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.
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 even see a musician performing. 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 'n’ cheese. Many of the ingredients on your plate, like basil and peppermint, were plucked from the Inn’s on-site garden. You’ll want to 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.
The sprawling complex that is one of Phoenix's hottest restaurants, Ocotillo 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.
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 all that much noise from other diners, you feel immersed in a scene, dropped into the neighborhood all around you. That 'hood is Phoenix's Garfield District, a cluster of some 800 homes built from 1883 to 1955. Eating tacos and tortas in this cool neck of the city feels right.
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 to snag a seat or call for a reservation.) 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.
Eating food within sight of where that 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. The light, vegetable-based offerings of Mediterranean cuisine are one. At Queen Creek Olive Mill, al fresco dining lives up to its storied reputation.
The House Brassiere may be just a few steps from bustling Old Town Scottsdale, but the 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 a 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
The main draw at Joe's Real BBQ in Gilbert, of course, is Joe Johnston's Texas-inspired barbecue, which is 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 a cornhole set up. There's no shortage of comfortable patio dining options in Gilbert's Heritage District, but the patio remains a tried-and-true local favorite.
Just steps from Arizona State University's campus lies a really great 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 still casual vibe without having to venture too 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. Since real estate on Mill Avenue was too pricey, the two refurbished an older house, 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 Ballroom is best known as the hip, midsize venue that's been instrumental in re-energizing the downtown Phoenix live music scene. But it should also be recognized for its outstanding patio, which brings some much-needed urban nightlife to the relatively quiet streets of downtown. The double-decker patio regularly hosts live music, trivia, and weekend brunch. The bottom floor offers shaded seating, while the top floor boasts views of downtown Phoenix. No matter where you sit, though, 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.
If you were just walking by Cibo, you’d probably assume the pizzeria was a private home. But take a closer look and you'll realize 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 including signature wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, salads, and saltimbocca bread. And the patio provides many different places for you to enjoy the food and drinks. Gather around the fire pit with a view of the Phoenix skyline or head to a more secluded, shaded spot if you’re looking 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. during the week for happy hour. You can get small plates for $6 or less and glasses of wine for $4 or less.
If a Hollywood movie director wanted to capture the beauty of the desert in an upscale setting, we might suggest the Four Seasons Resort's Talavera. The views of Pinnacle Peak from this restaurant and bar are majestic. Plus it’s far enough away that it feels out of town — even though you’re just minutes from North Scottsdale. Think of it as your own 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. If you want to enjoy the view without putting a serious dent in your bank account, you can do dessert or drinks at the restaurant's bar. Sit by the fireplace when it’s cool outside.
Chelsea’s Kitchen provides Phoenix with waterside dining — yes, you can have that experience in the middle of the desert if you count the irrigation canal as "waterside" — that feels intimate, despite being just off Camelback Road. This secluded (and often packed) patio features an open bar, high and low tables, lights strung from the ceiling and even a fireplace. It's enchanting. Evening crowds make it feel lively, like the place you’ll want to be seen. Larger groups and couples alike gather here to enjoy familiar, but never boring 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.
Roosevelt Row’s best patio easily belongs to Welcome Diner. The mishmash of bar stools, tables, and chairs almost feels like someone’s backyard — a yard that was furnished after hitting a thrift shop or two. And 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 your buds. The backstory behind the restaurant’s setting is almost as cool as the restaurant itself: It's a former 1940s era diner that was brought to Winslow, Arizona, all the way from Wichita, Kansas. Moved to Phoenix in 2002, it's been a landmark ever since. This place is open until 2 a.m. every night except Mondays, making it ideal for a late night out.
The entrance to Rula Bula Irish Pub may be directly on Tempe’s bustling 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 Avenue 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.
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One of the loveliest patios in north central Phoenix is at The Orchard, a two-acre food and drink compound located on the site of one of the city's first citrus farms. The citrus 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 at The Orchard, including Pomelo's, a laid-back New American restaurant with a substantive wood-fired pizza menu, and Luci's at The Orchard, a 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 that boast bistro and picnic tables, a splash pad for the kids, and shaded lounge areas.
Originally published November 2, 2015. Updated November 30, 2017. Teresa Traverse, Lauren Cusimano, Patricia Escarcega, and Chris Malloy contributed to this post.