Monday, September 26, 2011

I love a restaurant with a planted courtyard…

There is outdoor dining, and then there is outdoor dining. The less impressive of the two usually means a table and chairs on a narrow sidewalk. If you’re lucky it’s a pedestrian friendly street and you’ve got an active buffer between you and the traffic, if you’re not, well then you spend your meal shouting at your companion and inhaling fumes. Is this desperate need to be outdoors simply a reflection of our climate here in the NW? Are we so staved to be outside that ambiance is not important? I wonder. My favorite restaurant meals eaten outdoors have been enjoyed in a completely enclosed courtyard. Sometimes there is no indication whatsoever that the restaurant even has outdoor seating until you are asked if you would like to dine in the courtyard, that makes it even more special. These courtyard pictures are from Autentica in NE Portland, plants and design from Cistus Nursery (of course!)… Wonderful food in a fabulous setting. Are there any great restaurant courtyards in your part of the country?


  1. All that and good food too? Gotta catch this one during the next spate of good weather (it is coming, right?). Meriweather's on NW Thurman has a beautiful enclosed deck out back.

  2. Outdoor / al-fresco dining is VERY rare in Abq. And most times, it is blah, high water plants - nothing native or spiky. I hear you, outdoor dining should not be in an afterthought space, it can accent the experience beyond words!

    If only you could have eaten on the east patio of the former Cafe Terra Cotta in Tucson on Sunrise. A killer cactus and succulent garden above, a Sonoran Desert arroyo below with ironwoods, paloverdes, saguaro. It was to die for!

    Great concept to post...more!

  3. That certainly is a delightful setting. I love to eat outside and yet there are so few places. I used to wonder why, with all the favorable weather we have in Austin, there aren't more outdoor eating areas like you see in Europe. Insurance. That's the reason. They can't afford it. So sad.

  4. ricki, god I hope so...after the last couple of days I need to see the sun again!

    DD, I do have a great courtyard dining memory from my first visit to Tucson in about 2001, one of those complete surprises where there was nothing to indicate the hidden beauty inside the restaurant. Too bad I didn't happen into Cafe Terra Cotta too!

    Lancashire Rose, seriously? As in it costs more to insure a restaurant with outdoor seating? That's just crazy talk.

    Delphine, yes! It was beautiful.

    Darla, your joking, right?

  5. Beautiful! I am happy to report that many restaurants here in the Boston area make a valiant effort for outdoor with a beautiful setting of greenery but unfortunately very few have a secluded space at their disposal due to the prevailing forms of architecture...

  6. This looks like a fun place. Love that Tetrapanax!

  7. I love Autentica, but haven't been there in warm weather, I guess, because I never realized there was a courtyard. A fun place near me with delightful garden seating is DiPrima Dolce. It's primarily a bakery, but in summer Pat DiPrima does lovely Italian meals on weekends. She grows some of the herbs and veggies she uses right there in her garden, interspersed with perennials and shrubs.

  8. You would think all our restaurants would have outdoor dining because of our Southern California weather. We have one fun place in Laguna Beach called Madison Square Gardens, which has a large outdoor space out back
    under huge trees. Another place with an interesting vertical garden is True Foods in Newport Beach. Who doesn't want to dine outside? (Thanks for sharing this restaurant--hope to see it and feast there someday.)


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