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There’s a time and a place for outdoor day drinking. The time is generally the day, and the places are the ones on this guide. Here are the spots where you can get a daytime drink and not feel like you’re hiding from a loan shark. For the most part, these bars A) open relatively early and B) have outdoor seating. Take a look at this list, and find your new go-to spot for drinking during the day before we’re hit with the weather equivalent of a sad Joni Mitchell song that loops for eight months straight.
If you don’t have your own tricked-out herb garden where you can sit and sip wine with friends, we suggest you check out Bottlehouse. It’s a renovated-home-turned-wine-bar, and the backyard is a very charming place to try flights of wine (or frozen wine cocktails) for prolonged periods of time. Snack-wise, there are actual cheesemongers here to help appropriately pair your drinks with charcuterie and cheese plates.
Stoup is one of our favorite breweries in Ballard. The beer here is pretty simple, but reliably tasty - so it’ll please both the pilsner people and the craft sour nerds. And while you could sit in the front overlooking the rotating resident food truck that hangs out there, we like going around back, where there are picnic tables, a back bar, and firepit.
If you haven’t spent a Sunday outside at Rhein Haus drinking boots of beer or frozen rosé while getting a little too competitive about lawn games, you’re not really living. We especially like the biergarten patio because the bocce court out there is first come, first served (whereas the ones inside have multiple-hour waits). We also like Rhein Haus because they have giant pretzels with liquid cheese.
Chances are, you probably know about the tavern burger at Loretta’s Northwesterner. If not, you should acquaint yourself with this glorious little thing wrapped in deli paper that explodes with American cheese and special sauce. Loretta’s also has a very cool backyard, complete with a furnished airstream, some bistro tables, and a bar.
Not enough people seem to know about the patio at Citizen Six, where you can get flights of homemade cider and tasty Korean-Mexican bar food (we especially like the bulgogi fries). Instead of the usual views of the water, their patio overlooks a trainyard, so you can toast with many mini alcoholic apple juices and habanero-battered chicken sandwiches while watching freight cars whiz by.
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There are few better ways to spend a nice day than grabbing a six-pack from the fridge and drinking it on the deck with some friends, a couple bags of chips, and a sack of sour gummy worms. Even though this sounds like what you’d do at your own house, we’re describing what goes down at Chuck’s. It’s a convenience store where they’ll crack open anything that they sell from refrigerators, and they also have a great on-tap selection. The sheer variety of gummy snacks here is astounding, so don’t be shy about pairing your beer with a very rare breed of Trolli.
If any of your friends have ever complained about Seattle in any regard, grab them by the collar and toss them out on the patio at Marination Ma Kai so they can take in the skyline view. Then, sit back and have lychee margaritas under an umbrella while your friends eat chicken tacos, kimchi fried rice, mac salad, and their own words.
You can’t just waltz past Redhook Brewlab’s front picnic table area without getting the itch to take a seat out there (unless you’re on your way to Salt & Straw - then carry on, please). We’re pretty sure the gravitational pull has a lot to do with the high quantity of cute dogs out there, but the great beer might also be at play. If you’re looking for more of a relaxed hang, head to the back courtyard and sit in an Adirondack chair by the firepit.
Fremont Brewing Company is a great place to day drink if you have out-of-town guests visiting, a birthday party planned, a meetup with a date before dinner, a new puppy, or nothing to do at all. Basically, we’re telling you to day drink here at literally any time. We’d suggest a beer for you to order, but they’re really all delicious - from the Lush IPA to any of their infused Randalls on rotation.
There used to be a bar in Williamsburg called Battery Harris that had a big backyard and an inside area where you could dance on weekends. Now, there’s a new bar called The Breakers in the same space, and it basically just feels like Battery Harris got a new paint job and some skateboards on the walls. They serve food like some very large fish tacos and a great fried chicken sandwich, so stop by for a snack in the big backyard, or come for a late-night dance party.
If you spend time around Kips Bay, you know there are plenty of bars serving pitchers of Harpoon IPA and showing replays of Mets games on 20 different TVs. Stay Gold is not one of them. This is a cocktail spot on 3rd Avenue from the team behind The Up & Up - an upscale bar in Greenwich Village - but this place is more casual than that one. You can have drinks like a frozen one made with bourbon, IPA, ginger, and lemon, and there’s also a big backyard full of picnic tables and hanging lights.
In the early aughts, there was a television show hosted by Xzibit called Pimp My Ride. We don’t currently have time to explain who Xzibit is, but the show itself always involved a very average car getting a big makeover. A van might wind up with a hot tub, for example, or an old TransAm might get a new paint job, a chandelier, and an incredibly impractical espresso machine.
Bocce Union Square isn’t a car, but it reminds us of this concept. This restaurant is, essentially, a nice sedan tricked out like a sports car. The Italian food here is perfectly good, but what really makes this spot worthwhile is the fact that it’s in an open-air space at the top of Union Square Park. It’s seasonal, which means you won’t be able to come here once people start putting scarves on mannequins in store windows - but if you hang out in the area, it’s currently one of your best options for some quality time outdoors.
The overall environment at Bocce feels sort of like an Italian piazza as envisioned by a South Beach millionaire who spent a week in Rome. The main structure (Union Square’s Pavilion building) has columns and a tiled roof, and there’s a big patio out front where you can sit and count the number of people who walk into the Barnes & Noble across the street. As promised by the name, this place also has bocce - but there’s only one court, and it’s small and kind of sad. So skip that, and get dinner or drinks instead.
The menu isn’t so exciting that you’ll hyperventilate into a paper bag, but it should make everyone happy. We like the thin-crust pizzas that come with toppings like thick pepperoni and pickled chilis, and the smaller plates like the snap pea caesar and fluke crudo are better than what you’d expect from a high-volume place in a touristy area. There are also a few pastas, although perfectly-decent pasta is somehow less satisfying than perfectly-decent pizza - so stick to the pizza.
As long as you don’t mind a crowd, this is also a nice place to just get cocktails with some friends or coworkers. The bartenders might ignore you for a few minutes, and the frozen negroni might taste a little too sweet - but the fact that you’re outdoors should help you forget about those things. This is the Pimp My Ride effect, and it’s what makes this otherwise pretty normal restaurant worth your time.
This is just a large disk of baked pizza dough, and when you see someone else eating it, you’ll immediately know that it should be a part of your life. It comes with a side of ricotta for dipping, and makes a great snack.
There’s nothing revolutionary about this, but it’s perfectly cooked, and you won’t wind up chewing on a piece of squid for 10 minutes. So if you cope with warm weather by eating deep-fried seafood, go for it.
This is one of our favorite pizzas here, in part because it isn’t too complicated. It’s covered in cheese, pickled chilis, and pepperoni, and you should share it with someone who appreciates such things.
This pizza with sausage, peppers, and tomatoes on top is another good option. Have a few cocktails alongside it, and you’ll become a happier person who’s more pleasant to be around.
The mushroom pie gets a little soggy after a few minutes, and it isn’t too remarkable to begin with. It isn’t bad, but you should order one of the above pizzas instead.
Snap Pea Caesar
This is a caesar salad with snap peas and green beans instead of lettuce, and it works surprisingly well. It’s fresh and crunchy, and it tastes like summer.
We like al dente pasta, but this one’s a little chewy. It also tastes overwhelmingly like rosemary, to the extent that you’ll wonder if you accidentally used rosemary-flavored toothpaste earlier. Stick to the pizza.
For the most part, we don’t care who opens a restaurant or cooks in it. Especially because the whole thing tends to get a little Lord of the Rings bloodline when something new opens. The Bistro, Son of the Restaurant, Sibling to the Wine Bar. That sort of thing. However we admit, when we heard that the folks behind P. Franco were opening Bright, we got excited.
Where P. Franco is a wine bar, Bright is a restaurant. And where P. Franco is like being at the world’s most lovely dinner party, Bright is what happens when your friends open a restaurant. We say this because the cool, casual, and confident atmosphere from Clapton has been seamlessly transferred to a much bigger space in London Fields. And, really, that’s the only difference between the two.
We’re glad they’re so similar though, because that means good things. Whereas P. Franco has visiting chefs who switch on a bi-annual basis, Bright’s are here to stay. Just like P. Franco though, the menu remains short, sweet, and always changing. This is food to take a punt on. Because the more risks you take here, the more you’ll be rewarded. Never had beef tongue before? Go for it. Especially if its combination with blackberry sauce makes you more unsure. That way you’ll be even more blown away. Equally, if summer beans sounds like one of those ‘let’s get another meat or fish instead’ dishes, then think again. These beans have got so much, but so little, going on - beans, parmesan, anchovy, walnuts - that you’ll frantically write down the combination for next week’s barbecue.
This isn’t really a restaurant to be frantic in though, ’cos the people running it aren’t. Seriously, these guys are trailblazers. Just modest ones. They’ve put a white bread sandwich on the menu, cut into squares that, sorry mum and dad, absolutely wipes the floor with all of your packed lunch efforts. This cool and confident approach is everywhere. There’s no explanation or stern recommendation of how many things to order. Nor is there the tell-tale dainty portions of a restaurant for restaurants. You know, the kind of places where a tenner gets you a single scallop that’s considered a sharing plate. No, these sharing plates are filling, delicious and plentiful. Because that’s what normal people want.
So much of P. Franco’s atmosphere feels bound to its intimate dinner party like space, but Bright shows that what these guys are doing doesn’t rely on where they are. This spacious out-and-out restaurant maintains all of the carefree quirks of its wine bar sibling, whilst serving some of the most delicious and original food in London. If you’re going to take notice of any restaurant family-tree, make it this one.
Pillow soft white bread, panko crusted pork, a dollop of mustard. This is the sandwich kids will be eating on the coach at 10am in 3018.
Light and delicious in a way fried things aren’t meant to be. We wouldn’t hear a peep out of Jamie Oliver if these were served in schools.
A Snack Or Two
Aside from the two above, there are changing snacks. We’ve had a beef tongue in blackcurrant and a cold courgette and basil soup that are both mind-bogglingly delicious in their own ways.
A Bit Of Shellfish Or Raw Stuff
We’ve had a raw tuna dish that’s made for summer. Bread is essential for the tomato sauce. A crab, almond, and olive oil dish is a chilled and rich bowl of lovely.
A Bit Of Pasta
There’s always two pastas on here. We’ve had a spaghetti and salt cod, and a brothy veal agnolotti that have both been lovely.
A Bit Of Veg
Bright are very, very good at vegetables. From an enormous bull’s heart tomato salad to grilled onions and ricotta, it’s all completely 10/10. Oh, and those summer beans of course.
A Bit Of Fish Or Meat
Turbot on the bone is great, and a boneless spatchcocked chicken with a hit of chilli is also great.
A Sweet Thing
Desserts are decidedly summery: cold, fruity and refreshing. We’re looking forward to seeing what winter brings.
While you can continue to brave the crowds at Mama Shelter, Dream, and whatever new rooftop hotel bar is opening in Hollywood this week, we suggest you remember that Filifera is down the street and there’s never a line. They have well-made cocktails (get the hibiscus gin & tonic), a Happy Hour from 4-6pm, a full dinner menu, and fantastic views of the Hills.
Trophy Wife is a solid sports bar on Hyperion in Silver Lake. There are TVs in every direction, 2-for-1 drinks every day from 4-9pm, and a breakfast burrito that’ll help you soak up last night’s regrets. Their patio is dog-friendly and has ping pong, corn hole, and a photo booth.
The Toms store is basically just another spot on Abbot Kinney that will try to lure you in and sign you up for their newsletter. Bypass all of that and head to the back patio. One of our favorite places to get some work down on the Westside, this hidden plot of astroturf has scattered chairs and tables, plus a whole wall of wooden bleachers to sit on with your laptop. If you need a pick-me-up, they have a full coffee bar inside.
One place that’s still off the main radar in the Arts District is Tony’s. It’s one of those spots you plan on stopping by en route to somewhere else, and end up staying the whole night. The old-school bar on the southern edge of the neighborhood has good cocktails, a relaxed crowd, and a back patio where you can play darts, foosball, and ping pong.
Stories is a bookstore and cafe in the heart of Echo Park. It’s already special that this is a place where people still go to read and buy books. But on top of that, there’s a shaded back patio removed from the noise of Sunset Blvd, where you can drink coffee, eat sandwiches, and get some work done (there’s wifi too).