There’s nothing like a meal enjoyed al fresco in the summer.
Good food and cold drinks paired with sunshine and warm breezes create that “I’m on vacation” feeling, without ever leaving home.
These days, there are few restaurants that haven’t realized the benefits of a few umbrella tables outside. But some have gone above and beyond when creating patios, porches, decks and dining fun for their customers.
With summer officially beginning today, here’s a list of some of the best places in the area for outdoor dining. But they certainly aren’t the only ones. If you don’t see your favorite outdoor dining spot on this list, visit this story on www.ohio.com and post it in the comments section so the list can continue to grow.
• Beau’s Grille, Hilton Akron/Fairlawn
3180 W. Market St., Fairlawn
When it comes to outdoor dining, the terrace at Beau’s Grille sets the bar pretty high.
The 60-seat heated terrace that opened in 2009 includes a lavish outdoor stone fireplace, water features, two flat-screen televisions, and loads of comfortable seating for drinks or dinner.
On Fridays and Saturdays in the summer, it’s hard to find a seat out there. The menu is the same as inside the restaurant. Hilton marketing manager Kim Hurray said restaurants can often get forgotten when tucked inside a hotel, but the terrace has really “brought to light that Beau’s is here.”
• The Piazza at Gervasi Vineyard
1700 55th St. NE, Canton
With beautiful views of the property’s lake, the Piazza has it all: music, bocce courts, food and plenty of Gervasi wines.
Unlike the Bistro, Gervasi’s more formal indoor restaurant, the Piazza offers a casual menu of pizzas, salads, sandwiches and grilled items, nearly all of which are priced under $15.
Cynthia Johnson, marketing manager for Gervasi, said Piazza seating can get competitive, but that’s to be expected. “It’s all driven by the weather and in Northeast Ohio, we’re all desperate to be outside,” she said.
• The Harbor Inn
562 Portage Lakes Drive, Coventry Township
Patrons of the Harbor Inn know it is really three restaurants in one: A more formal indoor seafood restaurant; the Lighthouse Bar and Grill, which has live music, plenty of drinks and televisions for enjoying sporting events; and finally the Marina Bar and Grill.
You don’t have to be a boater to drop anchor on this large lakeside deck, but plenty of folks who come here are.
What they find, aside from the waterfront view, is a casual menu of salads, sandwiches and grilled items, plenty of Ohio craft beers on tap, and lots of summer cocktails, too.
There’s a reason they call it Akron’s Key West.
2291 Riverfront Parkway, Cuyahoga Falls
When it comes to views, few restaurants can compare to Samira (formerly LeFever’s and the River Brasserie & Grill) and its deck overlooking the Cuyahoga River.
Since the restaurant’s ownership changed in 2010, the focus has gone from fine dining to more casual fare. The current menu of salads, pizza, pasta and other American foods serves up perfectly on the deck.
• Edgar’s Restaurant
530 Nome Ave., Akron
In the heart of Akron is Edgar’s inside the city’s Good Park. Its location, directly on the golf course, makes for great summer dining overlooking the fairways.
Chef Glenn Gillespie’s menu offers fine dining in a casual setting, infused with plenty of Southern flavor, which goes really well with the patio’s sunset views.
• Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern
8960 Wilcox Road, Twinsburg
The menu is a bit more limited on the patio at Blue Canyon, but the drinks, specials and mostly the view make it one of Northeast Ohio’s most popular places for outdoor dining.
Nestled on a hillside in Twinsburg, the patio and surrounding greenery make it a perfect spot for unwinding and enjoying the warm weather.
Blue Canyon’s patio is open until Labor Day.
• Mary Coyle Ice Cream/Aladdin’s Eatery/Angel Falls Coffee Co.
780, 782, and 792 W. Market St., Akron
It may look like one big patio on West Market Street, but those are actually three restaurants in a row, which help to make up the unique flavor of Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.
At any given time of day, you’ll find locals enjoying breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert at one or all of these neighborhood haunts.
With Italian food and legendary ice cream at Mary Coyle, Middle Eastern at Aladdin’s, and coffee and cafe fare at Angel Falls, this trio of patios helps to make Highland Square so Akron cool.
• Sarah’s Vineyard (and other local wineries)
1204 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls
Most local wineries offer great outdoor views and patios. Redhorse Winery in Barberton and Wolf Creek Winery in Norton come to mind.
But what distinguishes Sarah’s Vineyard is that it actually offers a menu beyond cheese and crackers. While it’s limited, Sarah’s does have sandwiches, salads, appetizers and even a few desserts. The vineyard also sells loaded picnic baskets for two for eating on the grounds, and wood-fired pizzas for enjoying on its deck or garden patio. Plans are in the works for a new pavilion in 2014.
All wineries, including Sarah’s, allow customers to bring their own food or to order delivery from local eateries, which makes a winery an affordable option for outdoor dining.
While it’s not a winery, the deck at Kent’s Riverside Wine & Beer, 911 N. Mantua St., also is a popular place for drinks and snacks. Its menu of salads, soup, cheeses, spreads, desserts and other light noshes continues to grow, and you definitely can make a meal of it.
• South Main Street, downtown Akron
From 3 Point at the intersection of East Market Street to the tables outside the Diamond Deli at Cedar Street, there’s hardly an eatery along South Main Street in downtown Akron that hasn’t made room for some outdoor seating, even if it’s just a few umbrella tables.
In this mile-long stretch of South Main, you’ll find plenty of outdoor seats at the Barley House, Bricco and Brubaker’s Pub, and a host of other places in between. In the summer, the John S. Knight Center opens its JSK Cafe serving sandwiches for outdoor lunching.
• The Oaks Lakeside Restaurant and Event Center
5878 Longacre Lane, Chippewa Lake
Just 25 miles from downtown Akron, this mansion on the water in Chippewa Lake draws diners from near and far for the beauty and romance of this Medina County historic site.
Summers on the patio areas of the Oaks offer the beauty of lakeside dining with a fine menu by chef Johnny Pollizi to match. It’s also a favorite spot for weddings, rehearsal dinners and other private parties.
• The Galaxy Restaurant
201 Park Centre Drive, Wadsworth
Restaurant, sports bar, wine room and banquet center mean that diners will typically find what they are looking for at the Galaxy, and that includes patio dining.
The Galaxy’s patio is part of its sports bar, and offers 30 — that’s right, 30 — televisions for watching games, including seven large screens.
The drink menu is extensive with more than 50 beers by the bottle, another 14 on tap, and 25 wines by the glass. In the summer, there’s live music on the patio, and Chef Angus O’Hara recently introduced an extensive burger menu.
• Ken Stewart’s Lodge
1911 N. Cleveland-Massillon Road, Bath Township
The rustic stone outdoor fireplace makes Ken Stewart’s Lodge a favorite spot for outdoor dining and special occasions.
While Stewart’s Grille also offers outdoor tables, the West Market Street location in Akron doesn’t have the same ambience as its Bath Township brother. Both eateries offer fine dining at fine dining prices.
• Pub Bricco
1841 Merriman Road, Akron
Pub Bricco is just that — a pub.
Owner David Glenny purposely limited its menu to burgers, sandwiches and a few other items, because he wanted to create a casual place where folks would come to relax and know what to expect. There are soups, salads, and some appetizers, and an extensive list of beers.
Its patio is casual and relaxed, and has a loyal clientele, because its inexpensive prices make it the perfect spot for a burger and a beer after work in the middle of the week.
• dba — Dante Boccuzzi Akron
21 Furnace St., Akron
One of the best features of the former VegiTerranean restaurant was its large patio with open-air bar, fire pits and beautiful views of the Little Cuyahoga Valley below. So it was exciting news that the patio will be back when chef Dante Boccuzzi opens dba there this summer.
Tentative opening date is July 2.