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Scenic Spots for Outdoor Dining in the West

Posted by Carolyn Jung on May 25, 2017
the Portland cityscape is the backdrop to the spacious patio at Altabira City Tavern, picture
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Photo Courtesy of Altabira City Tavern
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At Altabira City Tavern's rooftop patio, cozy up to a fire pit or bask in the sun while enjoying views of Portland's quaint cityscape.

There’s something about dining outdoors that makes food taste better. Maybe it’s the warmth of the sun. Or the breeze on your back. Or the sight of glimmering stars on a moonless night. At these six unforgettable al fresco spots in the West, food and drink are served with a healthy whiff of fresh air.

Altabira City Tavern, Portland

Take the elevator six floors up to a rooftop patio that’s so spacious, it doubles the seating capacity at Altabira City Tavern. With Portland’s endless rainy days, this patio is only open during the dry season, about half the year. When it is, though, it’s the place to be. “It overlooks downtown and the hills. At sunset, the entire sky lights up in pink and orange,’’ says restaurant manager Maxwell Schoofs. “The only issue is people come, and they stay for a long time. But I can’t blame them.’’ After all, who can resist settling into one of the couches by the fire pits to enjoy one of 16 Pacific Northwest beers on tap alongside a sampling of house-made charcuterie or hearty ale-braised short ribs?

the patio at Waterbar in San Francisco set against the Bay Bridge's Bay Lights, picture
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Photo Courtesy of Waterbar
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Day or night, the patio at Waterbar on San Francisco's Embarcadero provides a stunning backdrop.

Waterbar, San Francisco

It’s easy to understand why a table on the heated patio at Waterbar is always in high demand. By day, it provides a breezy perch on the picturesque Embarcadero. By night, it affords a front-row seat to the spectacle of the Bay Bridge illuminated by nearly 12,000 flickering LED lights. “The view is phenomenal and elevated even more by the ambiance of the Bay Lights,’’ says Pete Sittnick, managing partner. The watery view is made for enjoying the seafood-centric restaurant’s bacon-wrapped monkfish or Maine lobster salad with tarragon aioli.

Striped awnings and flower boxes add European flair to Poggio's patio.
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Photo Courtesy of Poggio Trattoria
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Striped awnings and flower boxes add a European feel to the patio at Poggio in Sausalito.

Poggio Trattoria, Sausalito

Poggio's patio brings European flair to Marin County. With blue-and-white striped awnings, bistro tables, and flower boxes, the patio may not boast a water view, but it’s a cozy people-watching spot. “When the weather warms, the bayside walls at Poggio disappear and the entire restaurant opens onto the patio along bustling Bridgeway Boulevard and Richardson Bay,’’ says restaurant partner Michael Mindel. With a glass of wine and a seasonal pizza—such as the corn and buffalo mozzarella pie with spicy cured Italian meat, gypsy peppers, and basil—it’s mangia at its best.

the plate of brisket with cole slaw and mac and cheese at the Hotel Becket's Ten Crows in South Lake Tahoe, picture
Photo credit
Photo Courtesy of Hotel Becket
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In South Lake Tahoe, dig into pit-cooking favorites such as tender slices of brisket with creamy mac and cheese at Hotel Becket's Ten Crows.

Ten Crows at Hotel Becket, South Lake Tahoe

Hotel Becket, which recently underwent a major overhaul, is just blocks from Stateline, making it easy walking distance to casinos. After wagering with Lady Luck, take a load off on the patio outside its new Ten Crows restaurant, which faces Heavenly Mountain Resort’s gondola. Alabama-born Executive Chef Trent Bissell, who specializes in Southern fire pit-cooking, turns out St. Louis ribs, smoked pimento cheese, and classic brisket with all the best sides. In the summer, relax with live music and a game of corn hole or ping-pong. “Whether you’re in ski boots or going to a meeting, you can dress as you want—and even bring your pet,’’ says General Manager Gregg Harper.

diners enjoy dinner on the cozy patio at Log Haven in Salt Lake City, picture
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Photo Courtesy of Log Haven
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The forest towers above the patio at Log Haven in Salt Lake City.

Log Haven, Salt Lake City

Situated in Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and surrounded by wildflowers and waterfalls, this historic log mansion is a sight to behold. Built in 1920 by steel baron L. F. Rains as a summer retreat for his wife, Log Haven is now a favorite restaurant and sought-after wedding venue. “We specialize in romance,’’ says owner Margo Provost. The restaurant is open nightly to serve juniper-smoked elk carpaccio and forest mushroom bourguignon. Patio seating, May through October, offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.