Sidewalk dining has its perks — people-watching chief among them — but sometimes you don’t want your meal’s ambience to be dictated by onlookers, wobbly tables and chairs, and the hum of traffic. For dining alfresco, off the sidewalk, we’ve assembled a neighborhood-driven guide to the patios, courtyards, rooftop lounges, and more.
P.S.: Rich as Philly is with restaurants and rowhouses, this list is by no means exhaustive.
Tucked behind its upstairs bar, this cozy deck overlooks the heart of Northern Liberties. The always-impressive beer list and better-than-pub grub will make the trip worth it, even if pushed indoors.
Umbrella-adorned picnic tables bring a taste of the tropics to this brick patio, hidden away from Spring Garden Street. Slip out here to get some fresh air when you’re at the diner’s weekly DJ-spun dance parties.
Pool tables inside, picnic tables outside at this laid-back neighborhood joint. Order a citywide — the combinations are countless — then wander to the back of the bar to the door hiding the spacious gravel patio. There’s a menu of classic Greek eats, too, including pita sandwiches and skewers.
Stephen Starr’s German beer garden boasts more year-round outdoor seats (240) than any other place on this list. But don’t assume it’ll be easy to land a spot at one of the communal tables. One-liter steins, giant soft pretzels, and campfire pits draw crowds that wrap around the sidewalk. Drop in early to avoid the lines and snag a paddle at the free ping-pong table.
Front Street Cafe
Tall bamboo and other plants fill this spacious terrace, enclosed by brick, wood, and tin walls. It’s a 100-plus-seat oasis steps from the El. Order a beer or mojito and the buffalo cauliflower.
Transport yourself to the Mediterranean at this tree-filled patio, accented in shades of white. Whether you stop for a morning coffee and rose-and-pistachio cruller, a mezze snack, or an all-out Lebanese feast, you’ll forget you’re just off Frankford Avenue.
Set in industrial Kensington, this courtyard is perfect for enjoying the ultimate pairing of high-quality hoagies and cocktails in between games of bocce.
On the edge of the breezy Delaware River, this 500-seat seasonal beer garden looks at the Ben Franklin Bridge. Choose from 14 drafts, a list of summery cocktails (frozen margaritas, watermelon rickeys) and a menu of loaded flatbreads, sandwiches, and snacks like oysters and Lost Bread Co. pretzels. For Quizzo, salsa dancing, and concerts, check the calendar online.
Planters festoon the brick walls of this seemingly secret upstairs deck. With only a dozen or so tables, it’s wise to call ahead. Come hungry for options like poached lobster, duck cassoulet, and pork fat fries.
Stratus Rooftop Lounge
Take in Old City views from 11 stories up at the top of Philly’s Kimpton Hotel Monaco. Sit on a plush couch and order one of the three draft cocktails, or splurge on bottle service. Take note: There’s a dress code.
This leafy, lantern-lit patio off Washington Square is a restaurant scene standard. Stop by for buttermilk pancakes at brunch, or beef short rib and seared scallops in the evening.
With white trellises, red brick walls, and a bubbling fountain, this Eighth Street courtyard is one of the most beautiful in Philly. No wonder it’s a go-to for weddings.
The palm trees and bamboo decorating this rooftop patio go hand in hand with the tropical cocktails, and the bigger tables have umbrellas for those unbearably hot summer afternoons.
This year-round open-air bar — hidden down the alleyway next to Sampan — is known for its vibrant art, Asian fusion fare, and scorpion bowls. It also offers some of the best happy hour specials around, with $3 satays, $4 dumplings, and $5 buns.
Opa’s Drury Beer Garden
Head to the back of this Greek restaurant to find its hidden patio, where you can post up at a picnic table for beers and bar games. If you get hungry, snack on offerings like grilled octopus or a gyro.
Even if you can’t snag an outside table at this rooftop hotel restaurant/bar, the wide-open windows mean you can catch a breeze nearly anywhere you sit. Go unwind after work with a glass of sparkling rosé.
1225Raw Sushi and Sake Bar
Steel beams crisscross overhead at this sushi bar’s brick courtyard, where you can sample an impressive selection of sake and coal-grilled skewers.
The Continental Midtown
Head to the top floor of this Center City classic to feel a little above it all. Two outdoor spaces flank the retro bar and indoor fireplace. Order some shoestring fries or lobster mac and cheese and peer at passersby below.
A wooden trellis strung with lights illuminates this 18th Street restaurant. Enjoy towering skyscraper views while sipping on a summery cocktail like the blackberry-strawberry bramble.
P.S. & Co.
Tucked in the back of this all-day vegan cafe and bakery is a tiny but beautiful plant-filled courtyard. Order an organic cold-pressed juice and pad Thai and feel healthy.
Assembly Rooftop Lounge
Nine stories up, this lounge has prime views of the Parkway. When you’re ready to stop snapping photos, cushy seating awaits, along with frosé on tap and small-bite options.
La Calaca Feliz
Margaritas, guacamole, and tacos are the orders of choice at this partially shaded patio, which is always a little quieter than the boisterous scene inside.
While its outdoor seating does spill out onto Fairmount Avenue, the eco-conscious restaurant also has a spacious patio with umbrella-shaded tables and couches. Come for happy hour oysters and truffle fries.
Bistrot La Minette
The secluded brick patio here is prime for a date-night escape. Order some escargots, chilled pea soup, and maybe the trout meunière, and wash it down with white wine.
Walk straight past the bar to get to the patio at this polished Fourth Street spot, where picture-perfect cocktails and artfully composed meat-and-cheese board are standards. And with a kitchen open past midnight every day but Tuesday, you might even see stars over dinner.
Cantina Los Caballitos
A prime corner on East Passyunk Avenue, this breezy patio gets swarmed with patrons sipping margaritas, dipping chips in guac, and feeding Fido scraps of tacos. The restaurant keeps a tent handy, so there’s no chance you’ll get rained on.
Barcelona Wine Bar
Abundant greenery creates a buffer between this buzzy tapas bar’s patio and the traffic on Passyunk. If you’re celebrating, spring for a bottle of wine to pair with eggy tortilla and flaky beef empanadas.
This southern-facing sibling to Bok Bar opened last summer, complementing classic cocktails with a Mediterranean menu. Come early to the eighth-floor deck to get a seat with a sunset view. Share the grand mezze — double the fried olives and carrot fritters.
American Sardine Bar
There’s a beach vibe to the backyard space at this South Philly staple, thanks to the lawn chairs, string lights, and (in the winter) fire pits. Try grilled sardines or the spicy chili chicken wings.
Green Line Cafe
The Lancaster Avenue location of Green Line has a pocket courtyard with a few tables, perfect for enjoying a summery sandwich with iced tea. Bring a book and you’ll have the ingredients for a relaxing afternoon.
City Tap House
Firepits and huge orange umbrellas set apart the University City outpost of this chain from its Logan Square, Nashville, and D.C. brethren. The second-story terrace is ideal for people-watching on Walnut Street below, beer in hand.
This Baltimore Avenue restaurant/bar made a name for itself with Ethiopian cheesesteaks laced with berbere spice. Its low-key back patio is shaded by a vine-covered pergola.