ALFRESCO DINING

pretty patios, delicious dishes

text by Kathryn Brooks and Michael Powers

Every spring, we’re the envy of the entire nation. While there’s snow on the ground and torrential rain elsewhere, the Valley boasts sunny skies and temps around 78-degrees. Phoenicians shed their coats, don their sunglasses and head outside to play and dine. Whether you prefer going casual or elegant, we’ve tagged our eight favorite pretty patios that serve delicious dishes.   

HOUSE OF TRICKS

With its sun-dappled patio filled with flowers, shade trees and a fireplace, a tree-covered bar and two historic bungalows, it’s no wonder that Robert and Robin Trick’s cozy dining oasis in the heart of Tempe remains as popular as ever 30 years into the game. Find a shady spot on the patio for lunch or choose a candlelit table outdoors at dinnertime to enjoy a rustic, seasonal farm-inspired menu. The offerings mix French and Southwest flavors into creative salads, elegant plates of grilled meats and fish in delicate sauces. The menu, which  changes frequently, may include specialties such as homemade Quiche, Garlicky Caesar Salad with Smoked Chicken Breast and kalamata olives, Duck Confit with sweet onion purée and Grilled Salmon with honey-parsnip purée and five-spice sauce. The patio’s outdoor bar is built around a tree – a great place to linger for an after-dinner nightcap. www.houseoftricks.com 

POMELO AT THE ORCHARD

Located in north-central Phoenix, on the site of one of the Valley’s first citrus farms, Pomelo’s patio overlooks an orange and pomelo (similar to grapefruit) orchard. Know for its upscale, yet easygoing ambience, the restaurant serves delicious, straightforward food. Using homegrown ingredients and sourcing local purveyors, owners Ken and Lucia Schnitzer describe their culinary offerings as simple and traditional American food with a bit of gourmet flair. Serving lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday, the menus offer omelets, wood-fired pizzas, specialty cocktails, braised short ribs and pan-roasted salmon.There are more casual food options on the two-acre, family-friendly culinary compound known as “The Orchard.” It’s also home to Lucy’s, a cafe and marketplace, Splurge, a gelato and candy shop, and the Filling Station, which serves cocktails and beer on tap. www.pomelophx.com

THE HOUSE BRASSERIE

Chef Matt Carter, known for The Mission, Fat Ox and Zinc Bistro restaurants, can add The House Brasserie to his list of culinary successes. Set in a charming, yet sophisticated, 1920’s bungalow in Old Town Scottsdale, the restaurant evokes a bygone era. Bordered by a white picket fence, the property boasts a lush patio. White-clothed, candle-lit tables are placed far enough apart to allow for an intimate dining experience, consistently earning The House Brasserie top honors as one of the most romantic restaurants in the Valley. The menu of modern American fare allows guests to be a part of cutting-edge world cuisine. The eclectic mix of internationally-inspired small plates, entrées, sides and desserts include Sunchoke Bisque Soup, Seared Maine Scallops in pistachio rosemary sauce, Linz dry-aged Umami Ribeye served with a roasted garlic purée and a luscious Pavlova with vanilla custard. https://thehousebrasserie.com

CHELSEA’S KITCHEN

An adobe brick building, repurposed as a typical roadhouse, houses a Valley favorite – Chelsea’s Kitchen. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of 40th Street and Camelback Road, this casual dining spot features a wood-burning rotisserie and grill, a full bar featuring craft beer, an extensive wine list and a killer patio. The food selections celebrate Southwest cuisine with entries such as Surf & Turf Tacos with French-Braised Shrimp and Filet Mignon, Real Cornbread with Green Chili, Dixie Pan-Fried Chicken served picnic style and Brussel Sprout Salad with almonds, manchego cheese, dried berries and, if you prefer, bacon. Day or night, the patio is the place to be. In the evening, the outdoor crowd is extremely lively with many lingering at the open-air bar. Just be sure to grab a complimentary salted chocolate chip cookie on your way out. www.chelseaskitchenaz.com

CIBO

Easily mistaken for a private home, Cibo is housed in a restored 1913 bungalow. Serving Italian fare, the signature offerings include wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, antipasti and house-made fresh pasta. Located in the Roosevelt neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from downtown, it’s a great stop for a bite before attending a performance at Symphony Hall or a D-backs game. Weather permitting, patio seating is in high demand. Well-shaded on even the warmest of days, at night the area comes alive with twinkle lights and lively conversation. An additional perk is the spectacular view of the Phoenix skyline. In addition to the Monday through Friday lunch and daily dinner service, try their happy hour. From 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, you can save some bucks while enjoying small plates and wine.  www.cibophoenix.com

CAFE MONARCH

Whether you prefer an early dinner on a sun-drenched patio, or a candlelit dinner under the stars, Cafe Monarch in Old Town Scottsdale delivers. This family-owned and operated restaurant offering an elegant, fine-dining setting for a special occasion or an extravagant night out. Begin your evening with one of the signature cocktails, then settle in to this ultra-romantic setting by selecting the seasonal, four-course prix fixe menu that features local, organic, sustainable premium ingredients. The chef-inspired high-end fare leans toward classic fine dining where filet mignon and foie gras are mainstays. End the meal on a sweet note with choices such as Chocolate Flourless Cake topped with macerated strawberries, raspberry coulis and Chantilly crème or a macerated Seasonal Fruit Crêpe with candied pecans and Amaretto crème. https://www.cafemonarch.com

OCOTILLO

Opened in the fall of 2015, this high-energy eatery continues to be one of Phoenix’s hottest restaurants. The sprawling complex in midtown consists of smartly connected buildings and canopied outdoor spaces that include Go Barista Bar for artisanal coffee drinks and scratch pastries; the Beer Garden, a patio where guests can enjoy a selection of wines, craft cocktails, beers and microbrews; a grassy area for children to play while parents enjoy food and drink; an event space with comfy seating; courtyard spaces for meeting and mingling; and, the largest area, patio seating for dining. The vibe is casual, a meeting place for foodies who yearn for innovative, fresh and wholesome dishes. Among the signature selections are wood-fried Beef Ribs covered in espresso and molé barbecue sauce served with roasted garlic-lime fries and Ocotillo Chicken, a fresh wood-roasted chicken with citrus, pecans, local honey, chiles and Medjool dates. www.ocotillophx.com

LON’S AT THE HERMOSA INN

One eyeful of the surroundings at this fine-dining establishment at The Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, and it’s easy to see what may once have inspired the restaurant’s namesake, legendary artist Lon Megargee, to call it home in the ‘30s. Dotted with trees, a fireplace, fountains and glorious views of Camelback Mountain, the entire patio is stunning. Lon’s serves breakfast and dinner daily, lunch on Monday through Friday and brunch on the weekends. Expect modern American entrées such as Dungeness Crab Salad, Eggs Benedict, pecan-grilled Filet Mignon, wood-fired Maine Lobster, crème fraîche mashed potatoes and truffle mac and cheese. Many of the herbs on your plate, such as rosemary, basil and peppermint, were grown at Hermosa Inn’s onsite garden. Consider pairing your meal with something from the restaurant’s award-winning wine list or one of their specialty cocktails from the Hermosa’s Last Drop Bar. www.hermosainn.com/dining