May 15, 2017

Beer Gardens Bloom In Philadelphia

A Sudsy Summer Awaits, Thanks To Pop-Up & Permanent Outdoor Drinking Spaces

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Silk City in Northern Liberties serves Philadelphians brunch, dinner and nightly entertainment. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Independence Beer Garden brings 20,000-square-feet of outdoor drinking and eating space to Philadelphia's Historic District. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Center City Sips is a summertime Wednesday evening tradition when restaurants and bars in downtown Philadelphia offer food and drink specials. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Philadelphia has become a major hotspot for beer lovers (and food and wine lovers, for that matter) to drink outdoors, where beer gardens of the permanent and pop-up variety have sprung up all over the city and the surrounding suburbs. Summer staples such as Spruce Street Harbor Park, Independence Beer Garden and others have seen friendly competition from outdoor spaces at Evil Genius, the Philadelphia Zoo and others in recent years, and 2017 will be no different. Here are some of Philadelphia’s best places for drinking outdoors at parks, patios, porches, decks and docks:

Center City:

  • Drury Beer Garden – Tucked behind the Greek taverna Opa, this popular Midtown Village spot stocks two-dozen cans, five bottles and eight rotating drafts to complement its casual menu. 1311 Sansom Street, (215) 545-0170,
  • Parkway Central Library – This historic branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia offers Brews & Views: Spring Rooftop Mini Series. The pop-up serves craft beer from Victory, Tröegs and such, wine, cocktails and pretzels, cheese plates and chips and great views of the Parkway. Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., May 18-June 29. 1901 Vine Street, (215) 686-5322,
  • SkyGarten – Center City’s tallest beer garden combines the dramatic views of the uppermost floors of Three Logan Square’s SkyBrunch with the culinary magic of chef Jeremy Nolen and mixology talents of Jesse Cornell. Visitors can choose from canned and draft craft beers, cocktails and a bar snack menu while enjoying a superb vista 51 floors up. Open Wednesday-Saturday through winter. 1717 Arch Street, (215) 557-7887,
  • The Oval – Bigger and better than ever, this expansive pop-up, now with outposts that stretch from the main space in Eakins Oval along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, returns for a summer of outdoor fun. Visitors enjoy food trucks, musical performances, movies, games, large-scale art, mini-golf and a beer garden with craft brews, cocktails, wine and food. July 20-August 20. 2601 Benjamin Franklin Parkway,
  • Uptown Beer Garden – This popular early evening, Center City spot reemerges for a third summer. The 9,000-square-foot courtyard of the BNY Mellon Wealth building transforms on weekdays for happy hour with four bars and a global street food menu of small bites, sandwiches and burgers, plus spirits, sangria, wine and beer—including three exclusive brews created for the garden with Pizza Boy Brewing Company. Open weeknights through mid-September. 1735 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (215) 800-1079

Delaware River Waterfront & Philadelphia’s Historic District:

  • Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest – Just a few blocks north of Spruce Street Harbor Park, Summerfest draws a warm-weather crowd with its outdoor roller rink, mini-golf, boathouse-inspired lodge—and loads of food and drink options. The latter includes the 200-seat Chickie’s and Pete’s Waterfront Crabshack, which, last year, collaborated with Sly Fox Brewing Company on a summery IPA. May 26-September 4. 101 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 922-2FUN,
  • Deck – The Independence Seaport Museum’s contribution to the outdoor fun returns to its second-story perch overlooking Spruce Street Harbor Park for three weekends: Memorial Day, the weekend before July 4 and Labor Day. The family-friendly pop-up offers classic summer fare such as burgers and dogs, drinks from Toll Man Joe’s and great views of fireworks. May 26-28, June 30-July 1, September 2-4. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655,
  • Flying Fish Beer Garden at the Battleship New Jersey – On the east side of the Delaware River Waterfront, the New Jersey, the country’s largest and most decorated battleship, hosts Jersey-based Flying Fish Brewery for above-deck Thursday happy hours. The free, all-ages event features $5 microbrews, and the first such happening includes a free performance by Baltimore-based Case & Barley country band. May 18 & 25. (866) 877-6262,
  • Independence Beer Garden – In a 20,000-square-foot, circular space across from the Liberty Bell, this aptly named hotspot has prolific chef-restaurateur Michael Schulson at the helm and an all-American food and drink menu at the ready. Think fried cheese balls, pigs in a blanket, double-decker burgers, salads and strawberry shortcake washed down by a rotating can and tap beer list from breweries such as Victory, Deschutes, Yards, 21st Amendment and Sly Fox. Adding to the atmosphere: Adirondack chairs, string lights, shuffleboard, corn hole, ivy-covered pergolas and plenty of picnic tables. Open through fall, weather permitting. 100 Independence Mall West, (215) 922-7100,
  • La Peg – Offering a great view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the restaurant that debuted its very own ice bar back in February knows how to execute a summer party just as well. La Peg’s “shipping container” Seafood Shack has a gorgeous patio and outdoor bar for enjoying lobster rolls, fried clams, grilled seafood, burgers and craft beers all summer long. (It also offers outdoor movie nights and live performances on select nights, courtesy of its building-mate, FringeArts.) Through October 31. 140 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 375-7744,
  • Morgan’s Pier – Conveniently located next to Race Street Pier, this hotspot draws people for weekend brunch and weekday DJs with no cover and close-up views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. In a backyard setting with wooden picnic tables, umbrellas, twinkling lights and Liden trees, the laid-back crowd enjoys a hefty selection of canned and draft beers, seasonal cocktails, along with a refined picnic menu overseen this year by chefs Kevin D’Egidio and Michael Griffiths of Helm and South Helm. New features this year include a draft wine and cocktail system and adult milkshakes. As always, after dark, Morgan’s Pier turns it up with musicians and guest DJs. Open through September 24; Friday-Sunday through October 29. 221 N. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 279-7134,
  • Spruce Street Harbor Park – This popular waterfront park returns with 25 more hammocks (bringing the total to 50), colorful lights, beautiful landscaping, patio games and great food—from Franklin Fountain soft serve to Garces’ boardwalk-style pizza. Another improvement: eight taps in the Beer Garden to dispense seasonal brews such as Yards Brewing Company’s Blood Orange Witbier and a rotating selection of draft cocktails that are best enjoyed on the netted suspension lounge over the river. May 12-October 1. Columbus Boulevard & Spruce Street, (215) 922-2FUN,

River Wards & Callowhill:

  • Evil Genius – Last year’s successful run of pop-up gardens by the crew from this Fishtown brewery now has a brick-and-mortar side yard spot to show for it. The popular beers created by two Villanova graduates are served up five days a week, along with some light fare. Open weather permitting. 1727 N. Front Street,
  • Frankford Hall – With outdoor seating for up to 240, Stephen Starr’s biggest Fishtown spot keeps it plain with exposed brick walls, reclaimed industrial materials and table tennis. Classic German foods—pretzels, bratwurst, spaetzle—are available at a walk-up counter, as is a hefty beer menu that includes everything from traditional German beers to craft specialties available by the half-liter or liter. Open year-round. 1210 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-3338,
  • Heffe Beer Garden – The lot next to the taqueria that shares its name expands on maverick chef Peter McAndrew’s Mexican operation in Fishtown. Servers from the restaurant deliver lamb-belly burritos and octopus tacos to the outdoor seats while a custom bar pours Hell or High Watermelon beer-splashed Fishtown Ritas, Victory’s Summer Love Ale and classics Coronas and Tecates. Call ahead for hours. 1431 Frankford Avenue, (215) 423-2309
  • Llama Tooth – Across the street from Union Transfer, this mural-clad beer garden (and restaurant) boasts an ambitious beer menu that pays plenty of attention to local favorites from Yards, Philadelphia Brewing Company, Dogfish Head, Weyerbacher, Voodoo and many others. Drinkers size up their prospective beer’s state of origin, style and Beer Advocate score before making their selections, then accompany them with salads, burgers and shareable appetizers. Open weather permitting. 1033 Spring Garden Street, (267) 639-4582,
  • Memphis Taproom – The picnic-table lot next to the popular Fishtown pub returns in 2017 with a few changes. The restaurant is now offering the whole menu outdoors (including roast pork sandwiches and chicken fried chicken) and table service too. The food truck, however, remains. Open through October. 2331 E. Cumberland Street, (215) 425-4460,
  • Silk City – Part island oasis/part junkyard, this beloved Northern Liberties beer garden is filled with colorful tables, empty-kegs-turned-chairs, string lights and garden ornaments. The hipster clientele perennially packs in for a large selection of high- and low-end beers—from Dogfish Head Indian Brown to PBR and Miller High Life. The American fare with flair is so good it’s been featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Open year-round, weather permitting. 435 Spring Garden Street, (215) 592-8838,

South Street & Point Breeze:

  • American Sardine Bar – This popular Point Breeze hangout has a backyard patio that faces 18th Street. Throughout the warm-weather months, brew lovers can expect beer events and grill nights—enjoyed in webbed lawn chairs. Hungry visitors can pair their outdoor drinks with the $2 namesake sardine sandwich and the salt-and-pepper fries. Open spring through fall, weather permitting. 1800 Federal Street, (215) 334-2337,
  • PHS Pop Up Garden at South Street – Fragrant herbs, crepe myrtles, climbing vines and one tall mulberry tree have proved a perfect spot for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) to set up seasonal bars in springs past—and present. Cantina Los Caballitos operates this flagship pop-up, serving burritos (and burrito bowls), corn on the cob with lime mayo and queso fresco and more. Weekly events include live music on Brewsday Tuesday and a guest chef series every other Thursday, with appearances from Di Bruno Brothers, Federal Donuts, Royal Tavern and others. Through October. 1438-46 South Street,

University City:

  • PHS Pop Up Garden at uCity Square – The newer of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s two pop-up gardens transforms a vacant lot in the heart of collegiate West Philly into an urban orchard, complete with apple trees and a canopy of blooming vines. Jet Wine Bar will operate the garden, which will offer Tex-Mex menu of BBQ, tacos, nachos and more from Rex 1516 and Cafe Ynez. Drink selections include margaritas, wine, craft beer and sangria. May 31-early fall. 36th & Filbert Streets,
  • William Street Common – This fun University City indoor beer garden expands into a 60-seat patio where patrons enjoy a casual menu of snacks, salads and sandwiches, along with a $3 drink menu that includes cocktails, wine and beers from a rotating draft list. Open weather permitting. 3900 Chestnut Street, (215) 397-4693,

Outlying Philadelphia Neighborhoods:

  • Chestnut Hill Brewing Co. – Tucked behind the Chestnut Hill Hotel and in front of the Market at the Fareway, this cozy outdoor spot offers wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and own-brewed beer, including sours and IPAs for lunch through dinner, Wednesdays through Sundays. Open through fall, weather permitting. 8229 Germantown Avenue, (215) 247-0300,
  • Hop Angel Brauhaus – Authentic German food, European glassware, wooden picnic tables and live foliage make this Northeast Philly courtyard pretty close to a traditional biergarten. Open every night for dinner in season, the Fox Chase beer garden welcomes well-behaved dogs and pays homage to the Fatherland with an Alpine-looking mural. Twelve taps change constantly, but one element stays the same: At least a few of them always carry German and German-style lagers. Open through fall, weather permitting. 7980 Oxford Avenue, (215) 437-1939,
  • Parks on Tap – Concession trucks meet permanent parks for five days at a time during this partnership among Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and restaurateur Avram Hornik. The program rotates among iconic outdoor spaces, bringing to each two popular trucks at a time (one serving food, the other selling craft beer and other adult beverages), along with live music and outdoor games. First stop: the Azalea Garden, on Kelly Drive behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Second: South Philly’s FDR Park. The rest of the schedule includes Columbus Square in East Passyunk, Schuylkill Banks in Center City, Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park, Gorgas Park in Roxborough and more. Wednesdays through Sundays, May 17-September 30. (215) 422-3011,
  • Watering Hole at the Philadelphia Zoo – Victory Brewing Company sponsors this added incentive to linger at the country’s oldest zoo. Near the Eagle’s Roost on the property’s tree-filled, landscaped south end, the spot offers guests—who enter free with zoo admission—a frequently changing selection of beer, wine and light fare. Open Fridays-Sundays until Memorial Day; daily May 29 through September 4; Fridays-Sundays Labor Day through October. 3400 Girard Avenue, (215) 243-1100,

Outside Philadelphia:

  • Conshohocken Beer Garden – Just 15 miles northwest of Center City, this 2017 favorite returns Fridays through June, takes July and August off and comes back for Fridays after school resumes. Pieri Restaurant Group, known for the StoneRose, Bar Lucca and Cerdo, operates this kid- and pet-friendly garden and offers beer, wine, food, live music and games. Fridays through June 30; and again from September 8-October 27. 2 Ash Street, Conshohocken,
  • The Creamery – Noted landscape architects Groundswell helped convert an industrial space in pretty Kennett Square (about 40 miles from Center City) into a community enclave last summer. This year, the space returns with a BBQ-themed menu, rotation of food trucks and—new this year—permanent bathrooms, a children’s garden with games and water features, local art and more. The Creamery’s Wine Barn section will also be serving pizza and a selection of meat and cheese pairings. Opens May 26-October 1. 401 Birch Street, Kennett Square, (484) 732-7040,

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