It's one of the best times of the year to be outside. It's officially fall on the calendar, and after a hot September, it has finally cooled down.
In that spirit, KCUR’s Food Critics searched out the best outdoor dining spots on Friday's Central Standard. From a see-and-be-seen sidewalk café to something that's more secluded and romantic, they found a plethora of spots in and around KC to enjoy the outdoors with food and drink in hand.
Here are their recommendations:
Geneviève des Marteau, KCUR’s Generation Listen and weekend announcer:
- Le Fou Frog has an enclosed patio that’s light and airy.
- Pirtle Winery in Weston. There’s a cute side area with tables that’s enclosed by an arbor. It’s very romantic. You can order food to nibble on along with your wine.
- La Bodega on Southwest Boulevard. Sidewalk seating that’s surrounded by plants so you forget you’re on a busy street. I kind of feel like I’m not in Kansas City (the sangria is a nice addition to that feeling as well).
- The Farmhouse. Effortlessly romantic patio.
- Bella Napoli. The patio is on the sidewalk and it isn’t sectioned off. It’s kind of a no-fuss patio. I like going there in the morning; there’s a real community feeling. People are walking dogs, they’re stopping to talk to people; it’s very neighborly and warm.
- Harry’s Country Club. It’s enclosed, but you can still see people walking by. I like the old country music they have playing there; it adds to the atmosphere. Great drinks, very casual. You can also sit out there in the winter because it’s closed off.
- Migliazzo Park. It brings back childhood memories. My family used to picnic there.
- Gillham Park. There are big trees on the south side of the park, so there’s a lot of shade and it’s more quiet.
- Southmoreland Park.
- Ethnic Enrichment Festival. Held in August every year at Swope Park. It’s fun to see what people are eating.
- Celebration at the Station. Memorial Day weekend. Everyone has a picnic. Large crowds turn me off, but people are respectful of space.
- Kansas City's Big Picnic.
- Dance in the Park at Roanoke Park. No food vendors, bring a picnic.
Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:
- Brewery Emperial — roasted chicken platter or cheeseburger, along with an ice-cold beer or cocktail. Enjoy in the yard on shared patio tables.
- HopCat. Located on the bustling corner of Westport Road and Broadway, HopCat is known for its craft beer selection and crack fries. Get them both and eat them on the roof.
- McCoy’s Public House. Good beer, great food and a new outdoor patio. This patio is literally the catbird seat for people-watching in Westport right now. The menu includes comforting brewery food: fish and chips, a Reuben sandwich, plus lots of vegetarian and vegan choices as well.
- Q39 South. The newest Q39 location has a gorgeous outdoor patio and fireplace. It’s in the old Hayward’s space and it feels like you’re in someone’s backyard. The barbecue is excellent and with a full bar, you could spend the better part of an evening out there.
- Grünauer. I tend to forget about the large and pretty patio in front of our local Austrian restaurant in the Crossroads. It has a unique view of Union Station and the trains and a fantastic selection of wines and cocktails. I can always find something that I want to snack on: smoked salmon with toast points, fried mushrooms, a mess of sausages for the table to share and it is a party.
- Il Lazzarone. I love sitting on the patio eating a Margherita pizza, a glass of red wine and listening to the streetcar clang on by in the River Market.
- Ward Parkway Center. Three restaurant concepts will be opening in October in its recently-completed Restaurant Pavillion: Smitty’s Garage (October 9); Midici Pizza (mid-October); and Charleston’s (October 23).
- Little Piggy Food Truck Park. Located off of Southwest Boulevard. It now has Anousone’s Mobile Cuisine, which serves Laotian food most afternoons and evenings. You can’t miss the silver 1953 Spartan Aircraft Trailer Coach with tents, tables chairs and lights strung up. Anousone’s serves steamed buns, cool cucumber salad. Also: sticky rice plates with a roasted tomato dip and a jalapeno citrus dip along with your choice of grilled chicken, beef or tofu.
- The Nelson-Atkins lawn. There’s something satisfying about spreading a blanket and bringing cheese, crackers and fresh fruit, or stopping at The Mixx nearby. Bring lunch and a good book to sun on the lawn.
- English Landing Park in Parkville. Nice long walking trails right along the edge of the Missouri River. Take your bikes or walk the trails, then settle at a picnic table for sushi picked up from Sakae.
- Country Brunch & Bloody Mary Smackdown. This event on October 8 is a benefit for No Kid Hungry. It features brunch food from 25 different chefs and a Bloody Mary bar.
- Boulevardia. It’s held around Father’s Day every year in the West Bottoms, and it celebrates all things beer. Taps & Taste at Boulevardia is a fun, higher-end beer and chef-table-tasting experience.
- Ethnic Enrichment Festival. I personally loved this festival and worked it for many years as part of the Brazilian booth. Where else can you taste the world all in one weekend?
Charles Ferruzza, 435 South:
- Louisburg Ciderfest. This annual event is a celebration of Kansas apples. It’s going this weekend, September 30 and October 1. The apple cider doughnuts are so delicious that you don’t mind being seen in public eating them out of a paper bag.
- Weston Applefest. Next weekend (October 7 and 8). Another annual event with cider doughnuts AND where I had one of the best cheeseburgers in my life.
- Mugs Up Root Beer Drive-In in Independence. You can eat in your car or outside at a picnic table. Whiz Burgers, onion rings, chili dogs and homemade root beer.
- Café des Amis in Parkville has the most romantic outdoor patio in the metro. Sparkling lights, good wine and food.
- Char Bar.
- Terrebonne Café in Lawrence. This is a Cajun restaurant with an almost-hidden patio.
- Michael Forbes Bar & Grille. Its patio is like an outdoor living room.
- Red Door Grill in Brookside. Intimate patio.
- District Pour House.
- Californos. The main dining room has a fireplace; the patio is right off the dining room. In weather like this, they strike up fireplace but you have the option sit outside, so it’s the best of both worlds. It has a beautiful view of the horseshoe drive; you can see the eclectic shops and the eclectic people.
- Bella Napoli has a great outdoor seating area. The food is great; it’s home-style Italian cooking and all the ingredients are high-quality. There’s a pizza night and a half-price bottle night. I love the coffee, which is a special blend from Broadway Coffee. I’m originally from New York, and this is the closest thing to the mood and atmosphere of a New York neighborhood bistro.
- Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse in Martin City just opened a new patio, and it’s fantastic. It’s really different from the inside of the restaurant; there’s a younger crowd and it looks very Kansas City-esque. It’s located right next to the train tracks. If you’re a train lover, you love it. If you’re not a train lover, there’s an interruption about every hour and a half. There’s live entertainment on weekends. Great atmosphere.
- Boulevard Brewing Company has a wonderful beer hall with an amazing deck on the second floor. They serve many different types of beer, some of which you can’t get elsewhere. You can try flights. Nice appetizers and sandwich-style things. The deck is the full length of the building and it’s a very open and pleasant atmosphere.