With winter upon us, restaurants in Philadelphia and across the state of New Jersey are pulling out all the stops to make outdoor dining available year round. From simple set-ups like heated tents to upgraded patios and fireside service, here are the best places to enjoy everything from Afghani stews to Australian wine, all available to book on OpenTable.
For Southern brunch in Cedar Park: Booker’s
Booker’s “greenhouse” patio has a roof and plastic sheeting on the sides to manage the elements and trap heat from the heaters while still allowing air to circulate. Settle into the wrought-iron tables to enjoy Southern classics such as blackened catfish and chicken and waffles, and wash it all down with a hot toddy. Don’t miss the larger-than-life reproduction of photojournalist John W. Mosely’s 1940 shot of the Afro Market on a bathroom trip — while masked, of course.
For noodles and dumplings in Fishtown: Cheu Fishtown
Grab a seat under a heater at Cheu’s plant-lined patio, and warm up with the constantly changing menu of noodle dishes, ranging from traditional miso ramen to a more modern version with brisket. Visit during happy hour for a dollar off all drafts, cocktail specials, and reasonably priced snacks like sweet potato rangoons with a sweet and sour tamarind sauce.
For fish tacos in Fairmount: La Calaca Feliz
La Calaca Feliz bills itself as a contemporary Mexican restaurant that offers both favorites such as chorizo fundido and carnitas tacos alongside creative dishes like bacon and fig guacamole. For the winter, the restaurant added roll-up “walls” and heaters to the patio, allowing for temperature control without sacrificing the benefits of an open-air table.
For a taste of the Amalfi Coast in Old City: Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti
When you want to pretend you’re on vacation, head to Positano Coast by Aldo Lamberti. The covered second-floor patio manages to maintain its beachy vibe despite the updates for winter, including heaters and partial walls to block the wind. A new hot cocktail menu puts Italian riffs on standbys like hot apple cider, spiked here with Italian brandy and Fernet Branca — an ideal way to warm up before tucking into a bowl of seafood risotto.
For greenhouse dining in Rittenhouse: The Greenhouses at Harper’s Garden
This winter, contemporary American spot Harper’s Garden will be serving up the restaurant’s seasonally-driven fare in some new digs: a fleet of heated greenhouses. Available to book for parties of up to four guests, the glass enclosures offer a temperate place to enjoy dishes such as fennel-laden crab bisque or farfalle pasta with autumn-spiced wagyu beef meatballs.
For al fresco beers in Avalon: Avalon Brew Pub
Though it’s just half a block from the ocean, you can toast comfortably on Avalon Brew Pub’s covered, heated patio area. The housemade beers range from IPAs to Belgian-sytyle witbier, with a broad menu of pub food such as pretzels, pizzas, and fish and chips to help soak them up.
For wine and ice skating in Egg Harbor City: The Champagne Patio at Renault Winery and Resort
For a winter day trip, head to The Champagne Patio at Renault Winery. Part of the property’s larger “Vinter Wonderland” experience, The Champagne Patio is equipped with heaters and fire pits to keep things comfortable all winter long. You can sip on the winery’s namesake sparkler or hot cocktails while enjoying casual fare such as short rib flatbread and spinach and artichoke. When you’re finished eating, take a quick spin around the temporary ice skating rink.
For Afghan/French fusion in Atlantic City: Setaara
Setaara calls itself “the world’s first Afghani/French fusion restaurant,” and it certainly is one of the most unique restaurants in Atlantic City. The menu juxtaposes French classics like escargots à la Bourguignon and Afghani dishes such as mantu, a steamed dumpling filled with ground beef and topped with yogurt sauce. The outdoor seating is located within the inner courtyard, providing a covered but airy space with heaters to keep things toasty.
For seaside brunch in Long Branch: Rooney’s
Located on the beach in the lively town of Long Branch, Rooney’s expansive outdoor area is filled from noon to night in warmer months. In the winter, the patio hosts brunch under heaters where diners can enjoy the scenery while sipping the restaurant’s generously-sized bloody marys and enjoying dishes such as the Carolina benedict: a take on the classic egg dish that’s given the seaside treatment with the addition of lump crab meat.
For tapas in Shrewsbury: Albariño
Albariño is a love letter to Spain, tucked between two shopping centers on a busy stretch of road in Monmouth County. For winter, the restaurant added heaters to the outdoor patio on the side of the restaurant, giving diners a comfortable place to sip from the extensive Spanish wine list and enjoy quintessential tapas such as patatas bravas and grilled octopus with romesco sauce.
For casual bites and natural wine in Jersey City: Frankie
This Australian-inspired cafe brings a little slice of Sydney to Jersey City, serving up casual bites for dinner and brunch, including a solid burger and Australia’s biggest export: avocado toast. But the real draw here is the wine, a curated list that highlights natural wines from around the world. For the winter, the restaurant constructed a partially enclosed patio equipped with heaters that blocks wind while still allowing ventilation.
For Italian in a winter garden in Cliff Side Park: Rustica
Rustica has constructed one of the most ambitious solutions to outdoor dining: a large, partially enclosed, steel-framed “skylight winter garden.” Aside from the partial openings that allow fresh air through, the restaurant has placed dividers between tables, added a hospital-grade filtration system, and placed infrared heaters around the space. Once inside, diners can enjoy Italian-inflected dishes such as linguine fra diavolo as well as steakhouse indulgences, like the 48-ounce tomahawk steak for two.
For curling and cocktails in Weehawken: Marcus at NoHu Rooftop
For a skyhigh view of New York City, head to NoHu’s 15,000-square-foot roof deck, which has been made winter-ready with heaters, Adirondack chairs, fire pits, and even a curling rink. Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson handles the food here, serving up globally influenced comfort food like the warming dorowat pasta, an Italian riff on the spicy Ethiopian chicken stew that’s bulked up with pasta.
For Mexican and mariachi in Rochelle Park: El Asadero Mexican Grill
If you’re missing live music, stop by this Rochelle Park Mexican spot, where a mariachi band performs every Wednesday and Friday under the tented, heated patio area. The food here includes classics such as guacamole and enchiladas, as well as a large selection of grilled meats. Need something to wash it down? Check out the restaurant’s extensive list of tequila-based cocktails.
For international cuisine in New Providence: Providence Bar & Kitchen
The food at Providence Bar & Kitchen skews Italian, but brings in international influences to create an exciting menu where you could start a meal with yellowfin tuna tartare and then move onto a main dish of veal milanese. The large, enclosed patio is equipped with heaters and can be covered with a retractable awning, ensuring a variety of set-ups to keep you comfortable throughout the season.