The 10 Coolest Restaurant Patios in America

Want to sit outside? At these restaurants, you won’t want to sit anywhere else

The patio at Chicago's Big Star is a constant party. 

On a beautiful day, sitting outside at your favorite restaurant can be the highlight of a lovely afternoon. Dining al fresco isn’t just a great way to take advantage of nice weather, it’s romantic and generally provides some great visuals as well. These are the 10 coolest restaurants in the country for outdoor dining.

The 10 Coolest Restaurant Patios in America (Slideshow)

Sitting outside at a restaurant offers a completely different dining experience from what you’ll find inside. Aside from the menu, you might as well be eating at a completely different restaurant. Whereas inside you’re usually just forced to look at a wall painted the color of the restaurant owner’s choosing, sitting outside can offer a vista of everything from a busy streetscape to an enclosed garden, from a babbling brook to a vast expanse of water or a stunning sunset.

Just about every town has restaurants that offer outdoor seating, but it’s actually not that easy to find a restaurant patio that’s legitimately cool. Cool patios are exciting, they’re funky or quirky in some way, they offer a unique view, and they don’t necessarily need to be attached to fine dining restaurants. And whether you’re just enjoying a quick burger and beer or a multi-course feast, just sitting on a cool patio makes you feel cool, too. All of these restaurants fit that bill to a tee.

So read on to learn which 10 restaurant patios are America’s coolest. From a San Francisco hole in the wall with one of the city’s best views of the Bay Bridge to a Brooklyn seafood shack and a legendary New Orleans courtyard, these restaurants, and their patios, should be must-visits the next time you find yourself in the area.

#10 Red’s Java House, San Francisco

Red’s is a certified dive, as well as a San Francisco landmark. Located on the Embarcadero right next to the Bay Bridge, this unassuming restaurant looks liny a tiny shack from the outside, but if you walk inside, place your order at the counter (go for a double cheeseburger and a Bud), keep walking straight back, and you’ll reach a no-frills patio that stretches right out over the water. The views are second-to-none, you’re bound to encounter some interesting folks, and the burger isn’t bad either

#9 Brooklyn Crab, Brooklyn


This tri-level seafood shack is located in a far off-corner of Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, but it’s one of the most fun spots for dining al fresco in the entire city. There’s mini-golf, arcade games, big seafood buckets, and ample outdoor seating on multiple floors, not to mention insane views of the water that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in New York City. So grab a picnic table and gear up for a fun time, because a visit to this epic restaurant all but assures one.