Dining Al Fresco
by Josephine Cusumano, Theodora Malison & Julie Shannon

It’s that time of year again, when local restaurants set up their outdoor seating areas for locals and returning patrons to enjoy a good meal and the warm weather. Whether you fancy a backyard seating area, a patio complete with bistro chairs, or an evening in a garden, the Greater Philadelphia Area is replete with al fresco dining spots worth a visit—and we’ve already done the hard work for you. Here’s our picks for the best places to dine under the stars this season.

Azie on Main
Chef Ricardo Franco brings a plethora of culinary influences to this Villanova establishment— mostly focusing on contemporary Asian cuisine. With an extensive sushi and sashimi menu and an outdoor space featuring lounge chairs, tables for dining, a Tiki bar and fire pit, you’ll feel like you’re on the other side of the world.

Blue Bell Inn
Blue Bell
Built in 1743, this historical establishment was originally named the “White House” and provided accommodation for traveling hunters. Today, they serve modern American cuisine, offering brunch, lunch and dinner, an excellent raw bar and weekly additions. Take it outside with its large enclosed patio, featuring tables and umbrellas, not to mention a fire pit for those chilly summer nights.

Coyote Crossing
Nothing says spring (and summer) quite like sipping a salt-rimmed margarita and indulging in authentic Mexican cuisine under the sun. Luckily, patrons can enjoy fresh libations and entrées within this hotspot’s capacious outdoor patio, which boasts Tiki torches, a gleaming three-tiered water fountain and daintily lit trees. Oh, and did we mention it houses Conshy’s first and only Mezcal bar?

Firepoint Grill
Newtown Square 
If you’re a carnivore, better make your reservation at this new hotspot now. The chef-inspired menu includes an abundance of meats cooked over their wood-fired grill, including baby back ribs, filet mignon and dry aged bone-in ribeye. Enjoy dinner out in their large outdoor patio on one of the many high top or communal tables, or at the accompanying bar, featuring seasonal cocktails, wines and a wide selection of craft beers.

Jarrettown Hotel Italian Restaurant & Bar
It doesn’t get more al fresco than this little corner of Pa.— specifically the patio, where family dinners carry on long after the sun goes down. Located right outside the Hotel, bistro chairs fill the space as umbrellas offer reprise from the sun, while patrons enjoy authentic family recipes sourcing both seasonal and imported ingredients.

La Stalla Restaurant
Genuine and homemade Italian fare runs the gamut here, but this trattoria’s outdoor dining scene creates just as a much buzz. Complete with a bocce ball court and accompanying table umbrellas, the outdoor space actually looks like a garden, as it’s situated amongst blooming flowers and greenery, creating an atmosphere akin to enjoying a meal right under the Tuscan sun.

Roots Café
West Chester 
This farm-to-table establishment is nestled along West Chester’s main drag of East Gay Street, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner sourcing local and seasonal ingredients. With a specials menu constantly changing, its secluded back patio remains its mainstay. Featuring umbrellas and a pergola offering much-needed shade, along with surrounding plants and string lights, it creates an ambiance worth enjoying a meal in.

Nestled in back of an 1877 brick townhouse, Russet’s enchanting string light-lit courtyard, with an overhead canopy of wisteria, is one outdoor dining experience you don’t want to skip on. The quaint destination features an ever-changing Italian and French-inspired menu, which stands as the quintessential spot for a summer’s night out. Don’t forget to bring your own bottle to enjoy outside the alluring atmosphere.

Talula's Garden (pictured)
Dine amongst Talula’s actual garden, as its seating area is flanked with thriving wall gardens—not to mention the added flair of string lights at night—offering the perfect setting for an outdoor meal. Diners get to enjoy fresh farm-to-table entrées and expertly crafted cocktails, along with a perfect view of Washington Square Park to boot.

White Dog Café

One could arguably call this Main Line eatery the “cat’s meow,” and though the saying holds true, it wouldn’t be quite befitting to the restaurant’s name. With ingredients purchased from local farms, patrons are guaranteed a flavorful meal. With warmer temperatures upon us, take advantage of the restaurant’s vibrant garden patio, featuring vivid seasonal vegetation, umbrellas and heat lamps, for enjoyment even on the chillier nights.

Photo courtesy of STARR Restaurants

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life Magazine, May, 2017.
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