Temperatures are on the rise, the pollen has subsided, and the days are longer. This means one thing: it’s patio season in Atlanta. The COVID-19 pandemic is still in effect, but many of Atlanta’s restaurants are reopening their outdoor dining spaces.
Patio dining is an ideal way to more safely enjoy a restaurant meal while still social distancing and also let someone else cook for a change. Whether you’re looking for a chic patio, a river respite, or just want to sip rosé in a pretty setting, there’s an outdoor situation with your name on it.
Here’s where to get your patio fix in Atlanta with links to booking on OpenTable.
For guides to the best outdoor dining in other cities around the U.S. and Canada, head here.
For an Italian escape: Forza Storico
It might be a while before a trip to Italy is in the cards, so the next best thing is the laid-back outdoor area at West Midtown’s Forza Storico. The patio, which sits alongside the Westside Provisions District courtyard, has a European vibe with playful Italian-inspired murals and festive bistro lights.
Known for its Roman fare, Forza’s specialties include fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta, grilled octopus, and classic pasta dishes like cacio e pepe. When it comes to drinks, you can’t go wrong with an Italian classic like the negroni (gin, Campari, and vermouth) or the spritz with Prosecco and vermouth.
For live music: Big Oak Tavern
In downtown Roswell, Big Oak Tavern offers standout bar food in a casual setting. Patio tables have umbrellas for plenty of shade, making the area especially enjoyable on weekends for brunch. You can order hearty dishes — like brandied apple buttermilk pancakes or shrimp and grits with andouille sausage and caramelized onions — paired with $15 bottomless mimosas, all while taking in some live music.
For Thai favorites: Bangkok Station
It’s easy to forget that you’re actually in Buckhead when dining on Bangkok Station’s patio. Tucked behind a wall, it seems as if you’re in a secret garden and not at a restaurant off of busy Pharr Road.
Sit among the lush florals and order a Queen of Siam, a light, fruity mix of vodka, elderflower liqueur, white wine, and lychee. Classic Thai fare, and plenty of it, makes up the menu. Standouts include crispy vegetable-stuffed spring rolls, green curry, and sea bass served with a mango salad. Save room for dessert — the mango sticky rice is an absolute marvel.
For Southern classics: The Mill
A restaurant off Mimosa Boulevard is practically legally obligated to serve a killer brunch, which is exactly the case with The Mill, found on the edge of downtown Roswell. Southern brunch offerings — pecan French toast and sweet rolls with cinnamon and cream cheese are a must — are made even better when enjoyed on the rustic patio. Find a view of the bustling street while ensconced by wooden beams and stone details. If you go in the evening, try the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and tomato gravy and pair it with a Kentucky mule (bourbon, ginger beer, and lime juice) — a classic Southern combination.
For Mexican and mezcal: Casi Cielo
Casi Cielo means “almost heaven,” and that’s exactly how its patio feels on a summer evening. The Sandy Springs hot spot is known for its Oaxacan cuisine and mezcal cocktails, like the Paloma Negra, an ideal patio sipper with mezcal, grapefruit and lime juices, and agave. Fill out a table with guacamole that comes with fried herbs on top and plenty of tacos.
For waterside dining: Canoe
Despite the fact that the Chattahoochee River is a prominent fixture of Atlanta’s landscape, dining near it is a rare treat. Thankfully, Canoe in Vinings does riverside dining with sophistication. The outdoor area is reminiscent of a sprawling British estate replete with winding paths, benches, garden tables with umbrellas, and plenty of Instagram-worthy river photo opps. You would never know that you’re only 20 minutes outside the city.
To make the most of this retreat, go for brunch. Their famous pastry basket chases away the Sunday scaries, and the duck n’beef burger, topped with a sunny side egg, will soak up those mimosas.
For rooftop sushi: O-Ku
With a view of Atlanta’s skyline, O-Ku’s rooftop patio is a lovely escape. The dining room is currently closed, but you can order off of the takeout menu and grab a first-come-first-serve table upstairs. The takeout menu is limited, but packed with tasty options like the fried rock shrimp appetizer and rolls such as one filled with spicy salmon and topped with salmon and avocado.
Enjoy a patio sipper like the Shochu Wanna Drink with shochu, lime, cucumber, and mint. If zero-proof drinks are your jam, try the White Dragon with lychee, mint, and sparkling green tea.
For seasonal pizza: No. 246
You’ll find No. 246, acclaimed restaurateur Ford Fry’s Italian-inspired gem, in downtown Decatur. Head to the “backyard” where a gravel patio with bistro lights and plenty of shade-giving trees create a relaxed atmosphere.
The food here is unpretentious and seasonally driven, making the backyard all the more inviting of a spot to dine. A seasonal cocktail, like the summery Pimm’s Cup with strawberry and limoncello, and a wood-fired pizza — the mushroom pizza with ricotta and Calabrian chili is a standout — make for a fine meal.
For steak al fresco: Arnette’s Chop Shop
Arnette’s is a modern hidden surprise in residential Brookhaven. The swanky steakhouse features a second-level patio with comfortable seating and fire pits that come in handy even in the summertime.
If you find yourself craving a steak served al fresco, this is the place to go. Cuts on the menu include an eight-ounce ribeye cap and 28-ounce porterhouse that’s been dry aged for 45 days. Pair it with the port old fashioned, and you’ll be in for a good night.
For burgers and games: Grindhouse Killer Burgers
Out of Grindhouse’s four Atlanta locations, the Decatur joint is a standout, with its 21-and-older rooftop with shaded biergarten-style seating. Grab a table, and plan to hang out for a while. In between bites of one of the creative burgers and gulps of milkshakes (with or without booze), you can play backyard games like cornhole. Walk-ins only.
For tapas and happy hour: Iberian Pig
Iberian Pig’s semi-enclosed glass patio — making it useable in any weather — in Buckhead is chic thanks to geometric-patterned tile and chevron bistro chairs. You can go for lunch or dinner daily, but the best time is during jamón happy hour, offered from weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.. Order from a selection of meats and cheeses and pair them with $5 sangria specials for a late afternoon treat. If you stay for dinner, the bacon-wrapped dates and pork cheek tacos are popular orders.