Used to be that when the triple digits rolled around, everyone raced indoors and stayed there 'til Halloween.
Then, sometime in the mid-'80s, as legend has it, a Scottsdale dishwasher hosing down some scarcely used outdoor furniture on a blistering June afternoon noted that the spray from his nozzle had lowered the temperature on the entire patio. What's more, the midday aridity vaporized the water droplets before they could wet his tidy white apron.
Cha-ching! The dishwasher went back to school for an engineering degree, and restaurateurs and bar owners all over town began experimenting with PVC pipe, water lines and pumps. Summer hours were lengthened and vacationing servers were called back early. The phenomenon we now know as the Misting System was born.
Inside, or on the patio? Hey, thanks for asking.
Following is a sprinkling of Valley venues that offer misted seating:
Arizona Center: A couple of this urban plaza's anchor restaurants have managed to carve a niche for themselves in the urban landscape despite the Center's otherwise fluctuating tenancy.
Lombardi's is one. The smoothly run restaurant serves northern Italian cuisine in an upscale setting. There's a full-service bar and a large mist-cooled patio perched over a mini garden oasis. 602-257-8323.
Sam's Cafe, across the courtyard from Lombardi's, satisfies the local business and theatergoing crowd with its creative take on Southwestern cooking. The spacious patio overlooks a trio of giant bronze frogs leaping through a misty dew. 602-252-3545.
Arizona Center is located at 455 North Third Street.
Caffe Boa: This little Mill Avenue favorite earned its reputation for its creative way with both food and decor. The rear courtyard is mist-cooled. 709 South Mill Avenue, Tempe, 480-968-9112.
Copper Canyon Brewing and Alehouse: This microbrewery serves up its specialty ales alongside pizzas, burgers and other examples of hearty bar food. There's a 30-seat patio with misters at the ready. 5945 West Ray Road, Chandler, 480-705-9700.
Cucina Tagliani: Friendly servers, a casual atmosphere and platter-size entrees at decent prices set this family-style Italian eatery apart. Grab a seat on the front patio this summer and order the Chicken Delmonte -- misters will help you handle the heat. 17045 North 59th Avenue, Glendale, 602-547-2782.
Four Peaks Brewing Company: This brewery building dates to 1892 and features a glass parapet soaring to 35 feet. The spacious, misted patio can seat up to 100. 1340 East Eighth Street, #104, Tempe, 480-303-9967.
The Grapevine: 4013 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale, 480-994-1792.
House of Tricks: Though located in Tempe, this long-standing bar and restaurant became an area stalwart by pleasing more than the college crowd. Friendly servers and mature trees dripping with white lights make the ample outdoor seating here especially inviting, and misters keep it that way 'til the fall semester starts. 114 East Seventh Street, Tempe, 480-968-1114.
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Jefferson St. Bar & Grill: This downtown Phoenix bar and restaurant lies in the shadow of both Bank One Ballpark and America West Arena. It packs in the sports fans on game nights and does a brisk business other nights as well. A mist system and two patios seating up to 80 keep things brisker. 333 East Jefferson Street, 602-712-1101.
Oregano's Pizza Bistro: Cool retro decor, laid-back attitudes and a foggy mist on the patios on dog days contribute to this local chain's success. Save room for the pizookie. 3622 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-970-1860. Also: 7215 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale; 523 West University Drive, Tempe; 1008 East Camelback Road, Phoenix.
Salty Señorita: With a late-night menu and a location close to Scottsdale's busiest clubs, this Mexican cantina's large patio soothes its pretty patrons beneath a cooling mist 'til 2 a.m. 3636 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-946-7258.
Zen 32 Sushi & Grille: More than a sushi bar, for its loyal following Zen 32 is practically a lifestyle choice. The food is terrific (try the citrus yellowtail sashimi or the grilled salmon), as is the atmosphere -- particularly the comfortable wood-decked, misted patio. Sushi is served 'til midnight with the bar open 'til 1 a.m. seven nights a week. 3160 East Camelback Road, 602-954-8700.