Come on, why wouldn’t you want to eat outside on a warm, sunny day? From beer gardens and wineries to patios and decked out porches, the metro-east has a lot to choose from when it’s time to dine outside.
I prefer to eat outdoors. There’s nothing like sipping sweet tea on a patio in the springtime. Classic. If you’re getting thirsty now, check out my list of the best places to dine and drink al fresco around the metro-east.
Don’t forget your sunblock!
▪ Seven Lounge (7 S. High St., Belleville, 618-277-6700) Dine outside along the sidewalk or hideaway on the patio in between Seven Lounge and Shichi Sushi Bar. Have your sushi in the sun or enjoy a cold beer on a warm summer night.
▪ Tavern on Main (301 E. Main St., Belleville, 618-233-6246) Located in the heart of downtown Belleville, this popular hangout offers sidewalk seating for revelers who want to enjoy the great outdoors. Check out the tavern’s expansion, “T2 Taps & Tapas” the next time you’re there.
▪ Big Daddy’s 618 (313 E. Main St., Belleville, 618-257-0315) Enjoy live music while you sink your teeth into a burger on this patio. Weather permitting, the bar brings in a band every Friday.
▪ Wine Tap (223 E. Main St., Belleville, 618-239-9463) When it’s warm outside, Wine Tap looks more like a sidewalk cafe than a bar. Check out the wide selection of vino and watch the sunset in downtown Belleville.
▪ 4204 Main Street Brewing (4204 W. Main St., Belleville, 618-416-7261) This could be the best patio in Belleville. Check out the beer garden which features a pavilion, fire pits and plenty of seating, a beer hut, a grill, a band stand and games such as bean bags, giant Jenga, horseshoes and bocce ball. There’s a large, covered patio.
▪ Shenanigans (15 N. 64th St., Belleville, 618-398-6979) If you’re looking for a party, head to the outdoor tiki bar in the rear of Shenanigans. Owner Jeremy Reynolds plans to add a second patio soon. The bar is serving frozen drinks for the first time. From piña coladas to frozen margaritas, bartenders can now make popular frozen favorites.
▪ Bella Milano (1063 IL-157, Edwardsville, 618-659-210) This restaurant’s outdoor space feels like a Persian garden with modern light fixtures, sleek patio furniture and lush green topiary. Enough said. Oh yeah, the food is good, too.
▪ Hop House Southern Eatery (1214 Central Park Drive, O’Fallon, 618-726-2740) Enjoy southern eats outside on the patio. Try the classic mint julep or ginger peach tea.
▪ Global Brew Tap House (455 Regency Park Drive B, O’Fallon, 618-632-1818) You can’t see it from the street, but this tap house has patio with a fire pit. Too warm to strike a fire? Cool off with a craft beer outside.
▪ Horseshoe Restaurant & Lounge (950 Talon Dr, O'Fallon, 618-206-6418) This O’Fallon restaurant could have one of the largest patios in the metro-east. There’s room for a crowd here.
▪ The Red Bar and Grill (416 Beltline Road, Collinsville, 618-223-8822) This Collinsville bar has an unexpectedly cozy patio. Head outside to enjoy classic bar food favorites.
▪ Gia’s Pizza (102 W. State St., O’Fallon, 618-632-8486) It’s not easy to find a pizzeria with outdoor seating. Order a pie to enjoy outside, the next time you’re in O’Fallon.
▪ Casa Azteca (501 W. Hwy 50, O’Fallon, 618-632-2981) Enjoy your margarita in the sun the next time you’re in the mood for tacos and tequila.
▪ Sullivan’s (907 N. Illinois St., Belleville, 618-233-7969) Check out the beer garden at Sullivan’s. Metal furniture and wooden picnic tables are surrounded by landscaping beds full of ivy and shrubs. Yard art includes concrete birdbaths and flowers.
▪ Hotshots Bar and Grill (1319 Central Park Drive, O’Fallon, 618-624-4200) After catching a movie at the theater across the street, head to the patio at Hotshots.
▪ The Wooden Nickel and Pub (171 S. Main St., Glen Carbon, 618-288-2141) This Glen Carbon pub offers indoor and outdoor seating. There’s a television outside, so you won’t miss a moment of the big game.
▪ Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant (4660 N. Illinois St., Fairview Heights, 618-277-5474) Looking for a patio with a theme? Check out the Aztec patio at this Fairview Heights restaurant.
▪ Andria’s (6805 Old Collinsville Road, O’Fallon, 618-632-4866) Steak outside? Go for it. This O’Fallon steakhouse offers outdoor seating.
▪ The Corner Grill and Chill (341 Centreville Ave., Belleville, 618-416-8603) Play a game of putt putt golf outside, then head inside for wings, beer and the big game.
▪ Fazzi’s (1813 Vandalia St., Collinsville, 618-344-5440) You could eat inside, but why would you want to do that? Take advantage of the outdoor seating while you dine on a mix of American, Italian and Greek cuisine.
▪ Huddle Bar and Grill (1101 Caseyville Road, Caseyville, 618-855-8555) Grab a stool outside, then go for the pizza at this Caseyville bar.
▪ Fifth Quarter (118 E Main St, Collinsville, 618-346-6659) This Collinsville hangout is putting the final touches on a new outdoor bar. Try the steak, onion and mushroom quesadilla, the next time you’re there.
▪ Silver Creek Saloon (2520 Mascoutah Ave., Belleville, 618-416-6337) You can watch a game of sand volleyball or rent the court, before you have a meal at this saloon. If volleyball isn’t your thing, check out the live music at Silver Creek. There’s never a cover charge.
▪ The Weingarten (1780 IL-15, Belleville, 618-257-9463) Take scroll by the lake or find a cozy spot to sit outside at this Belleville winery.
▪ The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Restaurant (442 S Demazenod Drive, Belleville, 618-397-6700) This patio could be one of the Shrine’s best kept secrets. The next time you’re there tell the host or hostess that you want to dine outdoors.
▪ Olympika Bar and Grill (127 N. Belt E, Swansea, 618-416-1656) Have breakfast, lunch or dinner at this Mediterranean grill. Relax in the shade under a large patio umbrella.
▪ The Loading Dock (401 Front St., Grafton, 618-786-3494) It’s a bit of a drive from the metro-east. But if you’re looking for a outdoor dining experience that’s near water, check out this Grafton restaurant.
▪ Taqueria Z (109 E Park St, Edwardsville, 618-307-5018) Keep it simple and fresh at this Edwardsville eatery. There’s a quaint patio outside where you can enjoy tacos and margaritas.
▪ The Railshake Brewery (504 Walnut St., Highland, 618-651-4900) This brewery lives up to its name. A train might pass you while you dine on the patio at this popular Highland hangout.
▪ Hidden Lake Winery (10580 County Road 400 E, Aviston, 618-228-9111) If you love wine and the great outdoors, this winery is for you. Take patio dining to the next level and stay overnight in one of the winery’s cabins. Enjoy the scenery while you sip on a glass of wine.
▪ Ott’s Tavern (20 E. Washington St., Millstadt, 618-476-3531) With an outdoor fish stand and loads of outdoor seating, this tavern is perfect for outdoor dining. The tavern is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check out the new renovations while you’re there.
▪ Opera House Bistro (102 S Main St., Red Bud, 618-282-1860) Yes, outdoor seating can be cozy. Head to Red Bud to watch the sunset at this quaint bistro.
▪ The Craft Chophouse (210 S. Buchanan St., Edwardsville, 618-307-9300) Before you go inside for your steak dinner, have lemonade or a cocktail on the patio. The restaurant has a fire pit to keep you warm on chilly nights.
Didn’t make the list? Let me know where to go for a glass of lemonade.
Cara Anthony is a reporter at the Belleville News-Democrat. In an occasional column, she will discuss life as a first time mom, millennial drama and fabulous places to eat outside.