In this, the second holiday season in the era of COVID-19, restaurant and bar owners in the Philadelphia area have made a concerted effort to decorate their halls, inside and out.
From Center City to the Main Line, here are some of the year’s brighter lights.
Even from the street, you can not miss the holiday exhibit in Point Breeze’s American Sardine Bar, where tons of small flashing holiday lights hang over outdoor dining areas and heat lamps keep people in the outdoor space warm.
📍 1800 Federal St., 📞 215-334-2337, 🌐 americansardinebar.com, 📷 @americansardine
The new Figo Ristorante has added igloos that look more like geodetic domes than the boxed creations that appeared last winter on city sidewalks and streets. Figo’s, which seats four to six people, is equipped with heating. Owner Glu Hospitality is also building a giant outdoor Christmas bar and enclosing the entire outdoor covered cocktail garden and adding outdoor heaters.
📍 1033 N. Second St., 📞 267-214-0086, 🌐 figoitalian.com, 📷 @figoitalian
Harper’s Garden, the indoor-outdoor restaurant at 31 S. 18th St., features igloos and a new chef, Chaz Brown, who competed on Bravo shows Top cook Season 9 and Around the world in 80 plates and helped run the kitchen many years ago at Union Trust.
Two sizes of greenhouses can be reserved. The smaller greenhouses can accommodate four to seven, while the larger greenhouses can accommodate six to nine. They are all individual mini-dining rooms with ventilation, heating, decor, plants and flowers, tables and chairs and a working door. These individual dining rooms complement Harper’s Gardens’ enclosed, heated trellis.
Brown has added dishes to the menu, including the salted pork chop with tatsoi, apple apricot chutney and blueberry chicken juice and a winter green and beet salad with cranberry pepita yogurt, apple cardamom vinaigrette and apple chips. There are also cocktails and mocktails.
📍 31 S. 18th St., 📞 267-886-8552, 🌐 harpersgardenphilly.com, 📷 @ harpersgarden215
Juno, the colorful Mexican-themed outdoor beer garden at 1033 Spring Garden St., has added a giant roof and greenhouses.
The new cabinet provides space for 120 seats, with a further 18 in the six-seater greenhouses. There is a convenient walk-up window that has become popular with people attending a show on Union Transfer across the street.
📍 1033 Spring Garden St., 📞 267-639-2892, 🌐 junophilly.com, 📷 @junophl
Here you can enjoy the view of the massive ice rink and the holiday lights that dot almost every corner of the room, while you sit by the fireplace by one of the campfire sites, in a festively decorated private cabin or in the ski cabin restaurant, where the tip (and plain ) hot chocolate, winter beer and cozy food flow.
📍 101 S. Columbus Blvd., 📞 267-639-2892, 🌐 delawareriverwaterfront.com, 📷 @delawareriverwaterfront
The entire patio at Lola’s Garden, which opened on Suburban Square in Ardmore in the spring of 2021, is covered, decorated and heated. The trellis offers over 125 seats, in addition to the 100 indoor seats. Chef Andrew Wood’s new dishes include crispy prawns with red pepper aioli and a grilled portobello sandwich with smoked mozzarella and Calabrian chili.
St. 51 St. Georges Rd., Ardmore, 📞 484-412-8011, 🌐 lolasgardenrestaurant.com, 📷 @lolasgardenardmore
McGillin’s holiday exhibition promises 1,000 feet of wreath, 1,200 feet of candles, 150 red bows and 200 ornaments – along with drinks like eggnog martinis, mistletoe mules and candy cane martinis.
📍 1310 Drury St., 📞 215-735-5562, 🌐 mcgillins.com
The tent street outside Rouge, which is open on all sides, has been a popular destination since last winter, when manager Maggie Huth and owner Rob Wasserman turned it into a ski lodge complete with Adirondack chairs draped in blurred carpets and antler chandeliers. During the spring and summer it turned into a garden with flashing lights, wisteria from the ceiling and lots of greenery. In mid-December, the ski hut motif returns.
📍 225 S. 18th St., 📞 215-732-6622, 🌐 rouge98.com
Uptown Beer Garden on 16th Street and JFK Boulevard have been transformed into the Christmas-themed U-Ville, a pop-up with indoor space inside a large heated tent. The atmosphere includes a Grinch who stole Christmas, festive tunes, flashing lights and festive trees.
📍 1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd., 🌐 uptownbeer.com, 📷 @uptownbeergarden
Craftsman Row Saloon at 112 S. Eightth St. was barren last Christmas due to pandemic restrictions, but it has returned to 2021 with more than 5,000 feet of wreath, thousands of candles and ornaments, hundreds of vintage and unique wooden crews, bows, socks, Santa Clauses and an elf on the shelf. The bar is known for over-the-top shakes such as Pumpkin to Talk About, with pumpkin pie, edible leaves and caramel rain. A Mardi Gras theme will follow in early 2022.
112 S. Eighth St., 215-923-0123, craftsmanrowsaloon.com, @craftsmanrowphl
Tinsel, the annual pop-up bar at 116 S. 12th St., is over-the-top festive, both inside and out. This year, guests enter through a snow-covered ice cave with more than 700 icicles hovering overhead. Snow drifts lead into Santa’s warm living room, while the paralyzed Christmas trees appear to hover overhead. Outdoor seating is also very decorated.
📍 116 S. 12th St., 📞 215-909-9406, 🌐 facebook.com/Tinselphilly, 📷 @tinselphilly