It’s one thing to sit on your porch or back patio and enjoy a sunset.
It’s another to sit on a patio and for someone to bring you a burger and bring you something cold to drink.
You may be able to talk your child or spouse into serving you, but the better bet is to head to a restaurant where someone has been hired to serve you.
In northern Indiana and southern Michigan, this is the time to sit outside to dine. It’s not nearly as much fun when the permacloud descends in November and doesn’t leave until sometime in March — if we’re lucky.
What makes a patio worth visiting? Food or service aside, it’s the view. The vista should be something other than a parking lot or highway. And sitting inside a white plastic fence you can’t see over isn’t a patio experience anyone relishes.
From Winona Lake to Sawyer, Mich., here are seven patios to check out this summer:
- Goshen Brewing Co., 311 W. Washington St., Goshen.
• When the brewpub opened last year, the patio quickly became one of the hottest spots in the city. Communal picnic tables fill the space, and now there are umbrellas for shade in the afternoon and evening sun. You order inside and food is brought to you, but it’s not a hardship. You can also sit with your kids or dogs near the Elkhart River.
• Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
- The Carriage House Gardens, 24460 Adams Road, South Bend.
• For about a dozen years, two acres with more than 70 flowering plants have created a setting outside at Carriage House that’s different than the fine dining inside. Since 2010, a wood-fired pizza outside helps create other dishes for the al fresco dining. There’s live music on Fridays and Saturdays and a Friday Afternoon Club offers appetizers and wines around themes for $30 a person. Special events such as the champagne salon on Friday, July 22, are also being planned, said co-owner Joshua Bishop.
• Hours: 5 to 10:30 p.m. or so Tuesday to Saturday.
- Greenbush Brewing Co., 5885 Sawyer Road, Sawyer.
• Greenbush Brewing has exploded with growth in its first five years and now has three outside patios in addition to the Taproom and Clean Plate Club Diner. The biggest patio is across the street from the taproom and diner at the Annex. The 20 or so tables are underneath shady maples and the beer offerings vary from across the street. A deli counter inside offers charcuterie and cheeses.
A fire pit and bocce ball courts outside offer entertainment (though the courts cost you $12 an hour to use). It does have full service outside in a lovely small town setting, said hostess Sarah Barnett.
• Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and an hour later on Friday and Saturday.
- McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk, 333 Nibco Parkway, Elkhart.
• A large patio overlooking the Elkhart River is partially covered and usable even during colder weather, but this time of year there are plenty of options to sit outside and enjoy a view of downtown Elkhart.
“Everyone wants to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful view,” said McCarthy’s manager Phyllis Kelich.
At breakfast, the adjoining b on the River patio is open.
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
- Hensell’s Oaken Bucket, 1212 S. Ironwood Road, South Bend.
• In 2003, new bar owner Art Hensell put a few tables out on a patch of cracked concrete.
“People just lined up,” he said.
By the next spring, he had a true patio on concrete posts put in. The deck is 17 feet by 63 feet and is still immensely popular, as are the Bucket’s burgers. The deck is family friendly.
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
- South Bend Brew Werks, 216 Michigan St., South Bend.
• Four gigantic picnic tables outside the restaurant offer a downtown view for this 2-year-old brewpub positioned next to the State Theater. At lunch or dinner, the tables are often full.
“It’s one of our most popular places to sit,” said manager Andi Holst.
• Hours: 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday; noon to midnight Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
- Boathouse Restaurant, 700 Park Ave., Winona Lake.
• Soon after the land was plotted along this lake in 1895, a boathouse was constructed. In the 1940s it became a cafeteria. It’s now a restaurant with tables in a screened-in porch next to the water. The nearby Garden at Cerulean is more of a true patio, but diners love the tables along the water at the Boathouse for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Enjoy summer. Enjoy the weather, the pretty sunsets and the fresh food this season brings.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat.