A cattail-bordered brook? Retractable walls and a soaring glass ceiling? A Zumbro River view?

Five West

1991 Commerce Dr NW, Rochester

Patio, and pond. The patio at Five West always sounds great, in part because of the backdrop of splashing water made by the beautiful multi-jet fountain it overlooks. The elevated patio looks down at a pond ringed by wildflowers with the fountain at its center.

One of your fave apps in the city: Five West’s Buffalo Chicken Wontons have won our Best Appetizer category a half dozen times over the years. The menu description: “Cream cheese, shredded chicken, celery and green onion served with ranch or bleu cheese.”

Yes. Even when it cools down. Cozy up to the outdoor covered bar. Complete with televisions and overhead heaters, it’s the perfect place to enjoy an adult beverage along with a side of Szechuan cauliflower. Also, Five West has garage-style doors that can be raised and lowered between its indoor dining and patio space.

Twigs patio

Twigs | Ken Klotzbach/Image Conscious Photography

Twigs Tavern and Grille

401 Sixth St. SW, Rochester
(Centerstone Plaza Hotel)

Cattails? Downtown? The patio at Twigs features a brook bordered with cattails. Festooned with flowers, it’s separated from surrounding streets with a handsome black fence and privacy-providing pine trees. It feels secluded and intimate.

Best seat in the (outdoor) house? We recommend the spot by a fireplace or tucked over by the stream. Then, to keep the outdoor theming going, take an after-dinner stroll to the Soldiers Memorial Field monument, just a few blocks away.

Gluten-free? In part because of her own diagnosis with celiac disease, Twigs owner Michelle Salz has worked tirelessly to include gluten-free options on her menu. She’s ensured gluten contamination won’t be an issue with a separate gluten-free kitchen. Our favorite? The Applewood Smoked Meatloaf by Papo.

The Tap House's patio

The Tap House | Ken Klotzbach/Image Conscious Photography

The Tap House

10 Third St. SW, Rochester

Still a favorite, a decade later: The Tap House opened in November 2012 to immediate fanfare, in no small part because of its prime time downtown rooftop dining option with separate east and west roof-top patios.

And 97 others. With 100 beers on tap, the Tap House lives up to its name and is certain to have the perfect refreshing beverage for a summer evening outside, from the Rogue Batsquatch Hazy IPA to the Firestone Walker Blu Love Sour to the Lift Bridge Farm Girl Golden Ale.

They’re all great seats, but ... The “best” seat in the house, according to Tap House regulars (which include us), is at the bar on the rooftop. Co-owner Natalie Victoria agrees: “We have a nano window on the second floor that opens up to the rooftop patio. On the other side of the window is a small six-seat granite bar. When sitting at that bar, you’re at an elevated position, so it gives you a bird’s eye view of the second floor as well as the Rochester skyline. There’s a fireplace behind the seats—it’s really quite cozy and private.”

Purple Goat patio diners

Purple Goat | Ken Klotzbach/Image Conscious Photography

Purple Goat

3708 N Broadway Ave Suite 160, Rochester

Bring the kids! The huge Purple Goat patio, formerly the Shopko garden center, has room for more than 60 guests and features four large televisions, ceiling fans, and an outdoor play area with a large wooden car, boat, and house for the kids to climb.

Like Newt’s, Redwood Room, City Cafe ... Opened in 2021, the Purple Goat is one of several restaurants owned by the Creative Cuisine Company. The company opened in 1978 and is owned by Mark and David Currie, second generation restaurateurs who started as dishwashers.

Who doesn’t? If you like your bratwursts boiled in beer, then the Goat’s patio might be the perfect spot to consume their Hamm’s saturated, “Old Man Wurst.”

Crave dining room

Crave | Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin


220 South Broadway Ave.

Retractable walls? Crave’s inside-out atrium is located on the second floor. It offers the best of both worlds. With retractable walls and a soaring glass ceiling, its ambience is full of fresh air like a roof-top patio, but can be entirely enclosed during inclement weather.

Smoked? Double oaked? At a loss for what to order as an appetizer and beverage? Try the Bamboo Bite Roll with tempura shrimp and cream cheese topped off with avocado and jalapeno. The smoked Manhattan couldn’t hurt either. Why not double down on some double oaked bourbon?

Happy hours: Your pocket book and tastebuds will be happy during their 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday happy hours since tap beers and wines are $2 off and go perfectly with their crispy truffle parmesan fries.

Diners outside at Whistle Binkies South

Whistle Binkies on the Lake | Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin

Whistle Binkies on the Lake

247 Woodlake Dr. Rochester

Best seat in the house? With seating for 200 inside and 200 outside, it could be hard to pinpoint a best seat. But come summer, we say the best seats are those patio high-tops facing east toward Wood Lake. When it gets cool in the later evening hours, retire to the three-season porch, The Beer Garden.

Watch volleyball! During the summer, volleyball teams take over the adjoining courts four nights a week, and low-top and high-top tables with umbrellas are all the rage for people who want to watch.

And play giant Jenga! With a covered portion including roll down doors, a huge fire pit, and some games like giant Jenga and bean bags, the outdoor dining experience at Binkies has a little something for everyone, not to mention their extensive “beer bible” and huge menu.

Diners outside at Hot Chip Burger Bar

Hot Chip Burger Bar | Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin

Hot Chip Burger Bar

1190 16th St. SW #600, Rochester

Like your patio with a side of ‘90s nostalgia? Hot Chip has you covered. Their roofed patio is decorated with old store front signs harkening back to when Kevin Bacon was king and encouraging you to order their Kevin Bacon Cheese Burger. Also, plenty of references to Britney Spears, Be Kind Rewind, “The Rachel”, Y2K ...

Burgers on the Zumbro: The view over the Zumbro River from the Hot Chip patio is beautiful, and you might snag a table for two on its own private brick patio.

“Like an orange dreamsicle ... but with alcohol.” The outdoors is the perfect place to enjoy a boozy shake, so don’t hit the Hot Chip patio without one of their alcoholic frozen concoctions. We recommend the Berry Cap’n Crunch Milkshake. Or the new Main Squeeze (“like an orange dreamsicle ... but with alcohol”).