Just when you thought Cleveland couldn't possibly squeeze in another patio, somebody opens another one and proves us dead wrong. Not that we're complaining, mind you. Blessed with more alfresco eating and drinking options than our already feeble livers can handle, our fair-weathered village on a Great Lake is primed for its best summer ever.
Just this spring, Nano Brew in Ohio City—what that one guy at Eater.com called one of the "best new craft beer bars in the country"—dusted off the expansive back patio that for years was Garage Bar's signature feature. New beer hall-style picnic tables, lighting, landscaping, heating and, of course, a never-ending supply of over-hopped suds already is making this one of the busiest plots in town.
Drink: Nano Cluster Bomb
1859 W. 25th St., 216-862-6631
Going on two decades, Lopez Southwest Kitchen has been the place on Lee to sip margaritas beneath the open sky. Ever since chef Michael Herschman joined the team a few years back, we also can eat to our hearts' content beneath that open sky. While smaller than many current (read sprawling) patios, Lopez' is petite, elegant and just boisterous enough to be fun.
Eat: Ceviche trio
Drink: Mexican Shandalita
2196 Lee Rd., 216-932-9000
Hodge's urban oasis, set back from a busy thoroughfare, is surprisingly beefy, boasting an outdoor bar and table and chairs galore. Even better, after a revolving-door kitchen, it appears that quality and consistency has arrived in the form of chef Jim Blevins. Given the dearth of prime center-city open-air eats, we're thankful this patio is no mirage.
Eat: Lobster Roll
Drink: Frosty Strawberry Mint Julep
668 Euclid Ave., 216-771-4000,
Felice Urban Café is best known for its Craftsman-style home setting. But it's the outdoor bar, built within a converted wooden carriage house, that attracts diners all summer long. A covered patio adjacent to the garage bar means never having to say "let's eat inside" come spring showers. Bonus: The patio boasts great views of the restaurant's huge kitchen garden.
Eat: Hangar steak frites
12502 Larchmere Blvd., 216-791-0918
You can't mention the word "patio" in this town with some know-it-all chiming in with L'Albatros this and L'Albatros that. Okay, so we are those know-it-alls, who not only bring up this leafy urban retreat at ever opportunity, but also sit our butts down there as often as possible, too. This is outdoor dining at its finest, with sturdy tables, casual sofas, and a granite-topped bar.
Eat: Oysters on the half shell
Drink: Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose
11401 Bellflower Rd., 216-791-7880