by Kristen Bagwell
We've been talking a lot about favorites lately, and I was thinking in the car today...this is absolutely my favorite time of year in NC. The birds are singing, it's nice and sunny, not too hot, and cool enough to sleep with the windows open at night. Best of all, you can finally open your windows without having to power-wash the pollen off of everything nearby. As I type this, I am even smelling honeysuckle through the open window...joy!
So, favorite time of year, favorite weather...favorite pass-times...favorite places to eat outdoors! Are you with me? I made fun of my friend Rachel for "narrowing" her list down to twenty (20?!) but then I started making my own. There are just so many great options for outdoor dining in our area! Here are my top pics in no particular order. What are yours?
With a patio that wraps all the way around the outside of the building, plus ceiling fans and shade umbrellas, there is just no better spot to grab a bite or have a glass of wine. They also have a kids menu, which you may not expect by looking at the place, and - seriously - some of the best homemade ice cream in town.
Logan's at Seaboard, Raleigh
If you are not exactly a gardener (like me), then you know it's important to plan at least 90 minutes at Logan's. In addition to plants and decorating trinkets, though, there is also a cafe in the back with both indoor (greenhouse) and outdoor seating. The food is very good and always fresh, and it's a good way to get your second wind and actually decide what to bring home.
Five Guys, multiple locations
Is there ever a bad time for a really good burger and fries? How about some peanuts while you wait, and a special grilled cheese for the picky kiddos in the family? Look no further than Five Guys, which started in Washington DC and has made its way southward. I am thinking of the Five Guys off Creedmoor Road, but there are several other locations as well.
Lucky 32, Cary
With just the Cary location remaining, Lucky 32 takes southern cuisine and adds a twist. The outdoor patio is a fantastic place for a bloody mary or a nice sweet tea, along with some black bean soup and a seasonal salad (cheese toast, please!). The outdoor seating feels a bit more relaxed than indoor, which is nice in case the kids are there with you.
Brixx Pizza, Raleigh and Chapel Hill
You may notice my "pizza" theme emerging...We love Brixx, especially the homemade hummus. The laid-back atmosphere and delicious pizza make it an easy place for family dinner nights. Outdoor seating is just a nice bonus!
El Meson in Morrisville
We must (!) have mexican food at least once a week, and El Meson has the best outdoor seating in the area, if you ask me. Although the patio is bordered by a parking lot, it's not a busy part of the lot, and actually backs up to some nice woods.
Piper's Tavern, N. Raleigh
During the past few years, Piper's has come a long way. If you grew up nearby as I did, you'll remember that the original building on this property was a gas station. Piper's has a very loyal clientele, and is a family favorite for Friday night pizza night (see? pizza!). As their business has grown, so has their establishment - within the last year, Piper's has added a deck with ample outdoor seating to the front of the restaurant, with covers and heaters into the fall. Fun!
Jujube, Chapel Hill
Jujube is an eclectic, asian fusion restaurant that fits right in to Chapel Hill. With fun attractions like tapas Tuesdays and wine dinner on Thursday, the outdoor seating is the icing on the cake. (The duck sauce on the spring roll? Anyway.)
City Beverage, Durham
City Beverage offers a fun and funky style, a broad food menu, and an even broader beverage menu. The outdoor patio is big and sometimes loud, but always fun. City Beverage has an active events menu, with local talent performing frequently, and also offers wireless internet access for your working lunch or facebook addiction.
Cafe Carolina, multiple locations
Most of the area Cafe Carolina locations have at least a few bistro tables outside, and it's always nice to grab a sandwich or nice salad and chat outdoors with your pals. The blue-iced cupcakes are always a yummy treat, and can definitely buy you a few quiet moments in a pinch.
There are tons more, but I think that's my top 10. I am just sitting here thinking...Lotus Leaf Cafe in Cary, Bocci, Humble Pie, Cinco de Mayo...no wonder it was so easy for Rachel to get to 20!
What are your favorite area spots to dine outdoors? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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