Al Fresco Dining in Philly

April 10, 2016


In a city that boasts hundreds of restaurants and countless styles of cuisine, the chefs and proprietors are always in the process of developing exciting menus, creating new dishes and offering special promotions in an attempt to entice guests to sample a taste of something unique.

This column features Philadelphia restaurants, from the classic favorites, to some impressive new arrivals. You may recognize the tried-and-true places and the newcomers may seem unique, but either way, Philadelphia restaurants are worth a trip across the bridge.

It’s summertime and you are ready to join the masses, escape the city and head straight for the beach. But here is the lowdown: Philly has some great al fresco dining, a fast-growing number of restaurants are opening the doors (literally) as the temperature rises, adding patios and tables that transform their establishments into bustling outdoor cafes. Throughout quite a few neighborhoods in Philadelphia, outdoor dining is becoming increasingly popular. Today, you can enjoy al fresco dining almost everywhere in Philadelphia, from Center City to Manayunk.

Cuba Libre

The Old City section of Philadelphia boasts an extremely high concentration of restaurants, packed into a few squareblocks. Strolling down 2nd street, you can’t help but see countless opportunities for al fresco dining, in all price ranges.

Cuba Libre, located in Old City at 10 South 2nd Street, is an ideal spot to hang out, and sample some tasty Cuban-inspired specialties and order one (or two) refreshing cocktails. With one of the neighborhood’s most unique interiors, resembling an outdoor Havana street scene, Cuba Libre offers an exciting, highenergy atmosphere for those who wish to dine or just sip a few Mojitos.

The restaurant’s outdoor deck overlooks the busy “scene” below, so whether you decide to visit Cuba Libre in the evening for some entertaining, people-watching, or simply languish in the sunshine while enjoying brunch, this spot is a must-see for al fresco dining.

Phone is (215) 627-0666. Hours: Dinner is 5 p.m.. Brunch on weekends from 11 a..m. to 2:30 p.m.

New Wave Cafe

Soak in the sun and imagine the sound of the surf at the New Wave Cafe, smack in the middle of the cozy, bohemian Queen Village section of the city. Sidewalk seating is situated directly on one of the city’s oldest and most picturesque tree-lined streets.

Chef Ben McNamara’s menu offers a wide array of selections, from Arkansas buffalo wings to Maine lobster and crabmeat stuffed chicken breast, pan roasted with brandy lobster sauce.

Located at 347 South 3rd Street at the comer of Catherine. Phone: is (215) 922-8484. The bar opens at noon every day, although you will have to wait for the outdoor tables until after 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Soho Pizza

Old City’s newest “fun spot’ is the latest addition to Market Street, with sidewalk seating for 20 guests. Serving “gourmet handheld foods,” including pizza, panini, chicken fingers, etc. along with premium wines and ice-cold beers, Soho Pizza is a first-class spot to kick back and chill out in the heart of Philly’s hottest club district.

Located at 218 Market Street, Soho Pizza is open every day for lunch and dinner. Phone: (215) 625-3955

Samson Street Oyster House

Throwing open the new French doors with gusto to welcome the warm summer air, the Samson Street Oyster House gives seafood lovers a spectacular view of the buzzing neighborhood from its popular raw bar. This traditional seafood house attracts the city’s after-work crowd, as well as some locals who have been eagerly slurping up oysters for years. With character, zesty seafood and a lively ambiance, this restaurant must not be missed.

Located at 1516 Samson Street. It serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and dinner until 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Phone is (215) 567-7683.

City Tavern

Who knew that the city’s largest outdoor dining was located at the historical City Tavern? Taking a step back in time is even more fun when you can enjoy the outdoors. The tavem has several tables on the “back porch” and a few more on the veranda below.

The outdoor areas are also large enough to host private parties and weddings. With a backdrop consisting of several historic buildings, you can’t pass up this one. You will really get a true taste of the colonial days.

Located at 138 South 2nd Street. Phone is (215) 413-1443 http://www Open every day at I 1 am. for lunch and 5 p.m. for dinner.

London Grill

New restaurants seem to open every week in the art museum area of Philadelphia. The London Grill is one of the popular spots, featuring Chef Michael McNally’s specialties, and a bar with truly creative cocktails. Of course, the outdoor tables really enhance the menu.

Located at 2301 Fairmount Avenue. Phone: is (215) 9784545. The London Grill is open for lunch all week from 11:30 to 3 p.m.. Dinner is served from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday brunch is available from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The special “cafe” menu is available daily from 3 p.m. until closing. Phone is (215) 978-4545.

Ivy Grill

Get educated! A short drive away from Center City is the Ivy Grill, situated in the heart of University.of Pennsylvania’s campus. Although it will close its doors on June 30 in preparation for mid-August re-opening as Penne, the Ivy Grill is a fun place to grab a bite, sit back and observe college life.

The Ivy Grill is located at 36th and Sansom Street at the Inn at Penn. Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Dinner is served beginning at 5 p.m. daily.

Manayunk: Arroyo Grill

Okay, it’s really not that far away! Once you venture beyond Philadelphia, Manayunk is only a short distance away. It’s a hotbed of great restaurants, lively nightspots and eclectic shops (some of which are open for late-night shopping).

Main Street offers countless options for dining, but restaurant owner Derek Davis’s Arroyo Grill, is an ideal spot for hanging out with friends, enjoying a romantic dinner or (if you are lucky) taking advantage of prime real estate at the bar.

Arroyo’s Mexican fare draws crowds all year, but the outdoor deck is open during the warmer months for dining and drinks. Try one of their special margaritas. Expect to wait for a table if you don’t leave the office early to secure a table for the gang.
Located at One Leverington Street. It is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Brunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Manayunk Brewing Company

Speaking of al fresco, the Manayunk Brew Pub has just celebrated the grand opening for its new outdoor deck at its “Rock the Dock” party. Boasting a wide array of – you guessed it – beer selections, the pub also features an eclectic menu with “something for everyone.”

Their new deck will be open all summer with live (and loud!) music and special events.

Located at 4120 Main Street. Open every day for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner at 5 p.m.

Rock Lobster

Philadelphia’s al fresco dining is a real “scene” down on the river, the Delaware river, that is! One long-time favorite that succeeds in bringing the beach to Philly is Rock Lobster. Featuring live music and tasty seafood, it’s the closest thing to the Jersey shore.

Located on Columbus Boulevard, Rock Lobster is open for lunch and dinner daily.