient), and a barbecue pork-vermicelli noodle bowl. Nightshade beverage director Lauren Friel is making exclusive pho micheladas (!), and the whole taproom menu is available, too. The casual party starts at 5 p.m., and tickets include snacks, a michelada, dinner, tunes, a takeaway surprise, and gratuity. The brewery is a bus ride, a cheap ride share, or a doable walk from the Wonderland MBTA station, Lynn’s commuter rail station, and the beach.

$65, Monday, May 28, 5-9 p.m., Bent Water Brewing Company, 180 Commercial St., #18, Lynn, Eventbrite.

This post was updated at 4:05 p.m. to reflect that Trade is unexpectedly closed for a private event this Saturday night. The lamb special is on the dinner menu every night that Trade is open for the rest of this month, though.