This summer, you’ll likely be spending time outdoors bonding with loved ones and friends. What better way is there to enjoy yourselves than by taking in some sun and enjoying a delicious meal at a few of the city’s best restaurants?
Here are nine Columbus eateries that feature outdoor seating, ranging from more upscale, new southern spots to the casual sports bar crowd.
Most were chosen from personal dining experiences and others were recommended to me on social media by Columbus foodies.
Address: 1358 13th Street
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Imagine sitting at a Jarfly picnic table with three duck tacos, sweet potato tots and a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy as the sun sets. It’s one of my favorite places in all of Columbus.
The midtown restaurant, known for its patio dining and eclectic menu, is a great place to order a little bit of everything and share with your friends.
If you need an excuse to visit: they’ve recently added a lobster roll ($21) to the menu. The butter poached crustacean is served on a toasted New England Roll with lettuce, scallion, celery leaf and herb aioli.
If that doesn’t get you hungry, I don’t know what will.
Address: 19 12th Street
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m.- 3 p.m.
I’ve written before about the appeal of Bodega 1205’s outdoor seating. Broadway is visible from the cafe tables, so diners get views of downtown’s busiest street without some of its drawbacks. On busier days, that’s a nice touch. If you’re on the other side of the table, you’ll see First Avenue with the historic Post Office and U.S. Courthouse building in the distance.
It’s easy to have a conversation with your dining partner, and it’s a relaxing place to enjoy a nice meal.
Breakfast is served all day, and you can’t go wrong with any of the sandwich options. The Ropa Vieja ($18), tender braised beef flank in a tomato-based stew with carrots, onions and celery topped with sautéed peppers, is a great choice. If you like to take pictures of your food, Bodega’s meal presentation will impress.
Address: 1041 Broadway
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 12 p.m.-9 p.m.
Cannon is known for its beers and burgers. Both are perhaps best enjoyed from the restaurant’s sidewalk tables or its balcony overlooking Broadway.
Personally, I’m partial to the balcony’s shade and ceiling fans. You can’t go wrong with any of the burgers, but consider the Red Jacket Monte Cristo the next time you visit.
The sandwich features smoked turkey and honey-baked ham with cheddar and gouda cheeses. It’s dipped in a beer batter made from the restaurant’s Red Jacket Ale and fried golden brown. The raspberry dipping sauce is a must.
Address: 1002 Bay Avenue
Hours: Opens daily at 8 a.m. for coffee and 11 a.m. for food and other beverages. Building closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Vendor hours may differ.
Right on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Banks Food Hall is great option for dining outdoors with larger groups. There’s a little something for everyone from the bowls at Poke Sun to desserts at the Bakeshop by Fountain City Coffee and lots more.
My favorite spot is the brick courtyard next to Whitewater Express.
Address: 6060 Veterans Parkway
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday and Monday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Tuesday; 11 a.m.-12 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m.- 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Fans of sporting events, karaoke, live music and trivia in Columbus would do well to make a stop at The Hangout.
The restaurant’s large patio just off Veterans Parkway is a perfect meeting spot for large groups when the weather is nice.
If you’re looking for an outdoor experience while enjoying the indoors, much of the restaurant’s seating is near windows that stay open depending on the time of year and the weather.
Address: 6298 Veterans Parkway Suite 7A
Hours: 5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m, Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Hudson’s changed ownership one week before COVID-19 took hold, and they’ve come out of the worst of the pandemic with a new concept.
The best way to reintroduce yourself to the north Columbus restaurant is by enjoying weekend brunch on the patio. The red velvet chicken and waffles, as well as the shrimp and grits, come highly recommended.
Address: 1050 Bay Avenue
Hours: 5-9 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday; 5-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
A spacious patio and recently installed misting system makes one of the city’s premier contemporary Southern restaurants that much more enjoyable when the weather gets hot.
You’ll be close to the Chattahoochee River, making this a perfect spot for a sunset meal. Order the smoked oysters served with paprika oil, Midland Ghost pepper sauce, lemon aioli and toasted saltines. You’ll thank me.
Saltcellar and Mabella’s
Address: 1039 First Avenue; 14 W 11th Street
Hours: Saltcellar is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 5-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Mabella keeps the same hours, but is also open Mondays from 5-10 p.m. Both are closed on Sunday.
Tom Jones and Buddy Nelms run three phenomenal downtown restaurants in close proximity — Mabella Italian Steakhouse, Saltcellar and The Loft.
The outdoor dining areas for Mabella and Saltcellar are located behind the restaurants and nearly next-door neighbors, so it’s best to mention them together. The most visually appealing spot for me is Saltcellar’s plant-lined patio near First Avenue, just off of the main entrance.
You couldn’t go wrong with a meal at either place. If a braised boneless short rib risotto or wild mushroom ravioli sounds better, stop at Mabella. A hankering for desserts or a grilled seafood platter would likely lead you to Saltcellar.
Address: 800 Front Avenue
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Sunday
Praised for its location and space, Houlihan’s at the downtown Columbus Marriott hotel has a large patio close to Broadway and the Columbus Historic District. It’s a perfect spot for spur of the moment appetizers and drinks after work.