The sun is shining, restaurants are reopening, and it's a great time to eat out(side).
Here — in no particular order — are some of our favorite local patios. Many are winners in Rochester Magazine’s Best Restaurants competition in years past. Others are notable for their music or other outdoor activities. A few more are just classic.
The Tap House (10 3rd St. SW, taphousemn.com)
The people-watching on Historic Third Street is unmatched — but The Tap House (winner of the “Best View” category in this year’s Rochester Magazine competition) also boasts a rooftop with a stunning view of the Plummer Building and city skyline.
Taco JED (808 Broadway Ave. S, tacojed.com)
Taco JED’s outdoor patio has always been a great place to chow down. But now you can catch musical acts (like singer-songwriter Tat Erredge, Sothea Lam from reggae act Push and Turn, and acoustic artist Clay Fulton) on Friday and Saturday nights.
LTS (Life’s Too Short) Brewing Company (2001 32nd Ave. NW, ltsbrewing.com)
Take your flight (of craft beer or soda) and bar food out to LTS’ covered patio, with ample seating for socially distanced parties. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own board games and make a night of it. If you go on a Monday or Wednesday, you may even catch a bingo or lawn-game night. Anyone up for cornhole?
Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar (7 1st Ave. SW, victoriasmn.com)
Downtown accessibility has been better, but this longtime favorite Italian eatery is still kicking. In a lunch rush? Hit up the Express Deli for a quick bite. Have a little longer? Grab a seat on the plant-covered patio (a safe distance from other diners, of course!).
Twigs Tavern and Grille (401 6th St. SW, www.twigstavernandgrille.com)
Twigs set itself apart ages ago as a vegetarian- and gluten-free-friendly dining spot, including separate storage and preparation spaces for GF menu items. But it’s also been awarded Rochester Magazine’s top prize for its umbrella-covered outdoor seating, with a nice view of downtown.
Chester’s Kitchen & Bar (Shops At University Square, 111 S. Broadway, chesterskb.com)
Speaking of downtown views — does it get better than Fountain Square, with Charles E. Gagnon’s Peace Fountain front-and-center? It does not. Grab a table at longtime University Square favorite Chester’s for brunch and take in the view.
Little Thistle Brewing (2031 14th St. NW, littlethistlebeer.com)
Little Thistle doesn’t serve its own food — but keep an eye on their Facebook page and website for food trucks, which park next to the ample outdoor seating space and serve everything from cheese curds to wood-fired pizza. The real outdoor attraction at Little Thistle will arrive in the winter, though — the brewery hosts curling lessons and games on the lawn during the cold months.
Whistle Binkies on the Lake (247 Woodlake Drive, whistlebinkiespub.com)
As the name suggests, this eatery has a lovely waterfront view — one you can’t fully appreciate with a pick-up order or indoor seat. However, you can appreciate the bar popcorn — Whistle Binkies placed in Rochester Magazine’s recent roundup of the best sites for that (they go through 300 pounds of kernels per week … per location).
Zen Fusion Hibachi & Lounge (2043 Superior Drive NW, zenfusionmn.com)
Another one that’s notable for its music, the Asian-fusion grill serves American-style dishes and live music from local artists every Friday evening.
Related: How Zen Fusion reinvented itself
Five West (1991 Commerce Drive NW, fivewestrochester.com)
It feels like Commerce Drive is quickly becoming one of the busiest sections of Rochester — and a table outside of Five West affords a view of all the hustle and bustle, away from the traffic and construction of downtown.
Want to tell us about your restaurant's events and music? Email Anne Halliwell at email@example.com.