The Great Outdoors
Make the most of summer at these 25 alfresco dining hotspots
by Leigh Stuart and Bill Donahue

There’s nothing quite like sitting in the shade of a tree or an awning on a hot summer day while enjoying a good meal and a cold glass of beer, or whichever libation you prefer. No matter where you call home or which neighborhoods you prefer to frequent, you’re likely to find a number of excellent restaurants with options for alfresco dining. Following are our picks for some of the best. No matter where you are, keep these places in mind as you’re planning summertime activities. Even so, almost all of these restaurants will keep their patios and verandas open throughout the summer, and often well into autumn.

Graffiti Bar
124 S. 13th Street (Midtown Village),
Next to executive chef/restaurateur Michael Schulson’s Asian-fusion masterwork Sampan, down a rather unremarkable alleyway, lies Graffiti Bar. Here, the patio space serves up Sampan’s signature food and drinks, perfect for enjoying along with the intricate artwork by Philly-based street artists adorning the walls. (Hence the name “Graffiti.”) If the weather refuses to cooperate, huddle up and make friends beneath the see-through ceiling while you wait for the rain to go away.

Frankford Hall
1210 Frankford Ave. (Fishtown),
Enjoy Bavarian delights such as Wienerschnitzel and potato pancakes, paired with a pint or two of Paulaner or Weihenstephan, at this Stephen Starr joint. Half the place is an open courtyard with communal tables, complete with games that encourage guests to stay a while. Congregate with old friends, or make new ones, while basking in the summer sun.

Independence Beer Garden
100 S. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia,
Even if most people come here for the locally brewed beers, there’s plenty of decent vittles to boot at this 20,000-square-foot hotspot from Schulson (of Graffiti Bar fame). As if this weren’t enough, this airy place offers patriotic vistas of historic icons including Independence National Historic Park and the Liberty Bell.

In Riva
4116 Ridge Ave. (East Falls),
This restaurant provides elegant yet approachable fare inspired by the cuisine of southern Italy, such as oven-crisped pizza that cooks to perfection in just 90 seconds. In Riva (short for “In Riva al Fiume,” which is Italian for “along the banks of the river”) boasts not one but two outdoor seating areas: a 75-seat patio; and a grassy, dog-friendly area where guests can dine at picnic tables with their favorite canines.

Llama Tooth
1033 Spring Garden (Northern Liberties),
Flanked by twin murals from artist Frito Bastien, the patio area at Llama Tooth seats about 70. The space also features a small tiki bar and is landscaped with rose and butterfly bushes with string lights overhead. The atmosphere is suited for enjoying offers a selection New American comfort food such as mushroom truffle “mac ‘n’ cheese,” burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Parc Restaurant, Bistro & Café
227 S. 18th Street (Rittenhouse Square),
Parc’s design is meant to be reminiscent of the chic brasseries of Paris and their traditional bistro fare. More than 75 outdoor seats surround Parc, many of which look directly out onto Rittenhouse Square.

Revolution House
200 Market Street (Old City),
The rooftop deck at Revolution House is open year-round, but during the warmer months the walls come down and the roof retracts to open the space up. Visitors can dine on Italian-inspired American comfort food at one of 14 tables surrounding a tree growing right in the middle of the deck.

Silk City
435 Spring Garden Street (Northern Liberties),
Highlighted by colorful and eclectic décor, the garden at Silk City offers a tiki bar, as well as picnic table-style seating for approximately 65 guests. Definitely try one or more of the menu’s new American offerings such as bacon-wrapped meatloaf or baked macaroni and cheese.

Standard Tap
901 N. 2nd Street (Northern Liberties),
The rooftop deck at this farm-to-table gastropub seats 60 and is furnished with Gotham-style fixtures. Of environmentally friendly note, Standard Tap has solar arrays on its roof, a greenhouse and a cistern. Additionally, because Standard Tap doesn’t sell any bottled beer, the restaurant has kept an estimated 300,000 metric tons of glass out of the recycling stream.

Stratus Lounge
433 Chestnut Street (Old City),
Perched atop the Hotel Monaco—11 stories above the city’s most historic neighborhood—the appropriately named Stratus offers breathtaking views and a menu of light fare. Food aside, it’s the housemade cocktails, such as the Cherry Hill Manhattan, that truly steal the show.

Talula’s Garden
210 W. Washington Square (Washington Square West),
The outdoor garden area at Aimee Olexy’s seasonal farm-to-table restaurant is completely open air, with 70 seats, a small bar and a fountain. A vast and vibrant collection of fresh herbs and flowers quite literally brings the dining area to life.

19 Bella and del Prado
3401 W. Skippack Pike, Cedars,,
Two restaurants at one location, del Prado (serving breakfast and lunch café-style fare) and 19 Bella (a Mediterranean/tapas BYOB serving dinner) both have access to “somewhat rustic” outdoor dining areas, totaling some 50 or 60 seats.

333 Belrose Bar & Grill
333 Belrose Lane, Radnor,
Adjacent to the building, built in 1769, is a flagstone patio furnished with loads of flowers and plants where guests can enjoy California contemporary cuisine. Chef/proprietor Carlo de Marco describes the 65-seat outdoor space as “just a nice, comfortable, quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle of Route 30.”

Alchemist & Barrister
28 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, N.J.,
The “A&B” offers a traditional public house experience—properly poured draught beers and hearty food—with interesting characters to boot. It also lays claim to one of Princeton’s most appealing patio areas, making the A&B a favorite hotspot for Princetonians of all ages.

Azie on Main
789 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova,
The quiet brick patio at this Asian restaurant seats about 40 and features a fire pit and scenic views of the nearby foliage-laden hillside. We recommend ending your meal on a sweet note with miniature banana beignets.

Blue Bell Inn
601 W. Skippack Pike, Blue Bell,
This newly re-opened establishment has carried on with a history of hospitality for nearly 275 years. Today, guests can enjoy elegant patio dining on the restaurant’s terrace while enjoy a meal from the inn’s menu of modern American dishes.

640 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill,
Although rich with history, Brittingham’s wasn’t content to rest on its laurels when it underwent a massive renovation to create some of the suburbs’ best alfresco perches—namely, a large patio area, complete with fire pits, as well as an indoor/outdoor bar and a rooftop deck.

Coyote Crossing
800 Spring Mill Ave., Conshohocken,
This Conshy staple endured significant renovations over the past year, and its efforts have paid off mightily with a stylish indoor/outdoor that perfectly complements an already compelling patio area. Guacamole, margaritas and sunshine … sounds like the perfect formula to us.

Gullifty’s Pizza Grille and Bar
1149 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr,
The “Gaarden” patio area at this American traditional restaurant has a full-service bar and seats 90. About 60 percent of the outdoor space offers coverage, providing alfresco guests plenty of shade if they wish.

Jarrettown Hotel
1425 Limekiln Pike, Dresher,
Capable of accommodating approximately 60 guests, the expansive patio here is uncovered but features mushroom-style umbrellas imported from Belgium. As a result, guests can stay in or out of the sun while partaking in the selection of Italian favorites and well-made cocktails.

The Landing Restaurant
22 N. Main Street, New Hope,
An upscale casual outdoor setting—plastic chairs and linen tablecloths, with vistas overlooking the Delaware River—awaits visitors here. There is patio seating for approximately 100 guests so “the more, the merrier” could be the motto here.

Nikolas at the Logan Inn
10 W. Ferry Street, New Hope,
Nikolas offers casual Mediterranean cuisine and outdoor seating for about 85 guests at what one staffer calls “the best people-watching spot in town.” The terrace also features ample coverage and is made cozy with a colorful assortment of foliage.

Ristorante Castello
721 W. Skippack Pike, Blue Bell,
Its menu of northern Italian favorites—salt-encrusted Bronzino, a number of house-made pastas and a list of daily specials too long to mention here—is just one of the ways in which Ristorante Castello excels. Of course, in kinder weather the restaurant offers an intimate patio area perfect for dining in the open air.

Taphouse 23
266 E. 4th Street, Bridgeport,
A recent addition along Route 23, Taphouse 23 is leading the renaissance in a neighborhood that was once better known for its grittiness rather than its grub. The beer list is terrific, with a food menu to match, and the outdoor area offers ample opportunity to make new friends while enjoying a craft beer or sipping one of the housemade Moscow mules. 

The Tiki Bar
1150 Manatawny Road, Boyertown,
This Berks County alfresco destination is a worthy escape. Where else in the area can you grill up your own alligator tail and tip back a rum-based libation by the river? Sipping a Hurricane in the sunshine at this indoor/outdoor bar just might be the best idea you’ve had all day.

Photograph by M. Fishetti for Visit Philadelphia