One of my favorite things about Spring/Summer/Fall is dining al fresco. There’s nothing better than whiling away an afternoon with girlfriends over a bottle of wine on a quiet street or meeting a date for dinner while enjoying the sunset and candlelight.
I also think surviving a freezing cold winter makes you appreciate any and all time you can possibly spend outside the rest of the year.
Luckily, we have plenty of al fresco dining options in St. Louis. I’ve got a list of my top 10 favorite places to dine al fresco here in the Lou!
Technically it’s John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub, but literally no one calls it that. McGurk’s is the kind of place you go when you want a giant cheeseburger and fries. They have a huge patio garden behind the restaurant, well off the busy road. Find it in Soulard and spend the afternoon drinking beer and chowing down on fish and chips.
I’ve talked before how much I love Gamlin Whiskey House, but it’s worth repeating. Gamlin has a great outdoor patio right on the corner of Maryland Ave and Euclid. So much potential people watching from this patio. It’s just a bonus that they have the most delicious brunch. One day I’ll force myself to go at a time other than brunch just so I can try the rest of their menu.
I can’t think of anything that goes better with summer than Peacemaker. I love the patio at Peacemaker for two reasons: lobster rolls and Sidney Street. Peacemaker’s location on Sidney st is one of the prettiest parts of the road. The houses are all the epitome of St. Louis and Benton Park. It’s such a cute neighborhood and the food at Peacemaker is some of the best in STL.
Downtown Clayton has lots of great restaurants and it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love Avenue’s outdoor dining best though. It’s located on one of the quieter streets in Clayton. They have a patio on the sidewalk out front which makes it perfect for people watching, but really car watching. I always see loads of ridiculously expensive cars every time I eat here. Their menu is french inspired and they have several great house cocktails. I recommend going for lunch with girlfriends to split a bottle (or two) of wine.
Located downtown, this restaurant is great if you work downtown and want to try somewhere new for lunch. The patio overlooks the City Garden which makes a really pleasant, quiet lunch in a busy downtown. They serve delicious ramen, but also cheeseburgers. It’s great for people with various tastes in food (i.e. picky eaters and not picky eaters). The restaurant also has floor to ceiling windows so it’s gorgeous in the evening all lit up.
5. Straub’s for a picnic in Forest Park
The original in outdoor dining, a good old fashioned picnic. I love Straub’s grocery store. It’s a more upscale shop so I don’t do my weekly groceries here. But their prepared food is delicious. First, they have amazing caramel ice cream. Second, their chicken salad is phenomenal. I’m not even a chicken salad person and I always pick some up here. Grab a few goodies here and a bottle of wine and head over to Art Hill to waste an afternoon in the sun reading or talking or playing with your favorite pup.
This summer has converted me to a dedicated patron of Planter’s House in Lafayette Square. They have a pretty big brick patio off a side street, so it’s really quiet with lots of trees around. The real reason you should go here immediately is for the cocktails. The bartenders here are absolutely genius. The menu has tons of drinks on it, but they are happy to make you anything. It’s the kind of place I’d have no hesitation telling the bartender to make me whatever he feels like. Bonus, the food is amazing as well.
The closest thing in STL that reminds me of a Parisian cafe is Brasserie by Niche. The restaurant is perfectly setup with Paris cafe chairs dotting the sidewalk out front. This is exactly the kind of place you’d go with your guy to sit with a bottle of wine and watch the people in the most French way possible. The best part is that you know the food is going to be amazing because all of the restaurants owned by Niche are crazy good (hi Pastaria!).
I think this is the one thing I’d tell everyone to do when they’re in St. Louis. I just love going to the boathouse for lunch with a view of the pond with the paddle boats. Forest Park is just one of the most beautiful public parks I’ve ever seen and I think St. Louisans don’t take it for granted. The Boathouse has delicious food, but you’re really going for that view of the park.
1. Vin de Set
Arguably one of the best restaurants in St. Louis, it also happens to have THE best view in St. Louis. I love French food so Vin de Set is one of my favorites. It’s on Chouteau just across the street from Planter’s House (how convenient). I love that you can choose what you want from their huge menu or you can do a prix fixe. This is the kind of place you want to go at sunset for dinner with a big group of friends, but also you might want to take your guy, just the two of you, because it’s kind of textbook romantic. You can’t beat that view of the Arch at sunset though.