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Smoked gouda mac and cheese at Midtown Village cafe Charlie was a sinner.
Jackie Freiberg/Charlie was a sinner.

Warm Up With These Cozy Comfort Foods in Philly

Where to dig into gooey raclette, sizzling fajitas, French onion soup, and more

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Smoked gouda mac and cheese at Midtown Village cafe Charlie was a sinner.
| Jackie Freiberg/Charlie was a sinner.

With indoor dining off the table through at least the rest of the month in Philly, more diners are craving cozy comfort foods while seated outside.

But Philadelphians — the very same ones who tailgate for Eagles games during the frigid depths of January — are clearly not deterred from the cold if there are good eats to be had. They know, just as we do, that winter dining outdoors simply requires a good plan.

So throw on a scarf, fingerless gloves, and a fuzzy coat and try one of these piping hot, comforting dishes that promise to keep you warm all the way through dinner.

Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with sidewalk and patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. For updated information on coronavirus cases locally, visit the City of Philadelphia website.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Soup dumplings at Dim Sum Garden

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1020 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 873-0258
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Needless to say, soup dumplings simply do not travel well. The good news is that Dim Sum Garden, which makes some of the best in the city, offers to-go frozen versions to make at home. For outdoor diners, steaming hot dumplings parade out of the kitchen so fast you’ll barely have time to deal with the winter breeze. Turn up the fiery factor with an order of its spicy soup dumplings.

2. Lamb shepherd’s pie at The Dandelion

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124 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 558-2500
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The Dandelion tops slow-cooked ground lamb and root veggies with a broiled crown of creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes to deliver a dish that defines warmth, both inside and out. The savory pie, served in a small crockpot, can be enjoyed inside one of the Dandelion’s individual heated pods to up the cozy vibes. Pickup and delivery is also available, and to-go orders can be enlarged for four.

3. Noodle soups at Zama

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128 S 19th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 568-1027
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French Quarter’s go-to sushi and sake place just unleashed a trio of new noodle soups to keep diners warm while dining outdoors. Its Okinawa Noodle Soup, a bowl of baby back ribs and fried cod balls swimming in pork and dashi soy broth, is named after the Japanese isle where chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s mother is from. Ingredients also pay homage to his cousin’s popular fish cake store in Japan.

Noodle soups at Zama are served with edamame and two pieces of inari sushi (fish and rice tucked into tofu pockets). 
Zama [official photo]

4. Tacos al Carbon at El Vez

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121 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 928-9800
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When servers at Stephen Starr’s stylish Mexican fixture warn diners this dish is hot, they mean it. A generous helping of tortillas, choice of meat, and charred vegetables arrive on a sizzling hot cast iron platter that is sure to keep the food warm to the very last bite.

5. Smoked gouda mac and cheese at Charlie was a sinner.

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131 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(267) 758-5372
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Midtown Village’s sleek small plates spot makes a mean mac and cheese with conchiglio pasta, smoked gouda, and tempeh (soy) bacon. To make alfresco diners more comfortable, the restaurant just added seat warmer pads to its chairs. There’s also holiday fleece blankets for sale, and a portion of proceeds help feed Philadelphians in need. Pickup and delivery are options, too.

Mac and cheese at Charlie was a sinner.
Jackie Freiberg [Charlie was a sinner.]

6. French onion soup at Parc

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227 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 545-2262
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The thick layer of melted cheese atop Parc’s iconic French onion soup acts almost like a little hat, insulating the soup and keeping it piping hot. As an added perk, the soup crock goes into the oven for a few minutes to attain crispy-melty nirvana. Also on takeout and delivery.

7. Artichoke dip at Trattoria Carina

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2201 Spruce St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 732-5818
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Restaurants are required to serve food with drinks during COVID-19, and that’s a good thing at this adorable Italian restaurant off Rittenhouse Square. Its beloved Negroni is the perfect way to warm up outside with its creamy artichoke dip, which comes in a sizzling cast iron tray. Also open for takeout and delivery.

8. Bibimbap at Buk Chon korean cuisine

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132 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 925-9998
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Buk Chon’s takeout-only bibimbap is a beautiful medley of rice, assorted vegetables, and egg, served with a choice of vegetable, rib eye beef, tofu, spicy pork, or chicken. Once dine-in service resumes, the dish arrives in a hot stone pot that gives the bottom layer of rice the perfect level of toasty, crunchy goodness.

9. Pomegranate lamb shoulder at Zahav

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237 St James Pl
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 625-8800
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Zahav’s three-day pomegranate lamb shoulder, joined by chickpeas, mint, and crispy Persian rice, is one of the award-winning Israeli restaurant’s most celebrated entrees. Find it on a $66 prix fixe patio menu, and for the first time, Zahav now preps and ships the time-intensive dish nationwide as part of a heat-and-eat meal kit.

10. Raclette at The Good King Tavern

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614 S 7th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 625-3700
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Starting this weekend, Philly’s French tavern transports its patio diners to the Alps. A new après-ski menu centers around raclette, a gloriously melty, hot cheese designed to combat cold weather. Don’t forget to order the vin chaud (mulled wine), the same spiked treat served at winter markets in France.

Gooey raclette at The Good King Tavern.
The Good King Tavern [official photo]

11. Tamales at Los Gallos

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951 Wolf St
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 551-1245
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Tamales double as hand warmers, which make them the ultimate comfort food. Unwrap the corn husk to release a corn-scented cloud of steam. Los Gallos serves three types of the Mexican staple every Sunday: verde with chicken, mole with chicken, and rajas, which is full of queso, jalapeños and onions. Outdoor dining under an open tent is also available, and don’t forget they’re a BYO.

1. Soup dumplings at Dim Sum Garden

1020 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Needless to say, soup dumplings simply do not travel well. The good news is that Dim Sum Garden, which makes some of the best in the city, offers to-go frozen versions to make at home. For outdoor diners, steaming hot dumplings parade out of the kitchen so fast you’ll barely have time to deal with the winter breeze. Turn up the fiery factor with an order of its spicy soup dumplings.

1020 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

2. Lamb shepherd’s pie at The Dandelion

124 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Dandelion tops slow-cooked ground lamb and root veggies with a broiled crown of creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes to deliver a dish that defines warmth, both inside and out. The savory pie, served in a small crockpot, can be enjoyed inside one of the Dandelion’s individual heated pods to up the cozy vibes. Pickup and delivery is also available, and to-go orders can be enlarged for four.

124 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

3. Noodle soups at Zama

128 S 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Noodle soups at Zama are served with edamame and two pieces of inari sushi (fish and rice tucked into tofu pockets). 
Zama [official photo]

French Quarter’s go-to sushi and sake place just unleashed a trio of new noodle soups to keep diners warm while dining outdoors. Its Okinawa Noodle Soup, a bowl of baby back ribs and fried cod balls swimming in pork and dashi soy broth, is named after the Japanese isle where chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka’s mother is from. Ingredients also pay homage to his cousin’s popular fish cake store in Japan.

128 S 19th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

4. Tacos al Carbon at El Vez

121 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

When servers at Stephen Starr’s stylish Mexican fixture warn diners this dish is hot, they mean it. A generous helping of tortillas, choice of meat, and charred vegetables arrive on a sizzling hot cast iron platter that is sure to keep the food warm to the very last bite.

121 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

5. Smoked gouda mac and cheese at Charlie was a sinner.

131 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Mac and cheese at Charlie was a sinner.
Jackie Freiberg [Charlie was a sinner.]

Midtown Village’s sleek small plates spot makes a mean mac and cheese with conchiglio pasta, smoked gouda, and tempeh (soy) bacon. To make alfresco diners more comfortable, the restaurant just added seat warmer pads to its chairs. There’s also holiday fleece blankets for sale, and a portion of proceeds help feed Philadelphians in need. Pickup and delivery are options, too.

131 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107

6. French onion soup at Parc

227 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

The thick layer of melted cheese atop Parc’s iconic French onion soup acts almost like a little hat, insulating the soup and keeping it piping hot. As an added perk, the soup crock goes into the oven for a few minutes to attain crispy-melty nirvana. Also on takeout and delivery.

227 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

7. Artichoke dip at Trattoria Carina

2201 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Restaurants are required to serve food with drinks during COVID-19, and that’s a good thing at this adorable Italian restaurant off Rittenhouse Square. Its beloved Negroni is the perfect way to warm up outside with its creamy artichoke dip, which comes in a sizzling cast iron tray. Also open for takeout and delivery.

2201 Spruce St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

8. Bibimbap at Buk Chon korean cuisine

132 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Buk Chon’s takeout-only bibimbap is a beautiful medley of rice, assorted vegetables, and egg, served with a choice of vegetable, rib eye beef, tofu, spicy pork, or chicken. Once dine-in service resumes, the dish arrives in a hot stone pot that gives the bottom layer of rice the perfect level of toasty, crunchy goodness.

132 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

9. Pomegranate lamb shoulder at Zahav

237 St James Pl, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Zahav’s three-day pomegranate lamb shoulder, joined by chickpeas, mint, and crispy Persian rice, is one of the award-winning Israeli restaurant’s most celebrated entrees. Find it on a $66 prix fixe patio menu, and for the first time, Zahav now preps and ships the time-intensive dish nationwide as part of a heat-and-eat meal kit.

237 St James Pl
Philadelphia, PA 19106

10. Raclette at The Good King Tavern

614 S 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Gooey raclette at The Good King Tavern.
The Good King Tavern [official photo]

Starting this weekend, Philly’s French tavern transports its patio diners to the Alps. A new après-ski menu centers around raclette, a gloriously melty, hot cheese designed to combat cold weather. Don’t forget to order the vin chaud (mulled wine), the same spiked treat served at winter markets in France.

614 S 7th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

11. Tamales at Los Gallos

951 Wolf St, Philadelphia, PA 19148

Tamales double as hand warmers, which make them the ultimate comfort food. Unwrap the corn husk to release a corn-scented cloud of steam. Los Gallos serves three types of the Mexican staple every Sunday: verde with chicken, mole with chicken, and rajas, which is full of queso, jalapeños and onions. Outdoor dining under an open tent is also available, and don’t forget they’re a BYO.

951 Wolf St
Philadelphia, PA 19148

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