Spring will spring, perhaps this weekend. I run down the beer gardens and many other outdoor bars that will be popular destinations. Also this week, I tip you to a bargain happy hour in Center City, a new pub in Ardmore, a refined soul-food newcomer in West Philly, and a late-night classic in Chinatown. If you need food news, click here and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Email tips, suggestions, and questions here. If someone forwarded you this free newsletter and you like what you're reading, sign up here to get it every week.
Philadelphia's outdoor dining/drinking destinations are starting to crank up for the season.
We're seeing action already at SkyGarten, the beer garden on the 51st story of Three Penn Center, which is in its third and final season (details are here). Crowds already are filling Morgan's Pier, on the Delaware just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Independence Beer Garden on Sixth Street across from the Liberty Bell Pavilion, which was open last weekend, starts daily operation on Thursday, April 26.
Parks on Tap, the traveling beer garden created by Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation in partnership with FCM Hospitality, will start April 26 at the Azalea Garden in Fairmount Park. It will move to a different park on a Wednesday and stay through Sunday, offering a barbecue-inspired menu with food and beer specials in a family-friendly setting.
The PHS Pop Up Gardens at South Street and University City officially open May 3, but expect soft openings on April 26. The South Street pop-up, on the 1400 block of South Street (near 15th), will feature food, drinks, and events from Royal Tavern. The one at uCity Square, 36th and Filbert Streets, is operated by the Jose Pistola's Group; new this year is a covered seating area.
Uptown Beer Garden is looking at a May debut at the courtyard of the BNY Mellon building at 1735 JFK Blvd.
Also in the offing are Attico, a rooftop lounge at the new Cambria Hotel, 219 S. Broad St., near Locust (May); Harper's Garden, a wine garden at 31 S. 18th St. (May); and the returns of Bok Bar in South Philly's former Bok Vo-Tech at 800 Mifflin St. (late May) and the Pentridge Station pop-up beer garden, affiliated with Dahlak restaurant, at 5114 Pentridge St. in West Philly (June 1).
Tria Cafe, 12th & Spruce Sts.
5-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday
For 14 years, Tria has been synonymous with the social experience that is happy hour. The 5-for-5 deal at the Washington Square West location features a couple of wines (such as Bodegas Campos de Enanzo's Viura), a drink (such as a Spruce Street Spritz with Prosecco, Cappelletti and an orange slice), and a cheese-and-meat board (such as Lou Bergier Pichin and fennel salami) — all discounted to $5 each.
Chef Biff Gottehrer, a Starr alum, is redefining comfort food at The Ripplewood, a new pub at 29 E. Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore. The pretzeled Parker House rolls are a clever starter, as are the clams casino and the pork ribs slathered with Calabrian garlic honey and peanuts. Entrées range from the familiar (fish and chips) to the cheffy, such as seared scallops with oxtail marmalade, kumquat, and potatoes; and braised short rib done in a Dr Pepper glaze and served with a beet latke. Bars upstairs and downstairs are well stocked, notably with brown spirits. It's open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner; lunch starts May 1.
The atmosphere screams retro Chinatown down to the glass-topped tables and lanterns, and the guy sitting next to you could be the mayor, the governor, Will Smith, MC Hammer, or most likely just some dude eating a second dinner to chase a night of drinking. David's Mai Lai Wah, holding down 10th and Race since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, is Chinatown's main wee-hours destination, open from 4 p.m. till 3 a.m. every day but Friday and Saturday, when it shuts down at 4. Best bets include egg foo young, dumplings in garlic sauce, and salt-and-pepper wings.
A swank restaurant-cocktail bar at 52nd and Girard in West Philadelphia? Give Barbara Devan credit for opening Tasties Restaurant (1214 N. 52nd St.) next to her Tasties takeout shop. Day 1 is Thursday, April 27. Menu is stick-to-your ribs soul food, including fried chicken and sides, ribs, shrimp, wings, and the salmon pasta ($15) shown here — a generous steamed salmon filet topping a massive mound of fettuccine that's lavishly napped in cream sauce. It's open from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, till midnight Friday and Saturday, and till 10 p.m. Sunday.
☛ Scott Schroeder and Pat O'Malley of Hungry Pigeon are popping up at Late Night Breakfast Karaoke this Saturday (8-11 p.m.) at Rooster Soup Co. (1526 Sansom St.) with a menu full of fun, including a breakfast chicken cheesesteak with smoked Whiz, a fried egg, and pickled Fresno chili, and a piña colada French toast sundae with Hungry Pigeon's sourdough, ginger ice cream, roasted pineapple, and toasted coconut.
☛Elevation Burger will mark the start of National Burger Month on Tuesday, May 1 by giving away a cheeseburger to the first 50 people in line at the Willow Grove and Collegeville locations. Doors open at 11 a.m.
☛ Friendly PSA: Have a restaurant gift certificate sitting in a drawer or in the farthest reaches of your handbag? Use it. Now.
The Bercy | Ardmore
April 27 is opening night of this French brasserie in a hundred-year-old bank building.
J. Alexander's | King of Prussia
April 30 marks the debut of this wood-fired grill on the outskirts of KOP Mall.
Cooper River Distillers | Camden
The tasting room's last day will be May 5.
Girard | Fishtown
American BYOB is giving way to Sarvida, a Filipino BYOB, this summer.
It's only a week away! The Inquirer's annual Brewvitational craft-beer competition is from 7-10 p.m. May 2 at Reading Terminal Market, and you're invited. Taste samples from more than 30 brewers, enjoy food from participating Reading Terminal vendors, and cast your vote for favorite flagship beer.
Buy your tickets now at philly.com/brewvitaste2018. Use code BREWVIPHILLY for $5 off your ticket price!