If you’re an aficionado of al fresco dining, you won’t find a better place than Sacramento. Our region’s long, balmy summer evenings and deliciously warm fall and spring afternoons provide bountiful opportunities to enjoy meals outside. Restaurant patio options range from the intimate and quiet to the cheerily boisterous. Here’s a few of my favorites:
Buried in the heart of midtown’s colorful dining scene, Zocalo offers a glorious outdoor dining area with big shade umbrellas. This is a great place to sit back and lazily watch the world go by as you tuck into the kitchen’s excellent, chunky guacamole and palate-rousing margarita de la casa. The restaurant also plates up one of the tastiest weekend brunches in town.
Rubicon Brewing Company
A midtown institution, Rubicon Brewing Company has an appealingly noisy outdoor dining patio, often thronged with regulars relishing their favorite brew and chewing the fat with friends. Order the brewery’s delicious—and wickedly greasy—chicken wings and the rib-sticking bratwurst sandwich (perfect with the brewery’s Monkey Knife Fight pale ale). Kids will love the burgers and onion rings, and your pooch will be happy to know he’s welcome, as long as he’s well-behaved.
Looking for a beautiful, secluded spot to romance your sweetie? The Firehouse’s intimate brick-walled courtyard is one of Old Sacramento’s greatest (and most hidden) treasures. Shaded by lush leafy trees, this magical dining spot is the perfect place to enjoy the lauded restaurant’s award-winning wine selection and talented chef Deneb Williams’ upscale, elegant cuisine.
Davis’ Osteria Fasulo, a quirky little family-owned Italian restaurant hidden away in a countrified, residential neighborhood, offers a captivating outdoor patio. Set among fairy light-wrapped, leafy trees and bordered by trellised grape vines and a flourishing, flower-invaded community vegetable garden, the outdoor dining area catapults you into a relaxed vacation mode. The restaurant serves up some of the most ethereal handmade gnocchi al pesto I’ve ever encountered; and meat lovers won’t want to miss the terrific (and pricey!) “Il Manzo,” a tender rib-eye steak embellished with lots of garlic and fresh parsley.
Ready for the quintessential Sacramento river dining experience? Climb aboard this entertaining converted barge via an old Pan American Airlines jetway, and order up one of the kitchen’s scrumptious daily fresh fish offerings (from tuna and Chilean sea bass to white sturgeon). This is a great spot to sip cocktails and watch the sun set; and the restaurant’s weekend brunches are (deservedly) famous.
1577 Garden Highway, Sacramento, (916) 921-2694