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Monday, April 1, 2019

Dinner and Drinks on the Patio

Categories: Wine & Culinary

We love all the seasons in Bloomington, but the spring is a favorite for enjoying long days at the lake and dinner and drinks on Bloomington's patios. These outdoor spaces stay full from the early spring to late fall. The food is just as tasty outside as in, and the people watching is certainly more exciting on a patio. We're sharing some of our favorite dishes and drinks for patio season, but we'd love to hear from you - what's your favorite patio dining spot? This list is by no means comprehensive; check out all of Bloomington's restaurants with outdoor dining here


Pides are the Turkish version of pizza topped with veggies, meat, or both. You can't go wrong with shish kebabs either and all entrees come with soup and their amazing bread. Their patio is lush and full of flowers, you'll swear your dining in a Mediterranean garden.

Big Woods Bloomington

The Veggie & BBQ  Nachos are delish and perfect for a happy hour appetizer. Don't forget to order a beer! Big Woods Bloomington serves Quaff On and other craft brews. In addition to their outdoor seating on the deck, they have a new beer garden with all sorts of patio games.

Copy of Big Woods Bloomington


C3 has a large list of appetizers making it an awesome choice for groups or if you want to snack on a bunch of different dishes. They also have daily drink specials like $5 Moscow mules on Monday. 

El Rey Azteca

You can't go wrong with a chimichanga or their neon-bright patio. 

Opie Taylor's Sports Grill

Opie Taylor's is a quintessential midwest burger joint. The menu is filled with midwest and IU references (i.e. the Cyndiana burger which is a must-try). They have a new garage door that opens when the sun is shining to enjoy a burger (or their firecracker shrimp) on the patio. 

Cardinal Spirits

Everything. Seriously, everything is good. Moscow mules and White Russians are regulars on the menu and always delicious. The Cardinal Spirits deck is a favorite for its location overlooking the B-Line. If you see friends riding home on their bikes just give them a shout to come join you or just kick back and enjoy the sunset. If you get hungry they offer a full dinner menu now with small plates, main dishes, and delectable desserts. 

cardinal spirits

Coaches Bar & Grill

Their nachos are huge and tasty, and they usually have good drink specials during the week.

Malibu Grill

Wine and dine at one of Bloomington's upscale restaurants. They have hand cut steaks, fresh seafood, unique pastas, and wood-fired pizza.

Crazy Horse

The Crazy Horse is a great casual spot downtown. A favorite and secret drink is the Caballo Loco. It’s a tall fruity cocktail that will make you feel like you’re at the beach. Though this favorite drink was taken off the menu a couple of years ago, most of the bartenders will still make it.

Crazy Horse

The Owlery

Poutine, fish tacos, or classic grilled cheese with avocado and a side of sweet potato fries. All vegetarian of course. Grab a seat on the picnic tables out front; you'll have a prime-time view of the Courthouse Square.

Hopscotch Coffee

You can't go wrong here but during patio season, check out the nitro cold brew coffee. You can even add a scoop of ice cream if you really want to indulge. 


Bedrak Cafe

This is the perfect breakfast spot. Fill up on anything from eggs Benedict to waffles to country fried steak. Don't forget to try one of their juices too!

El Ranchero

There's nothing better than enjoying Mexican food and a margarita in the sun. 

Irish Lion

Blarney Puffballs all the way. The vegetable medley is the most underrated vegetarian dish in town. It’s so flavorful and you get a huge portion. They have a nice draft list too including favorite imports like Guinness and Magner’s Irish Cider.

RELATED: International Restaurants in Bloomington

irish lion


Taco Tuesday anyone?

Korea Restaurant

Kimchi, bibimbap, tonkatsu, oh my!

Laughing Planet Cafe

The Spinach & Black Bean Burrito is a favorite around our office. You can’t go wrong with a well-made classic.

laughing planet

Siam House

They have a brand new patio that is pretty fabulous! Try the Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles); Pad Thai is always a solid choice too. 

Scenic View

It's so hard to beat their view of Monroe Lake and the Hoosier National Forest. We know this is a dinner guide but their bloody marys are a spicy favorite making brunch here a must. For dinner, try the meatloaf or fish tacos.

RELATED: Best Brunches in Bloomington

The Tap

The pickle fries are so awesome! They’ll likely have your favorite beer available, but take advantage of the huge selection and try one or two (or three) new ones.

Patio at The Tap

Related: What's brewed in Bloomington?

My Thai

You can find a My Thai on every side of town, but their 4th Street location has the best patio. It's a great day when you are on their patio chowing on their delicious pad thai noodles.

Taste of India

Two words: Lunch Buffet. Try a little of everything.

taste of india

Little Tibet

Explore a different culture at Little Tibet. They are a triple threat specializing in Tibetan, Thai, and Indian cuisine. Feeling Tibetan food? The dumplings are a must. Indian? You have to go with the curry. Thai? Try the Tom Ka or get the Pad Thai.

Upland Brewpub

Upland has such a great menu it’s tough for most of us to pick a favorite. For vegetarians, the Yellow Coconut Curry is an unexpected item for a brewery menu, but it is worth trying something different. For people that are gluten-free, they carry Oliver Winery’s Beanblossom Cider which is so refreshing when the weather gets hot. And for the omnivores, order is the Bad Elmer's burger with bison but make sure you check out the daily specials too. Their patio is HUGE and they allow dogs :)

upland patio

Bear's Place

Bear's has a new patio facing 3rd Street and it's perfect for afternoon beers and people watching. 

Mother Bear's West

There's a reason Mother Bear's is constantly nominated for pizza awards... because it's freaking delicious. They have great wings too!

Cafe Pizzaria

Get a strom and take a seat outside. P.S. they have Coke AND Pepsi.

cafe pizzaria


Emily Hines

Emily Hines

Emily Hines was previously the digital content Coordinator for Visit Bloomington. When she wasn't blogging or grammin' you could find her hiking in the Hoosier National Forest with her husband and two black labs or enjoying a craft beer and slice of pizza in town.