CT's best outdoor dining on the town, according to Connecticut Magazine

Summer (yes, it is technically still summer) is the perfect time grab a seat outside and dine al fresco. Whether an urban oasis or a hidden lawn patio, Connecticut tons of open-air eateries to offer. Here are Connecticut Magazine's picks for the state's best restaurants on the town.

Visit Connecticut Magazine for the full list of outdoor dining picks

Reporting by Leeanne Griffin, Erik Ofgang, James Gribbon, Douglas P. Clement, Eric D. Lehman, Andrew Dominick, Mike Urban, Kristen Fitz, Jeannette Punsoni Dardenne, Bev Canepari and Lora Karam. 


Oak + Almond

The new Oak + Almond restaurant at 544 Main Street in Norwalk, Conn. on Thursday, October 24, 2013.
The new Oak + Almond restaurant at 544 Main Street in Norwalk, Conn. on Thursday, October 24, 2013.
Brian A. Pounds

When you can’t make it to Italy, visit Oak + Almond instead. Their large outdoor dining patios feature beautiful gardens, a wood-burning fireplace (they use oak and almond wood, hence the name), twinkling string lights, and a soothing water fountain. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy one of their incredible farm-to-table dishes, sip a craft cocktail, and pretend you’re on holiday. This fun destination is equally suitable for a family outing, a date, a work meet-up, or a BFF night out. — BC & LK

544 Main Ave., 203-846-4600, oakandalmond.com

Viron Rondo Osteria

Bar czar Dimitrios Zahariadis offers his signature Cocktail Chemist canned drinks in house or for takeout.

Bar czar Dimitrios Zahariadis offers his signature Cocktail Chemist canned drinks in house or for takeout.

Winter Caplanson

Ambitious scale and outstanding food both set Viron Rondo apart from its surroundings, roughly midway between Meriden and Waterbury. The interior bar — helmed by cocktail chemist Dimitrios Zahariadis, and impressively overhung by a midcentury chandelier which once lit the New York Film Academy — is usually well attended, but the supporting attraction is the huge, wraparound patio. Diners and partiers can enjoy breezes and stars overhead from outdoor tables, or mingle on the cocktail patio, with its own dedicated, fresh-air bar. — JG

1721 Highland Ave., 203-439-2727, vironrondoosteria.com

New Haven

L’Orcio restaurant on State Street in New Haven

L’Orcio restaurant on State Street in New Haven

Hearst Connecticut Media file

Since 2002, visitors and residents of New Haven have been streaming into chef Francesco d’Amuri’s L’Orcio. The scion of a farming family from Brindisi, he worked in kitchens throughout Italy before opening an 18th-century townhouse on State Street and immediately wowing an admittedly jaded population with his food. Fresh, vibrant ingredients harken back to his upbringing, and diners can now take dinner and drinks al fresco in L’Orcio’s restaurant garden, hidden from the street, but not the sky. — JG

806 State St., 203-777-6670, lorcio.com

Taino Smokehouse

Barbecue is meant to be enjoyed outdoors, and Taino Smokehouse provides perhaps the best place in the state to do so. With its expansive flagstone patio, trellis-and-vine-shaded picnic tables, and alluring aromas wafting from nearby smokers, Taino sets the stage for great outdoor feasting. Grab a table and peruse the laminated menu, which is filled with all variety of smoked meats and sides as well as an amazing barbecue egg roll stuffed with pulled chicken, mashed potatoes, red pepper and mac and cheese. Should you be part of a large party of a dozen or so, go for the Viking Table, a massive, triangular wooden table seemingly designed for the halls of Valhalla. — MU

482 S. Main St., 860-358-9828, tainosmokehouse.com

The Charles

The Charles opened in June 2020, during an uncertain period as restaurant owners were just starting to welcome guests back into dining rooms. But the eatery in a historical 1790s-era building, promising “vintage feel, modern taste,” had already adapted, with tables under a large tent. Outdoor seating is first-come, first-serve at the restaurant, featuring the tented patio along with lounge seating, games and a “garden menu” of bites and cocktails served on the lawn. — LG

161 Main St., 860-785-8499, thecharlesct.com

Don Memo

Don Memo in Westport offers a relaxed, south-of-the-border outdoor space.

Don Memo in Westport offers a relaxed, south-of-the-border outdoor space.

Winter Caplanson

With its hanging lights, fun music and downtown location, Don Memo is a beautiful place to eat outside. Whether you’re sampling one of the restaurant’s excellent cocktails or agua frescas, cocktails or the food itself, chef Bill Taibe and his team’s commitment to excellence shines through. Personal favorites include the build-your-own chorizo tacos — both the meat and tortillas are next level — as well as the fresh mint-flavored guacamole and the tamales with their thick, corn-forward doughs. Taibe is one of Connecticut’s most famous chefs for a reason and this restaurant lets you enjoy his cuisine in a perfect summer setting. — EO

90 Post Road E., 203-557-6198, donmemowestport.com

Lucky Lou's Bar and Grill

Set in Old Wethersfield’s historic Deming-Standish House, Lucky Lou’s is known for its large fenced-in patio, where pets are welcome (they even have organic doggie treats). Food is casual and fun, with dirty wings in several flavors, “super chili” nachos, hummus flights, lobster rolls, a Greek gyro plate, burgers and lamb chops. Order a spicy margarita with cucumber jalapeño tequila, or a pitcher of seasonal sangria, and soak in a summer night while the sun still sets after 7 p.m. — LG

222 Main St., 860-257-0700, luckylousbarandgrill.com

Union League Cafe
New Haven

Those seeking a romantic dinner with impeccable French cuisine in a brasserie-inspired setting know Union League always delivers an exceptional experience. The joie de vivre spills outside seasonally onto La Terrasse, the restaurant’s Parisian-style patio dining space. Enjoying Prince Edward Island mussels served with a Dijon saffron sauce and a toasted baguette, with housemade French fries and a glass of Chenin Blanc or a cold beer is nonpareil. Ditto the grilled Spanish octopus with Maple Bank Farm kohlrabi remoulade, and a harissa aioli, and the Maine lobster risotto, always a star dish, is the perfect summer entrée. Or put yourself entirely in the hands of executive chef Guillaume Traversaz with the five-course tasting menu. — DPC

1032 Chapel St., 203-562-4299, unionleaguecafe.com

West Hartford

Every day is a garden party at the Delamar Hotel’s Artisan, where outdoor tables are surrounded by lush greenery, with hanging tree lights lending a romantic touch. The intricately designed garden isn’t just a stunning oasis in the middle of bustling Blue Back Square, it also provides chefs and mixologists with a steady supply of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables to work into dishes and cocktails. The muddled sage in your rye cocktail likely grew just steps from your plate setting. — LG

1 Memorial Road, 860-937-2525, artisanwesthartford.com

Parkville Market

The capital city’s food hall is the definition of crowd-pleaser: 20 food vendors, bars with craft beer and cocktails, and a courtyard full of umbrella-shaded picnic tables for casual outdoor seating. Bring your friends, your (well-behaved) dogs and enjoy the market’s global flavors: Brazilian feijoada, Puerto Rican mofongo, Mexican tortas, Greek moussaka, poke bowls, Peruvian ceviche, Jamaican jerk chicken and Vietnamese pho. — LG

1400 Park St., 860-470-4511, parkvillemarket.com