We can’t hide our excitement about today’s weather. Plus, tomorrow, Saturday, March 19, is this year’s official last day of winter. On account of that glorious date, as well as today’s gorgeous forecast, we’re providing you with some top picks for restaurants and bars where you can celebrate outdoors.
Philadelphia has the alfresco dining thing down pat. Case in point:
• Parc: Not only does Parc have the most outdoor seating in the Rittenhouse neighborhood, it’s also arguably the best people-watching spot in the whole city. More than 75 seats wrap around the restaurant, which has an airy and authentic French brasserie feel.
• Rouge: Rouge started it all back in 1998 when it opened its sidewalk cafe on Rittenhouse Square, the very first in Philadelphia. Today it still offers a great park view, spring breezes and delicious fare.
• Twenty Manning Grill: Twenty Manning has some of the best outdoor seating in Philadelphia. Sit on Manning Street, a side street with very little car traffic, and enjoy the Pan Asian fare.
• Pub & Kitchen: This hot spot offers outdoor seating for up to 40 along 20th Street. There are awnings above as well as generous tree-cover. Go for happy hour, available 4-6 p.m. during the week, for $1 oysters, $2 bar snacks and $3 domestic draft beers.
• The Plaza Cafe at the Comcast Center (by Table 31): Orange umbrellas provide shade while dancing fountains offer a bit of visual entertainment, to say nothing of the tallest skyscraper in Pennsylvania standing just 50 feet away. Insider tip: the cafe offers its awesome happy hour ($5 cocktails and wine, $3 beers) Monday-Friday 4-7 p.m., and all day Saturday.
• Continental Midtown: The rooftop lounge is Midtown’s pièce de résistance (and, in face, recently earned a spot on USA Today’s list of 10 best rooftop bars in the U.S.). Go for happy hour or a full-on dining experience: accompanying the eclectic cuisine is an extensive martini list that boasts several interesting combinations (and even more interesting names).
• Waterworks: The setting is nothing short of spectacular. Sitting right below the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Water Works Restaurant and Lounge has an amazing view of the Schuylkill River and Boathouse Row, and an atmosphere that belies its location minutes from downtown. The majestic setting is ideal for a relaxed evening meal, or the grand (indeed) Sunday brunch.
More options, below.
• East Passyunk: Head to Le Virtu May 5, 6-10 p.m., as they officially open their authentic Abruzzese outdoor dining space, complete with meat on the grill, craft beer and artisanal wine (Get tickets ($45) by calling (215) 271-5626.) The Campo area will remain open through mid-October for alfresco dining. Also check out Cantina Los Caballitos for margaritas made with fresh-squeezed fruits like guava and blood orange, the perfect beverage to sip on while dining alfresco. And Izumi lets you eat delicious sushi by the picturesque outdoor fountain.
• Northern Liberties: An excellent spot for weekend brunch, the large roofdeck at Standard Tap is also a great place for after-work drinks and/or dinner. The food has always been one of the reasons it sets itself apart from other bars in the city, and the beer on draft is all local. Also, Bar Ferdinand is stylish, sophisticated and fun with an infusion of authentic Spanish flare. The outdoor seating is spacious but covered to fend off too much sunshine and spring breeze. Similarly, El Camino Real has several picnic-bench-style tables along 2nd Street and Liberties Walk, and the brand new Gunner’s Run has just opened at the south end of the Piazza at Schmidt’s.
• Midtown Village: The private roofdeck at The Corner, coupled with expertly mixed drinks and satisfying bites to eat, offers a well-rounded outdoor drinking or dining experience. Get $4 beers, $5 wines, $6 cocktails and $5 apps during happy hour, 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Also check out Zavino, El Vez, Tria, and Varga Bar for excellent outdoor seating options.
• Old City: Franklin Fountain’s outdoor tables seat 35, so you can work away at your ice cream sundae without rushing to give up your seat. Nearby Pizzicato also offers ample outside seating, the perfect contrast to the restaurant’s deliciously warm brick oven pizza. And Positano Coast has outdoor seating (two patios and a terrace) elevated above street level for even more of a remove from the hustle of city life. Plus, the original Continental boasts nice alfresco tables as well.
• University City: Ring in spring on the City Tap House patio Saturday, April 2, from 1-4 p.m., with a pig roast, live music, Stoudt’s beer and a Grand BBQ Buffet. Get tickets ($40) online. This place has serious outdoor dining real estate: the upper terrace has five stone fire pits, and the lower terrace overlooks stately Walnut Street. Also check out Marathon (spacious boat-deck-like patio strung with twinkling lights), Zocalo (nice backyard, plus complimentary chips and salsa and nachos on Mondays and Tuesdays) and Rx Restaurant (quaint porch seating on a quiet West Philadelphia corner and delicious, locally sourced brunch).