Dining and Drink

Where to eat outside now

25 places you can't miss visiting this summer

Just as Madison has a restaurant to meet nearly every foodie's needs, there's a patio to suit your every whim and fancy all summer long. After this year's never-ending winter, who isn't ready to spend as much time as possible outdoors? Besides, meals somehow taste better when eaten under the sun. Here are 25 patios, porches, decks and outdoor dining spots — and why you ought to enjoy them this summer. Like you needed any convincing.

Ale Asylum
When Ale Asylum relocated in 2012, it amped up both its indoor and outdoor footprint. With its spacious two-story patio, the brewery can now accommodate up to three hundred beer lovers, who undoubtedly come for brews like Hopalicious and Bedlam but also for surprisingly tasty offerings like fresh pizzas and fish tacos. 2002 Pankratz St., 663-3926, $

Banzo
The only thing better than grabbing lunch from a Banzo food cart is enjoying its Mediterranean fare straight from the source at its restaurant, tucked inside a quiet residential area on the city's northeast side. Order a glass of wine with the Banzo platter and dine on the beautiful wooden deck. Right across the street from Burrows Park and Lake Mendota, it's the perfect perch for catching the sunset's glow through the trees. 2105 Sherman Ave., 441-2002, $

Camp Trippalindee
Grab some s'mores-making supplies and head to the rooftop of the Graduate Hotel. Relive your childhood by drinking a Boozy Capris next to a fire pit while overlooking the city. There are two different flavors: Bug Juice with coconut rum, liquor 43, pineapple and Sconnie Juice with flor de cana rum, domaine de canton, hibiscus team, lime and simple syrup. 601 Langdon St., $

Capital Brewery
There's nothing quite like enjoying a pint of local beer outdoors when the weather's nice. Capital Brewery cranks it up one more notch of summer perfection: Dogs are welcome in the Bier Garten on weekdays; just be sure to bring a leash. Stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday (or Friday, sans pooch) for live music and food vendors. 7734 Terrace Ave., Middleton, 836-7100, $

Christy's Landing
Ditch the car and plan a boating trip to Christy's Landing. The restaurant, located on the western shore of Lake Waubesa, boasts a lakeside patio with a dock where guests can tie up their boats. Christy's is packed with entertainment—there's a weeknight volleyball league, live music and weekly open mic nights, plus a tiki bar serving up cool drinks. 2952 Waubesa Ave., 222-5391, $

Colectivo
Can't decide whether to sit indoors or out? Here you can have the best of both. While this Capitol Square café's sidewalk patio provides plenty of space in the sunshine, what's really special is the area at the café's entry, where expansive windows slide open to create an open-air spot that's still covered. It's a prime people watching spot. 25 S. Pinckney St., 255-0474, $

Fresco
Whether you're there for a strawberry basil mojito or a four-course meal, it's not a visit to Fresco without peering out over the rooftop bar's railing to take in the gorgeous panoramic views of State Street and the Capitol. Perched atop the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the patio fittingly hosts art installations of its own, notably an intricate web of PVC pipes by artist Jason Yi. 227 State St., 663-7374, $$$

Genna's Lounge
When you take stock of Genna's assets—an impressive craft beer list, open mic nights and veteran bartenders who know how to mix a stiff drink, to name just a few—it's easy to see how the downtown bar rules the realm of cool. Post-grads and thirty-somethings pack into Genna's triangular patio from happy hour until bar close, taking in picture-perfect views of the Capitol. And Genna's bloody mary bar makes the perfect pit stop for thirsty farmers' market goers. 105 W. Main St., 255-4770, $

Graze

Packing a picnic for Concerts on the Square is fun, but sometimes it's nice to be wined and dined. Skip the fuss and make a reservation for Graze's patio, complete with a four-course dinner and wine pairings—and a guaranteed great seat for the concert. 1 S. Pinckney St., 251-2700, $$

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.
You've probably read the Secret Garden … but have you ever visited a secret beer garden? Find it at the downtown Dane, where the ivy-enclosed courtyard provides a refreshing retreat from the urban core. Sip your favorite house brew—we're into Old Glory American Pale Ale at the moment—and enjoy a meal while the city bustles around you. 123 E. Doty St., 284-0000, $$

The Heights Kitchen
This new near-west-side cafe and restaurant has a beautiful backyard patio area great for sipping coffee, eating brunch or doing dinner al fresco. Strings of lights above your head and the hidden locale give the patio a Paris-meets-secret garden feel. 11 N. Allen St., 405-5500, $$

Indie Coffee
For a private spot to enjoy breakfast, try Indie Coffee's back patio. Filled with ivy and plenty of shade, it's an urban oasis tucked behind busy Regent Street. Grab a strawberry-topped waffle, a coffee and the morning paper and settle in for a relaxing start to your day. 1225 Regent St., 259-9621, $

Lakeside Street Coffee House
Just as its name suggests, the café is only a short walk from the water's edge, making it a scenic spot to stop in for a scone and coffee while you look out over Monona Bay. Whether you choose to wander down to the lake or grab a seat on the patio, you're guaranteed an incomparable view. 402 W. Lakeside St., 441-7599, $

Memorial Union Terrace
Madisonians know summer hasn't truly arrived until those colorful chairs are out on the Terrace—and you're there lounging by the lake. Grab popcorn and a beer inside the Stiftskeller or hit up the Brat Stand outside. 800 Langdon St., $

Mickey's Tavern

Mickey's makes delicious food (ahem, Sexy Fries), hosts live music, sports an eclectic interior and makes one heck of a Bloody Mary. But most of all, we love Mickey's for its spunk, and nowhere is it on display more than on the back patio. It's laid back (heck, there's a fill-your-own-water station) but never quiet. The crowd is diverse, ranging from Millennials to Boomers, and patrons are just as likely to be Willy Street diehards as bike travelers stopping in for a mid-trail beer. 1524 Williamson St., 251-9964, $

Monona Terrace Rooftop
There's always something going on at the Monona Terrace rooftop—a concert, dance, tai chi, you name it. But if you're looking for a little peace and quiet, pick up a sandwich from the Lake Vista Café, nab a chair and gaze out at beautiful Lake Monona. 1 John Nolen Dr., 261-4000, $

Nau-Ti-Gal

If you're pining for a beach bum getaway, Nau-Ti-Gal is the next best thing. This waterfront restaurant with an expansive nautical-themed deck serves a variety of seafood entrées you'd find on the ocean shore, in addition to Wisconsin favorites like the Badger Burger, made with beef from Black Earth Meats. 5360 Westport Rd., 246-3130, $$$

Pasqual's Cantina
You want a margarita. The kids want to be out in the fresh air. You all want chips, salsa and guacamole. Pasqual's Verona location is your answer. Gather the family for a meal at the cantina's third and newest outpost for an evening on the back patio overlooking a picturesque pond. 100 Cross Country Rd., Verona, 497-3333, $

Porta Bella
Porta Bella is consistently lauded as one of the most romantic spots in Madison for its intimate courtyard just off State Street, providing a quiet reprieve perfect for an anniversary or date night. Order a nice bottle of vino or a pitcher of sangria and you're set. 425 N. Frances St., 256-3186, $$  

RED
When it comes to sushi, RED knows a thing or two. Grab one of your favorite rolls and a lychee martini and head out to the patio over the summer. This year, RED is opening up a brand new patio area in June which means expanded seating for you to embrace the warmth. 316 W. Washington Ave., $$

Sardine
While the historic Machinery Row building provides a cool urban atmosphere for this French-infused bistro, the front deck makes it magical. Overlooking the shores of Lake Monona, Sardine is a favorite spot to unwind after work—the happy hour rocks—or to spend a lazy weekend morning over brunch. 517 Williamson St., 441-1600, $$$

Star Bar
If you're looking for a trendy new spot to see and be seen, give East Washington's Star Bar a shot. The patio makes its debut this summer, as does its next-door neighbor Cargo Coffee. Expect specialty cocktails, ninety-nine bottles of beer and another ten on tap, plus a crowd that's decidedly youthful and hip. 756 E. Washington Ave., 257-7827, $

Tipsy Cow
A quintessential corner tavern, Tipsy Cow is a Sconnie paradise. Its triangular patio is the perfect spot to watch the hustle of downtown as you sit back and sip a local craft brew and nosh on cheese curds and the Tipsy Burger—recently named the best burger in the state by Business Insider. 102 King St., 287-1455, $$

The Wise at HotelRed
The Wise within the chic HotelRED is located on a busy intersection kitty-corner from Camp Randall, but the bar and restaurant and its Monroe Street patio feel grown-up compared to its nearby collegiate surroundings. Stop by for the 3-2-1 happy hour specials where martini prices drop by $3, wines glasses by $2 and draft beers by $1. Sample small plates, like the roasted asparagus salad or fried walleye sliders, any time. The best part? You needn't be a guest at the hotel to enjoy all The Wise has to offer. 1501 Monroe St., 819-8228, $$

Umami Ramen & Dumpling Bar

Considering the fact that this modern Asian restaurant sits inside a renovated house, it's only natural that the front yard patio gives off a neighborly vibe that's friendly, cozy and comfortable. Paired with piping-hot ramen, chicken and shiitake dumplings and the ever-popular spicy tofu buns, there really is no place like home. 923 Williamson St., 819-6319, $$


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