Some think of summer as the call of the wild, a time when the great outdoors beckons couch zombies out of hibernation.
Move away from the TV, comb your hair, and indulge in a good meal and frosty beverage at your favorite alfresco destination. Isn't drinking a bottle of wine much more relaxing when you're lying on the grass at the vineyard, instead of on your kitchen floor? Shouldn't we spend one Sunday each month people-watching from the sidewalk of a bistro, instead of from the depths of a dive bar? Who's ready for dancing and drinking on Cleveland's rooftops? Here are some outdoor spots for your party monster to prowl.
Those in search of fine wine, green space, and a good buzz should explore the rolling hills of Madison and Chalet Debonné's 110-acre estate. The family-owned winery boasts plenty of outdoor elbow room, including a covered wooden patio with room for approximately 125 and a lawn dotted with small round tables, picnic benches, and a gazebo. Grab a grilled sandwich, choose a bottle of vino, and toast your good fortune. "We bottle perfect days. Isn't it time you had one?" says Beth Debev, Debonne's manager.
Winery hours: noon-6 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, noon-midnight Wednesday, noon-8 p.m. Thursday, noon-midnight Friday, noon-8 p.m. Saturday, and 1-6 p.m. Sunday (starting Memorial Day). 7743 Doty Road, Madison; 440-466-3485, www.debonne.com.
Dining at Chez François feels like lounging alongside the River Seine. Nestled at the mouth of the scenic Vermilion River on Lake Erie, this French restaurant includes an enticing outdoor café. The deck's wrought-iron patio furniture seats up to 40 wine-and-food aficionados. Landlubbers aren't the only ones who can sample the cuisine (those on the qui vive praise the
Provimi veal tenderloin with Maine lobster) and enjoy the glorious view. River travelers can tie up right at Chez François -- it's located next to Vermilion's public boat docks -- which has space for up to six vessels, each a maximum of 63 feet long.
Patio opens at 5 p.m. weekdays and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Restaurant is closed on Monday. 555 Main Street, Vermilion; 440-967-0630, www.chezfrancois.com.
There is something wildly sophisticated about a giant, juicy grilled steak -- especially one eaten outside under the summer sun. On its serene and stylish Independence patio, Delmonico's serves some of the best beef around. The swanky, retro Manhattan Supper Club sports a hip, upscale alfresco eatery, complete with lush landscaping, furnishings from South Beach, and a grand view of the downtown skyline from every seat. Order prime meat, fresh seafood, or pasta, and choose a wine or martini from a list as long as your arm. There are only 10 outdoor tables (accommodating parties of up to 60 guests), so reserve a spot well in advance.
Patio is open 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 5-11:30 p.m. weekends. 6001 Quarry Lane, Independence; 216-573-1991, www.hrcleveland.com/delmonicos.php.
The Flying Fig
Soaking up the urban atmosphere of artsy Ohio City (and with a great view of the stately West Side Market clock tower), the Flying Fig's 60-seat patio is a supercool boulevard veranda. The cuisine -- from the appetizer of spring roll and dumplings to the cherry-reduction seared duck -- is made for indulgence. "Our food is unbeatable -- the flavor, the execution, the value," says manager Tony Mellon. Patrons can sample beverages from a great martini list, a large selection of microbrew draft beers, and a mammoth wine menu while enjoying the sophisticated yet casual vibe of this Ohio City spot.
Restaurant is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5- 11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 5-9 p.m. Sunday. 2523 Market Avenue; 216-241-4243.
One of the neighborhood's busiest watering holes, this Tremont bar and grill boasts a spacious outdoor patio decorated with a mix of Old World memorabilia. There's plenty of room in the pub's brick backyard for a pond, intimate table settings, a wooden bar, and even dartboards. Guests can grab some grub from Edison's Next Door Deli, which serves some of the best pizza around, and choose from more than 100 imports and microbrewed beer to wash it down. Bottoms up!
Patio is open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. 2373 Professor Street; 216-522-0006, www.edisonspub.com.
The summer heat often calls for a fresh tropical drink -- a margarita, sangria, or perhaps a glass of sweet apple-and-carrot juice. Johnny Mango's specializes in cool drinks at its beach shack and world café. "It's definitely an urban dweller's tropical paradise," says manager Michael Liska. Food, beverages, and atmosphere will transport you from Ohio City to Southeast Asia, Mexico, and the Caribbean without the ruinous airfare. The restaurant's street patio, with its wooden tables and umbrellas, is a perfect destination for those who love pad thai and mojitos.
Patio is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, and 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. 3120 Bridge Avenue; 216-575-1919, www.jmango.com.
The Lime Spider
The Lime Spider is Akron's hottest live-music venue, and its rooftop patio is an excellent retreat from the kickass bands playing downstairs. This year the renovated rooftop plays host to a new bar, fresh furniture, candlelit tables, and a great view. DJs spin theme nights, while diners order from a menu of 150 different beers and tasty pub grub served at the outdoor grill. "The view is spectacular, the crowd is always diverse, and the fun is unlimited," says the Spider's Collette Gogan.
Rooftop patio is open 9 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Friday-Saturday. 207 South Main Street, Akron; 330-762-2350, www.thelimespider.com.
Tremont's Lolita is a minxy little Mediterranean bistro serving big servings of fine European food and wine. The restaurant's garden patio transforms the city venue into a green street retreat; some of the kitchen's fresh herbs and greens come straight from pots on the patio. Menu options include small pasta plates, cured meats, flatbreads, and entrées like the braised heirloom pork. Patrons can spend an afternoon or evening with a glass of vino -- Spanish, French, Italian, and Greek wines are poured by the glass. Outdoor dining accommodates up to 22 people. Valet parking costs $5.
Patio is open 5-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday, and 4-9 p.m. Sunday. 900 Literary Road; 216-771-5652, www.lolabistro.com.
The Metropolitan Café
Located at the epicenter of the upscale Warehouse District, the Metropolitan is known for its excellent selection of martinis and wines by the glass. Businessmen dine alongside stylish urbanites on pasta, wood-grilled fish, char-broiled steaks, and brick-oven pizzas. Through the summer, the Met's patio is a trendy outdoor destination, with round umbrella-topped tables that accommodate up to 45 savvy city folk.
Patio is open 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 4-11:30 p.m. Saturday, and 4-9 p.m. Sunday. 1352 West Sixth Street; 216-241-1300, www.hydeparkrestaurants.com/metro.
Rock Bottom Brewery
When you crave a cold brew with a nice city view, head to the Powerhouse in the West Flats and the patio at Rock Bottom Brewery. "We're known for our handcrafted microbrews and our homemade root beer," says manager Theresa Girardot. "We offer a great view of downtown Cleveland, and we're located next to the Cuyahoga River." Sample beers like Dawg Pound Brown and Walleye Wheat while munching tasty Americana cuisine -- steak, fried chicken, sandwiches, and pizza. The outdoor patio seats 80; Rock Bottom also offers a full-service bar.
Patio is open 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 2000 Sycamore Street, Suite 260; 216-623-1555, www.rockbottom.com.
The Velvet Dog
Hip singles dance to the rhythm of the night on the Velvet Dog's tiki-themed rooftop patio, adorned with bamboo, torches, and plenty of metropolitan ambiance. "Save the smoky basement bars for winter," says Tino Roncone, director of marketing. "This is the place to be when the weather is nice -- bar none." Opening festivities are Thursday, June 22.
Patio is open 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday, and 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday. 1280 West Sixth Street, Warehouse District; 216-664-1116, www. velvetdogcleveland.com.