The 10 Coolest Restaurant Patios in America

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

The 10 Coolest Restaurant Patios in America

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. 

#10 Red’s Java House, San Francisco

Photo Modified: Flickr / Sonny Abesamis / CC BY 4.0

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.  

#8 Broussard’s, New Orleans

Since 1920, Broussard’s has been serving a menu of high-end French Creole fare to well-heeled and in-the-know New Orleans diners, and its patio is the quintessential New Orleans courtyard. Arched brick walls, tropical foliage, trellises with hanging vines… The courtyard is romantic and about as old New Orleans as it gets. 

#7 The Pink Pony, Mackinac Island, MI

One of Mackinac Island’s most popular restaurants, bars, and music venues, The Pink Pony, located inside the Chippewa Hotel, serves a wide variety of funky cocktails and is famous for its whitefish dip and burger. It’s located right on the water, and in fact, its patio hangs out right over it. Relaxed, low-key, and offering stellar views of the lake, it’s a great place to cool your heels after an afternoon spent discovering this charming island. 

#6 Island Mermaid, Ocean Beach, Fire Island, New York

Yelp / Ali T

Odds are, if you’ve spent any time at Fire Island’s Ocean Beach, you’ve been to Island Mermaid. The expansive menu and wine list is one of the island’s best, and the patio is huge and welcoming. A roll-out awning protects you from the elements, and views of the Great South Bay are spectacular. Grab a table, watch the ferries come and go, and let time slow down. 

#5 Beach House Restaurant, Kauai

With a name like Beach House and a location like Kawai, you can probably imagine what makes this restaurant’s patio a must-visit. In reality, the entire restaurant is essentially a patio, because it’s been designed so that every table looks out through open walls to a lawn and the Pacific Ocean beyond, and it’s one of the few places on the island to dine waterside. Take your Mai Tai out to the lawn, grab a seat on a bench overlooking the ocean, and take in the sunset, and you’ll be in paradise.

#4 Hen of the Wood, Waterbury, VT

Yelp / Mariko M

A 19th Century grain mill overlooking a rocky babbling brook is the setting for Hen of the Wood, and the handful of tables on the patio of this farm-to-table restaurant also happen to offer some of the most spectacular outdoor dining in the state. With umbrellas providing shade, this patio is about as tranquil as it gets, offering nothing but fresh air, water, and lots of trees as the backdrop for your house-cured ham braised in olive oil and wine, washed down with a snifter of Heady Topper, on tap. Now that’s the life. 

#3 Big Star, Chicago

Chef Paul Kahan’s Big Star is one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago, slinging some world-class tacos along with a steady stream of Bourbon and beer to a hip young Wicker Park crowd. While the inside is sleek and cool, the outside front patio is where the real party is, and it’s one of the best spots in town to down a few tacos and some $3 Four Roses shots with like-minded brethren on a sunny day. If there’s a better place in Chicago to while away an afternoon or carry the party well into the evening, we’ve yet to find it. 

#2 Nobu Malibu, Malibu

Nobu is cool and Malibu is super-cool , so therefore the Nobu in Malibu is automatically one of the coolest restaurants, anywhere. Its long, wood-planked patio is nothing short of stunning: shaded by umbrellas and overlooking the sand and Pacific, we’d be okay eating every meal here. 

#1 The Broken Shaker, Miami Beach

Located inside the funky Freehand Hostel, the James Beard Award-nominated Broken Shaker in Miami Beach has been named the Best American Hotel Bar at Tales of the Cocktail, and its courtyard patio is huge, lush, and loaded with comfortable patio furniture, hanging lights, a swimming pool, a bocce court, a ping pong table, and even a hammock. It’s a verdant, banyan tree-shaded oasis, and one that every cocktail-loving Miami Beach visitor should know about.