Alfresco Escapes

March 10, 2014
Alfresco Escapes

Discovering Cleveland’s Best Outdoor Dining and Drinking Destinations

By Keith Gribbins

It’s the call of the wild. The great outdoors of spring and summer are beckoning. Get away from the television, ditch the kitchen, comb your hair, and go get a good meal and a cold beverage at a famous Cleveland alfresco destination.

Start classy and cool. In Cleveland Heights, in the upscale walking neighborhood of Cedar Fairmount, Nighttown is one of the best outdoor dining venues in Northeast Ohio, serving up fine food, cool jazz, and a beautiful outdoor patio.

“We’ve won a number of awards for best outdoor dining in Cleveland over the last 11 years,” says Brendan Ring, owner of Nighttown. “Our atmosphere is classy and electric. Our patio seats up to 150 people and has a natural setting with a beautiful waterfall and big trees, housed under an arched roof, open even in rainy weather.”

Some love to absorb the city breeze; others enjoy the fresh country air. For the latter, LockKeepers serves up Italian pasta, steaks, and seafood in Valley View, replete with a wrap-around alfresco patio overlooking the Cuyahoga River.

For those looking for younger, celebratory outdoor scenery, Cleveland offers great alfresco drinking destinations too. The Market Garden Brewery and Distillery serves up homemade beer and spirits on its Euro-style patio, which has Hofbräu-inspired community seating and a big brick fireplace. Right across the street, the craft beer legends of Great Lakes Brewing Co. offer two different excellent alfresco destinations.

“In the winter our Beer Garden’s radiant-heat floors and fireplace keep guests warm, but we’re always excited when spring rolls around and we can open the garden’s retractable canvas roof,” says Marissa DeSantis, Great Lakes Brewing communications assistant. “We also have our patio on Market Avenue, which is great for people-watching, especially on West Side Market days and weekends.”

Sticking with patios and pints, The Tremont Tap House, located in historic Tremont, hails as Cleveland’s first “Gastropub.” Not only does it have a 2,000-sq.-ft. patio that comfortably seats 50, but it has a meticulous selection of crafted American and European beers (100-plus examples, 48 of which are on draft). The food is amazing too, a neighborhood trend you can enjoy at the outdoor eating festival the Taste of Tremont, where many of Tremont’s great restaurants serve outdoors (July ).

There is a crazy array of amazing alfresco destinations in Cleveland, ranging from the Irish-pub patio of Detroit Ave.’s The Harp to the street-bistro seating at Fire, Food and Drink in Shaker Square ( It’s difficult to name them all, but for those looking to enjoy the personification of “urban” downtown Cleveland alfresco dining, try either: A) East 4th Street (downtown’s entertainment eats and entertainment hub) or B) Pura Vida right next door.

“Our patio is nestled under the awning of the historic May Company building right in the heart of Public Square,” says Pura Vida owner and Chef Brandt Evans. “Pura Vida’s patio offers both serenity and vitality and also great people watching. Come and snack with light fare or make a meal of it, our patio is open rain or shine in downtown Cleveland this spring and summer.”

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