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Red and white salad in a blue bowl seen from the side.
Fonda Tribeca’s watermelon salad is cooling and slightly salty.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

If It’s Summer, Give Me Watermelon Salad

Where to get one of summer’s most refreshing dishes

Eater NY is chronicling what we’ve loved this summer — a handful of the dishes, drinks, spaces, and people from restaurants that have opened in the past six months.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I loved watermelon, but eating it was a pain in the ass because of all the seeds. Though first developed by Japanese scientists in a genetics lab in 1939, the seedless watermelon didn’t appear in American supermarkets until the 1990s. But what a new world it opened up! It made watermelon salad feasible on summer menus, and I’ve lately been eating every one I can find.

The salad often contains feta or other salty cheese, but the one I like best lately, found on the menu at Tribeca Fonda, uses white Mexican cheese from Oaxaca, which gives the salad a bouncy chew in addition to the squishiness of the red sweet fruit. Cucumbers provide crunch — and lime juice, olive oil, chives, and a final shake of salt before the bowl is served bring the cooling flavors to life. Every bite, of course, requires a selection of elements — but don’t you dare eat all the watermelon first.

A hand holds a tall cooling glass of red fluid.
Watermelon agua fresca at Mermaid Mexicana.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Other watermelon salads have been equally intriguing, including one using feta at Antique Bar & Bakery in Hoboken. But, really, anything involving watermelon is like a magnet to me, including the pickled watermelon found in barrels at Brighton Beach groceries like Tashkent Supermarket. I’ve also enjoyed many watermelon beverages lately, including an agua fresca at Mermaid Mexicana, and a watermelon-lime juice puree at the Elk, a toney coffee shop in the West Village. And let’s not forget Oxomoco’s watermelon margarita — but since they’re pretty big and boozy, it’s disappointing you can’t really drink more than one.

Fonda Tribeca

139 Duane St, New York, NY 10013

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