“A great outdoor restaurant is more than patio tables and umbrellas; it must thoughtfully create a sense of personality and character,” says celebrity chef Tim Love, who recently opened Woodshed Smokehouse along the Trinity River in Fort Worth, TX.
Fortunately, there’s a great alfresco dining experience to fit every personality, from the romantic wraparound terrace at fine-dining destination Auberge du Soleil in Napa, CA, to the laid-back waterfront patio of the Crab Claw in St. Michaels, MD, where you can watch local fishermen land their daily catch.
At Linger in Denver, you walk through the neon Olinger Mortuaries sign (from the restaurant’s past life) onto a rooftop patio where you’re treated to skyline views, refreshing cocktails served from a retro RV, and the first-ever rooftop food truck. It’s a winning combination of atmosphere, intoxicating food and drinks, and, as chef and owner Justin Cucci puts it, “an element of fun.”
While Linger plays up its urban location, other outdoor restaurants make a point of being in tune with nature. Tabard Inn, a favorite D.C. brunch spot, has an ivy-clad brick garden with café tables out back that feels like a retreat from the capital’s hustle and bustle.