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Where to eat outside this summer

Published On: Jun 20 2014 02:59:23 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 25 2014 02:21:35 PM CDT

By Corinne Burgermeister

Just as Madison has a restaurant to meet nearly every foodie's needs, there's a patio to suit your every whim and fancy all summer long. After this year's never-ending winter, who isn't ready to spend as much time as possible outdoors? Besides, meals somehow taste better when eaten under the sun. Here are 28 patios, porches, decks and outdoor dining spots—and why you ought to enjoy them this summer. Like you needed any convincing.

KEY:

$< $10
$$ $10–$15
$$$ $15–$25
$$$$ $25+
(price indicates cost of a dinner entrée)
BOM Best of Madison 2014 winner

THE HIPPEST
Genna's Lounge
105 W. Main St., 255-4770
When you take stock of Genna's assets—an impressive craft beer list, open mic nights and veteran bartenders who know how to mix a stiff drink, to name just a few—it's easy to see how the downtown bar rules the realm of cool. Post-grads and thirty-somethings pack into Genna's triangular patio from happy hour until bar close, taking in picture-perfect views of the Capitol. And Genna's Bloody Mary bar makes the perfect pit stop for thirsty farmers' market goers. $ BOM

MOST DOG-FRIENDLY
Capital Brewery
7734 Terrace Ave., Middleton, 836-7100
There's nothing quite like enjoying a pint of local beer outdoors when the weather's nice. Capital Brewery cranks it up one more notch of summer perfection: Dogs are welcome in the Bier Garten on weekdays; just be sure to bring a leash. Stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday (or Friday, sans pooch) for live music and food vendors. $

BEST PARK VIEW
Banzo

2105 Sherman Ave., 441-2002
The only thing better than grabbing lunch from a Banzo food cart is enjoying its Mediterranean fare straight from the source at its restaurant, tucked inside a quiet residential area on the city's northeast side. Order a glass of wine with the Banzo platter and dine on the beautiful wooden deck. Right across the street from Burrows Park and Lake Mendota, it's the perfect perch for catching the sunset's glow through the trees. $ BOM

TWO-FOR-ONE FUN
Brickhouse BBQ

408 W. Gorham St., 257-7675
This restaurant boasts not one, but two patios for guests to enjoy. While many folks know about Brickhouse's rooftop lounge, fewer are privy to the second patio in the backyard. By day, hang out on the lower level, digging into barbecue and mac and cheese and playing beanbags. When the sun goes down, head to the upper patio for a chic setting to unwind. $$ BOM

SWANKIEST ROOFTOP VIEW
Fresco

227 State St., 663-7374
Whether you're there for a strawberry basil mojito or a four-course meal, it's not a visit to Fresco without peering out over the rooftop bar's railing to take in the gorgeous panoramic views of State Street and the Capitol. Perched atop the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the patio fittingly hosts art installations of its own, notably an intricate web of PVC pipes by artist Jason Yi. $$$ BOM

MOST MARINE
Nau-Ti-Gal

5360 Westport Rd., 246-3130
If you're pining for a beach bum getaway, Nau-Ti-Gal is the next best thing. This waterfront restaurant with an expansive nautical-themed deck serves a variety of seafood entrées you'd find on the ocean shore, in addition to Wisconsin favorites like the Badger Burger, made with beef from Black Earth Meats. $$$

QUINTESSENTIAL SUMMER PERCH
Memorial Union Terrace

800 Langdon St.
Madisonians know summer hasn't truly arrived until those colorful chairs are out on the Terrace—and you're there lounging by the lake. Grab popcorn and a beer inside the newly renovated Stiftskeller or hit up the Brat Stand or Gazebo food truck outside. $ BOM

POSHEST SEATS ON THE SQUARE
Graze

1 S. Pinckney St., 251-2700
Packing a picnic for Concerts on the Square is fun, but sometimes it's nice to be wined and dined. Skip the fuss and make a reservation for Graze's patio, complete with a four-course dinner and wine pairings—and a guaranteed great seat for the concert. $$ BOM

BEST ALMOST-ON-THE-SQUARE SPOT
Francisco's Cantina

121 E. Main St., 294-1100
Francisco's may be small and tucked just off the Square, but come summertime its sidewalk café becomes a bustling hotspot, especially at night. Find everything from homemade tamales to tasty enchiladas covered with mole sauce to corn tortilla tacos filled with meat, onions and plenty of cilantro. $

FAMILY-FRIENDLIEST
Pasqual's

100 Cross Country Rd., Verona, 497-3333
You want a margarita. The kids want to be out in the fresh air. You all want chips, salsa and guacamole. Pasqual's Verona location is your answer. Gather the family for a meal at the cantina's third and newest outpost for an evening on the back patio overlooking a picturesque pond. $ BOM

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