11 Philly BYOBs With Outdoor Seating
Where to BYOB when the weather is sunny and pleasant.
Whether you want a place where your meal is as cheap as the bottle of wine you rolled up with or a fancy spot to spend your birthday with a few friends, there’s a BYOB for every occasion in Philly. And with so many of them, certain restaurants set themselves apart by having idyllic outdoor setups that are perfect for a summery day. So, pick up your favorite IPA or rosé, check the weather forecast, and then make plans to head to any of these 11 places.
photo credit: Rachel Lerro
L’Anima is an Italian spot in Grad Hospital from the people behind Melograno, and it’s about the size of five average Italian BYOBs put together. It also looks like it had the design budget of five places put together, with a big, open floor plan and lots of colorful furniture. The best reason to come here, though, is for their huge outdoor patio. It’s the perfect spot for a summertime date, and if there’s a sudden drop in temperature, they even have heat lamps so you don’t have to move inside for your last glass of wine.
Little Fish is another Queen Village BYOB, but this one has pretty much exclusively seafood. The sidewalk tables are only available in the months when the weather goes above 60 degrees, and the food here (which changes often) is always excellent. You might have a never-ending parade of fish like branzino in a pistachio vinaigrette, oysters, and charred grilled octopus, and it all works great for a casual date night or group dinner.
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Charley Dove is an open-air, Mediterranean BYOB in Rittenhouse that’s always busy and will remind you how much better your dining room would look if you bought fresh flowers regularly. This place is ideal for any kind of date, and they also have heated outdoor seating if you need the bonus of people-watching as a conversation starter and tend to get cold on summer nights. You should also know there’s a great bottle shop across the street if one of you forgets to bring some rosé or a merlot.
There are a few things that surprise us every time we end up at Stina. One is that, even though they have great brick-oven pies, pizza really isn’t the focus since this place serves some of the best Mediterranean food in town. The other thing is that there’s so much framed art on the walls that it feels like you’re at a dinner party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art—or based on the size of this place, a small gallery. One thing that deserves its own exhibit is the merguez pide. The canoe-shaped Turkish flatbread has a soft dough that holds a perfect mix of spicy lamb sausage and mozzarella. Plus, with most of the menu costing under $20, your entree will probably be less expensive than the bottle of wine you’re bringing.
While most places with sidewalk seating will line up a few tables along the front of their restaurant, Il Ghiottone makes the most of its wide sidewalks by jamming in as many tables as it can fit. And while that may make it a bit less spacious than you’d like, it also means way more people can fit out there—which means you could probably even show up with your entire heavy-metal yoga class. They serve great Italian food like chicken parmigiana and cheese ravioli, and because of the low prices (combined with the BYOB policy), your whole dinner will almost never exceed $25 per person.
Kanella Grill is pretty small inside, which makes it a tough place to go with anyone who prefers to eat without making accidental contact with their neighbor. But in the summer, they line a bunch of two-tops up on the sidewalk that are much nicer places to sit. The food here is also pretty affordable, and for around $40 a person, you’ll be fed a family-style Greek feast. The kebabs are perfect for sharing, as are all of the dips, and they’ve got lots of options for anyone with dietary restrictions.
We’re used to going to Las Cazuelas for big birthday parties in their back room, filled with BYO tequila drinks in close quarters. But now we know that the Northern Liberties Mexican spot also works for more casual occasions, too. Like margaritas and tacos on their sidewalk seating with a couple of friends. They only have a few tables, but they’re perfect for a Friday night dinner when you’re tired of making your own drinks, or a lowkey Saturday day-drinking session.
Bistro La Baia BYOB
Bistro La Baia is a Center City Italian restaurant that’s small and dimly lit, with vintage paintings of Italy, and red draped curtains. A meal should start with mussels in a white wine sauce, and then you should focus on the pastas like linguine and clams, lobster ravioli, and doughy gnocchi pesto. The service is attentive, so you can count on the staff to save you if you’re struggling to open a bottle during a romantic date night.
Ambrosia Ristorante BYOB
Ambrosia Ristorante is a casual Center City Italian spot where you can eat bowls of mussels in a saffron broth, mushroom risotto, and plates of squid ink spaghettini that’s tossed with crab meat and calamari. The handmade pastas here are usually big enough for two, can all be made gluten-free, and can get a boost of shrimp or chicken for a few extra bucks. There’s also a wine shop down the street if anyone in your group forgot a bottle to pair with the gigantic chicken milanese.
There are so many Italian BYOBs in Philly, and you can go to pretty much any of them and get a solid plate of pasta or chicken parm. And while Mercato is no exception—it’s a classic that serves things like fontina-stuffed meatballs and ricotta gnocchi with short rib ragu—they have much more sidewalk seating than your average BYO. Plus, they also have windows that open all the way up so that the entire 30-seat room becomes an open-air restaurant.
Lots of BYOBs throw a few tables out front when the weather is nice, but not many places have a secret patio like Effie’s does. The Greek spot in Washington Square West only has about 15 seats inside, but there are another five or six tables in the back garden that pretty much double its space on a nice night. Combine that with the mousaka, grilled lambchops, and relaxed atmosphere, and Effie’s is a place worth knowing about—and one that you’ll probably want to keep secret.