After days of gray, rainy weather, the weather is warm and sunny — and it’s Friday. Sounds like the perfect excuse to treat yourself to al fresco lunch — without having to wait for a sidewalk table.
We have a list of quick, affordable, and delicious spots to grab a bite, coupled with the closest park, plaza or grreen space where you can get away from your desk, stake out a patch of grass, and soak up the spring weather.
We focused (mostly) on Center City and surrounding neighborhoods, but feel free to recommend great spots for fair-weather fast casual picnicking in the comments.
We’ll start with the obvious one: Rittenhouse Square Park, which will no doubt be hopping with dog walkers, folks on their break, really ripped people exercising, seniors taking some air, and teenagers making out.
Those of you who work nearby have a wealth of tasty and reasonably priced food options — in our minds, a classic falafel from Mama’s Vegetarian on 20th or one from newcomer Goldie near 15th and Sansom completes the picture nicely. A poke bowl from Poi Dog Snack Shop’s new location on 22nd Street is another great option.
A little further north, Dilworth Park provides a great spot to sit on the grass with a nosh and people watch. The park has its own cafe, or grab a chicken biryani platter from the halal cart across the street or some pita-wrapped goodness from King of Falafel at 16th and JFK.
Work further east? Washington Square Park provides a slightly quieter, less crowded vibe than Rittenhouse. Our favorite option here? One of Talula’s Daily’s beautifully composed salads, a healthy and delicious choice that’s big enough to fill you up. Or you can go true picnic style with a hunk of local cheese from their case (check to see if they have Birchrun Hills Farm’s Smoked Blue on hand — swoon!), a baguette, and some accessories like salumi or dried fruit. We also love Knead Bagelry’s veggie banh mi-style sandwich on a black sesame bagel.
The original idea that inspired this post was how pleasant (and delicious) it would be to crush a Shake Shack cheeseburger while watching the water flow by from the Schuylkill Banks. For lighter or gluten-free fare, look to Chestnut Street’s Agno Grill for fresh, build-your-own salads, black rice bowls, and wraps.
University City has no shortage of cheap, delicious eats to grab on your lunch hour — but we recommend the 40th Street strip across from the manicured, grassy expanse surrounding Penn’s Hamilton Village dorm, just south of Walnut Street.
Score a 12” pie with a crisp, blistered crust and quality toppings from hidden gem Enjay’s Pizza, located inside historic campus bar Smokey Joe’s, which does lunch on Fridays — or get an 18-incher and split it with some coworkers. Hip City Veg provides lighter, vegan options (their jerk “chick’n” is a delicious imitation of the real thing) and frozen, creamy banana whips, or take out something spicy from Chinatown transplant Xi’an Sizzling Woks at 40th and Chestnut.
Just past the Penn campus, West Philly’s Clark Park is a magnet for lounging and lunching on days like today. Grab a slice or two from Clarkville, which just started offering $2 takeout slices at lunchtime seven days a week (and maybe grab a bottle of takeout craft wine to surreptitiously enjoy with it). Or head a few blocks further west to 47th Street for a neighborhood classic, Fu Wah’s spicy, saucy tofu banh mi hoagie.
Wherever you go, we hope you get to take an extra-long, extra delicious lunch outside today. Happy (what feels like the first day of) summer!