With the exception of a few picnic tables scattered here and there outside of shrimp and chicken shacks, I don’t really remember outdoor dining being “a thing” when I was young. Today, however, al fresco seating can be found in restaurants ranging from fast food franchise eateries to Michelin 3-Star fine dining restaurants, and everywhere in between. That is a good thing. And, if there is any upside to a worldwide pandemic, it might be that it forced many restaurants to either expand, improve, or add outdoor seating options that were previously limited or nonexistent. With many more toasty summer days ahead, here are 10 of my favorite outdoor dining spots.
Located in the beautiful Yalecrest space that was previously home to Sea Salt, One-0-Eight Bistro sports one of the largest and loveliest patios in town. During Sunday brunch every other week, guests can enjoy live jazz on the patio, in addition to mimosa specials and menu temptations such as local burrata with basil-arugula pesto and balsamic tomatoes; a terrific sandwich called Le Ardenne with brie, apple, arugula pesto and tapenade; smoked salmon hash; biscuits & gravy; avocado toast; a killer Cuban sandwich, and much more, including some of the friendliest servers around.
Although Caffe Molise is located on busy South West Temple, you wouldn’t know it while seated at a quiet table on the gorgeous enclosed patio. There, you might kick off an al fresco meal with antipasti del giorno, followed by involtini di pollo ― boneless chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, Asiago and herbs, then rolled and served with a luscious white wine-butter sauce. And don’t forget, the lasagne at Caffe Molise is legendary. And, this sunny slice of Italy in downtown SLC also sports one of the city’s best wine lists.
One of SLC’s most inviting patios ― and one of the biggest ― is at The Garage on Beck. Enjoy live music at The Garage ranging from national treasures like Bill Kirchen, to local ones such as Michelle Moonshine, while noshing on comfort foods like chipotle mac n’ cheese; the fiery Nashville hot chicken sandwich; burgers galore; meatloaf; and Mama’s pot pie. Or, since The Garage on Beck is a roadhouse-style bar, you can enjoy your favorite adult beverage on the patio even if you’re not hungry.
One of my favorite Park City outdoor dining venues is Grappa, situated in a multi-level historic house at the top of Main Street in Old Town. The views from the dining decks are spectacular, with tables surrounded by a dazzling array of fresh plants and flowers. And the Italian cuisine at Grappa is just as spectacular. Calamari fritti and snow crab ravioli are two excellent summertime starters, to be followed perhaps by the awesome osso bucco, roasted branzino, scallops risotto, or maybe lobster fregola sarda.
At Milo Carrier’s Arlo restaurant, Marmalade neighborhood views are abundant from the patio as you enjoy fresh bread made daily with outstanding French-style butter or cheese and crackers with triple cream brie to start your dinner with. Appealing entrees include ravioli with roasted spring greens, Gruyere, lemon and spring peas, halibut with olive oil-crushed potatoes, asparagus, and summer squash pesto, and pork with heirloom braised beans, spinach, and a sherry-cider sauce. As with the cuisine, the service at Arlo is top-notch too.
In Heber City, Afterword by Tupelo Park City restaurant offers guests a gorgeous patio for outdoor dining as well as free live music on Wednesday and Saturday evenings. I recommend the fire-roasted lamb T-bone bites to start, or maybe an English pea and feta spring salad. Whether dining on the patio or indoors, you won’t want to pass up Chef/Owner Matt Harris’ spectacular fried chicken with pimento mac n’ cheese, collard greens, and spicy pickles. The shrimp & grits are also marvelous.
The Oasis Cafe in downtown SLC truly is an oasis ― a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of the city with one of the most endearing courtyard patios ― and one of the oldest in town. Folks who are gluten free will appreciate the gluten free menu at Oasis, and dishes like the famous paprika-crusted chicken, eggplant parmesan risotto, and udon peanut stir-fry are all well-worn crowd pleasers.
Another downtown patio escape is to be found in the rear of Stoneground Italian Kitchen. There, you will enjoy award-winning Italian-inspired cuisine from uber-talented Chef Justin Shifflett, including house-made, from-scratch pizzas and pastas, as well as popular menu items like the polenta tots with truffle oil; sweet garlic PEI mussels; scallop ceviche; broccolini agrodolce; and much more, including a bustling bar. This is truly one of the most inviting patios in the city.
Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill features an eye-popping outdoor garden complete with a koi fish pond and 100-year old tea houses that were imported from Vietnam. It’s really awe-inspiring, as is the food at Sapa, which ranges from sushi rolls, sashimi and such, to pho and noodle dishes, plus an outstanding selection of craft cocktails and other beverages to enjoy in the garden.
If you’re looking for a pooch-friendly patio combined with killer Southern-style comfort food, Pig & A Jelly Jar is the perfect place. Rib-sticking dishes like chicken & waffles, catfish & chips, BBQ pork sandwich, Nashville hot chicken, fries & gravy and the like are the main draw here, along with cold brews, wine and bubbly concoctions and beignets for dessert. Stay tuned for info on weekend Pig Parties and Pig Kitchen in Holladay, which will include outdoor eats, entertainment and more
Culinary quote of the week:
“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” — Mark Twain
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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