Restaurants with outdoor dining have a certain allure.
You can feel pampered by a patio with a cool breeze coming off a nearby river. Or watch the sun set in the mountains while you dine al fresco on an open-air terrace. Sitting at a sidewalk table captures the urban vibe of a busy street.
In summer, even a ho-hum meal can taste better outside, whether you're sharing it under an oversized umbrella, shady trees or twinkling starlight.
"People really love their patios here in Ogden," said Angelica Sweet, manager of Bistro 258 on Historic 25th Street. "They are cooped up indoors all winter, and it feels so good to be outside."
Here are a few places to seek next time you want to eat out.
* Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria (1895 Washington Blvd., Ogden)
Time stands still when you're sharing a classic Margherita pizza and watching the Ogden River drift lazily by. It's easy to forget that you're a stone's throw from the busy traffic of Washington Boulevard.
One would assume that Slackwater's main customer base is the athletic nature-lover, since it's located on the Ogden River Parkway and its neighbors are Bingham Cyclery and Peak Performance Running Store. On a Saturday evening, there were several bikes parked in the racks along the patio, but the mix of diners was diverse -- hipsters, oldsters, dressed up, dressed down -- and it was all good.
Susan Snyder, of Ogden, said it's a favorite spot for her birdwatching group.
"On a Thursday night I called and said we'd be descending on them in about four minutes with a dozen birders," she said. "They were busy, but they had a table set up for us on the patio by the time we got there. Three of our group were foreign exchange students attending Weber State, so it was a perfect place to mix it up with ages and food preferences."
Should the weather turn windy, rainy or simply too hot, the glassed-in porch offers shelter from the elements.
As a nightlife bonus, the restaurant often hosts live music between about 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on weekends. But if you'd rather stick to quiet conversation, you can always eat earlier.
* Bella's Fresh Mexican Grill (2651 N. 1850 West, Farr West)
When asked about sitting on the patio on a recent Saturday afternoon, the hostess at Bella's warned that it was too hot. With a temperature of 103 degrees, she was right. The large canopy sails offer some shade, but not enough to ward off the blazing afternoon sun.
But in the evening, when the heat subsides, the stucco-and-brick-walled courtyard has just the right ambience for sizzling fajitas and other Mexican specialties. You can add to the festive feeling with an order of Guacamole Fresco made right at your table in a molcajete (mol-ca-hay-tay), a very heavy, mortar-and-pestle type tool made of lava rock.
The courtyard seats about 150, according to owner Joe Cottam, and is sometimes booked for concerts, high school reunions, weddings and quinceaneras. But if you want to sit there for lunch, wait until the summer heat wave subsides.
"We've been here since 2003, and we've always had the patio," said manager Terri Strand. "We've tried to make it shadier; we've even tried a mister out there to cool it off, but it didn't work when it's this hot."
* The Oaks (750 Ogden Canyon)
If you're willing to put up with the road construction in Ogden Canyon, the chances are good that you won't have to wait for a table on this popular patio. Business is down by about 30 percent since the construction began, according to owner Belinda Rounkles.
The patio is an idyllic setting, next to the Ogden River and the mountainside. And when it's hot in the valley, it's 10 degrees cooler than downtown, said Rounkles..
"It's so nice and quiet, you've got the river and birds chirping," said Rounkles. "You don't even realize you're just off the highway."
When she and her husband bought the restaurant in 1981, it offered only a takeout menu. They built the patio a few years later.
"That was the best idea," she said. "People love to come out here. Sundays are our busiest day, and people will wait for an outside table even though we'll have the majority of our indoor tables open."
Large groups often reserve the two big covered tables next to the river. Since The Oaks opens at 8 a.m. every day, guests can come for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
* Harley & Buck's at Wolf Creek Utah Golf Course in Eden
Granted, this destination requires some travel. (If you can, take Trappers Loop and avoid the construction in Ogden Canyon.) But the drive offers a picturesque look at Ogden Valley, with hayfields, Pineview Dam, and the interesting mix of old farmhouses and modern-day mansions.
Harley & Buck's has two patios on its balcony, divided by a sports bar-type room with a big-screen TV. The smaller patio has elegant wooden tables. The bigger side, which wraps around the building, uses black wrought-iron furniture, with colorful padded seat cushions on the high bar chairs.
Both sides offer stunning views of the Wolf Creek Golf Course, Pineview Reservoir, and the surrounding mountains. It's a nice backdrop for a Kona Coast rib-eye steak; or Eden's Best Salad, a sweet/savory mix of spinach, apple, raspberries, feta and almonds.
Although dinners can be pricey, you can stay on budget by paying attention to chef Craig Bonham's nightly specials, at harleyandbucks.com. Monday night is a Burger Bar, with prices starting at $7 for a quarter-pounder that you can pile high with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, chilies, lettuce, tomato slices and other toppings. It comes with a side of "endless" fries, too.
Harley & Buck's is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. seven nights a week. Should you want lunch, the Blue Coyote on the ground floor below is from 9 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset, serving Wolf Creek's golf crowd. Its patio, shaded with canvas sails, offers a nice view of the valley as well.
* Taggart's Grill (1105 Taggart Lane, Morgan)
It's known for its rich history and even richer desserts, but this popular diner is also great for outdoor eating.
It takes awhile to get there, but Weber Canyon is beautiful in summer. Although the address might say that Taggart's is in Morgan, you actually need to stay on Interstate 84 about five miles past the town of Morgan, and get off at exit 108.
The patio at the back of the log-cabin-style restaurant overlooks a grassy area with a koi pond and waterfall. Hanging baskets of colorful flowers add to the summery charm. There's a satisfied buzz of happy, hungry customers, kicking back with chicken enchiladas or a burger on a Friday night.
Since the building is nestled up against the mountainside on the west, the patio is shielded from the setting sun at dinnertime. East-side trees, a partial roof, table umbrellas and the canyon breeze all help cool things down in the daytime.
But be forewarned: At 6 p.m. on a recent Friday night, there was a long waiting line. So plan accordingly.
* Roosters Brewing Company and Corbin's Grille in Layton (748 W. Heritage Park Blvd.)
These two (separately owned) restaurants share adjacent patios that overlook a waterfall pool with pretty pond lilies -- a refreshing oasis on a summer day. During the day, the umbrellas shade the tables, and during dinner, the east-facing space is shaded by the building.
The space is put to good use on the Roosters patio, growing hop vines used for beer making, and mint for mojitos, mint lemonade and a garnish for the Triple Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake, according to Nathan Layton, a Roosters manager.
Some Roosters guests can sip one of the house-brewed beers, while teetotalers can chill with a mug of microbrewed root beer.
The patio is especially popular for Roosters' weekend brunch. "We'll have open tables inside, but people will be on a wait-list to sit outside."
And it isn't just a summer thing. In spring, customers start migrating to the patio once the weather hits 55 to 60 degrees, and keep coming until October, he said.
"There's a married couple that comes in often, and they would sit outside all year long if we kept tables out there."
* Historic 25th Street, Ogden
Here's a wealth of outdoor dining that offers a bit of the cosmopolitan feel of those French sidewalk cafes in Paris, but without the attitude.
Tona Sushi's backyard patio is new this summer. Husband and wife Tina Yu and Tony Chen installed a mister that sprays a cooling water vapor from the shady tree limbs above.
"When it gets up to 100 degrees out here, the mister really helps," said Tina Yu.
The patio is flanked by planters of herbs, vegetables and edible flowers, offering both garden ambience and fresh ingredients.
Bistro 258 and the Athenian's backyard side-by-side patios offer a nice respite for either lunch or dinner.
"We added some fencing last summer for privacy," said Angelica Sweet, Bistro 258's general manager. "My favorite part is the lilac bushes that surround it, in the spring.
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We've only scratched the surface of Top of Utah's patio spots. Please drop a comment (by posting with this story online or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have more suggestions. It's always nice to find another place in the sun.