Al Fresco Dining in Philadelphia

Posted by Keith Wallace

Philly noshers are all about 2 things: Brunch and dining al fresco. Ask any local Provision Pathfinder were to do either, and they’ll give you a list as long as the Declaration of Independence, save for one. Whatever is their absolute favorite hidden gem. Those they share only with mom or any guy or girl they’re trying to charm into their little foodie hearts.

Well, we’re here to blow the top off of an even cooler subset of these eateries. Those with a backyard. A place to get away from yappy sidewalk doggies and noisy motorcycles. A spot to take it two steps slower and keep a little privacy.

The Druid’s Keep

This is a big secret with your local brewers. That dingy-looking dive in the heart of Northern Liberties is a post-brunch favorite for all the suds makers in town. Why? Well, the tap list usually has some of the best local beers included because of the clientele and at dirt cheap prices ($4 for a pint of Flying Fish Exit 4!).

But if you head all the way past the uneven pool table and outdated jukebox, you’ll find a fire door that leads to a mammoth-sized backyard hangout spot. Complete with a wall that shows projections of all Phillies games and illuminated Cornhole boxes all set up and ready to be dominated. Play nice, take turns.

Oh, and since the bar doesn’t serve food, you can bring pizza and sandwiches in with you. Don’t tell the regulars we told you about this one. It’ll cost us a finger, if not our lives.

Located at 149 Brown St. (215) 413-0455

Bistrot La Minette

Chef Peter Woolsey has made a name for himself beyond the desserts that made him famous at the now-defunct Stephen Starr eatery Washington Square.

He realized a lifelong dream and opened Bistrot La Minette during Philly’s little French Revolution that occurred two summers ago. Competing with the likes of monolithic Parc and neighboring Coquette, Chef Woolsey knew it would take more than beautiful Pot de crème to get customers into his dining room.

The following summer, Bistrot La Minette opened their picturesque backyard (pictured), and you couldn’t buy a seat if you wanted. But now that newness has waned, and you can enjoy your Gascony Lamb Shank in a gorgeous setting, complete with French films playing on the wall of the establishment. C’est Magnifique.

Located at 623 South 6th Street. (215) 925-8000.

Old City Cheese (CLOSED)

What? Oh yes, my friends, that wonderful cheesery run by the forever sexy Alex Baute has a secret. There’s no sign announcing the existence of said patio, but trust your gut and take a quick turn down the narrow door just 5 feet left of the front entrance. Beyond 30 footsteps over creaking wood floor panels lives a little piece of Provence. Complete with gravel floor, a working fountain, and pristine arbor canopy. And if that’s not enough, it’s BYOB.

One word of warning: There are only 8 total seats back there, so get in early on Sunday morning for a cup of coffee and The Inquirer.

Located at 160 N 3rd St. (215) 238-1716

Check out our list of the best BYOB Restaurants in Philadelphia

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