This article was updated on February 5, 2019. It was originally published November 2, 2015.
While the summer’s away, it’s recommended you grab all the outdoor time you can in Phoenix. Sure, you can hike or take advantage of the many numerous outdoor activities the Valley has to offer, but what about grabbing a drink and enjoying a meal in an atmosphere consisting of cool air, twinkle lights, and light chatter? We suggest hitting the patios of these 15 eateries in metro Phoenix.
Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn
5532 North Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley
The entire patio at Lon’s — named after artist Lon Megargee, an artist and former Hermosa Inn manager — is stunning. Upon entering, you’ll see a fountain, trees, tables, and maybe a performing musician. Deeper in, you'll find beautiful views of Camelback Mountain and a cozy fireplace. Then there’s the food. Expect modern American entrées such as wood-fired Maine lobster, crème fraiche mashed potatoes, and truffle mac and cheese. Many of the ingredients on your plate, like basil and peppermint, were plucked from the Hermosa Inn’s onsite garden. And consider pairing your meal with something from the restaurant’s award-winning wine list or one of the spot’s specialty cocktails from the Last Drop Bar.
3243 North Third Street
The sprawling complex and one of Phoenix's hottest restaurants, Ocotillo focus quite a bit on their famous chicken, but they didn't forget the nature lover. There's an outdoor bar, coffee bar, and plenty of seating (from picnic tables to couches) at the culinary brainchild of chefs Walter Sterling and Sacha Levine. Don't miss the roasted cauliflower — when it's in season. Luckily, the Spanish Gin & Tonic never goes out of style.
928 East Pierce Street
The patio at Doug Robson's excellent Mexican restaurant isn't the biggest. It isn't the fanciest and doesn't have the most intricate decorations or the most lavish views. But the seats along the muraled brick building make for a stellar outdoor dining experience. Eating outside at Gallo Blanco under teal and red umbrellas and without too much noise from other diners, you feel immersed in a scene, dropped into the neighborhood all around you. That neighborhood is the Garfield District — a cluster of some 800 homes built from 1883 to 1955. Eating tacos and tortas in this cool part of the city feels right.
5200 East Camelback Road
Originally constructed in the 1920s as a private getaway, the Royal Palms Resort drips with Old World charm — and its restaurant is no exception. T. Cook's offers two patios and a courtyard with a fountain surrounded by tables filled with chatting patrons. (You’ll want arrive early or call for a reservation.to snag a seat.) The other patio features fireplaces and impressive views of Camelback Mountain, surrounded by citrus trees. The food here is as upscale as the hotel. Try the New York strip steak or Maine lobster carbonara if you're looking for something luxe.
Queen Creek Olive Mill
25062 South Meridian Road, Queen Creek
Eating within sight of where your food came from is a thrill. When that food is olives (and olive oil) and the source is a fleet of olive trees extending from your patio, lunch reaches a new level. At Queen Creek Olive Mill, the menu skews Mediterranean. Dips, boards, and various starters spotlight the olive. You can even add olive-brined chicken breast to salad, as well as olives to both salads and sandwiches. Outdoor dining feels especially suited to certain kinds of eating, and the light, vegetable-based offerings of Mediterranean cuisine might be just that. At Queen Creek Olive Mill, al fresco dining lives up to its storied reputation.
The House Brasserie 6936 East Main Street, Scottsdale
The House Brasserie may be just a few steps from bustling Old Town Scottsdale, but this restaurant feels worlds away. Chef Matt Carter’s dining spot is set in a 1920s bungalow, and the stunning patio features charming, storybook details like a white-picket fence and brick fireplace. It’s not hard to see why this patio is consistently named one of the most romantic in the Valley. It's like a secret garden. Dine in the evening and watch as the sun sets and the patio’s strung-up white lights start to twinkle. It'll be impossible not to get lost in the romantic atmosphere. As far as the food, the menu features an eclectic mix of internationally inspired small plates and entrées.
Joe's Real BBQ
301 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
The main draw at Joe's Real BBQ in Gilbert, of course, is Joe Johnston's Texas-inspired barbecue. It's served cafeteria-style inside the historic 1929 brick building on Gilbert Road that once housed a grocery store. The restaurant's laid-back patio is a close second, though. The family-friendly space features picnic tables shaded by mature trees, and a roomy, kid-friendly lawn area with corn hole set up. There's no shortage of comfortable patio dining options in Gilbert's Heritage District, but this patio remains a tried-and-true local favorite.
House of Tricks
114 East Seventh Street, Tempe
Steps from Arizona State University's campus lies a patio that’s just hidden enough. House of Tricks caters to parents, faculty, couples, or just students with some extra cash who want an upscale, but casual, vibe without venturing far from Mill Avenue. The romantic atmosphere here is no accident. Husband-and-wife owners Robert and Robin Trick met at Tempe’s bygone Bandersnatch Pub and set out to open a fine-dining spot. Real estate on Mill Avenue is pricey, so they refurbished an old house, and opened in 1987. Since then, they’ve added another house and a stunning shaded brick patio in between the two buildings. There’s plenty to love about the patio, including a goldfish-filled pond and the fact that Robert’s mother, Mary Trick, maintains the garden.
Crescent Ballroom308 North Second Avenue
This downtown spot is best known as the midsize venue instrumental in re-energizing the Phoenix's live music scene. But it should also be recognized for its outstanding patio, which brings some much-needed urban nightlife to the once relatively quiet streets of downtown. The bottom floor offers shaded seating, while the top floor boasts views of downtown Phoenix. But no matter where you sit, you have easy access to Cocina 10, the venue's Mexican-inspired kitchen. The menu, designed by Chris Bianco, includes house favorites like the I-10 Nachos and the Poquito bean and cheese burrito. What's more, Crescent Ballroom regularly hosts live music (obviously), trivia, and weekend brunch.
603 North Fifth Avenue
If you were just walking by Cibo, you’d probably assume the pizzeria was a private home. But actually, you've found a well-loved dinner spot with killer downtown views. The restaurant is housed in a charming 1930s bungalow that serves Italian fare like signature wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, salads, and saltimbocca bread. The patio provides many seating options for food and drinks. Gather around the fire pit with a view of the Phoenix skyline or head to a more secluded, shaded spot for some privacy. Our favorite perk? The patio is mostly shaded so you can dine outside here even when it’s hot. If you’re looking to save cash, head here from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays for happy hour. You can get small plates for $6 or less and glasses of wine for $4 or less.
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale
If a film director wanted to capture desert beauty in an upscale setting, we suggest the Four Seasons Resort's Talavera. The views of Pinnacle Peak from this restaurant and bar are majestic. Plus it’s far enough to make one feel out of town — though it's just minutes from north Scottsdale. Think of it as a desert hideaway. Steak and seafood dominate the menu. Go all out and order the 20-ounce prime bone-in rib-eye — or try lighter fare like the ahi tuna tartare (served with pineapple and pine nuts). Want to enjoy the view without putting a serious dent in your bank account? Do dessert or drinks at the restaurant's bar, and be sure to sit by that fireplace.
5040 North 40th Street
This restaurant provides Arcadia with waterside dining — if you count the irrigation canal as "waterside." Chelsea’s Kitchen has a patio that feels intimate, despite being just off Camelback Road. This secluded (and often packed) spot features an open-air bar, high and low tables, lights strung all around, and a fireplace. It's pretty enchanting. Evening crowds make it feel lively, a place to be seen. Larger groups and couples alike gather here to enjoy familiar menu items including burgers, salads, short ribs, and tacos. Fresh, all-natural gelato from nearby Grateful Spoon Gelato and classic options like red velvet cake complete the dessert menu.
929 East Pierce Street
The Garfield District's best patio easily belongs to Welcome Diner. The mishmash of tables and chairs almost feels like someone’s backyard — a yard furnished after hitting a thrift shop or two. That's really the whole point. The patio is designed to feel like a hip neighborhood spot where you sip on one of Welcome's signature cocktails and dig into Southern comfort food as you hang out with buds.The new location sits at the bustling intersection of 10th and Pierce streets — and spotted by the pretty glow of its hot pink sign. This place is open daily till 2 a.m., making it ideal for a late night out.
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Rula Bula Irish Pub
401 South Mill Avenue, Tempe
The entrance to Rula Bula Irish Pub may be directly on Tempe’s busy Mill Avenue, but the garden patio behind the established restaurant and bar is a whole new world. Illuminated with swooping bistro lights by night, the Rula Bula patio is surrounded by stone walls and finished with ironwork and antiques — making the noise of Mill all but a faint roar even on the busiest nights. There’s a full bar outside, and full service for those hoping to order some of Rula’s well-known pub fare and libations. It’s also pet-friendly, making it a must-try for those with puppers.
Pomelo at the Orchard
7100 North 12th Street
One of the loveliest patios in north-central Phoenix belongs to The Orchard — a two-acre food and drink compound located onsite at one of the city's first citrus farms. The groves may be gone, but owners Ken and Lucia Schnitzer have preserved many of the original homestead's signature features, including the farm's historic water tower. There are plenty of options for food and drink, including Pomelo's, a laid-back New American restaurant with a substantive wood-fired pizza menu, and Luci's at The Orchard — the cafe and marketplace. The family-friendly venue is also home to Splurge, a gelato and candy shop, and the Filling Station, which dispenses cocktails and beer on tap. All the restaurants share a lovely courtyard with multiple patios and picnic tables, a splash pad for the kids, and shaded lounge areas.