Craig LaBan’s takeout and outdoor dining picks

It’s not your standard-issue Center City District Restaurant Week. No, not with a new citywide vaccine mandate for indoor dining in effect and the omicron surge making even fully vaccinated people second guess (once again) whether they should be eating in dining rooms at all.

Smartly, this year’s lineup of Center City restaurants offering multicourse prix-fixe lunches for $25 and dinners for $40 also has plenty of options for outdoor dining and takeout. Is either an optimal set up for a Philly food adventure?

Probably not considering the plunging temperatures outside. Then again, some of the best outdoor structures are heated. And also: Think about the dire challenges our restaurants are facing again heading into a long, cold winter and consider this another resourceful opportunity to support your favorite establishments when they need it the most.

Tequilas Restaurant

Philly’s pioneer of traditional Mexican cuisine just brightened the decor of its historic and elegant dining room. But we recently chose to savor the warmth of its impressively heated sidewalk cabanas, where this year’s three-course menu has can’t miss options with the epazote-scented tortilla soup, cochinita pibil or the mar y tierra entree combo of tequila-buttered shrimp with rib eye steak over creamy chorizo sauce. Not included in the RW menu, but also good for warming the soul: Explore the 103 mezcals and 100 tequilas on the city’s best curated agave spirits list.

1602 Locust St., 215-546-0181;

Spice Finch

The modern Mediterranean flavors are always vivid, fresh and light at chef Jennifer Carroll’s airy restaurant and bar near Rittenhouse Square. It also has one of the most tasteful dining shelters for outdoor dining, to dig into a three-course menu. Start with her signature broccoli tabbouleh, or a Spanish egg-and-potato tortilla with harissa aioli, then head for one of the best whole fish you’ll find on an RW menu, this one with leek vinaigrette and preserved lemons.

220 S. 17th St., 215-309-2238;


Gianluca Demontis’ standard-bearer in the Italian BYOB genre has always been one of Restaurant Week’s best performers, with an expansive menu of Tuscan-influenced choices. Its outdoor dining options unfortunately aren’t suitable for extreme weather dining. But several of its items survive takeout reasonably well, from the charred octopus and meatballs with polenta appetizers, to the truffled walnut pappardelle, prosciutto- and mozzarella-draped chicken cutlet, and pork chop with green peppercorn-brandy cream sauce. Tartufo for dessert!

2012 Sansom St., 215-875-8116,

Clementine’s Stable Cafe

This spacious modern American restaurant and bar helping to revive North Broad Street was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2021. Chef Leo Forneas and his crew are kicking-off 2022 with one of the better-value Restaurant Week menus, with a four-course menu including several choices that travel reasonably well, from tuna tartare and Tasmanian sea trout crudo to braised short rib with spaetzle, kabocha agnolotti, swordfish with white beans and tomato conserva, and a juicy grilled pork chop with pickled peppers.

631 N. Broad St., 215-454-6530,

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