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Are we warming to outdoor dining? | Let’s Eat

Also: Need ideas for outdoor dining, happy hours, and places to watch the game? We have you covered. Or uncovered, as the case may be.

In a 2019 photo, fans watch a game outside the Philadium, 1631 Packer Ave.
In a 2019 photo, fans watch a game outside the Philadium, 1631 Packer Ave.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

Indoor dining is coming back in the city and burbs, but most restaurateurs and patrons seem sold on staying outdoors. This edition is packed with info: Craig LaBan offers five great ideas for restaurants outside the city and Jenn Ladd has more than 21 places to watch a game outdoors. We also run down dozens of happy hours (indoor and outdoor), as well as a few new restaurants opening this week. And read on: Craig has found what he says is the best new pizzeria in Philly.

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Michael Klein

Five great restaurants for outdoor dining outside Philadelphia

Critic Craig LaBan hopped in his car for a ride into the suburbs. From smothered pork chops to ricotta gnocchi, he’s found five great restaurants for outdoor dining outside the city limits.

How long will the outdoor season last?

That recent cold snap and the arrival of fall got us to thinking about the next phase of outdoor dining: If restaurants invest in heat lamps and ways to warm up their customers, will diners stay out in the cold? Reporter Jenn Ladd asked a few restaurateurs (who naturally are optimistic) — and we want to know your thoughts, too. Take our survey.

Speaking of outdoors: Going out to watch a game is not the same nowadays. Jenn lists nearly two dozen places where you can watch one outside. And if you’re on the fence about whether to watch indoors or outdoors, I’ll suggest another option: Parx Casino in Bensalem, whose indoor/outdoor beer garden just reopened as Liberty Bell Beer Garden with retractable roof and two fire pits. Sunday’s Eagles kickoff is just after 1 p.m. and from here, the forecast looks fine.

Where to find happy hours in the Philly region

Though office buildings have been empty during the pandemic, there is still an “after-work” crowd out there craving bar and food specials. Some restaurants have resumed happy hours in recent months to cater to them.

Craig LaBan’s pick for the best new pizzeria in Philly is ...

The pandemic has been a disaster for most of Philly’s restaurant scene, writes critic Craig LaBan. But there are some worthy food projects that never would have launched had the coronavirus not necessitated creative solutions to new realities. One of those gifts is Pizza Jawn in Manayunk, which Craig says is Philly’s best new pizzeria.

Restaurant notes

We all know that the restaurant biz has been roiled over the last six months. Let’s run down the list of known restaurant closings, which I will update as needed. It’s not all bad news out there, though. I’ve created a running list of the dozens of restaurant openings — mostly those that had been in the works. One that I wrote about this week — a nifty little brewpub in Roxborough called New Ridge Brewing Co. — had signed its lease three years ago.

Noting three openings this week (more to come on each):

LaScala’s Fire’s third location opens Thursday, Sept. 24 at 789 E. Lancaster Ave. in Villanova, where Main & Vine was.

Germantown Garden Grill, an open-air steakhouse (!), opens Friday, Sept. 25, at 1029 Germantown Ave., across from the rear of the Piazza in Northern Liberties. If the location seems familiar, it’s an offseason transformation of Vesper Day Club & Pool. This is/isn’t a dive bar.

White Dog Cafe’s fourth location opens Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Shoppes at Brinton Lake, in Glen Mills.

And one permanent closing and one temporary closing:

Lil' Pop Shop’s last day for its Rittenhouse popsicle/pie shop will be Sunday, Sept. 27. “COVID amplified the challenges of this location and while we have been able to squeak by during the pandemic with the support from you, our great customers, I’m grateful that we have an opportunity to regroup and make our little business really flourish at our other [original] shop, located at 265 S. 44th St.,” owner Jeanne Chang wrote in an email.

Coventry Deli, which has slung sandwiches out of 2000 Market St. for 26 years, has hit the pause button till January.

How to conduct an engaging lab experiment in the time of COVID: Brew beer

“I didn’t know how much science was actually involved in beer-making,” said Morgan O’Donnell, 22, a La Sale biology major enrolled in a class called Bootleg Biology. Professor Brian DeHaven leads his remote students in the art of brewing, and reporter Susan Snyder checks in with him as well as other science professors working in virtual classrooms.