What could be cooler than dining in an old firehouse while enjoying mouth-watering BBQ and southern-inspired food? Doing all that while also enjoying the extra benefit of relaxing in their attractive, private courtyard setting. The inside of this 19th century building has been lovingly converted, with a great mahogany interior, while still retaining the charm of the place. The outside offers privacy in a quiet neighborhood setting. Large doors open up into the street, encouraging visitors to wander in. Once seated, enjoy selections such as Rocky Mountain Buffalo with Wild Spelt and Corn and Cranberry Ragout or Jack's Tongue Smackin' Ribs with Firehouse Fries. Wow.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: In addition to delicious food, Jack's offers the interesting "firehouse" factor, as well as a terrific outdoor seating area to boot.
Sharon's expert tip: In the event you don't get outside seating in warmer weather, fret not, as the huge doors out front open wide enough, that it can allow you to feel like you're outside anyway.
Snug but chic, this bistro is especially popular in the spring and summer, when patrons sit outside and watch as Rittenhouse Square buzzes with activity. The venue is a prime place for people-watching. In addition, Rouge draws a beautiful evening crowd that doesn't have any problem dressing to the nines and showing it off. As for the eats, the fare hovers in the vicinity of New American, from gourmet burgers to pan-seared Atlantic salmon. Brunch is a particularly attractive affair that features dishes like chilled Watch Hill oysters, eggs Norwegian with Scottish smoked salmon, dark chocolate chip pancakes and cinnamon French toast.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: While small, this lovely restaurant delivers on its signature burgers with outside dining that's like sitting at a French cafe.
Sharon's expert tip: When here during lunch or dinner, try the gourmet burgers, which never seem to disappoint.
Gracing the East Passayunk neighborhood is Le Virtu, a restaurant inspired by all of the best qualities of Abruzzo, Italy. From farm-fresh ingredients obtained from nearby Lancaster, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the way they serve their dishes to their great culinary traditions, it is a true dining experience. Dishes range "from sea to mountain" and combine traditional favorites with dishes that present ingredients in entirely new and exciting ways. For Italian cuisine done with a fresh take, along with the option to enjoy that delicious meal outside in the fresh, warm-weather, don't miss the opportunity to dine at Le Virtu.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: When in the city and want a great Italian meal with the opportunity to sit outdoors in a lovely garden setting, this is the place.
Sharon's expert tip: If an entire meal isn't in the cards, stop in for an appetizer or a glass of one of their wine varieties.
Elegant yet unpretentious, this traditional neighborhood bistro offers fresh, flavorful fare that takes patrons on a sensory stroll through the French countryside. In a quiet candlelit garden, the superb staff delivers ceramic wine pitchers, addictive homemade baguettes and fresh mussels topped with creamy tarragon sauce and poached egg. Diners then savor Dijon-braised rabbit or tender beef bourguignon followed by decadent Gateau l'Opera, an almond sponge cake with chocolate ganache, coffee butter cream and creme Chantilly. Dine inside during colder months, an when things warm up, enjoy sidewalk seating or courtyard seating to enjoy the weather as well as the company.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Dining at this Philadelphia restaurant makes many diners feel like they're eating outside at a great little French cafe.
Sharon's expert tip: Take a chance on the mussels, as they come with rave reviews.
One of Philadelphia's only waterfront restaurants is one of its most romantic. This is thanks to the sweeping porch that provides for a drink or a meal full of breathtaking views of the Schuylkill River and of Boathouse Row. The restaurant was built into a 19th century public works facility whose architectural and engineering marvels made it a tourist destination for 100 years. Saveur magazine named Water Works a "Top 100 Experience," and Chef Darryl Harmon and his team have hosted some of the world's most noted figures in politics, entertainment and sports here. Regular folks can come here and enjoy its quieter and more intimate setting to share a drink and enjoy the views.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Well known in Philadelphia for its dining offerings, this venue delivers on all fronts: food, drinks and atmosphere, along with lovely views of the city.
Sharon's expert tip: Take advantage of the valet parking for door-to-door service that adds to the evening.
Located on The Radian Balcony, just steps from the campuses of University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, City Tap House boasts one of Philadelphia's most extensive draft beer lists- 60 taps, including many rare and sought-after craft brews. Paired with a menu of New American Pub Fare, guests dine in a rustic, 120-seat dining room adjacent to an open kitchen.
Featuring extensive outdoor seating on two terraces and a row of five stone fire pits overlooking Walnut Street, City Tap House combines great food and great beer in a comfortable, energized, eco-friendly atmosphere. Step up your dining experience with a visit to this venue, then sit back, relax and take it all in.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: With its large outdoor seating options combined with great draft beer list, this venue offers all kinds of options for diners and drinkers.
Sharon's expert tip: Portions here are quite generous, the beer is tasty and interesting, staffing and service can be unpredictable, but the overall experience is a University City favorite.
Enjoy the luxuries and pleasures of the Amalfi Coast in Italy right in Old City Philadelphia. From the cobalt blue floor, to the spectacular life-sized postcards to the contemporary menu, when you step into Positano Coast, you will need to catch your breath. Serving modern Italian cuisine via small plates designed for sharing, Positano Coast welcomes guests to sample delicious selections from the menu, including the freshest fish and seafood, the must have "Crudo"(the Italian version of sushi) and creative variations of many classic Italian dishes. Positano Coast offers a dining experience unlike any other in the area, with guests truly feeling "as if they were on an Italian seaside holiday..."
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: When dining in Old City, a stop at this delicious Italian restaurant will not only deliver mouth-watering food, but a lovely outdoor experience as well.
Sharon's expert tip: If head bartender Andres is working, sit at the front bar and ask him anything you ever wanted to know about alcohol as he prepares your fresh-ingredient cocktail.
Whether it's over weekend brunch or daily breakfast, the best spot in the city for people watching and a caf� au lait is on the sidewalk or by the floor-to-ceiling windows at Stephen Starr's Rittenhouse Square paean to Parisian caf� culture. The brunch menu, not surprisingly, contains more French entrees, eggs and hors d'oeuvres than the breakfast menu. But neither comes close to being petit. Two-dozen selections, including a smoked salmon tartine and a Gruyere omelette, grace the daily menu, which is served starting at 7:30 am. If lunch or dinner is more to your liking, check out their plentiful offerings in this area as well.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Well known for it's superb people-watching opportunities, this venue is a city-goers favorite for outdoor dining.
Sharon's expert tip: Coffee is nice but a Kir Royale at brunch is nicer.
The wrought iron gates at this restaurant open up to offer guests one of the best outdoor dining venues in the city. Take a seat under twinkling lights in the evening, and enjoy the greenery and fragrant flowers that make this place seem positively heavenly. Combined with the locally-sourced and creative cuisine served at this wonderful boutique restaurant, the ambiance just makes it that much better. Perfect for date night or that special occasion that needs a little something special, M Restaurant does not disappoint. Start out with choices like the pan seared octopus or tuna tartar, move on to the crab gallette or seared scallops. There are also small plates available as well as delicious desserts to finish off with.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: The seasonal garden here is open 7 months a year, and offers up a dining experience that's both picturesque as well as delicious.
Sharon's expert tip: There is a great wine list here and jazz music in warmer months, as well as Happy Hour offerings worth checking out.
Talula's Garden is a an apty-named establishment featuring local garden-sourced ingredients. These ingredients are combined into contemporary American dishes designed to nourish and please. Set in a lovely garden patio, the well-known city restaurant treats patrons to a plethora of fresh, seasonal and delicately-prepared cuisine. They do focus on cheeses, and feature cheese combinations served artfully to start your meal. Then it's time to move onto dishes such as the orchard pear salad, lemon glazed New England scallops or Block Island swordfish. Polish dinner off with a treat such as little sweet ricotta doughnuts or ripe orchard pear sorbet for a treat not soon forgotten.
Recommended for Outdoor Dining because: Where better to enjoy a meal than in an lovely garden setting, well-known for its beauty?
Sharon's expert tip: This place is known for their cheese plates, so be sure to order one and see what the fuss is all about.