Al Fresco Dining across the U.S.

July 19, 2017

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Summertime is in full swing, which means city-dwellers are spending as much time out of doors as they can handle. Check out our writer’s recommendations on where to dine al fresco in cities all across the U-S-of-A.

Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill – New York City

Anable Basin. Image via Anable Basin Facebook Page.

Summer in New York City offers a wealth of al fresco options, from rooftops and parks to cruising restaurants and piers. But if it’s a laid-back vibe with a truly magnificent view of Manhattan you’re after, get thee to Long Island City’s Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill. The menu is all hot dogs, burgers (including a veggie one) and beer, but really that’s all you need.

Biergarten – San Francisco

Biergarten. Image by Meghan Caudill.

In SF, no one has a better happy hour than Hayes Valley’s Biergarten, where the picnic tables are always full and the kitchen (located in a shipping container!) churns out baskets of hot pretzels and brats. Just after sunset, the lights strung across the patio come on and the temperature drops quickly; there are no heat lamps here, but a nice bartender will come around with blankets to keep everyone toasty. It’s all very Kumbaya (minus the bonfire), but with excellent beers served in massive steins.

Contigo – Austin 

Contigo. Image by Tolly Moseley.

Dinner at Contigo is a bit like dining at a flinty Texas ranch, only with a gourmet chef in the kitchen rather than Uncle Steve sipping a Bud Light. Though the menu is haute Hill Country, the airy atmosphere is kid- and dog-friendly, which makes for a relaxed feel. Food selections change daily, but you’ll usually find Texas game and some truly creative elements (think bacon jam). The secret to this seasonal kitchen is Southern and Texan classics (pigs in a blanket, fried okra) but with international twists: a little miso here, a bordelaise there. It’s a darn tasty melting pot.

El Rey – Washington, D.C. [image: Cori Sue]

El Rey. Image by Cori Sue Morris.

It’s hard to miss El Rey, as the Latin American taqueria and beer garden is built out of primary colored shipping containers. The interior is as playful as the exterior, with bright pinatas hanging from the banisters of the retractable roof, which is perfect for summer brunches. The offerings are all moreish Tex-Mex: tacos, tamales, tequila and cervezas, and it’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon or evening with good friends, enormous margaritas and baskets of chips and salsa.

Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market – Miami

Garcia’s. Image by Jessica Ramirez.

Garcia’s is a time capsule: yes, it’s waterfront dining, but unlike the bougie hot spots that have recently popped up along the Miami River, it retains the rustic charm of the area’s humble origins when rugged fisherman hung out on their houseboats grilling up the catch of the day and downing bourbon. This nostalgic appeal and long-standing relationship with the city makes Garcia’s an affordable spot that draws the who’s who of Miami, all under the premise of deliciously straightforward seafood dishes. The complimentary fish dip and their grilled fish sandwiches are must-haves.

Parson’s Chicken & Fish – Chicago

Parson’s Chicken & Fish. Image by Bradley Kirouac.

With its white-washed façade, beachy patio and boozy comforts, Parson’s Chicken & Fish channels a welcome dose of Vitamin D and brings Vitamin N (Negroni slushies) to Chicago. The menu is a party in and of itself, with picnic-y crowdpleasers like buckets of fried chicken, spicy pimento toast, creamy coleslaw, beer-battered fish sandwiches and ham-flecked hushpuppies. All are best enjoyed alongside those aforementioned slushies and peppery micheladas while lounging on the expansive back patio.

The Delachaise – New Orleans 

The Delachaise. Image by Joshua Brasted.

A spirited bar à vin, The Delachaise is a wonderful stop for wine and appetizers. It boasts a convivial bar, a lack of pretense, a kick-ass wine list and, perhaps most notably, Thai-spiced mussels served with goose fat fries. Really, everything at this French-ish bistro is good, but say yes to the housemade pâté and tender flank steak bruschetta, and double yes to the devilish chocolate soufflé.

Tia’s – Boston

Tia’s. Image courtesy of the venue.

Whether or not this waterfront seafood restaurant is open is Boston’s first indicator that winter is over. The three bustling patios at Tia’s showcase Boston Harbor and Christopher Columbus Park, providing the ultimate summery backdrop. Snagging a coveted table is never easy, but the chance to soak up some rays over steamed lobster, beer and frozen cocktails is worth fighting for.

Westward – Seattle 

Westward. Image by Jenise Silva.

“Land ahoy!” seems like the appropriate exclamation for Seattle’s Westward – especially if you arrive via Lake Union. If you come in with the tide, park your boat at the dock or pull your kayak up on the beach of the joint’s expansive frontage that sports a stunning vista looking across the water to the city’s ever-growing skyline. Enjoy the sights and some grilled octopus or roasted rainbow trout in one of the Adirondack chairs near the firepit.

For more great insider recommendations, pick up The HUNT Guides on gatehousepublishing.com.


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