12 Essential Spots for Outdoor Dining in Chestnut Hill
Beautiful weather calls for alfresco eats, and in Philadelphia’s Garden District, they’re served with spectacular views. Chestnut Hill’s abundant gardens and greenery make open-air dining extra special, whether you’re treating the kids to ice cream or meeting friends for small plates and cocktails.
While there are delicious menus at every restaurant and bar on Germantown Avenue, some venues stand out if you’re looking for a side of sunshine with your meal. From secret gardens and laid-back cantinas to a historic café in the park, here’s where to get your fill of fresh air and local flavor.
It’s hard to beat burgers and milkshakes on a summer day, especially the ones at Louie’s Little Hut. This comfort food oasis is tucked away in a lush backyard, so keep an eye out for the tiki torch and ocean-blue sign pointing the way from Germantown Avenue. Open for breakfast and lunch, the beach-themed restaurant also serves egg sandwiches, loaded tots and hot dogs on Hawaiian rolls – all best enjoyed at a picnic table while soaking in the island vibes.
Craving pizza? Pop into Cosimo’s Pizza Café and order a pie to share at a sidewalk table, where you can take in the historic cobblestoned charm of Chestnut Hill. Go traditional with a margherita pizza, order a zingy topping of Buffalo chicken, or create your own masterpiece. To polish it all off, walk down to Bredenbeck’s Bakery & Ice Cream Parlor for a cone of Philadelphia-made Bassetts Ice Cream. Before you take your frozen treat around to the fenced side patio, snap an Instagram-worthy pic of your scoop – or scoops – in front of the mural on the bakery side of the building!
When in Chestnut Hill, a stop at the Market at the Fareway is a must. This modern farmers’ market sells local produce, deli sandwiches, and baked goods – and has one of the best outdoor environs around. Grab a craft brew inside the Market at Chestnut Hill Brewing Company (and wood-fired pizza if you’re hungry), then head outside to drink in the spacious beer garden or lounge around the fire pit in an oversized armchair.
Campbell’s Place, just a block away, is another fun spot for beer lovers. This unpretentious pub has plenty of shaded tables out front, so you can immerse yourself in the neighborhood while sampling from the wide selection of beers on tap and splitting appetizers with friends. If you prefer a secluded drinking spot, try Top of the Hill Market & Café, which recently added a walk-up bar to its courtyard. The outdoor watering hole features local wine and craft beers, plus non-alcoholic options including fresh-pressed juices and kombucha.
If craft cocktails are more your style, make Paris Bistro & Jazz Café a priority. Like a neighborhood French bistro, this popular spot includes a café terrace that’s perfect for socializing over drinks and hors d’ouevres, including $1 oysters on Mondays. Just be sure to go indoors during the evening, Wednesday through Sunday, to catch live music in the Jazz Café.
It doesn’t get more alfresco than eating trailside at Valley Green Inn, which overlooks the Wissahickon Creek. This historic roadhouse in Fairmount Park has been serving food since the 19th century and remains a welcome respite for hikers and passersby looking to fuel up. Come sit on the Inn’s expansive porch for classic American cuisine at lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch.
Back in the heart of the village, you can dine outside another storied establishment. Chestnut Grill & Sidewalk Café, located at the landmark Chestnut Hill Hotel, features wrap-around sidewalk seating and a big menu of salads, burgers and special entrees like gnocchi with gorgonzola cream and home style beef brisket. Wandering little eaters in the family will be entertained by the colorful art gallery walkway leading to nearby Market at the Fareway.
For an intimate evening, make a reservation at award-winning Mica Restaurant and request a table under the twinkling string lights on the quiet backyard patio. Chef Yianni Arhontoulis creates his dishes using seasonal bounty, including fresh herbs and vegetables that you’ll see growing all around the patio. If you have trouble ordering, let the experts do it for you with the elegant six-course tasting menu.
About a mile down the Hill on Germantown Avenue is Jansen, another upscale yet inviting spot that guarantees you a special experience. The restaurant is housed in a gorgeously restored 18th century cottage, including a serene back patio surrounded by green. Chef and Owner David Jansen is constantly crafting new seasonal menu items that mesh contemporary American with classic French cuisine.
Last up, but definitely not least, is a farm-to-table taqueria that will transport you to Baja Mexico: El Poquito. This popular spot has a huge patio with big wooden tables and bright hanging lights that suit the vibrant flavors of the tacos, empanadas and ceviches served below them. Make it a fiesta and treat yourself to a mezcal cocktail or margarita!
Click here to check out the full list of restaurants in Chestnut Hill.
Photos and video by Dustin LaCava-Wingate, En Route