Where to eat outside now in Madison
19 patios, porches and decks reopened to the public with safety guidelines in place
The summer of 2020 will go down in history as the summer of patio dining. While COVID-19 numbers continue to be a cause for concern, restaurants are reopening and creating patio seating for diners who are ready to re-introduce dining out into their lives in a seemingly safe way before Wisconsin’s short summer days slip by. Restaurants are implementing heightened safety precautions — think hand sanitizer at your table, silverware delivered in plastic wrap, distanced tables and masked wait staff — to assure guests they’re entering into a safe environment. Here are some patios, porches and decks that are serving up great summer bites and drinks at limited capacity if you’re looking to dine outdoors.
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 300 beer lovers who undoubtedly come for brews like Hopalicious and Bedlam but also for surprisingly tasty offerings like fresh pizzas and fish tacos. Dining in the building and outside on the patio is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Be sure to check out the guest and staff safety requirements here. 2002 Pankratz St., 663-3926
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. Click here to read Capital Brewery’s safety guidelines. 7734 Terrace Ave., Middleton, 836-7100
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. You can find the restaurant’s safety precautions for dining on the patio here. 227 State St., 663-7374
Head to Garver Feed Mill on Madison’s west side for a “garvering,” aka socially responsible gatherings where a limited number of people safely enjoy outdoor happenings on the Garver patio. Visit Garver Events’ Facebook page for updates on the numerous events hosted on the patio. 3241 Garver Green
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 30-somethings frequent Genna’s triangular patio from happy hour until bar close, taking in picture-perfect views of the Capitol. Patio and dining room are open. 105 W. Main St., 255-4770
Packing a picnic for Concerts on the Square is fun, but sometimes it’s nice to be wined and dined. And since Concerts on the Square as transitioned to a drive-in concept, opt instead to reserve a spot on Graze’s patio to enjoy a night downtown. Your meal will be complete with four-course dinner options and wine pairings. Read Graze’s safety precautions here. 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 and enjoy a meal while the city bustles around you. Masks are required to enter the building, and the restaurant is selling them for $1 if you forget yours. Check out the safety guidelines here before you go. 123 E. Doty St., 284-0000
Memorial Union Terrace
After sad news earlier this spring that the Terrace wouldn’t open at its usual time, the good news arrived that it would reopen (with reservations) starting June 22! 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. Read more about making reservations here. 800 Langdon St.
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. Order your treats online here and enjoy on the patio. 11 N. Allen St., 405-5500
High Noon Saloon
High Noon Saloon is welcoming back patio guests Thursdays through Saturdays starting at 4 p.m. The venue wants to make sure it aligns with the city’s approved guidelines, so High Noon has created some house rules. Click through the slides below to read those rules. 701 E. Washington Ave., 608-268-1122
For a private spot to enjoy breakfast, try Indie Coffee’s back patio, which reopened on June 9. 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. Only one person is allowed in the store at a time to order, otherwise place your order over the phone or online. 1225 Regent St., 259-9621
Lakeside Street Coffee House
Just as its name suggests, the cafe 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
It’s a shame all three levels of this gorgeous downtown restaurant can’t be filled with guests, but Lucille’ has taken over King Street with a “streetery” dining area that opened June 24. 101 King St., 608-283-0000
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. 5360 Westport Road, 246-3130
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. Reservations are recommended. 425 N. Frances St., 256-3186
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. RED opened up a brand new patio area last June, which means expanded seating for you to embrace the warmth. Click here to read the reopening guidelines. 316 W. Washington Ave., 608-294-1234
Salvatore’s Tomato Pies
DarkHorse — the North Livingston Street eatery being renamed Salvatore’s Tomato Pies soon — has a large patio that’s open and operating as a physically distanced outdoor space for food and drinks. Co-owner Patrick DePula says they will soon upgrade the patio with some new lighting and landscaping. There’s Just Alcohol hand sanitizer at every table, and masked wait staff take extra care to keep their distance. Don’t miss drink specials, tiki drinks and a pu pu platter available on Wednesdays. 10 N. Livingston St., 608-305-8885
If you’re looking for a trendy new spot to see and be seen, give East Washington’s Star Bar a shot; the patio made its summer debut on June 22. Expect specialty cocktails, 99 bottles of beer and another 10 on tap, plus other dining guests that are decidedly youthful and hip. 756 E. Washington Ave., 257-7827
A quintessential corner tavern, Tipsy Cow is a ‘Sconnie paradise. Its triangular patio is a great spot to sip a local craft brew and munch on cheese curds and a burger. 102 King St., 287-1455
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