These sultry days, you can fry an egg on the pavement - or the kitchen stove - but who wants to do either? Instead, why not go out for something cold, fresh and invigorating?
The obvious choice is a salad. But, thinking out of the bowl, there are interesting alternatives. Here are 10 cool, compelling dishes we've come up with for soaring temperatures and flagging appetites:
Raw bar platters: To feel as though you're eating a cool ocean breeze
Chef Michael Meehan presides at this hip fish house. Indoors or on the patio, you can chill out together over a "shellfish tower" made up of oysters, clams, lobster, shrimp, jumbo lump crabmeat and king crab legs. $73 for three to five.
At this seaside seafood restaurant, the chilled raw bar platter for two has as its centerpiece a whole steamed marine-sweet Maine lobster surrounded by four huge steamed shrimp, as well as four mollusks - oysters, littlenecks and cherrystone clams. $36.95 for two, $19.95 for one.
Cold antipasto: When cold cured meat, good cheese and flavorful garnishes come together, it can be an Italian art form.
At this Gold Coast see-and-be-seen spot, the vivid antipasto plate consists of fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomato, roasted red peppers, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and prosciutto di Parma. $19.50
A larger-than-life photo of Sophia Loren dominates the Tuscan-looking dining room, where you can partake of a cool plate of bresaola (air-dried beef) with melon, shaved Parmesan and white truffle oil. $10
Cold soup: Nothing says summer like a cool puree of fruits and/or vegetables, fresh herbs and spices. Such soups are blended rather than cooked, thicker and more pulpy than most juices. Spoon rather than sip.
At this informal restaurant-pizzeria tucked into a shopping center, chef-owner Bryan Futerman's cold watermelon gazpacho is a sweet and spicy revelation, dotted with shards of watermelon, apple and tomato, spiked with chili pepper, everything tasting just-picked. small, $3.75; medium, $7; large, $13.
In an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor, start with a cooling bowl of gazpacho, the cold Spanish tomato soup, before moving on to the inevitable ice cream finale. $2.95 cup; $3.95 bowl.
Fruit and frozen yogurt: Salad or dessert? Who cares, when the combination is this refreshing?
Although several restaurants have occupied this department store space, the one dish that has remained constant throughout is tart Frogurt frozen yogurt paired with a small ramekin of fresh fruit. No reason to mess with success. $7.
At this cool national chain, a bright parfait features layers of tangy frozen yogurt and either berries or tropical fruit plus granola. The result is not only revitalizing but guilt-free, at only 300 calories. $4.95
Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern spreads: Make a meal of cool dips (some spicy, others mild), to be slathered onto pita bread.
In this unassuming Turkish storefront, the mixed cold appetizer plate is served with addictive seed-topped house-baked bread. Hummus (chickpea spread) is rife with tahini and garlic, while ezme (spicy vegetable salad) sets off little mouth detonations. To mellow out, there's patlican salatasi, charred eggplant salad. $9.95 for at least two.
This charming Greek taverna serves a pikilia combination with airy taramasalata (red caviar mousse) and melitzanosalata (whipped roasted baby eggplant with garlic, parsley and lemon) and garlic-intense skordalia (potato dip). $11.95 for at least two.
Cold Indian treats: From the hot streets of India come exotic dishes that offer sustenance as well as relief from the broiling sun.
At this stylish Indian oasis, whose menu veers into fusion territory, traditional items excel. Try the Bombay bhel puri - a tamarind-laced street snack of crisped rice, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and mint sauce - which delivers a cool and vivifying burst of flavors and textures. $4
Surrounded by eye-catching Indian art and artifacts, you can indulge in chaat papri, a mélange of crisped rice, chick peas and potatoes in a refreshing yogurt mint sauce. $5.95
Seviche: When raw fish meets citrus juice, the "cooking" is done by citric acid. The result is pure refreshment.
In this hi-glam Latin dining spot, the vibrant seafood salad (shrimp, tilapia, peppers, onions, lime juice and cilantro) is served in a martini glass and garnished with curls of fried plantains. $17, full portion; $10, half portion.
Creativity underscores the food at this hip Mexican restaurant where the daily-changing roster of seviches may feature a combination of red snapper with scallops, shrimp and roasted tomato or tuna with yellowtail, coconut, serrano chile and lime. Others, too. Whatever the mix, the dish is always served with Saltine crackers, tortilla chips and plantain chips. $12 at lunch, $13 at dinner.
Sashimi over ice: If you crave raw fish that's super-cold (which isn't really the way it's meant to be served), there are restaurants that arrange it atop chopped ice.
Neon lights illuminate the bar at this restaurant where you can have sashimi - tuna, yellowtail and salmon - that's beautifully plated over chopped ice with colored lights (really) buried underneath. $24.95.
In this small modernistic restaurant, the fresh and pretty sashimi platter features a nice assortment of artistically arranged cold fish served over a little hill of ice. $17.95.
Salad-topped pizza: A crunchy crust makes an ideal delivery system for a cool summer salad.
One way to tackle the "wild Italian salad" pizza is to eat the topping (baby greens, diced tomato, Gorgonzola and olives) with a fork and then devour the thin, crisp crust out of hand. Or just open wide for messy pleasure. $3.50 a slice; $25 for a nine-slice rectangular pie.
You can special-order a pizza topped with the signature Campagnola salad - arugula, fennel and pecorino in a lemon vinaigrette, a the kind of sprightly mix you don't find too often at typical suburban Italian restaurants. $25.
Cold sesame noodles: Spicy yet comforting, this cold Chinese restaurant staple remains a hot item even at modern Asian-fusion restaurants.
Wong's is a casual and friendly spot convenient to the LIRR station. Here, you can sit down to a pleasingly peanut-y appetizer of cold noodles in sesame sauce. $3.95