Tippling beneath the stars
June 22nd, 2012
03:30 PM ET
Share this on:

Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

Once upon a time, it was challenging to find restaurants and bars where you could consume truly good drinks and food in natural daylight (or twilight or moonlight). The best cocktails were in deep, dark speakeasies, accessed through unmarked entrances and phone booths. The places with good food were protected by thick walls; invariably, light wasn’t pouring in from the outdoors, it was coming from the open kitchen.

Recently the al fresco eating and drinking situation has improved exponentially. Your “safe” drink at the groovy rooftop bar no longer need be a Long Island Iced Tea; the go-to snack is not fried potsticker skewers. The following are some places where you can have your super-fun outdoor scene and eat your 16-hour-smoked beef shin, too.

Woodshed Smokehouse - Fort Worth, Texas
Because this is Texas and things are nice and big, star chef Tim Love settled for not an inch less than 14,000 square feet for his open-air restaurant. He has great respect for the wood he smokes over; the menu includes a key to the kind he uses for each dish, which ranges from traditional to never-before-seen barbecue. Beef ribs get oak; pork ribs get pecan; a bowl of ramen noodles with pulled pork meat juices is also pecan. And the party starts with the 16-Hour-Smoked Beef Shin with Chile, which is cooked over hickory and serves four. All the utensils and cups are biodegradable, and there are free performances of live music curated by Love on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

NoMad Hotel - New York City
The most gorgeous part of this gorgeous new hotel is the rooftop. During the summer, elite chef Daniel Humm offers six-course tasting menus for $125; tickets are available on line, starting at 11 a.m. for dinner that same evening. No, there’s no discount if it rains; there are no outdoor dinners on those nights, at least until the awning is installed. Then you can party on the rooftop in all weather. Don’t worry about getting stuck with lame crostini: Humm’s tomato course includes salad, bread and an adorable house-bottled tomato soda.

Sweet Cheeks - Boston, Massachusetts
Top Chef star Tiffani Faison’s great barbecue spot already had a lot going for it: a 4,700-pound smoker named Tootsie; a location that’s close to Fenway Park. Now it also has a new outdoor beer garden, complete with retractable roof, whiskey barrels that double as tables and rotating beers on tap, including the local favorite, Clown Shoes’ Tramp Stamp. There’s a mint wall that will soon be key to Sweet Cheeks’ mint juleps. And of course there’s Faison’s menu, including roof-bar-friendly favorites like a Berkshire pork rib for $3 (which you should probably get with a whole bucket of biscuits with honey butter).

Linger - Denver, Colorado
Some chefs would think they have enough going on just serving international street food in a converted 1940s mortuary. Not Justin Cucci, who will be putting two real life food trucks on the roof of his restaurant this summer. And when he says "putting," he means crane-lifting those trucks onto the roof. Eater.com reports that the first, a 26-foot RV, will become a street bar (what’s a street bar?); the second will be a food trailer. Just don’t forget your driver’s license. Per Linger’s website: 50 is the new 20. We I.D. everyone.

The Foundry & Chicken Scratch - Dallas, Texas
As I was saying, they do things big and plentifully in Texas. Witness Tim Byres, chef at Dallas’s terrific barbecue joint Smoke. He has two new spots, and they comprise a whole block, with a huge, shared outdoor space where you’ll see Twister painted on the sidewalk. Chicken Scratch serves up skillet-fried chicken; there’s the option of having the bird cooked over a pecan wood rotisserie. The Foundry features roll-up garage doors, whiskey and beer and a stage built from over 600 wood pallets. “This is all about live music and good times, cans of beer, crazy amounts of drafts,” says Byres.

More from Food & Wine

America's Best Bars

Best Burgers in the U.S.

Best Pizza in the U.S.

Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

Summer Grilling Recipes

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Posted by:
Filed under: Bars • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Restaurants • Sip

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Mark Glicker

    Hard to imagine why anyone would pay $10 for a drink that can be poured at home for a buck.

    June 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  2. Ancient Curse

    The dumpster next to my apartment building seems to be a very popular outdoor drinking spot.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  3. randallt

    You left out the most famous outdoor drinking venue in the south, The Bywater in Asheville.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  4. Mark

    Under any I-5 overpass.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  5. JoeD

    Nepenthe in Big Sur... Lunch, dinner, or anytime.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  6. Claire

    Way too many guys are getting facials, waxed eyebrows etc these days. Hard to find a good guy as the majority of the twenty somethings seem to be very effeminate.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Agreed. Also, some women need to be MORE effeminate.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  7. hyy

    imagine an article about the best places to chill and smoke a j.. man are we bass ackwards of a country or what.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫


      June 25, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  8. Mike

    Is it just me or do those two guys seem to be enjoying each other's company a little too much? Weirdo's

    June 22, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • OhioMike

      Those are two guys ?

      June 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  9. Areyoukiddingme

    Why does CNN deem it necessary to romance homosexuality? While they show an obviously gay couple, there is nothing in the article that is remotely romantic. Why not a picture of a beautiful night sky? While I could care less as far as someone's sexuality, the fact that CNN would use this pic shows a bias. They've gone too far in stretching a "night under the stars" into an obvious statement. And before anyone jumps me, given the title, why not a pic of a night beneath the stars that is neutral? After all, isn't that what we want from the media (for a change)? Showing this pic under this heading just stirs the pot for bigots. We, as humans, are better than this, if we don't buy into it.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Hi there. I am the editor of the site and I chose the picture. I saw an image of two people enjoying a drink outside. Anything else that people are inferring from the picture is something they, themselves are bringing to the table. There is no agenda on the editorial side.

      Everyone gets thirsty. Everyone. Now go have a nice cocktail, indoors or outside.

      June 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  10. Dan

    Personally I enjoy a nice cold one anywhere the wife isn't. God I'm tired of her mouth.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Be careful, another dude may not be tired of that.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:35 am |
| Part of