Just when you thought Cleveland couldn't possibly squeeze in another patio, somebody opens another one and proves us dead wrong. Not that we're complaining, mind you. Blessed with more alfresco eating and drinking options than our already feeble livers can handle, our fair-weathered village on a Great Lake is primed for its best summer ever.
Just this spring, Nano Brew in Ohio City—what that one guy at Eater.com called one of the "best new craft beer bars in the country"—dusted off the expansive back patio that for years was Garage Bar's signature feature. New beer hall-style picnic tables, lighting, landscaping, heating and, of course, a never-ending supply of over-hopped suds already is making this one of the busiest plots in town.
Drink: Nano Cluster Bomb
1859 W. 25th St., 216-862-6631
Going on two decades, Lopez Southwest Kitchen has been the place on Lee to sip margaritas beneath the open sky. Ever since chef Michael Herschman joined the team a few years back, we also can eat to our hearts' content beneath that open sky. While smaller than many current (read sprawling) patios, Lopez' is petite, elegant and just boisterous enough to be fun.
Eat: Ceviche trio
Drink: Mexican Shandalita
2196 Lee Rd., 216-932-9000
Hodge's urban oasis, set back from a busy thoroughfare, is surprisingly beefy, boasting an outdoor bar and table and chairs galore. Even better, after a revolving-door kitchen, it appears that quality and consistency has arrived in the form of chef Jim Blevins. Given the dearth of prime center-city open-air eats, we're thankful this patio is no mirage.
Eat: Lobster Roll
Drink: Frosty Strawberry Mint Julep
668 Euclid Ave., 216-771-4000,
Felice Urban Café is best known for its Craftsman-style home setting. But it's the outdoor bar, built within a converted wooden carriage house, that attracts diners all summer long. A covered patio adjacent to the garage bar means never having to say "let's eat inside" come spring showers. Bonus: The patio boasts great views of the restaurant's huge kitchen garden.
Eat: Hangar steak frites
12502 Larchmere Blvd., 216-791-0918
You can't mention the word "patio" in this town with some know-it-all chiming in with L'Albatros this and L'Albatros that. Okay, so we are those know-it-alls, who not only bring up this leafy urban retreat at ever opportunity, but also sit our butts down there as often as possible, too. This is outdoor dining at its finest, with sturdy tables, casual sofas, and a granite-topped bar.
Eat: Oysters on the half shell
Drink: Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose
11401 Bellflower Rd., 216-791-7880
We've been fans of Tremont Tap House from the moment it opened. It was TTH, after all, that first and fully introduced diners to the gastropub concept, merging ambitious fare with a stellar craft beer list. Going on about six years, this place – this patio – should be near the top of every Cleveland diner's list of alfresco eats.
Eat: Salmon BLT
Drink: Columbus Brewing IPA
2572 Scranton Rd., 216-298-4451
SOHO Kitchen and Bar's Southern-styled menu seems tailor made for the Dog Days of summer. If there's any kind of breeze, plant yourself on the roomy side patio, roll up your shirtsleeves, tuck a napkin under your chin, and dig into a platter of fried chicken. Sporting a great view of the hustle and bustle that is W. 25th Street—but set back from the sidewalk—this perch is primed for people-watching.
Eat: Southern fried chicken
Drink: Gentleman's Breakfast
1899 W. 25th St., 216-298-9090
Who doesn't love getting high in summer? Climb a few flights of stairs at Greenhouse Tavern and find yourself high above East Fourth, enjoying commanding views of diners and pedestrians below. This rooftop bar is home to some of the best pop-up events in town, so keep an eye on the restaurant's social media feeds for the next rooftop fete.
Drink: OYO Stone Fruit Negroski
2038 E. Fourth St., 216-393-4302
Spice Kitchen + Bar inherited a decent patio from its former tenant, but it's only gotten nicer, and not just because the food and drink are in another league. This hideaway in Gordon Square owns the farm-to-table niche, meaning alfresco diners can savor the season's best eats and drinks without having to brave the farmers market or the hot kitchen.
Eat: Tempura-fried Ohio asparagus
Drink: Peach Tarragon Sipper
5800 Detroit Ave., 216-961-9637
Summer west of the Cuyahoga doesn't officially commence until John McDonnell swings open the wide French doors of his lovable Tartine Bistro. The compact brick-paved courtyard becomes the restaurant's front porch, uniting neighbors in food, wine and conversation. This truly is a hidden-gem hideaway.
Eat: Beef brisket tartine
Drink: Vin rouge
19110 Old Detroit Rd., 440-331-0800,
Sidewalk seating can be hit or miss, depending on the sidewalk in question, naturally. But there's something authentic and pleasant about the sidewalk patio at Le Petit Triangle Café — it just feels so European. This quaint assemblage of red bistro seating makes a natural setting to enjoy a savory crêpe and a glass of wine.
Eat: Ham and brie crepe
1881 Fulton Rd., 216-281-1881,
Thanks to a long and storied history, Players on Madison has built one of the largest and most loyal fan bases on the West Side. So consider it a sort of thank you when after two decades, the restaurant finally installed a patio. The sun-dappled space might not be huge, but it is tasteful, and a pergola offers protection from the blazing sun.
Eat: Patio garden pizza
Drink: Domaine Drouhin pinot noir
14523 Madison Ave., 216-226-5200
Boasting both covered and open-air seating, Market's generously sized patio has you covered rain or shine. Good beer, hearty comfort food, and a festive fire pit round out the amenities of this popular Rocky River spot.
Eat: Ribeye Philly
Drink: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
1137 Linda St., 440-799-4292
That new-patio smell finally has faded from Momocho's freshly laid piazza, which was recently installed when owner Eric Williams ripped up his entire patio to start fresh. Now, in addition to an expanded footprint, the alfresco dining room features new landscaping, fencing, lighting, and umbrellas.
Eat: Adobo-braised wild boar taquitos
Drink: Cucumber margarita
1835 Fulton Rd., 216-694-2122
Countless restaurant owners have been seduced by this welcoming front patio on Clifton Boulevard. But where (many) others have failed, Clifton Martini and Wine Bar is thriving. This likeable wine bar inherited one of the roomiest and most beloved verandas on the West Side and is making the most of it.
Eat: Chocolate 'Confusion' Cake
Drink: Old vine zinfandel
10427 Clifton Blvd., 216-965-0221
Cropicana is gone, Sunset Grille is back, and Whiskey Island remains one of the only places in town with bona fide lakeside dining. Hugging the shores of Lake Erie, this hedonistic summer getaway has enough open-air lawn seating for every boat owner in town.
Eat: Chicken quesadilla
2800 Whiskey Island, sunset-grille.net