Great Food, Drinks & Sunshine: Outdoor Dining in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | May 19, 2014
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After this past winter, you better believe that I’ll be savoring every last drop of sunshine and ounce of warmth Mother Nature bestows upon us this spring and summer. That means I’ll be saying sayonara to the indoors as much as humanly possible—including during mealtimes.

If there’s a better alternative to patio dining and/or rooftop dining, please fill me in. As you’re aware, I love dining out, but I adore it even more when I can do so alfresco. There are plenty of restaurants with outdoor patio and rooftop dining where you can enjoy a great meal with a soft breeze blowing. Let’s take a look!

Patio Dining Options

Griffin Claw Brewing Company, 575 S. Eton St., Birmingham, is a great place to enjoy a craft beer and delicious dish out on the patio. Try the Nightmare on Eton St. burger, which is packed with so much heat, you’ll be thankful for the breezy, fresh air. The half pound patty is topped with chipotle, jalapeno, onion and garlic melee, as well as fresh jalapeno, chipotle aioli and ghost pepper jack cheese. That’s a lotta heat!

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Wash all that spice down with a Griffin Claw original like Norm’s Raggedy Ass IPA (a hoppy, citrusy beer), Grind Line Pale Ale (malty and hoppy), El Rojo Red Ale (with rich, caramel notes), or Grand Trunk Bohemian Pilsner (smooth and light). If burgers (beef, veggie or otherwise) and beer aren’t your style, you might be an alien and I’m not sure where to direct you.

The Bird & The Bread, 210 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham, is fairly new on the restaurant scene, with an even newer patio. The European-style restaurant debuted its newly constructed patio at the end of April and is ready for hungry diners to test it out.

Grab a B&B Club (rotisserie chicken, duck bacon, tomato jam, spicy greens, tarragon aioli), The Mitten Burger (spicy greens, Michigan bacon jam, Michigan brie and cherry aioli on a brioche bun) or Lobster Roll (with celery salad and maple-mustard glaze on a soft bun) and enjoy being outdoors. Starting on Sunday, May 18, the restaurant will begin serving brunch—another great meal to enjoy on the patio.

Carlyle Grill, 3660 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor, has one of the most unique “patios” around, since you’re sort of indoors and out at the same time—courtesy of a garage door that creates an open dining room. Talk about the best of both worlds! On the menu you’ll find everything from pizza to salads to steaks to fish and seafood. Restaurant specialties include Blackened Chicken Alfredo, Wild Mushroom Ravioli, House-Smoked Baby Back Ribs and Maple Pecan Glazed Pork Chop. Plus, if it rains, you’re covered! (Literally).

La Dolce Vita, 17546 Woodward Ave., Detroit, is known for having one of the very best patios in Detroit. It’s won awards! The patio is situated next to a lovely floral garden and is a great place to relax and enjoy a meal.

The lunch menu consists of Eggplant Parmigiana, Penne Bolognese, Carbonara, and Chèvre Cheese Alfredo. If you’re there for dinner, you might enjoy Lasagna Béchamel, Gnocchi Alla Bava (with a six-cheese sauce) or Chicken Marsala. Starting in June, head to La Dolce Vita on Tuesday nights for the restaurant’s special evening party on the patio.

Rooftop Dining Options

Social Kitchen & Bar, 225 E. Maple Rd., Birmingham, is home to the only rooftop restaurant in Birmingham. It’s even got a retractable awning to keep the sun out of your eyes as you dine. The menu includes lunch, brunch and dinner items, as well as a completely gluten friendly menu.

The lunch menu includes options like a Warm Chicken Salad Sandwich, Fish Tacos, Turkey Burger, and Falafel Lettuce Wrap. Dinner items include Spaghetti and Meatballs, Pan Fried Pork Chop, Steak Frites and Brick Chicken.

Zukey Lake Tavern, 5011 Girard Dr., Pinckney, doesn’t have just any plain ‘ol rooftop deck, but a tropical themed rooftop deck! Instantly transport yourself to the Caribbean (well… not really, but close enough) and hang in the shaded pavilion area, belly up to the Tiki Bar or catch the ball game on one of five TV screens.

The rooftop deck even has its own menu, and there is plenty to choose from. Original Deep Pan Pizza, sandwiches and burgers, fresh salads and plenty of ice-cold beer are all at the ready.

Motor City Brewing Works, 470 W. Canfield St., Detroit, has a rooftop deck, which is the perfect location to enjoy a Summer Brew. I don’t know about you, but kicking back in the sunshine with a beer in hand sounds like the perfect afternoon to me.

While you’re there, chow down on a Mediterranean or Roasted Pear & Fig brick oven pizza. If you possess less adventurous tastes, you can build your own pie and keep it more original.

Level Two Bar & Rooftop, 535 Monroe, Detroit, is located in Greektown and hosts events for home ball games as well as special events. There’s a live DJ and dancing every Friday and Saturday night, and there are nine big screen TVs to watch the game while you’re there.

The bar menu includes plenty of small plates, burgers and sandwiches, flatbreads and more to keep your tummy happy. Whether you’re craving wings, pot stickers or a chicken Shawarma, you’ll find something to satisfy your tastebuds.

There you have it, Metro Detroiters. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t spend some time eating outdoors this season!