After three months of no dine-in service, outdoor dining is allowed at Philly restaurants that have a license for sidewalk, patio, or backyard seating starting Friday, June 12. Several rules are in place to attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, including capping the number of customers and keeping 6 feet of space between diners at different tables. Parties can’t include more than six people, and diners have to wear masks when they aren’t seated.
In a new process introduced by the city June 11, restaurants that don’t already have a license for outdoor dining can submit an application for one of four options, which include setting up tables on a sidewalk, in a parking lot or vacant lot, in a curbside parking area, or on the street. (A street closure is, of course, more complicated; the city describes it as a “[p]ilot program beginning this summer that allows for temporary closure of certain streets for shared restaurant seating.”)
While many people say they aren’t feeling ready to return to restaurants, some restaurant owners had already opened their outdoor spaces, banking on it being worth a potential “cease operations” order. In the Philly suburbs, where outdoor dining started June 5, restaurants say they’re already seeing a boost in revenue.
At Bar Bombon off Rittenhouse Square, owner Nicole Marquis told Eater she can’t wait anymore: She’s setting up outdoor tables in the alley street next to her restaurant with or without an OK from the city, even if she has to lay across the street to block it off.
Star chef Marc Vetri has also expressed frustration with the amount of time the city has taken to give the go-ahead for outdoor dining, both in conversations with Eater and on social media. He plans to kick off outdoor dining at Fiorella on Friday, with a first come, first served system and a waitlist that opens at 3:30 p.m.
Here are some of the first restaurants that are taking the plunge into outdoor dining this weekend. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, and it’s very likely many more places will add outdoor dining options in the coming weeks. So for those ready to dine out, it’s worth calling or checking the restaurant’s social media to learn about that place’s plans.
*In Northeast Philly, P Square serves an Italian menu in one of the city’s most attractive outdoor spaces. Tables can be reserved at 215-464-3040.
*Stephen Starr’s German-style beer garden Frankford Hall in Fishtown has 18 big tables that can seat parties of two to 10 diners in its industrial-chic outdoor area. It’s open seven days a week, for walk-ins only.
•At Suraya in Fishtown, reservations open a week in advance for a table in the spacious backyard. There are time limits, which increase for larger parties.
*Jerry’s Bar in Northern Liberties installed glass partitions between tables on its patio. There’s room for 20 to 30 people in parties of two or four. Reservations are available on OpenTable or by calling 267-273-1632.
*Yards Brewing Company in Northern Liberties is offering its full food and beer menus on its patio seven days a week. Reservations aren’t required.
*On the Delaware River, outdoor bar Morgan’s Pier has room for 250 and can seat groups of up to 10 at its umbrella-covered picnic tables. Reservations are required.
*Beer garden Parks on Tap, a collaboration between FCM Hospitality, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and the city’s Parks and Recreation department, usually pops up at a different park every week throughout the summer. This year, it’s sticking with one location. Starting June 12, Parks on Tap is set up the grounds of the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center seven days a week. Seating is first come, first serve and there’s food, beer, wine, cocktails, with a portion of proceeds going to maintain Philly’s parks.
*Across from the Liberty Bell, Michael Schulson’s open-air Independence Beer Garden can now seat 180. It’s open daily for dinner, plus lunch and late night on weekends. No reservations here: It’s walk-in only.
*Old City sushi specialist Tuna Bar is opening its outdoor patio for weekend dinners. There’s room for 22 and reservations are required.
•Queen Village’s Cry Baby Pasta has a row of umbrella-covered tables lined up on its sidewalk. Book a table online or through Resy.
*The enclosed garden at Aimee Olexy and Stephen Starr’s Talula’s Garden on Washington Square can fit 44 seated diners. Reservations open a week in advance.
*The beans are locally roasted and the cured meat comes from a small-batch producer in Brooklyn at Bower Cafe, which serves coffee and charcuterie in Washington Square West. There are currently three sidewalk tables; a small patio will room for eight with open soon.
*Teddy Sourias’s strip of bars on Chestnut Street between 13th and Broad have a combined 20 to 30 sidewalk seats, available seven days a week. The menu features dishes and drinks from Tradesman’s, Bru Craft & Wurst, and U-Bahn. Reservations can be made on OpenTable or by calling Tradesman’s.
*Parc, already known for its sidewalk tables facing Rittenhouse Square, has 56 seats available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Reservations are available starting a week out, but some tables will be held for walk-ins.
*Jet Wine Garden, the outdoor venue next to Jet Wine Bar on South Street, is open seven days a week. It’s not all wine; there’s beer and cocktails too. Reservations are not required.
*Italian BYOB L’Anima in Grad Hospital has a pretty front patio with brightly colored furniture and string lights. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday and reservations are recommended.
*University City’s rooftop bar Sunset Social, which stretches out over more than an acre atop Cira Centre South’s garage, is open for walk-ins.
*In West Philly, Mediterranean restaurant Aksum can seat 12 to 15 people on the sidewalk. Reservations are available but not required.
*The Southern menu at Booker’s on Baltimore Avenue is now being serving at umbrella-covered sidewalk tables.
*With its popular backyard beer garden, Eritrean/Ethiopian restaurant Dahlak on Baltimore Avenue is worth noting, even though the outdoor space is not opening until June 19. There’s room for 50. Reservations are available but not required.
*On East Passyunk Avenue, Le Virtù’s large patio and pergola-covered garden are now open. Reservations can be made on OpenTable or by phone.
*Those looking to celebrate the return of restaurant dining can make a reservation for the garden table at Nick Elmi’s Laurel on East Passyunk Avenue. It’s just the one table, with room for a single group of up to eight, and Elmi is serving a nine-course tasting menu for $125 per person. There are two nightly seatings; reservations are required.