Everything You Need To Know About Outdoor Dining in Philly
These patios and rooftop bars are open, but with significant changes.
When restaurants and bars were ordered to close their dine-in spaces in March because of COVID-19, many of us showed our continued support by ordering takeout and delivery instead. But now that Philly’s reopening has officially begun, you might be wondering exactly when and how you’ll be able to eat out again -- especially now with warm summer weather in full effect.
For better or for worse, Philadelphia has hit the Yellow Phase of coronavirus-induced quarantine, which means we’re still better off if we stay home, but the restaurant industry has a chance for some recovery with renewed (and socially distant) outdoor dining.
What do the current restrictions look like?
While in the Yellow Phase, the restaurant patrons are required to wear masks at all times, unless seated at their table, and to continue monitoring social distancing. Restaurants and bars are required to cap capacity at 50%, and it’s your best bet to reserve a table early for optimum safety. Plus, don’t plan to pay with cash.
What’s next for Philly?
When the city hits Green Phase, restaurants will be permitted to offer indoor dining but with similar guidelines concerning face masks and capacity. Though dining is being offered, delivery, takeout, and curbside pickup are still preferable right now -- and you can get it at pretty much any place that’s open for outdoor seating.
Where are some of the best outdoor dining spots around the city?
If you’re itching to get out of the house and remember life before mid-March, there are plenty of options to choose from -- honestly, if you’ve been craving your favorite restaurant for three months, there’s a decent chance it’s open and trying to make outdoor dining happen. We’ve gathered more than two dozen of our favorites that are setting up shop with care and precision.
Grab al taglio style slices and gelato at one of the few outdoor tables at Alice. Call ahead to make a reservation for lunch or dinner.
Amari’s is back with a Jazz brunch in tow. Head over for Sunday brunch to nosh on waffles and shrimp on grits to the sound of life coming back outdoors.
Booker’s is ready to get back into the brunch game with mimosas ready to go at 10am at one of its sidewalk tables. Online ordering is still available, too, if you’re not quite ready to dine out yet.
Return to Cafe La Maude for daily brunch starting at 8am, or dinner Thursday-Saturday. The French-Lebanese cafe has sidewalk seating and is serving the full menu.
The 2nd Street outpost of Stephen Starr’s restaurant/martini bar is open with very reasonably spaced outdoor seating in the thick of the Old City restaurant district. Shoestring fries are calling! You can also check out Starr’s Frankford Hall in Fishtown, taking limited patrons for outdoor seating in the back.
Baltimore Avenue Eri-Ethiopian staple Dahlak is reopening its backyard patio with a cap of 50. Reservations are available but not required for beer and doro wat.
Fare rolled out a handful of carefully placed outdoor tables on its sidewalk and outdoor garden, ushering a return of brunch across from the Eastern State Penitentiary. The takeout window is also open, and reservations aren’t required.
Marc Vetri’s hard-to-get pasta bar got even harder to get when shutdown struck shortly after its opening. Now the spot is open for both takeout and outdoor dining, with a few tables carefully scattered on the sidewalk outside its Christian Street spot. Tables are all first-come, first-serve.
What greater ambiance is there than the El underpass? Front Street Cafe is open for farm-to-table dining from 9am-9pm Friday and Saturday, plus takeout from the cafe after 4pm.
The cozy neighborhood bar is rolling out glass partitions to separate outdoor dining spaces, aiming for a total of 20-30 outdoor seats that can seat groups of two or four. It’s a delicious option for a super filling boozy brunch.
The mini pop-up garden next to Jet on South Street is open for a second summer, switching gears for table service (to avoid ordering at the bar) where you can enjoy summery drinks or even grab one to go. Reservations aren’t required.
The seasonal outdoor garden is back in business, this time with reservations. Secure a table online (or try your luck with a walk-in) to eat and drink beneath the twinkly lights. IBG is open daily and late hours on the weekend, and they’re working on order-at-the-table tech that can also be used for paying by phone. There will be 180 seats available.
Get a taste of some fine Italian dining at the patio of Le Virtu. The full menu is available for dinner seven days a week when you make a rez online or by calling, plus the giant mural doesn’t make for bad ambiance.
You can have a very intimate dinner at Laurel, which already only seats 22 on a normal day. Reserve dinner for one of the two nightly slots and have access to the one-and-only outdoor garden table, where you can enjoy a whopping nine-course meal.
El Merkury is reopening for outdoor seating on Chestnut Street, so get ready to feast on fresh pupusas, taquitos, churros, and other Central American street food. During quarantine, El Merkury has teamed up with World Central Kitchen to help deliver meals to those in need.
Another summer staple for many Philadelphians is also open for outdoor dining. Overlooking the river at Morgan’s Pier tables of 10 people or less are available for reservation. Just don’t show up without a reservation, because you won’t be served otherwise. Standing areas will remain closed until Philly hits the green phase.
The beer garden near Sto’s is open for laidback summery drinking. Reservations are available but you can also try walk-up seating on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The front seat of the neighborhood is back for reasonably spaced outdoor dining. Call or make reservations online to secure a table and get to eating fine French bread instead of trying to make it yourself at home.
Airy outdoor dining is available (as long as you wear a mask), and the restaurant is offering a QR reader for safer access to the menu. Make a reservation (and be on time!) to enjoy seafood-centric Italian dishes.
Twentieth street just got a bit busier with P&K open for socially distanced outdoor dining. The restaurant is open daily for dining and takeout, so get a fresh burger and maybe an Aperol Spritz while you can.
Sidecar is continuing curbside and delivery while rolling out a few outdoor tables to the corner bar. Head over daily for updating specials and craft beer fit for foodies and beer snobs.
The Korean gastropub is offering spaced outdoor seating and a tweaked ordering method as Philly carries on in Yellow Phase. Customers can order food and drink ahead of time and then grab a seat when picking up. The spot hops to have table service up and running soon.
Order from a curated menu of drinks and Jamaican-Korean fusion to enjoy in Philly’s hilly neighborhood. There are a very limited number of tables available for both reservations and walk-ins.
The gorgeous wedding-worthy garden at Suraya is open for business, so you can grab a coffee and pastry, and bask in a fresh setting that doesn’t involve a Zoom meeting. The garden has a lot of precautions in place for safety -- reservations are required and each table has a set time frame depending on the size of the party.
Twisted Tail has been dishing out all its best southern plates all during quarantine (along with some cocktails), but now you can have them fresh from the kitchen for limited outdoor seating in the evening. Call ahead to reserve a table.
Yards has expanded its outdoor seating options to cover some of 5th street, offering seats for groups up to six, and requiring patrons wear masks unless seated (in line with Philly’s Yellow Phase regulations). The full menu is available and seats are first come, first serve.
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