Eat Out!

Summer's here and the time is right for dining in the street

Northeast Ohio's summers may not be getting any longer, but our crop of restaurant patios continues to grow every year. Not long ago, you could count on two hands the number of eateries boasting alfresco seating. These days, not only are there literally dozens of open-air options, but the quality of them keeps getting better. Here's a rundown of our favorites — plus the best reasons to go there.

Outdoor Bars 

L'Albatros inherited one of Cleveland's finest patios when it took over the old That Place on Bellflower space. Since then, it has only gotten better: This leafy retreat accommodates cosmopolitan diners at standard tables, chic soft seating groupings, and a granite-topped bar. (11401 Bellflower Rd., 216-791-7880,

Eat: Assortment of fine cheeses

Drink: Veuve Clicquot's Yellow Label 

Felice Urban Café is perhaps best known for its charming craftsman-style home setting. But soon the patio will be the talk of the town. When it's completed next month, an old wooden garage beneath a towering oak will be converted to an alfresco bar, giving new meaning to the phrase "neighborhood buzz." (12502 Larchmere Blvd., 216-791-0918,

Eat: Grilled skirt steak with chimichurri

Drink: Spanish red Rioja


Luxe Kitchen has built a Zen-like patio that's an oasis from the urban landscape that surrounds it. The multi-level space features cypress trees in industrial planters and an outdoor bar with bold sailcloth canopies to shield the sun. Hit the doggie-friendly Sunday brunch. (6605 Detroit Ave., 216-920-0600,

Eat: Rustic egg torta

Drink: Bellini 

Garage Bar has a kick-ass patio that lacks pretension. A massive outdoor bar is protected by a tin roof, but there's also plenty of open-air space to enjoy the sky. Roll up on your Harley and enjoy the brand-new outdoor kitchen. (1859 W. 25th St., 216-696-7772,

Eat: Slow-smoked BBQ ribs

Drink: PBR Tallboy 

Metro Bar + Kitchen, it can be argued, possesses the primo Warehouse District perch for people watching. That perch will get a whole heck of a lot better when the swanky new indoor/outdoor patio is completed this month. An alfresco bar and new soft seating will wrap clear around two sides of the building, making this sidewalk patio the largest in the area. (1352 W. 6th St., 216-241-1300,

Eat: Metro burger

Drink: Jameson-spiked milkshake 

Tremont Tap House wisely installed a rolldown shutter that slides away in warm weather, connecting the exterior patio with the restaurant’s interior bar. Brilliant! Better still is the selection — some three dozen craft drafts, many available nowhere else but here. New this spring is an enormous outdoor screen for Monday-night movies. (2572 Scranton Rd., 216-298-4451, (2572 Scranton Rd., 216-298-4451,

Eat: Mussels frites

Drink: Belgian-style white beer 

New and/or Improved 

Momocho, thanks in no small part to a meandering mulberry tree, was forced to tear up its original patio and start fresh. The tree is history, replaced by graceful lilacs, new cedar fencing, industrial lighting, and crisp umbrellas. Gone, too, are the ankle-twisting pavers, which have been swapped with a smooth and seamless patch of fresh concrete. (1835 Fulton Rd., 216-694-2122,

Eat: Braised-goat taquitos

Drink: Blood Orange Margarita 

Crop Bistro benefited from last year's Warehouse District sidewalk-widening project, claiming four feet from West 6th Street. That gives diners more room to spread out and enjoy chef Steve Schimoler's modern and seasonal American fare. (1400 W. 6th St., 216-696-2767,

Eat: Chicken-fried chicken and waffles

Drink: Maker's Mark New Fashioned


Rosewood Grill gives south suburbanites a posh place to plop outdoors. Hospitality Restaurants' new Hudson eatery sports a 50-seat patio with a 12-foot gas fire pit and stadium-style stone slab seating. Don't fret; there are bottom-friendly chairs as well. (36 E. Streetsboro Rd., 330-656-2100,

Eat: Texas T-bone

Drink: Spellbound Petite Sirah


Clifton Martini and Wine Bar may not yet sound familiar, but the restaurant's sprawling front patio will certainly look familiar. Set in the former home of Velocity, Giovanna's, Mise, Jeso..., the new wine bar inherited one of the roomiest and most beloved verandas on the West Side. (10427 Clifton Blvd., 216-965-0221,

Eat: Super lump crab cakes

Drink: Wolf Gewurztraminer 

(Outdoor) Rooms with a View 

Bistro on Lincoln Park, as the name suggests, is set on Tremont's picturesque Lincoln Park, giving its sidewalk diners an unobstructed view of the village green. Freshly planted flower beds and herb gardens provide an olfactory side dish to Pete Joyce's flavorful bistro cuisine. (2391 W. 11th St., 216-862-2969,

Eat: Duck confit

Drink: Definitive Pinot Noir 

Sunset Grille on Whiskey Island is one of the few places in town that offers bona fide beachside dining. Hugging the shores of Lake Erie, this hedonistic summer getaway overlooks a 250-slip marina, a fading Coast Guard station, and the downtown skyline. (2800 Whiskey Island, no phone,

Eat: Fried perch sandwich

Drink: Ice-cold Corona


Sarava gives approximately 120 lucky diners great views of Shaker Square. Live music — not to mention passing trains — provide a sweet soundtrack to Sergio's kicky Brazilian-themed fare. Pull up a chair and share some globally inspired street food with pals. (13225 Shaker Sq., 216-295-1200,

Eat: Xim-xim

Drink: Copa Kiss


Lucky's Cafe prides itself on sourcing as many local products as possible. None are as local, however, as those grown in the raised-bed gardens that grace the casual outdoor dining area. Heather Haviland's very own community-garden plot gives urban diners a mini-farm experience. (777 Starkweather Ave., 216-622-7773,

Eat: Breakfast burrito

Drink: Coffee and O.J.

Small, Spare, and Sexy 

Lolita, a.k.a. the original Lola, may not be the first place one thinks of to dine alfresco. But on balmy nights, the diminutive outdoor room fills up fast, thanks to its secret-garden feel provided by a roof and wood-lattice fencing. (900 Literary Rd., 216-771-5652,

Eat: Anchovy pizza

Drink: Fattoria di Lucignano Chianti 

Tartine Bistro in Rocky River has a façade of French doors that swings wide on warm evenings, uniting inside and out. Authentic in scale, the compact brick-paved courtyard fosters a heightened sense of energy due to elbow-to-elbow seating and affordable carafes of house wine. (19110 Old Detroit Rd., 440-331-0800,

Eat: Frisee salad

Drink: Picpoul de Pinet 

Players on Madison waited 20 years to install a patio, but fans of this Lakewood mainstay are delighted they did. The sun-dappled space may not be huge, but it is tasteful in design, and a pergola offers diners protection from the glaring sun. (14523 Madison Ave., 216-226-5200,

Eat: Cavatelli rustica

Drink: Chianti Riserva 

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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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