June 23, 2012

Where to Sit Outside This Summer

It's my favorite time of year... time to sit outside! At least once per week for the next 2-3 months whenever Bradd asks me "where do you want to go tonight," I am guaranteed to respond with "I dunno, someplace we can sit outside..."

Philadelphia's outdoor dining options have grown tremendously in the past few years. If you ask people where to eat/drink en plein air, many will suggest the Graffiti Bar in the back of Sampan, Stephen Starr's Frankford Hall and the new Morgan's Pier. We are anxious to check out Morgan's Pier as advocates for better usage of Penn's Landing.

Foobooz has a nice long Outdoor Dining Guide, with many, many great restaurants to choose from. If you're more looking to sit and sip some drinks with friends, maybe/maybe not grab a bite, here are just a few of many spots to consider:

big Cantina empanadas
Cantina Los Caballitos - Passayunk - Cantina Los Caballitos maintains a large, stone-covered, twinkle-lit empty lot in the heart of burgeoning Passayunk. Finally checked off our bucket list this Spring, it's the perfect spot to sip margaritas with friends and munch on yummy Mexican food. Get a pitcher of Classic margaritas for $20, or pick from one of 11 flavors for $24.

During our visit, everyone's food was great - we recommend the pork picadillo empanadas and pork carnitas tacos. Friends also tried some really good entrees off the specials board. Open for brunch/lunch too.

City Tap House - University City - The couple-year-old City Tap House is seated atop Capogiro, CVS and Jimmy Johns in The Radian apartment building on Walnut Street. Now might be a good time to go when there aren't as many students around. It's surprisingly large inside but also has a great two-tiered outdoor terrace with tables, couches and stone fire pits. Food is new American pub fare (which we have not tried) and the craft beer list is pretty long. But honestly, you know we had you at "fire pits."

The patio at Landmark
Landmark America - University City - Admittedly, we haven't actually been to the U City location, but Bradd drives past it everyday on his commute and gets jealous of all the people outside drinking and having fun. I have tried the West Chester spot and the menu offers decent food with something for everyone. But Landmark's sizable outdoor patio, bar and fire pits at the corner of 34th and Market are the main draw. Yes! More fire pits!!

XIX (photo from visitphilly.com)
XIX - Center City - The Bellevue's 19th floor ritzy bar, XIX, is a good place to stop for happy hour before going elsewhere for dinner. It's half off regularly-pricey signature cocktails and wines, but there are no specials on appetizers. Regardless, the most impressive part is the balcony. If you can score one of few tables on the south or east sides of the building, you'll have one of the highest and furthest outdoor views of the city. Watch for wind to steal away your money, but otherwise sit back and enjoy the view.

Your favorite park bench - Anywhere - Some of the loveliest nights out don't have to include a long wait and generous tip. Pick up some cheese, charcuterie and a baguette at DiBruno Bros and seat yourself with a bottle of wine in Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square or your favorite local park. 

Quick additional ideas: Bridget Foys is a nice dinner spot with a front porch looking out at the bustling intersection of 2nd and South. Mixto on Pine Street transports you to South Beach at its sidewalk tables, with white lights strewn above on the trees and neon blue signs shining in the windows. If you're in the suburbs or willing to drive out of the city a ways, go grill your own filet at the Tiki Bar at Spring Mountain.

This list could go on and on... what is your favorite outdoor spot in Philadelphia or in the 'burbs?

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