Al Fresco Summer Dining in Philadelphia
Best Restaurants to Dine Al Fresco in Philadelphia: Center City
Let’s start with 13th Street—and an uncomfortable admission: Philadelphia’s best eating street has one of its worst eating sidewalks. Life can seem sweet indeed when you’re breaking a truffled egg yolk over Barbuzzo’s incomparable uovo pizza—until someone careens over the under-treed, too-skinny cement strip pushing an SUV-sized baby stroller with your kneecap written all over it.
But there are escape options.
RAW Sushi (1225 Sansom Street, 215-238-1903) has an urban patio worthy of a Hollywood set. Ringed by three-story brick walls and black iron balconies that make it feel like a building without a top, this charismatic space is really the only thing that justifies (over)paying for RAW’s dated-feeling specialty rolls.
The Graffiti Bar at Sampan (124 South 13th Street, 215-732-3501) puts another spin on inner-city eating, with bargain-basement happy-hour snacks whose flavors are as subtle as the spray-painted surroundings and the ear-rattling 1990s grunge—think truffle-oil-drenched edamame dumplings and sweet pork belly buns whose
deep-fried cargo is as crispy and perfectly geometric as a McDonald’s hash brown.
For a more serene scene, The Corner (102 South 13th Street, 215-735-7500) serves American sophisto-junk (salt-cod hush puppies, anyone?) and superior cocktails on a roof deck worthy of a Dwell spread.
Go farther up, and afield, with a balcony table about 200 feet above Broad Street at XIX (Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, 200 South Broad Street, 215-790-1919). Three words to remember: weekend afternoon tea. Three more: chocolate chip cookies. Or head east to try your luck at one of Center City’s two most idyllic courtyards. M Restaurant at the Morris House Hotel (231 South 8th Street, 215-625-6666) offers New American cooking amid old American splendor: late-18th-century brickwork, pink azaleas, air perfumed by a dwarf magnolia. Then there’s Talula’s Garden (210 West Washington Square, 215-592-7787), where Aimee Olexy crafts some of the best cheese plates on the planet and the patio is a farmhouse fairyland of weathered wood and leaf shade.
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