Wine and dine at 15 of the region’s best restaurant patios
Photos courtesy of restaurants
Rio City Cafe's patio offers sweeping views of the Sacramento River and Tower Bridge.
Summer has officially arrived, making this the perfect season for casual al fresco dining. We scoured the region for 15 of the best restaurant patios, places where you can eat, drink and be cool under the shade of a palm tree by day, or the glow of twinkling lights by night.
Aioli Bodega Espanola
Although this Andalusian restaurant is right in the heart of midtown Sacramento, take a seat in its outdoor garden and you'll feel like you're worlds away from an urban environment. Aoili’s menu—and patio—are inspired by the coastal Spanish region from Barcelona to Granada to Cordoba. Star jasmine vines, Italian cypress, wisteria, wine grapes, dogwood, and a lemon tree have been entwining themselves through the patio's trellises since the restaurant opened in 1994, providing a shady canopy of lush foliage. At the serene core of the cozy patio, which seats about 40, a mosaic-tiled fountain trickles in the background on warm evenings while patrons sip sangria, nosh on seafood tapas and sway along to live music. The New Jazz Quartet plays on the first Wednesday of each month, and acoustic flamenco guitarist Sam Damiani appears on weekends. 1800 L St. 447-9440. aiolibodega.com
Delta Bar & Grill
There’s no better place to experience the magic of the Delta breeze than on the Sacramento riverfront. Hop aboard the 1927 Delta King riverboat with its signature cherry red paddlewheel and dine on deck, indulging in classic entrees like the shrimp Louie salad or the Sierra Nevada beer-battered fish and chips. The ship's dining patio wraps around the port side (that’s left to you landlubbers), offering expansive views of the Tower and I Street Bridges. Watch fishing boats ply the river alongside party barges blasting rock tunes and jet skis throwing up rooster tails of water in their wakes. From the starboard side of the boat you can wave to tourists perusing the Old Sacramento boardwalk and on weekend evenings, you may even catch a bouquet from a wedding taking place on the lower deck. 1000 Front St. 444-5464. deltaking.com
The Firehouse Restaurant
For an elegant outdoor dining experience, head to this repurposed 1853 fire station in Old Sacramento, where the ivy-lined brick courtyard behind the restaurant features multiple fountains, statues, a wrought iron balcony and an outdoor fireplace. Many of the décor pieces came from historic northern California sites, like a Cervantes bust from a Market Street theater in San Francisco; and antique gas lampposts that once lined the streets of Oakland. With this precise attention to detail, it’s no wonder The Firehouse’s patio hosts about 100 weddings each year. Though it’s just steps away from Old Sacramento’s bustling streets, it offers a serene lunch or dinnertime escape. 1112 2nd St. 442-4772. firehouseoldsac.com