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October 10, 2013

Roundup: Where To Extend The Outdoor Dining Season In Philadelphia At Restaurants With Heat Lamps Or Fire Pits

Silk City's large, tropics-inspired outdoor patio is a prime alfresco hangout even in the fall thanks to a number of standing heat lamps throughout the backyard garden. (Photo by J. Fusco for GPTMC)

Here at Uwishunu, we really love outdoor dining. From sidewalk seating and open air courtyards to rooftop bars and beer gardens, we just really, really like to dine and hang out outdoors whenever the opportunity presents itself. So spring, summer and fall are three seasons that are near and dear to our hearts.

And while, up to this week, this fall has been pretty warm — Indian summer-like, really — cooler temps are finally hitting Philadelphia. But that doesn’t mean the end of outdoor dining; instead, it just means you need to know where to look for outdoor dining places that add a little extra warmth to their outdoor dining areas with heat lamps, fire pits and/or blankets.

If you feel the same way, you’re in luck.

Tons of bars and restaurants in Philadelphia and beyond install heat lamps or fire pits for maximum comfort even in the chillier months of October and November. An outdoor drink or meal by a heat lamp or fire pit is sure to keep you just as warm, or warmer, as you might be inside of the restaurant.

But remember, heat lamps and fire pits are not guaranteed to be on at all times, so call ahead and check so you don’t end up outside without any heat.

If you know of any other great spots with heat lamps, fire pits or blankets, let us know in the comments below. And if you’re a restaurant, let us know if you’ll be adding blankets and/or heat lamps to extend your outdoor dining area and we’ll be sure to add to you to the list.

Our guide, broken down by neighborhood, below.

Center City and Old City

 
Stratus Rooftop Lounge: Our first two spots on this list are at the Hotel Monaco Philadelphia because the hotel is doing an awesome job of keeping diners warm when they are outside at both of the hotel’s two dining venues. Stratus Rooftop Lounge, situated 11 floors up on the hotel’s roof, has introduced a different kind of outdoor heating: a 30-foot fire wall just behind the seating area to keep you cozy well into the fall. And the vistas from the rooftop locale aren’t that bad either.

Red Owl Tavern: Hotel Monaco’s ground floor restaurant, Red Owl Tavern, is also innovating when it comes to keeping its outdoor diners warm. Red Owl boasts some pretty amazing sidewalk seating literally adjacent to Independence Mall — something no one else can really offer — and new this fall for Red Owl’s outdoor seating: blankets. This is an awesome, affordable and very environmentally-friendly way to extend the outdoor dining season. When it’s cooler out, Red Owl provides blankets to people who would like to dine outside but need a little extra warmth, which we think is kind of brilliant.

Little Nonna’s: The 40-seat backyard garden at Little Nonna’s remains open into the fall thanks to standing heat lamps around the intimate alfresco area. Little Nonna’s, the newest eatery from Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, the duo behind Barbuzzo, Lolita and more, provides diners with home-style Italian cooking — think house-ground meatballs, crabs and spaghetti and a fresh take on traditional red sauce.

Parc: Not only does Parc have the most outdoor seating in the Rittenhouse neighborhood, it’s also one of the best people-watching spots in the entire city. More than 75 seats wrap around the restaurant on Locust and 18th Streets. You don’t have to forgo a coveted alfresco spot once brisk weather hits; there are numerous heat lamps affixed beneath the restaurant’s awnings — perfect for morning, noon or night.

Pub and Kitchen: P&K underwent renovations earlier this year. One of the results: new overhead heat lamps above Pub and Kitchen‘s sidewalk tables. All the more better to sit down and fill up on a delicious fall meal. The outdoor tables are also very popular for weekend brunch.

Talula’s Garden: The dreamy outdoor patio at Talula’s Garden not only invites guests to dine under an illuminated setting — hello, twinkly lights! — but it also keeps its ever-populated patio tables set well into the fall thanks to standing outdoor heat lamps.

Rouge: Steps from Parc, Rouge started it all back in 1998 when it opened its sidewalk cafe on Rittenhouse Square, the very first in Philadelphia. It’s a great spot to enjoy early evening cocktails with friends, or a full meal, beneath the warm heat lamps along the restaurant’s stretch of 18th Street. Some pretty great people-watching to boot.

a.kitchen: Located along 18th Street just above Walnut at the AKA Rittenhouse Square, a.kitchen offers nearly year-round outdoor dining thanks to overhead heat lamps. Snacking on creative small plates while people-watching in the warmth? Done. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrity diners.

Pizzeria Stella: Stephen Starr’s neighborhood pizzeria, Pizzeria Stella, specializes in wood-fired pizza and invites you to dine outside even when there is a nip in the air. Sit below one of the restaurant’s standing heat lamps while chowing down on some top-of-the-line ‘za.

Twenty Manning Grill: With heat lamps installed in the awnings above their outdoor tables, Twenty Manning Grill rocks sidewalk dining well into fall on one of Rittenhouse’s most charming blocks.

Drury Beer Garden: Located just off 13th and Sansom Streets behind its parent restaurant, Opa, Drury Beer Garden allows guests to indulge in bites and sips as heat lamps keep the outdoor area toasty warm. Grab a $6 pint of spiked lemonade, iced tea or punch and you’ll practically feel like you’re on a tropical vacation.

Tria: Electric lamps at both Tria locations, Rittenhouse and Washington Square West, mean you can enjoy your wine, beer and snacks under the evening sky without the necessity of bundling up in a scarf and gloves. Layering, however, is always recommended.

Stratus Rooftop Lounge at the Hotel Monaco in the Historic District has a fire wall placed (safely) behind some of the outdoor seating to warm guests when it's a little brisk outside. (Photo courtesy Hotel Monaco Philadelphia)

The Dandelion: The Dandelion, a Gastropub located mere steps from Rittenhouse Square, channels England through its decor, food and drinks. Stop by for its classic beer-battered fish and chips, and in the fall, dine below a number of outdoor heat lamps at its sidewalk tables.

Continental Midtown: The award-winning rooftop deck at Continental Midtown lets guests enjoy the Center City skyline view all year long thanks to heat lamps. The indoor section of the rooftop boasts a roaring fire to warm up guests as well.

The Corner: Whether you’re sitting outside for lunch, happy hour or dinner, the rooftop deck at The Corner has heat lamps to make sure you stay warm as you chow down. Keep in mind, the patio is open from Tuesday through Saturday.

Raw Sushi and Sake Lounge: The folks at Raw want you to enjoy your sushi and sake in peace without the worry of cold weather if you choose to sit outside. The courtyard includes heat lamps and tarps overhead to keep you as warm as can be.

Zavino: Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the streets of Midtown Village while sitting down with a glass of wine and some artisan pizza into the late fall with Zavino’s heat lamps.

Sampan: Tucked behind the restaurant, The Graffiti Bar at Sampan makes sure diners stay as warm as the people inside with heat lamps stationed all over the outdoor section.

Varga Bar: Outdoor heat lamps overhead at Washington Square West’s Varga Bar keep you warm as you enjoy food and drinks while sitting along 10th Street.

More bars and restaurants with toasty heat lamps and fire pits, below.

Devon: Neighboring Parc and Rouge, Devon also rocks the heat lamps in the awnings above their sidewalk seating, meaning all three restaurants on Rittenhouse Square reassuringly provide supplemental heat for your outdoor dining comfort. So if one place appears to be full on your next visit, you can conveniently try next door.

La Fontana Della Citta: This Rittenhouse Square Italian staple features heat lamps placed overhead to keep you warm as you sit outside on 17th Street. Hint: order the gnocchi.

Cuba Libre: Cuba Libre invites guests to experience the true essence of Cuba (warm weather!) while dining outside on the Old City restaurant’s patio. Enjoy a curbside margarita paired with tasty tapas plates like shrimp ceviche, charcuterie and guacamole without fear of an evening chill — the restaurant’s heat lamps are on full-blast at night.

Northern Liberties, Fishtown and Fairmount

 

Frankford Hall: When it comes to outdoor dining and drinking in cooler weather, Fishtown beer garden, Frankford Hall is a Hall-of-Famer. Seriously, this place has effectively made their outdoor beer garden usable year-round via a multi-pronged attack that includes 15+ heat lamps, fire pits and a super-charged overhead heating system. Grab a liter of beer and a substantial burger and your body temperature will be just right. Also, Frankford sell s’mores kits for you to make on the open fire pit in cooler months. It’s pretty amazing.

Fette Sau: Similar to its next-door neighbor, Frankford Hall, Fette Sau offers barbecue lovers indoor and outdoor seating all year long. Fette Sau boasts super strong heat lamps in its front courtyard to keep you warm as you chow down on some of the best barbecue in town.

Johnny Brenda’s: The Fishtown bar, restaurant and music venue boasts overhead heat lamps built into its awnings. Enjoy an alfresco bite, a craft brew and the sights of Girard Avenue at Johnny Brenda’s even after the temps drop.

Gunners Run: Enjoy the sports games or movies being played on the jumbotron at the Piazza at Schmidts as the temperatures drop, thanks to the heat lamps in the outdoor section of Gunners Run.

Jerry’s Bar: Jerry’s Bar, a recent addition to Northern Liberties, provides fine food and drinks to the masses. Its outdoor patio plays home to a number of overhead heat lamps for those wishing to drink and dine outside in autumn.

Silk City: The festive outdoor beer garden at Silk City is open in the fall, but not winter. Guests are kept warm with standing heat lamps throughout the courtyard.

Overlooking Rittenhouse Square, Parc has overhead heaters on full-blast all fall long. (Photo by K. Ciappa for GPTMC)

PYT: The hearty burgers topped with a variety of droolworthy treats (think everything from fried pickles to chocolate-covered bacon) at PYT can be enjoyed outside in front of two outdoor fireplaces in the colder months. For those who are especially warm, cool off with one of the eatery’s popular spiked milkshakes.

The Barnes Foundation: This one may not be a restaurant, but it’s an alfresco spot that’s sure to keep you toasty. The Barnes Foundation’s West Terrace welcomes guests to a large, outdoor fireplace for the perfect spot for a weekend hang.

London Grill: The tables lining Fairmount Avenue and 23rd Street invite the crowds out for an outdoor meal and the standing heat lamps at London Grill make the idea of an alfresco dinner even more appetizing.

Fare Restaurant: Nestled between the restaurant and its neighboring building, Fare’s outdoor patio stays cozy and warm even on the more chilly nights with the help of the barricaded area and several flaming heat lamps. Not only do they fight the cold, but they also create a great ambiance that makes you feel like you’re at an upscale bonfire. Fare is also organic and sustainable with almost everything from its food to its cocktails to its business practices.

University City

 

Han Dynasty: The super popular Han Dynasty University City, offers guests alfresco dining paired with patio fireplace. Indulge in the tasty Chinese food and yummy Scorpion Bowl drinks beside a roaring fireplace.

Landmark Americana: The University City bar and restaurant Landmark Americana tends to their guests’ every need with delicious food and drinks and outdoor fire pits that are turned on full blast when the weather allows.

City Tap House: City Tap House’s stone fire pits are turned on every night, weather permitting. Grab a beer and bite outdoors at this University City staple on Walnut Street.

Beyond Center City

 

Bainbridge Street Barrel House: Bainbridge Street Barrel House, a relatively-new craft beer lover’s haven in Queen Village, ups the run-of-the-mill craft beer bar ante with a plethora of outdoor seating. Heat lamps allow for outdoor meals and drinks late into the fall.

Bridget Foy’s: The South Street staple’s front porch is a great place for people watching and a great place to enjoy food and drinks, even in the colder months. The covered seating area right on South Street provides guests who choose to sit outside with warmth from their heat lamps.

Avenida: The tucked-away backyard garden at Avenida in Mt. Airy offers alfresco diners a cozy spot to enjoy varied Latin American fare. Our tip? Stop by for taco Tuesday which promises $5 margaritas and a $20 taco meal.

Derek’s: Situated along Main Street in Manayunk, Derek’s treats guests to the sights and sounds of the downtown street through a number of street-side tables. Overhead heaters keep guests toasty while enjoying the extensive brunch, lunch and dinner menus featuring new American cuisine.

Azie on Main: An homage to the varied cuisines of Asia, Azie on Main keeps its outdoor patio open through the fall thanks to a number of fire pits. The Main Line eatery offers extensive lunch, dinner, brunch menus, and even a gluten-free menu for outdoor (and indoor) diners.

Frankford Hall's outdoor beer garden keeps the heat in with a number of standing heat lamps and fire pits throughout the space. (Photo by T. Scheid for GPTMC)

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JRuss says:

Thanks for this list. Any cafes or more casual dining that people can suggest? Bonus would be places that are dog friendly!

Jillian Wilson says:

Hello! Frankford Hall, Jerry’s Bar, The Corner, City Tap House, Bainbridge Street Barrel House, Silk City and Drury Beer Garden are just a number of the more casual spots on this list. As far as dog-friendly, we suggest contacting the restaurants individually regarding their pet policy. Thanks!

Chris says:

Varga’s on 10th St, not 11th.