I’ve always loved dining al fresco in good weather, but never more than during the COVID-19 pandemic, since outdoor dining is well-suited to social distancing and fresh air flow.
Many restaurants have always offered patio seating; others have had to get creative as a way to increase seating for customers during the pandemic, such as turning parking lots and sidewalks into dining areas. Here are a few excellent outdoor dining options if you’d like to get out to eat out.
At Cucina Wine Bar, owner Dean Pierose and his team have turned their parking lot into an outdoor dining space in order to accommodate more restaurant customers while safely social distancing. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of parking at this cozy Avenues dining and drinking spot.
You can also enjoy talented chef Joey Ferran’s exquisite cuisine al fresco with dishes such as his excellent ahi tuna poke; crab cakes with shrimp mousseline; lobster gnocchi with summer squash and lion’s mane mushrooms; Oaxacan chile pappardelle; and roasted Cornish game hen with baked rosemary risotto.
As an added bonus, Cucina has live music on the patio every Saturday night through September, beginning at 6pm. Reservations are required.
Dining at HSL is always a treat, and the exquisite cuisine dished up there is now available via curbside pickup or for enjoying on the HSL patio. Reservations are required since space is limited, but the patio is set up for safe-distance dining, and guests are required to wear masks until food or beverages are served.
Grilled oysters with preserved lemon granita would be a tasty way to begin a meal, followed perhaps by the incomparable fried chicken or market fish and a cold flute of Brut Rosé.
The shaded patio at Caffé Molise is a wonderful spot to enjoy the restaurant’s outstanding Italian fare. Sip a cool glass of Prosecco with the antipasti del giorno — a daily selection of artisan meats, cheeses, veggies and grilled baguette. Traditional lasagne at Caffé Molise is always a crowd-pleaser and I can’t get enough of the rich tasting pappardelle al sugo. Jazz saxman John Flanders plays live on the patio most Fridays.
In case you missed the news, Scott Evans’ Finca restaurant is back serving Spanish-style tapas and such, now located in the 15th and 15th space that was formerly Fresco Italian Cafe and then Trestle Tavern. One of the main attractions for me at that location is the beautiful courtyard dining area with ivy adorning the restaurant’s outer walls. The current Finca menu is chock full of pintxos (small bites), tapas (larger, shareable bites), and entree size plates called platos. Don’t leave without giving the authentic paella de mariscos a try.
Log Haven is fortunate to have a large patio for serving guests who prefer to dine outside, as well as a sprawling amphitheatre for private parties who wish to reserve it. In addition to chef Dave Jones’ creative killer cuisine, al fresco dining at Log Haven offers expansive mountain views, waterfalls, hiking trails, streams and more. If being nourished by nature is your thing, Log Haven is the place.
Sesame-crusted Dungeness crab cakes are delicious on the patio, inside the restaurant, or anywhere. Ditto chef Jones’ achiote grilled salmon and the ever popular grilled bison tres major steak.
The recently opened La Trattoria di Francesco offers outdoor seating in front of the restaurant — a great spot to watch people watch the denizens of the 15th and 15th neighborhood. It’s also the perfect location of upscale Italian cuisine and elevated dishes like ravioli cacio di pepe, pollo al asiago e tartufo, baccalá de Francesco and la carne di Francesco, which is a choice of meat with olive oil, truffles, and 24K gold.
And while we’re discussing Italian fare, we’d be remiss not to mention the gorgeous outdoor dining deck at Stoneground Italian Kitchen, which is open for safe-distance dining as well as curbside comfort service.
Begin with a classic Caprese salad or the addictive Polenta Tots with truffle oil before moving on to a perfect pizza, pasta, or entrees like Chicken Piccata, Gnocchi alla Vodka, Wild Isles Salmon, Black Tagliatelle with lobster, and other tempting dishes from chef Justin Shifflett. There’s free parking behind the restaurant.
Up in Park City, Deer Valley Resort’s Royal Street Cafe features al fresco dining from 11:30am to 3pm daily for lunch on the scenic deck. Menu options include delectable items such as the fresh Dungeness Crab Tower with sauces of wasabi, ginger-soy and sweet chile or Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with an arugula truffle oil and lemon salad. Also available is Deer Valley’s famous Turkey Chili, panini sandwiches, their award-winning Bacon BBQ Bison Burger, entrees, salads, sensational desserts, wine, cocktails, beer and more.
Further up the road, the owners of Tupelo Park City have opened a new farm-to-table-style eatery in Heber called Afterword. Menu items range from starters such as Maine Crab Fritters, Deviled Farm Eggs, and Smoked Idaho Trout Toast, to entrees like Roasted Idaho Trout, Fried Chicken Dinner for Two, Rocky Mountain Elk Meatloaf, and Desert Mountain Ranch Flat Iron Steak. Situated in a historic Main Street brownstone built in 1888, Afterword offers diners a sprawling patio to spread out on.