When you only have three months of summer (in a good year), it’s critical to take every opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. What better way to soak up summer than dining al fresco? Here are some of our favorites in town — did we miss one? Drop us a comment below and we’ll check it out for ourselves — it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
On the next sunny day, head to your favorite Wealthy St. taco shop to load up on tacos al pastor and sip margaritas on the rocks. The fenced-in patio with big black umbrellas offer a cool oasis with excellent people watching views.
Rose’s at Reeds Lake
What’s summer without an Instagram pic of the sun setting over Reed’s Lake? If you want a table on the deck, reservations are a must. Stop in on the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. for happy hour: house wine, draft beer, sangria, elite well drinks and cosmos are only $2.99, and you get 20 percent off all appetizers and pizzas.
Butcher’s Union offers al fresco dining options along the street in front and in its walled-in patio in the back. They don’t accept reservations, so if you want a coveted outdoor table, you’ll have to wait. Saddle up to the bar for the summery caipifruta cocktail (Gold Cachaca shaken with turbinado syrup, muddled strawberry, lime and cucumber) to keep you company while you wait.
Nothing says summer like a Terra wood-oven grilled pizza and a glass of Michigan rosé on the terrace. Join Terra for brunch from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and indulge in breakfast pizza with hand-pulled mozzarella or the bread pudding french toast topped with blueberry compote with a side of GR sunshine.
Graydon’s Crossing boasts an airy patio with unique triangular canvas awnings that help block the sun (sometimes). The ambiance is decidedly casual — it feels more like you’re in someone’s backyard patio than a restaurant, and that’s perfectly fine with us, especially since we can guarantee the food is a heck of a lot better than any backyard patio we’ve dined on.
The Old Goat
If you’re looking to get out of town without actually leaving town, The Old Goat is the perfect locale. It’s in the increasingly popular Alger Heights neighborhood close to other favorites like Real Food Cafe No. 1. The patio is shared by Auntie Cheetah’s Soup Shop, so regardless of which food you choose, the patio outside is yours for the enjoying.
Bistro Bella Vita
If you can’t find us after work, we’re probably sipping espresso martinis during happy hour (weekdays 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) on Bistro Bella Vita’s patio. Plus, the restaurant is prime real estate if you’re hitting a concert at the Van Andel Arena after dinner.
First, the patio is massive — I’ve never NOT gotten a table on the patio. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the golf course and pretend you’re wealthy enough to own a country club membership. While you’re there, we recommend its steaks served on a 500-degree rock. You get to cook the meat to your liking, and it makes for a cool Insta story moment, too.
*Main photo courtesy of Rose’s