Secret Gardens and Gorgeous Patios for Outdoor Dining in Philly
Wm Mulherin’s Garden, Fishtown
Mulherin’s took over a small lot next to the restaurant during the pandemic, turning it into a dreamy outdoor dining spot with plants, twinkle lights, and however many Aperol spritzes you need or want (I probably need at least four.)
The Wayward, Center City
Want to have a nice gin cocktail and a seafood tower on a breezy patio tucked away just off 13th Street? Me too, which is why I go to the Wayward to eat oysters, several Arnaud’s cocktails, and corn beignets.
LMNO is kind of known for their clubby indoor vibes, but they happen to have a lovely back patio that’s perfect for drinking green juice margaritas and eating fish tacos.
La Chinesca, Spring Garden
The coolest thing about La Chinesca is that it used to be a gas station, which gives the whole patio area a retro feeling, with a little Palm Springs magic thrown in with the light pink color scheme, plus and Mexicali food and drink options.
Lola’s Garden , Ardmore
Avram Hornik, the mastermind behind almost every popular open-air restaurant in the city (Morgan’s Pier, Harper’s Garden, all the Parks on Tap pop-ups), entered the Main Line market for the first time in 2021 with his tried-and-true model: a huge space, plenty of seating, great service, a better-than-it-has-any-right-being modern American menu, and the open sky above. Not the worst combination, as it turns out.
Irwin’s, East Passyunk
Think of Irwin’s as the restaurant comeback story of 2021: Before it closed due to COVID, it was a pan-Mediterranean spot situated high above an otherwise very low South Philly skyline. Now, with chef Michael Vincent Ferreri at the helm, Irwin’s is a resurrection of Res Ipsa Café, the beloved Italian BYOB in Rittenhouse (though it’s kept the Irwin’s name), and the return of one of the greatest balcony views in the city.
Royal Boucherie, Old City
Did you know that Old City’s French American brasserie has a secret upstairs garden terrace full of hanging plants and fresh herbs? Well, I guess it isn’t so secret anymore.
Alma del Mar, Bella Vista
Alma del Mar’s outdoor patio is an amalgamation of all that’s great about the Italian Market in general: It’s gritty (basically just a tented concrete lot), it’s full of excellent Mexican food, and the ambience — the colorful furniture, the muraled walls, the market lights, the scrapped-together feel of it all — is so specific to itself that when you’re there, you can’t imagine it — or you — being anywhere else on earth.
The Deck at the Moshulu, Queen Village
There are very few places in this city where you can enjoy an eggs Benedict and loaded Bloody Mary brunch on the deck of an old wooden ship. Actually, there’s just a single place — this one. And deck dining is officially back for the season.
Booker’s, West Philly
Same great fried okra, shrimp and grits and hot chicken sliders. New patio setup (as of 2021).
Mercato, Midtown Village
There’s something so quintessentially Philly about the corner on which Mercato sits. With big Italian BYO vibes (meaning small, meaning simple), rotating chalkboard specials, and market lights overhead that always seem to be lit, it’s as if Mercato owns — and has always owned — its little part of the city.
The Landing Kitchen, Bala Cynwyd
Nick Elmi partnered with restaurateur Fia Berisha to open two restaurants inside, of all places, a Residence Inn in Bala Cynwyd. The first, an all-day cafe called the Landing Kitchen, has a spacious patio overlooking the Schuylkill River. On the menu: Avocado toast with yuzu kosho, a crunchy fried chicken sandwich, and a simple fontina/cheddar grilled cheese on brioche toast. Fun fact: The Landing Kitchen serves Kismet Bagels now.
Le Virtù, East Passyunk
Le Virtù’s outdoor space is one of those things that makes the restaurant stand out in a city crowded to the bulwarks with charming little Italian spots. When the weather is nice, the patio is like one long unending lawn party for its South Philly neighbors. Sometimes someone will be out there grilling, sometimes it’ll just be friends drinking on the patio, but it’s always a good time.
Harper’s Garden, Rittenhouse
With its open-air veranda and buzzy plaza, Harper’s Garden was our favorite place to dine outdoors (literally; it won a Best of Philly award in 2019 for outdoor dining) before dining outdoors became the norm instead of the exception.
Kensington Quarters, Fishtown
Sitting outside on KQ’s deck, drinking cold draft wine, spooning out clams on the half shell, slurping up cacio e pepe with trout roe or the kimchi jjigae that came with your mackerel, is a heaven only Fishtown knows. A heaven you’ll know, too, when you show up for your reservation.
Little Nonna’s, Midtown Village
Little Nonna’s has a sheltered secret patio for when it’s raining, fans everywhere for when it gets too hot, and spaghetti and meatballs for when that specific craving hits. It usually hits.
Silk City, Callowhill
This combination diner, bar and nightclub has a Seussian garden patio in the back. The colorful stucco walls and tile floors make you feel like you’ve stepped away from Philly for just a little while, and the frozen cocktails and classic diner menu will keep you buzzed and comfy.
Gojjo, University City
Yeah, Gojjo makes great, traditional Ethiopian food (plus chicken wings and curly fries). But the Ethiopian cheesesteak (with steak or chicken) is truly a wonder. And getting to eat it outside on the busy back patio? That’s even better.