Now that summer has arrived, you undoubtedly find yourself dealing with the feeling inside that you should only do things outside. Embrace that feeling. Nurture it. And take a little bit of our advice. We've been on just about every patio in Northeast Ohio —and we love them all — but certain conditions call for certain settings, whether that's the forecast, the meal, or the company. So take our expert advice on where to plant your fanny, all run through our very scientific evaluation process in search of maximum pleasure.
When you feel like eating Brazilian fare in a secret garden:
Batuqui (12706 Larchmere Blvd., 216-801-0277, batuquicleveland.com), a new Brazilian bistro concept, inherited the attractive Victorian on Larchmere that was home to Vine & Bean and Bon Vivant, which means it also inherited an enchanted garden patio. Enjoy skewers of grilled pork, garlicky Portuguese sausage, and feijoada, the celebratory dish of black beans, sausage, ham, rice and crispy farofa.
When you feel like slicing into a fat steak while teetering over a river:
A fire destroyed Jekyll's Kitchen (17 River St., 440-893-0797, jekyllskitchen.com) in Chagrin Falls awhile back, but the restaurant reopened with an all-new layout that ups its patio game by a mile. A new folding glass panel slides away, creating a lively and attractive indoor-outdoor patio overlooking the Chagrin River where diners can enjoy solid American fare.
When you want to dine outdoors in iffy weather:
Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216-795-0550, nighttowncleveland.com) at the top of Cedar Hill in Cleveland Heights seems to build new patios by the day, and many of them are covered, allowing guests to dine alfresco without the fear of being screwed by Cleveland's fickle weather.
When you and your dog want to enjoy live music under the trees:
Musicians take to the stage nearly every night of the year at the Barking Spider Tavern (11310 Juniper Rd., 216-421-2863; barkingspidertavern.com) in University Circle. And throughout summer, the doors that separate the stage and the (dog-friendly) patio are flung wide open, allowing the acoustic tunes to fly right out.
When you feel like getting Porcoed outside for a change:
We're so used to getting "Porcoed" indoors like the rest of the gang at Porco Lounge & Tiki Bar (2527 West 25th St., 216-802-9222, porcolounge.com), the magical little tiki bar in Ohio City, that we tend to forget about the oasis-like patio out back. Then again, we tend to forget everything after a few Mai Tais or Pain Killers.
When you want to feel like a Parisian in your own backyard:
The little patch of sidewalk fronting Le Petit Triangle Café (1881 Fulton Rd., 216-281-1881, lepetittrianglecafe.com) may be slender, but its quietly urban setting on an out-of-the-way block in Ohio City is hard to top. Share brunch here with a loved one and leave the rest of the world behind, much like a mini vacation from home.
When you want to dine alfresco at a local legend:
For more than 35 years, Players on Madison (14523 Madison Ave., 216-226-5200, playersonmadison.com) in Lakewood has been satisfying its neighbors with creative Italian fare that began with pizza and pasta but has grown to include creative seasonal specials.
When you want to drink good beer with 1,000 friends:
Hofbräuhaus Cleveland (1550 Chester Ave., 216-621-BEER, HofbrauhausCleveland.com) is one of just a handful of officially sanctioned offshoots of the Munich original here in the States. And it's one of the best, especially now that the 1,000-seat beer garden has been unveiled. Grab a liter of hefeweizen, a few pretzels, and settle in for an authentic beer garden experience.
When you want to eat killer 'cue: with a sky view:
The attractive beer garden at Sterle's Country House (1401 East 55th St., 216-881-4181, sterlescountryhouse.com) has always been a sweet spot to pop in for a cold beer on a hot day. But now, Thursdays through Sundays, it also happens to serve the best barbecue in Cleveland proper. That's when items like pork ribs, beef ribs, corned beef, and bratwurst roll off the grill and out of the smoker.
When you've had just about enough of West 25th Street:
On some Saturdays (and we're not complaining here), the main drag through Ohio City can get pretty congested with shoppers, tourists, and lookie-loos. That's the perfect time to duck into the beer garden at Market Garden (1947 West 25th St., 216-621-4000, marketgardenbrewery.com) for a quick refresher. After a few tall Pearl Street Wheats, the crowds don't seem so bad.
When you want to remember that Cleveland has a Great Lake:
It's not always easy to get to enjoy that big, blue body of water to our north thanks to eons of horrendous city planning. One of the few enjoyable access points is Sunset Grille at Whiskey Island, which is now officially called Whiskey Island Still & Eatery (2800 Whiskey Island, 216-631-1800). The beer selection has never been better, the music is always live and festive, and the sunset views are Instagram gold.
When you want to impress your snotty East Side pals:
Let's face it: Eastsiders can be a tad judgmental when it comes to the far-West Side dining scene. But even the most jaded of urban explorers will leave Tartine Bistro (19110 Old Detroit Rd., 440-331-0800, tartinebistro.com) in Rocky River with newfound respect. The compact brick-paved courtyard is the ideal spot to sip wine, snack on small plates, and make some new friends.
When you want to eat offal under moonlight:
The food at Michael Symon's Tremont bistro Lolita (900 Literary Rd., 216-771-5652, lolitarestaurant.com) always manages to be current and on point — even progressive. Meals take on an added sense of delight when enjoyed on the svelte garden patio out back. There, dishes like crispy pig tails and ear, roasted bone marrow, and killer seasonal pizzas taste downright magical.
When you want the best spot for people watching in University Circle:
University Circle is blowing up, and one of the best places to take in all the action is on the streetside patio at Ninja City (11311 Euclid Ave., 216-860-0510, ninjacity.com). Where better to enjoy Asian street food than along one of the city's busiest thoroughfares, where museum-goers, academics and new tenants savor the urban lifestyle?
When you just want to relax with a great cuppa joe:
There's no arguing that the best cups of coffee in Cleveland are being brewed and poured at Rising Star (1455 West 29th St., 216-273-3573, risingstarcoffee.com). Grab a cup and a seat out front of this #hingetown staple to watch the steady stream of coffee fanatics who make daily pilgrimages to this seminal shop.