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?
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.
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.
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.
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.