Best Outdoor Dining in 16 Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Where to go and what to order when you’re looking to sit outside, wherever you are in Philly
June 9, 2014
by Danya Henninger

No matter where you are in Philadelphia, there’s a fantastic alfresco table to be found. Here’s where to go and what to order when you’re looking to sit outside in 16 Philly neighborhoods.

Get even more summer coverage on our Best Summer Ever page — bookmark it for all your seasonal food and drunk fun in Philadelphia.

Talula’s Garden in Washington Square West

Possibly the prettiest outdoor dining in the whole region is found next to Aimee Olexy’s urban-country dining room, where the centuries-old trees swaying in the park across the street are a great backdrop to the blossoming flowers that line the walls of the patio.

Must-Order: Cheese plate ($18-$24), hand-torn pasta with whipped ricotta, squash blossoms and truffle ($16 or $32)
Insider Tip: If outdoor tables are full, look for a seat at the granite outdoor bar near the back of the garden.

210 W. Washington Sq.; 592-7787

American Sardine Bar in Point Breeze

Five years ago, you’d never have expected to find outdoor seating in this neighborhood, but John Longacre battled community naysayers and the elements to build this backyard, which often serves as a place for chef Scott Schroeder to showcase his grill skills.

Must-Order: Sardines (choose from sautéed, grilled, on the plancha or fried; $4), Pittsburgh-style patty melt ($15)
Insider Tip: If you stop by during the 4-6 PM weekday happy hour, you can get more than just half-off cans and food specials - fill up a PBC growler for just $8 and take the dealage home with you.

1800 Federal St.; 215-334-2337

Le Virtu on East Passyunk

If you’re lucky, you’ll catch chef Joe Cicala grilling arrosticini (Italian kebabs) while you’re sitting on the stone-paved terrace at Francis Cratil-Cretarola and Cathy Lee’s ode to Abruzzo, an expansive oasis right next to the covered terrace tables.

Must-Order: Affettati misti (selection of house-cured salumi and assorted antipasti; $29), raviolini ripieni di piselli (little ravioli with peas and ricotta; $20)
Insider Tip: Save room for dessert, because pastry chef Angela Ranalli (Cicala’s wife) does some of the best sweets in the city - don’t miss the coconut-milk semifreddo ($12).

1927 E. Passyunk Ave.; 215-271-5626

Little Nonna’s in Midtown Village

Now that the garden behind Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s red-sauce Italian is in its second year, the white trellises are threaded with greenery as well as dotted with lights, making an adorable getaway tucked behind the Independence Hotel.

Must-Order: Beef-veal-pork meatballs stuffed with fontina ($11)
Insider Tip: Served until it runs out, “Sunday Gravy” ($24 per person) brings all the meat and macaroni you could want to get a head start on the week ahead, with beef short rib, meatballs and Fiorella sausages simmered for four hours before landing on your table.

1234 Locust St.; 215-546-2100

Frankford Hall in Fishtown

Rows of picnic tables sit beneath strings of lights on the traditional gravel of a Bavarian biergarten at Stephen Starr’s beer hall. Go for the fun, if not necessarily for the food - along with the classic Linden trees dotting the garden, you’ll find Ping-Pong tables and multiple sets of Jenga.

Must-Order: Kanzler burger (dry-aged beef, grilled bacon, Gruyère; $12), Jack ‘n’ Smores boozy shake ($6)
Insider Tip: Sunny weekends get very busy, so drop by during 4-7 PM, Tuesday-Friday for happy hour instead, when half-liters of beer go for $5 and Bavarian pretzels are just $2.

1210 Frankford Ave.; 215-634-3338

Le Chéri in Rittenhouse

Just steps off the square, the garden patio at Charlotte and Pierre Calmels’ bistro in the Art Alliance building is likely the most peaceful spot in Rittenhouse. Water splashes into the cherub fountain as you enjoy perfect French classics in the open air.

Must-Order: Steak tartare ($13), raviole with housemade cream cheese ($12)
Insider Tip: While the dining room fills up with reservations, garden seats are always first come, first serve. On occasion, the patio opens half an hour early at 4:30 PM, so keep an eye on Twitter or give a call if you’re looking for a late-afternoon escape.

251 S. 18th St.; 215-546-7700

Zavino in University City

It’s easy to imagine you’ve landed in Naples when you choose a table at the enclave formed by the theater entrance next to this West Philly wine bar, especially when your wood-fired pizzas and housemade pastas arrive.

Must-Order: Ricotta of the day ($7), The Joey pizza (Berkshire pork sausage, mozzarella, tomato, spinach, garlic, provolone; $16)
Insider Tip: The 4:30-6:30 PM happy hour runs every day, even weekends, so stop in early to start your meal with that ricotta for just $4, along with $4 wines and several other food and drink deals.

3200 Chestnut St.; 215-823-6897

Jon’s Bar & Grille on South Street

This longtime corner tavern recently upgraded the upstairs level of its deck, turning it into a full-fledged beer garden complete with picnic tables, umbrellas and a special menu of 20 craft cans.

Must-Order: Signature steak sandwich with red peppers on a garlic roll ($11.50), crab and shrimp dip ($13)
Insider Tip: Buy-one-get-one burgers are offered Monday-Thursday.

300 South St.; 215-592-1390

El Camino Real in Northern Liberties

Picnic tables that swing along Second Street into Liberties Walk make a perfect place to make a mess with huge plates of “pig wings” and other inexpensive Tex-Mex BBQ.

Must-Order: Smoked chicken wings ($8 or $15), buttermilk fried chicken sandwich ($10)
Insider Tip: Snag half-price margaritas during happy hour—it runs 5-7 PM weekdays and 10 PM-midnight Sunday-Thursday.

1040 N. Second St.; 215-925-1110

Jack’s Firehouse in Fairmount

Tucked next to the BBQ grills and smokers at this tavern in a 19th-century firehouse is a surprisingly idyllic patio, complete with trickling fountain and lots of flowers.

Must-Order: Jack’s Tongue Smackin’ Ribs ($22), breakfast quesadilla at brunch ($12)
Insider Tip: Though he currently cooks a menu of BBQ and pub fare, chef-owner Jack McDavid was trained in classic French technique (he’s a Le Bec-Fin alum), so don’t be afraid to explore the menu, which has been using locally grown ingredients since before it was trendy.

2130 Fairmount Ave.; 215-765-7920

Cuba Libre in Old City

Mix island flair with city buzz when you sit on the slightly elevated patio connected to the palm-filled, open-air dining room at this Second Street Cuban.

Must-Order: Empanadas (two for $11, four for $20), ceviche mixto ($11.50)
Insider Tip: If you’re in need of a restorative brunch, head over before 1:30 PM on weekends to take advantage of the $26 unlimited tapas deal.

10 S. Second St.; 215-627-0666

Alla Spina on North Broad

A church across the way makes a fitting backdrop for the outdoor seating at Marc Vetri’s Italian beer bar, which cordons off a large sidewalk area so customers can relax without worrying about streetside traffic.

Must-Order: Italian poutine with mozzarella curds ($16), mortadella hot dog ($8)
Insider Tip: 5% of all profits are donated to the Vetri Foundation for Children, so splurge on that rare Italian craft beer on one of the 20 taps - it’s all for the kids.

1410 Mt. Vernon St.; 215-600-0017

Aksum in Spruce Hill

Wide-open windows let guests at the sidewalk seats enjoy the colorful art that adorns the walls of this Mediterranean cafe along Baltimore Avenue.

Must-Order: Med East hummus platter ($10), shakshuka eggs (brunch; $11)
Insider Tip: Whether you’ve never tried a hookah or are already a fan, this is one of the best places in the city to indulge in the fruity vapors.

4630 Baltimore Ave.; 267-275-8195

Kite & Key in Franklintown

The front wall of Jim Kirk’s craft-brew bar opens to the outside air, letting the fun pub atmosphere spill out to the tables beneath the canopy. Around the side are dozens more seats in a beer garden decorated with a kite-filled mural of the Philly skyline.

Must-Order: Garlic-chile wings (ask for them well done; $9), tomato soup with grilled cheese ($10)
Insider Tip: Make no mistake, you’re here for the beer, so be sure to peruse the offerings on the 16 taps and ask what’s on the hand pump.

1836 Callowhill St.; 215-568-1818

The Cambridge on South Street West

Strings of colorful lights add pizazz to the fenced-in patio hiding at the back of Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico’s beer-centric tavern.

Must-Order: Pierogi ($10), short-rib mac ‘n’ cheese ($10)
Insider Tip: While a good beer selection is a given (Fetfatzes’ family owns the Bella Vista Beer distributor), also try the Bloody Mary, which has achieved its own fame.

1508 South St.; 267-455-0647

Bistrot La Minette in Queen Village

A raised wooden deck outside Peter Woolsey’s Sixth Street bistro makes a cozy front porch on which to enjoy Parisian fare, now expertly executed by chef de cuisine Kenneth Bush.

Must-Order: Escargot ($12), gnocchi Parisienne ($18)
Insider Tip: The porch is the only place other than the tiny bar where weekday happy hour is offered, with deals like $2 beer and $3 wine from 5:30-7 PM.

623 S. Sixth St.; 215-925-8000

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