Where to find Philadelphia’s best outdoor dining

A mix of wood and iron tables lend texture to the outdoor dining area at Royal Boucherie in Old City. | Credit: Royal Boucherie

Despite tighter city regulations, outdoor dining options continue to mushroom across the City of Brotherly Love. Plentiful patios, streetside perches, and rooftop escapes distinguish Philadelphia’s thriving alfresco restaurant scene.

The city’s most adored French restaurant draws crowds for its sidewalk tables and Rittenhouse Square Park views. A Mexican spot in Fishtown stands out for a spacious outdoor lounge, ideal for sipping an Oaxacan old fashioned. In West Philly, a Southern American icon is known for a patio that channels a greenhouse.

There’s no better way to take a bite out of Philadelphia’s irrepressible food culture now that the warmer weather is here. Read on for a guide to 12 restaurants that nail outdoor dining.

Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti (Old City)

Sunflowers top the patio tables at Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti in Philadelphia

Positano Coast’s front and back patios are adorned with tropical plants, flowers, and palm trees. | Credit: Tito Perez

Take a mini-break to the Amalfi Coast at this Old City gem, where the front and back patios are umbrella-shaded and adorned with tropical plants, flowers, and palm trees. The southern Italian food tastes even better when devoured outdoors, including spicy fried calamari, smoked salmon flatbread, and tuna tartare. If you’re after a buzzier vibe, come on the weekends when DJs set a party scene.

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Parc (Rittenhouse)

Diners fill the Parisian brasserie-style sidewalk tables at Parc in Philadelphia

Parc’s bustling sidewalk tables sit across the street from Rittenhouse Square Park. | Credit: M. Fischetti

Philadelphia’s most adored French restaurant is also home to one of the city’s most sought-after outdoor dining perches. Parc reaches its atmospheric peak in the spring and summer, with the dining room windows flung open and the corner teeming with people hopeful for a table. The bustling sidewalk tables sit across the street from Rittenhouse Square Park, and the restaurant takes full advantage of its setting. There’s no better place to enjoy a flawlessly cooked cheese Gruyère omelet or steak frites while people watching.

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Booker’s Restaurant and Bar (University City)

Booker’s lush patio has a one-of-a-kind greenhouse vibe, thanks to a sturdy pergola that’s crisscrossed with ample flowers, vines, and greenery. Comfortable outdoor tables and chairs make it the type of place city dwellers want to linger—as does the homey food. Consider the beef andouille sausage and shrimp with grits for brunch or get a plate of fried fish sliders and soak in the sunshine. And learn about the restaurant’s storied past while you’re here: The iconic Cedar Park spot is named for Booker Wright, a server at a whites-only restaurant in 1960s Mississippi (the subject of a 2012 documentary).

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Jet Wine Garden (South Street)

Bistro lights and a neon green picket fence make up the outdoor dining space at Jet Wine Garden in Philadelphia.

The patio at Jet Wine Garden is one of the most vibrant outdoor spaces in Philadelphia and set off from South Street by a neon green picket fence. | Credit: Jet Wine Garden

A two-story mural with bold colors and patterns provides the arresting backdrop for Jet Wine Bar’s outdoor extension. The patio here is one of the most vibrant outdoor spaces in the city and set off from busy South Street by a neon green picket fence. Though there are cocktails and beers on the menu, the focus is squarely on unique wines from around the world including unlikely locales such as Armenia, Bulgaria, and Morocco. Graze on a compact and fun lineup—translation: it’s well-suited for open-air dining—of sandwiches, cheeses, and charcuterie.

La Llorona Cantina (South Philly)

La Llorona has an extra-wide pavement for a dining area bedecked with lights, and there are enough plants to make it feel like a green haven in concrete-heavy South Philly. The cantina-style menu offers standout tacos, nachos, and ceviche. Try the pollo en su mole (chicken breast with frito beans, red rice, and tortillas) for a taste of the housemade mole sauce, layered with complex flavors. Spirits aficionados, take note: the bar offers a few tequilas you won’t easily find elsewhere.

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Royal Boucherie (Old City)

The narrow sliver of rooftop that’s home to Royal Boucherie’s outdoor seats feels delightfully clandestine. White lights pass overhead, plants adorn the brick walls, and a mix of wood and iron tables lend texture to the decor. It’s the ideal setting to get smoked trout rillette or one of the charcuterie boards for which the acclaimed French-inspired restaurant is well known.

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Sor Ynez (Fishtown)

Sor Ynez is something of an outdoor dining unicorn in Philadelphia, with an expansive patio and capacious parking lot. In addition to ample standard seating, there’s an outdoor lounge-like area for grabbing a drink or waiting for a table. Crowds flock here for a pan-Mexican menu with many tasty plant-based options. Don’t miss the sikil pak—a rich, spiced puree of pumpkin seeds served with raw vegetables.

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Le Virtù (East Passyunk)

The sprawling patio at Le Virtu in Philadelphia is filled with plants and plenty of shade

Plants and shaded sections abound on the sprawling patio at Le Virtu. | Credit: A. Ricketts

You’ll find Le Virtù on the quieter end of East Passyunk Avenue, and its sprawling patio is among the best al fresco options in Philadelphia. Tables are well spaced, plants abound, and there are plenty of shaded and sheltered sections so diners can find a spot for their needs. The Abruzzo-focused menu, with its housemade pasta, is another reason to visit Le Virtù at any time of year. Try the maccheroni alla mugnaia—a single, impossibly long strand of pasta tangled in hot peppers, garlic, olive oil, and pecorino.

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Talula’s Garden (Washington Square West)

Semi-hidden behind a vine-tangled wrought iron fence across from Washington Square Park, the patio at Talula’s Garden feels like a secret garden. The atmosphere is particularly enchanting, lit by paper lanterns and bountiful twinkly lights. Local ingredients feature heavily on the menu, so look for the most seasonal treats, such as ricotta and goat cheese ravioli with arugula, Kennett Square mushrooms, and sage-scented breadcrumbs.

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Estia (Center City)

If there’s a cuisine that is best eaten outside, it’s island-inspired Greek fare. Locust Street and Philadelphia’s bustling theater district are a long way from the Aegean isles, but Estia transports you there with a glass of cold white wine, a platter of dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and charcoal-grilled octopus. Estia’s spacious sidewalk tables are shaded by an inviting overhang that offers shade on sunny days, while colorful flower boxes give the space a quaint and garden-like ambience.

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The Landing Kitchen (Bala Cynwyd)

The only thing better than outdoor dining is waterside dining, which is why Philadelphians love The Landing Kitchen. The all-day cafe from Top Chef alum (and chef and owner of Laurel)  Nicholas Elmi sits at the shores of the Schuylkill River. Hikers, bikers, and casual walkers gather after their outdoor pursuits to drink coffee and beer and eat wagyu hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches crowned with smoked ham.

Kensington Quarters (Fishtown)

Kensington Quarters is a laidback American gem with a surprisingly large back patio. Its shaded tables were made for groups to share plates of uni carbonara and catches from the Northeast including platters of fresh oysters and whole-grilled fish. Keep the outdoor party going with a bottle from Kensington’s thoughtful wine collection, filled with enticing pink and orange options.

Tried them all? Check out other options here.

Maddy Sweitzer-Lammé is a Philadelphia-based food and beverage writer and editor. Follow along with her hijinks @awomanwhoeats.

Joy Manning contributed to this guide.