If the COVID-19 era is responsible for anything good, the boom in outdoor dining and the parade of pandemic puppies romping through Philadelphia now surely both top the list. And it’s no coincidence the two are joyfully linked. With more al fresco dining options than ever, I’ve rarely had to choose between going out to eat and leaving the family doggie at home.
Buttercup, our lovable Great Dane mix, tags along with us for dinner wherever there’s a sidewalk seat or streetery to chill in. We bring a cushy little bed to mark her spot, a chewy treat to nibble on, and as long as there’s a bowl of fresh cool water and a welcoming staff, she’s thrilled to keep us company rather than stress out alone at home.
Some places, of course, simply don’t have the outdoor spaces to legally accommodate dogs. But a surprising range of restaurants do. And as a first-time dog owner, I’ve come to view pet-friendly service as another sign of hospitality. After all, dogs can be among the most agreeable guests.
Here are some of Buttercup’s favorites:
Buttercup was just 3 months old when she first stepped inside the curtained chalet booths beside Parc for Christmas supper and she promptly declared herself a regular. Her folks rave about the onion soup, warm shrimp salad, moules-frites and tuna carpaccio. But for Buttercup, the fluffy scrambled eggs are a reason to visit.
📍 227 S. 18th St., 📞 215-545-2262; 🌐 parc-restaurant.com
The enclosed garden behind this quirky Kensington bar offers shade and ample space for doggies to chill while parents sip Martha’s funky selection of indie wines, beers and spirits, many of them local, alongside pickle-forward nibbles and creative hoagies (the vegan hoagie is special!) The pet-loving staff brings dog bowls of water, cut carrots and fresh turkey. Some new Martha-made peanut butter treats are also in the works.
📍 2113 E. York St., 📞 215-867-8881, 🌐 martha.menu
Late spring means the official end of hot soup season and the beginning of the “brothless summer” menu at this excellent ramen atelier, where they recently upped their already considerable game by making the noodles in-house. The seasonal switch also coincides with sunny afternoons in the restaurant’s gracious back patio where dogs are welcomed, watered and surely amused to watch their owners also try to slurp meals from a bowl.
📍 617 S. Third St., 🌐 neighborhoodramen.com
Sadly, the city-mandated removal of streeteries at The Love on South 18th Street, where we discovered Buttercup is a serious cheese hound when she sneakily swiped a hunk of cave-aged cheddar from our table. The shelters thankfully remain in place at The Love’s older sibling, Talula’s Garden, where co-owner Aimee Olexy still curates Philly’s best restaurant cheese program and the dog treats are from Waggies by Maggie & Friends, a nonprofit whose mission is to employ people with intellectual disabilities.
📍 210 W. Washington Square, 📞 215-592-7787, 🌐 talulasgarden.com
With a name like this, you know the Good Dog takes its furry friends to heart, with over 250 framed pictures of customers’ pooches hung throughout the three floors of this iconic gastropub. With its spacious outdoor streetery, Buttercup can join me next time I bite into the blue cheese-stuffed burger that once inspired me to write a song and make a music video.
📍 224 S. 15th St., 📞 215-985-9600, 🌐 gooddogbar.com
One of Old City’s longest running fine-dining destinations is now dog-friendly, too, thanks to Fork’s artfully designed streetery, which offers comfortable protection from the Market Street traffic. While guests enjoy chef George Madosky’s elegant seasonal fare (try the charcuterie and duck with duck sausage), dogs can soon savor special biscuits baked just for them by Fork’s sibling, High Street Philly, which will be available in June.
📍 306 Market St., 📞 215-625-9425, 🌐 forkrestaurant.com
Come for the fresh pastas, slow-roasted meats and stellar house gelati at this Queen Village gem, but don’t forget to also bring your puppy. Fiore’s outdoor shelter is a comfortable place to relax over a meal, and there’s also a grassy Front Street space nearby to stroll (or whatever) when someone gets antsy.
📍 757 S. Front St., 📞 215-339-0509, 🌐 fiore-finefoods.com
Some places just have a dog-friendly vibe. And though the sidewalk may seem narrow on this South 18th Street corner, I’ve never passed by Southgate without spotting at least one dog happily snuggled inside the slender al fresco tent while its owners munch away on Korean fried chicken wings, ssam platters and fragrant dolsot bibimbap.
📍 1801 Lombard St., 📞 215-560-8443, 🌐 southgatephilly.com
The East Passyunk corridor has plenty of dog-friendly venues (the patio at Cantina Los Caballitos comes to mind), but we had one of our most memorable meals with Buttercup in the streetery of this modern Vietnamese gem (get water fern dumplings, crispy whole fish and the vermicelli platter) where the staff welcomed her with a water bowl and treats.
📍 1837 E. Passyunk Ave., 📞 272-888-3298, 🌐 gabriellasvietnam.com
The marrow gravy-glossed steak frites, socca cakes, duck of the day and stellar indie Euro wine list are steady draws to Queen Village’s charming French gastropub. But the outdoor seating is also dog-friendly enough that Buttercup earned admiring “good girl!” pets from neighboring diners who wished they’d brought their pooches, too.
📍 614 S. Seventh St., 📞 215-625-3700, 🌐 thegoodkingtavern.com
This Kensington newcomer from talented chef Dionicio Jimenez (El Rey, Xochitl) is one of the best in Philly’s recent crop of new Mexican options, and the spacious oasis of its festive, fenced-in backyard is one of the reasons. Once the grass fills in and there’s a little more shade for the picnic table side with warm gravel (”Don’t dig, Buttercup!”) it will be even better.
📍 2800 D St., 📞 267-519-2142, 🌐 cantinalamartinaphilly.com
Philadelphians scored a victory for scenic drinking when the TGI Friday’s alongside the Ben Franklin Parkway was finally replaced by one of the region’s best brewpubs. A spacious and fenced-in sidewalk area makes it Fido-safe while you sip a frosty glass of Braumeister Pils and Berry Monkey on draft under the City Hall gaze of William Penn.
📍 1776 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 📞 445-223-1130, 🌐 victorybeer.com
The mile-high nachos, seafood guac and margaritas are great at this Manayunk cantina formerly known as Taqueria Feliz, where a shelter keeps dogs safe. But Buttercup also has an ulterior motive to behave: Tt’s within eyeshot of the puppy cookie paradise called the Pet Friendly Dog Bakery (4324 Main St.), where she once had a memorable birthday party.
📍 4410 Main St., 📞 267-331-5874, 🌐 taqueriaamor.com
The Landing Kitchen, which sits on Bala Cynwyd side of the Schuylkill accessed by a foot bridge from Manayunk, on the reinvented Pencoyd Ironworks complex makes for great al fresco casual dining with an all-day cafe concept from chef Nicholas Elmi and Fia Berisha. There are fantastic sandwiches, salads and canned cocktails. Buttercup also knows a reward is waiting: lovely West Mill Creek dog park in Gladwyne is just a 10-minute drive away.
📍 617 Righters Ferry Rd., Bala Cynwyd, 📞 484-434-8765, 🌐 thelandingkitchen.com