Outdoor garden at Little Nonna’s | Photo by Jason Varney
The Center City District now counts 412 outdoor dining cafes in just Philadelphia’s downtown area. Many a sidewalk has been turned over to eating al fresco. But if you’re looking to dine in the sunshine without the crowds, out of earshot of the SEPTA bus and away from the peering eyes of passersby, you’ve come to the right place. Here, our picks for the 12 best hidden outdoor dining spots in Philadelphia.
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Photo by Claudia Gavin
Last May Nick Elmi went to work on securing a liquor license and expanding into the former coffee shop that is next door to his Laurel. The initial plan was to add some seating and install a bar. But here we are more than seven months later and that hasn’t happened.
So when we caught up with Elmi at Philly Cooks, we asked him what was up. Elmi, whose Laurel has been named the top restaurant in the city for the past two years, has decided not to mess up the good thing he has going at Laurel. So Laurel remains BYOB though he does now offer a $60 wine pairing for those interested.
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The new 50 Best Restaurants List | Photo by Samuel Markey
If it seems too soon for another 50 Best Restaurants issue, you’re right. For a long time, this list was something we put together every two years. But now that’s changing. Because it has to.
Philadelphia’s restaurant scene moves fast today—too fast for the kind of monolithic thinking that says a list of the best restaurants in this city could possibly stand, fundamentally unchanged, for two years. Fortunes rise and fall over weeks, not years. Opinions shift. Focus drifts. There was a time when a list of the best restaurants in Philly could have some breathing room—would be just as true (or nearly as true) six months or a year later as it was on the day it hit the stands. But today that sort of thinking seems as quaint as cedar-plank salmon or those bicycles with one big wheel in front—an artifact of another time.
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