City sidewalk cafes evoke European-style al fresco dining, but in Philadelphia’s suburbs, “outdoor dining” expands to include terraces, patios and gardens, and tables with views of rivers, streams, babbling brooks and 18th greens. Here are some of the top spots to sip or sup in the suburban outdoors. -Jay Lloyd
264 Canal Street
Phoenixville, PA 19460
Set in a scenic spot on the Schuylkill Canal, Fitzwater Station offers a sun-splashed deck with views of kayaks and canoes making a lazy passage down the waterway. The food ranges from pub grub to pasta. At the happy hour on the deck, you can’t beat Fitzwater’s crab balls or steamers, or the restaurant’s heaping bowl of iced shrimp alongside a cold beer.
800 Spring Mill Avenue
Conshohocken, PA 19460
A garden setting on a patio under the stars enhances the presentation of the authentic Mexican dishes at Coyote Crossing. The margaritas remind me of a classic cantina in Matamoras, and the grilled fish has the flavor of an Acapulco getaway. If you’re a sucker for fajitas, try theirs.
SPRING HOLLOW GRILLE
3350 Schuylkill Rd.
Spring City, PA 19475
The genius who first decided on a golf course as a backdrop to wining and dining deserves a medal. The view from the dining terrace at the Spring Hollow Golf Course is spectacular. Overlooking the 18th green and the water hazard at the approach is an ideal setting for an evening drink or a meal. Traditional American fare, an Italian-themed night and popular pianist Todd Horn create a country club environment at this scenic public course and eatery.
CHADWICK’S AT SHANNONDELL
2750 Egypt Rd.
Audubon, PA 19403
Another public golf course provides the setting for this popular and relaxing lunch stop. Chadwick’s at the Shannondell Club serves up a delicious and varied menu that includes anything from Reubens to wraps, and the restaurant is situated on a broad patio alongside the 18th green. It’s an ideal place to watch hackers and scratch golfers sink that final putt while sipping a cool midday refresher. Better yet, why not play a morning round and then step over to join the lunch crowd? And for dinner under the stars, the big draw at Chadwick’s is prime rib.
THE INN AT ST. PETER’S VILLAGE
3471 St. Peters Rd.
St. Peters Village, PA 19470
Bloody Marys and steak and eggs are just part of the allure of an opulent Sunday brunch at the Inn at St. Peter’s terrace, which overlooks French Creek in rural Chester County. At dinner time, The Inn at St. Peter’s Village offers finely-crafted Italian fare in a beautiful outdoor setting. Yet while the view is rustic, the dining sophisticated, and there are finely-appointed rooms for a weekend or mid-week stay.
One Main Street
Stockton, NJ 08559
The picturesque Stockton Inn has occupied its spot near the Delaware River since almost 75 years before George Washington made his famous crossing. Broadway song-scribe Richard Rogers stayed here and penned “A Small Hotel” as his ode to the inn. The outdoor dining area is a garden patio, complete with a waterfall and fish pond that supplies endless fascination. At dinner, look for steaks, chops, traditional seafood and a favorite, cioppino.
BLACK BASS HOTEL
3774 River Rd.
Lumberville, PA 18933
As the name implies, seafood is the lure at the popular Black Bass Hotel. Lunch or dinner on the river deck includes views of the Delaware River, just six miles north of New Hope. And a Sunday drive in the country isn’t complete without a stop at the Black Bass’ champagne brunch, where the menu ranges from bagels and lox to filet and eggs, and is spiced up with a bit of chicken curry.
THE TIKI BAR AT SPRING MOUNTAIN
750 Spring Mount Rd.
Spring Mount, PA 19473
The Tiki Bar at the base of the Spring Mountain ski area is one place where you can’t complain about the food…because you cook it! This Caribbean-themed outdoor eatery—with its colorful bar and table-top umbrellas—offers a unique way to dine. The restaurant will sell you the raw steaks, chops and seafood (even alligator tail!), and they provide the grills, utensils and spices. However, you do the cooking. It’s dining in the heart of the Philadelphia suburbs, only with a lush mountain view.
These are just a few of the Philadelphia area’s many suburban outdoor dining spots. Some are tables planted on parking lots or sidewalks, while others are located in more scenic settings. Finding that hidden gem is a great summertime pastime, and the spots covered here are those I personally return to over and over again.