NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Outdoor Dining in Philly This Winter

Where to eat outside in Philadelphia this winter in heated greenhouses and igloos, and next to heat lamps, fire pits and other cozy amenities

Outdoor Dining in Philly This Winter

Where to eat outside in Philadelphia this winter in heated greenhouses and igloos, and next to heat lamps, fire pits and other cozy amenities

Now that restrictions on indoor dining have relaxed a bit, some Philly diners are happy to head back inside for their meals (just don’t forget that vax card!. With the danger of new variants like Omicron, however, many still prefer to keep it outside. And why wouldn’t you? Lots of restaurants in Philadelphia have adapted to make al-fresco dining happen, even as the weather cools. In fact, thanks to the ingenuity of our restaurateurs, dining out(side) is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia right now—if you’re safe.

That said, there’s “outdoor dining” and then there’s “eating on a sidewalk.” The latter has its place—aren’t we all just grateful to be out to dinner?—but for this guide, we scoped out restaurants offering fresh-air dining destinations that are tucked away on patios and in gardens, places that are removed from the world just enough that you might have your meal surrounded by foliage and fountains and strands of twinkling lights rather than sidewalk gawkers and whizzing traffic.

RELATED: Awesome things to do in Philadelphia all winter long

Keep reading for spots across the city that offer all types of cuisine—and give you a chance to support our locally owned businesses this winter. Some offer breathtaking views of the Delaware River, while others are nestled in spots that let you forget, if only for a moment, that you’re in the middle of a gritty city still semi-locked in quarantine.

Just be sure to check the websites before you go—most spots these days are requiring reservations. (And masks, of course.) Happy outdoor dining!

We’ve separated this guide to outdoor dining in Philly into neighborhoods, so feel free to zoom ahead to find restaurants in and near:

OUTDOOR DINING NEAR RITTENHOUSE SQUARE

Diners enjoy dinner at the outdoor seating area at Abe Fisher in Philadelphia
Locals enjoy a meal at Abe Fisher’s streatery in Rittenhouse Photo by Colby Kingston

ABE FISHER: Inside Abe Fisher’s heated streatery, you’ll start with warm, challah parker house rolls and herby cheese spread. Next, choose your appetizer (strong recommendation for the latke fries with herb sour cream and applesauce), main and dessert, or go for the Montreal smoked short ribs, which you can order for the whole table. On especially chilly evenings, the staff’s been known to bring out soup—on the house. 1623 Sansom Street, 215-867-0088

Warm up over dinner and cocktails in the cool greenhouses at Harper’s Garden.

HARPER’S GARDEN: Center City eatery Harper’s Garden features a stunning, all-weather outdoor dining patio and trellis that’s blooming with plants and flowers. Here’s one major plus: In addition to the regular outdoor seating, you can also reserve a table for your party of up to six in one of the private, heated garden “greenhouses.” Beyond the lovely ambience, you’ll also enjoy a menu focused on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and an all-star cocktail (and mocktail!) list. 31 S. 18th Street, 267-886-8552

A waiter at Oyster House presents a plate of oysters garnished with a lemon peel
Photo courtesy Oyster House

OYSTER HOUSE: Exciting news: the 1500 block of Sansom Street is still closed to traffic—and open to diners—indefinitely! Reserve a table at Philly’s beloved Oyster House; and since you’ll be sharing the street with guests at its neighboring eateries, it’ll feel like you’re dining at a block-long outdoor dining bonanza. Check out happy hour (yes, happy hour—it still exists!) drink and oyster specials Tuesday to Friday from 4 to 6pm. 1516 Sansom Street, 215-567-7683

RELATED: A new bill would make it easier to build outdoor dining setups in Philadelphia. But those rules mostly apply to the whitest, wealthiest neighborhoods.

The outdoor seating are at Via Locusta near Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy the Schulson Collective

VIA LOCUSTA: The Schulson Collective’s upscale pasta spot in Rittenhouse pretties up its outdoor “veranda” with potted shrubs and eye-pleasing mint green chairs, and keeps things toasty on chilly winter nights with a handful of heat lamps. The pasta here is freshly handmade with locally sourced, fresh-milled flour. Have a plate of creamy ravioli and top if off with some shareable small plates and one of six specialty cocktails. 1723 Locust Street, 215-642-0020

WHERE TO EAT IN AND NEAR MIDTOWN VILLAGE

Photo courtesy Bondfire Media / Little Nonna’s

LITTLE NONNA’S: It doesn’t get much more secluded—or romantic—than the patio at Gayborhood Italian restaurant Little Nonna’s. Accessed by going through the restaurant (mask on!), the enchanted, heated hideaway is surrounded by four brick walls and sheltered by wooden canopies draped with hanging lights. Be sure to book early—and ask for the patio, because sidewalk seating is available, too. And bring a hearty appetite for Chef Turney’s menu of traditional Italian comfort foods, like BVP meatballs swimming in Sunday gravy, spaghetti and pan-seared gnocchi. 1234 Locust Street, 215-546-2100

MERCATO: Dine outside under heated lamps at this enchantingly lit corner Italian-American BYOB in Washington West. The cooking traditions of old-world Italy take center stage on a menu of beautifully prepared plates like braised short ribs, steamy winter risotto and a “pyramid pasta” that’s topped with lobster, shrimp, ricotta, asparagus, tomatoes and lobster cream sauce. Don’t forget the wine! 1216 Spruce Street, 215-985-2962

WHERE TO EAT IN OLD CITY AND SOCIETY HILL

Photo courtesy Bloomsday

BLOOMSDAY: Evenings at Head House Square are looking pretty quaint these days—four restaurants, including Bloomsday, have set up tables and chairs along the brick sidewalk, cobblestone street and under the Shambles with twinkly lights above and heaters to keep you warm. We ❤️ Bloomsday for its weekend brunch, never-disappointing wine list (including more than a dozen local wines that are actually good) and impressive tinned fish selection—served with olives, crostini and lemon. It’s the simple things. 414 S. 2nd St., 267-319-8018

The outdoor seating area under the Head House Shambles at Pizzeria Stella
Photo courtesy Starr Restaurants

PIZZERIA STELLA: Outdoor seating at Stephen Starr’s Pizzeria Stella is technically street-side, but its location under the Head House Shambles earns it enough points to nab a place on this list. Tables, trendy red chairs and heaters are situated among the brick pillars at night only along the historic Society Hill structure, giving diners ample space to enjoy the pizzeria’s signature wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas with gutsy Italian wines. 420 S. 2nd Street, 215-320-8000

The outdoor seating area at Talula's Garden, just off Washington Square in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy Talula’s Garden

TALULA’S GARDEN: The lush, tucked-away little patio at Aimee Olexy & Stephen Starr’s popular farm-to-table eatery is always in high demand, and with good reason: It’s incredibly pretty. And now, stocked with heaters and a new winter menu with treats like cauliflower soup and smoked pork belly with apples and cabbage, the garden—and quaint streatery facing Washington Square Park—are more than ready for chiller nights (and brunch times, too). 210 West Washington Square, 215-592-7787

WHERE TO EAT IN SOUTH PHILLY

The outdoor seating area at American Sardine Bar in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy American Sardine Bar

AMERICAN SARDINE BAR: Try to get in early enough to snag a spot on the backyard patio, which is blocked off from the street and seriously decked out with over-the-top Christmas lights and plenty of heaters so diners can enjoy the space as the weather gets chillier. A chalkboard menu lists the day’s offerings, including a variety of sandwiches and comfort foods, loads of beers and refreshing seasonal cocktails. 1800 Federal Street, 215-334-2337

Photo courtesy Irwin’s

IRWIN’S: Did you know? The Bok Building restaurant with sweeping views of South Philadelphia is open all year! Former Res Ipsa chef Michael Vincent Ferreri is still cooking his beloved spreads of modern Sicillian plates and fresh pasta, such as bucatini with tomato and ricotta and gnocchi sardi with eggplant and chili. Wine director Noah Burke’s worldly wine list will surprise and delight—and you can’t go wrong with a cocktail. (Amari, vodka, fig leaf, and lemon anyone?) 800 Mifflin Street, 215-693-6206

This photo of Le Virtu accompanies an article about the best and most beautiful places to eat outdoors in Philadelphia
Photo by A. Ricketts / Visit Philadelphia

LE VIRTU: This Italian restaurant on East Passyunk Avenue specializes in food from the Abruzzo region of Italy (think hearty seafood stews and heaping, flavorful plates of fresh pasta). The spacious patio has plenty of heaters and is prettily adorned with lights, shrubs and potted plants and big canopies to keep you dry. 1927 E. Passyunk Avenue, 215-271-5626

WHERE TO EAT IN AND NEAR THE ITALIAN MARKET

This photo of a couple eating at Alma Del Mar in the Italian Market accompanies an article about the best and most beautiful places to eat outdoors in Philadelphia
Photo by Neal Santos / Visit Philadelphia

ALMA DEL MAR: This Italian Market seafood spot got a dose of pizazz from the Queer Eye crew in 2019 (watch episode eight, “Father Knows Fish,” to get to know the sweet and spunky family owners). It’s the sister restaurant to Marco’s Fish & Crab House just down the street, and it opened in the midst of the pandemic. Luckily, the empty lot next door was easily transformed into a patio with plenty of seating—now covered and kept cozy with heat lamps. 1007 S. 9th Street, 215-644-8158

The outdoor dining area at Italian Market Mexican restaurant Blue Corn, decorated with hanging lights and heat lamps
Photo courtesy Blue Corn

BLUE CORN: Dine quite literally on the Italian Market in Blue Corn’s covered streatery, complete with heaters and festive twinkly lights. Enjoy tacos, tortas, burritos and specialties like the huarache gratin—a thick tortilla topped with salsa verde, queso fresco, refried beans, onions, nopales, and melted chihuahua cheese. Pro tip: It’s a great place to celebrate a birthday; they’ll blast jovial music over the loudspeakers in your honor (plus… margaritas). 940 S. 9th Street, 215-925-1010

Chef Cristina Martinez, of Casa Mexico and South Philly Barbacoa
Chef Cristina Martinez, courtesy of Casa Mexico

CASA MEXICO: So you’ve probably been to its sister restaurant, South Philly Barbacoa (go on Monday to skip the weekend lines!), but have you tried Cristina Martinez’s (pictured above) new spot? It opened just before the pandemic hit and—thanks to the charming heated streatery on the market, excellent food and warm service—it’s still thriving. From the huevos rancheros and chilaquiles (brunch) to consomme and azteca soup (lunch) to moles and ceviche (dinner), nothing on the menu will let you down. 1134 S. 9th Street, 267-470-1464

Photo courtesy Kalaya

KALAYA: Dine in a converted shipping container adorned with bright floral paintings and charming lights at the always-busy Thai hit. Kick off your night with stunning starters like kanom jeeb nok (bird-shaped dumplings with fish, caramelized onion & sweet radish) and shaw muang (vibrant blue flower-shaped dumplings with ground chicken filling, cucumber, red chili & cilantro), then dig into herb-loaded salads, rich curries, noodles (and) or stir-fry. 764 S. 9th Street, 215-385-3777

This photo of The Good King Tavern accompanies an article about the best and most beautiful places to eat outdoors in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy The Good King Tavern

THE GOOD KING TAVERN: The Queen Village French tavern took over a section of Kater Street with its charming streatery. Order an expertly crafted cocktail and check the chalkboard menu for starters like duck confit and steak tartare. The socca—a crepe made with chickpea flour—is the perfect substantial (and classic French) dish to share with friends. And don’t miss the restaurant’s James Beard-nominated upstairs bar à vins le Caveau—ask your server for wine recommendations. 614 S. 7th St., 215-625-3700

WHERE TO EAT IN AND NEAR THE RIVER WARDS

This photo of Germantown Garden accompanies an article about the best and most beautiful places to eat outdoors in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy Germantown Garden

GERMANTOWN GARDEN: You’ll feel kind of like you’re in a cozy treehouse at this Northern Liberties beer garden where the fireplace sits under wooden canopies. Seafood and fried chicken is the specialty here, with options ranging from shrimp po’ boys and crispy chicken tenders to shareable seafood boils piled with snow crab, shrimp, potatoes, corn and andouille sausage. And don’t miss winter drinks like Appalachian Coffee, Poppa’s Cider and Adult Hot Chocolate. 1029 Germantown Avenue, 267-214-0086

Photo courtesy Juno

JUNO: This festive Spring Garden joint has added a pop of cheer to these otherwise dark times with colorful seating, vibrant wall murals and kitschy decor like neon-lit signage and a large model ship. Come here throughout the season—they have individual greenhouses and an expansive covered heated patio—anytime you’re in the mood for frothy margaritas and Mexican-American fare like guacamole, meat- and veggie-filled tacos, and quesadillas. Reservations required. 1033 Spring Garden Street, 267-639-2892

The outdoor seating area at Silk City Diner
Photo courtesy Silk City Diner

THE GARDEN AT SILK CITY: The kitschy artifact-filled, covered and heated outdoor garden at Silk City is back with extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Regulars will be happy to know that the diner’s beloved frozen drink machine will be cranking out delicious, boozy concoctions, and favorites like the Thai chili wings and spiced chicken sammy will be on the menu along with a brand new selection of vegan fare. 435 Spring Garden Street, 215-592-8838

The beautiful outdoor patio at Levantine-inspired Fishtown restaurant Suraya
Photo courtesy Suraya

SURAYA: One of the best restaurants in the city offers one of the most beautiful outdoor dining spaces: Suraya, the Levantine-inspired Fishtown star, takes reservations for seats in its 5,000-square-foot outdoor lounge and garden, a space characterized by Persian ironwood trees, Arabic art, fountains, and a fire pit. It’s quite the romantic, transporting escape, and it’s also heated—as is the patio seating near the garden entrance. Reservations required. 1535 N. Front Street, 215-302-1900

WHERE TO EAT IN FAIRMOUNT

Outdoor seating in cabins at Bar Hygge in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy Bar Hygge

BAR HYGGE: Have a seat under the heater-equipped awning and indulge in the hot cocktail menu—including mulled pinot noir with maple syrup, spices and prickly pear; and a hot toddy with Rye whiskey, Earl Grey, lemon and spiced vanilla—and comfort food like buttermilk fried chicken and steak frites with Hygge fries. 1720 Fairmount Avenue, 215-765-2274

The outdoor seating area at La Calaca Feliz in the heart of Fairmount neighborhood in Philadelphia
Photo courtesy La Calaca Feliz

LA CALACA FELIZ: This charming contemporary-Mexican spot in the heart of Fairmount boasts a menu of well-executed crowd-pleasers with occasional surprises (try the bacon fig guacamole) and compelling tequila and margarita lists. On top of that, it also has a twee little courtyard, hidden from the street, with all the wonderful trappings of your typical al fresco “dining room” (Charm? Check. Trees? Check. String lights? Check.). And yet it’s always remained something of a neighborhood secret. Well … until now. Heaters and a tent are keeping the place cozy well into the cold-weather months. 2321 Fairmount Avenue, 215-787-9930

Header photo courtesy Juno

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil comments. If your post is offensive, not only will we not publish it, we'll laugh at you while hitting delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story