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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dinner and Drinks on the Patio

Categories: Wine & Culinary

The first sign of spring in Bloomington is a pair of flip-flops and short shorts on IU students. The second sign of spring is the opening of restaurant and bar 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

Cardinal Spirits

Everything. Seriously, everything is good. The White Russian is a staple on the menu and always amazing. For something refreshing try the Flora spritzer. The Cardinal Spirits deck is a favorite for it's 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.

Coaches Bar & Grill

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

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 years ago, most of the bartenders will still make it.


Their menu changes all the time so it's hard to say what to order. Their dishes are always surprising flavor combinations and delicious! They do have tasty tamales everyday with rotating flavors. Their wraparound patio with large umbrellas is a favorite throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall. 

Finch's Brasserie

The pizzettas are so amazing, especially the Roman and Dordogne. The Moules du Jour with frites are awesome to share with friends or big enough for a meal. Here you can enjoy an excellent view of IU's Sample Gates while sipping one of their delicious cocktails.

outdoor dining at Finch's

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 for patio weather check out the nitro cold brew coffee. You can even add a scoop of ice cream if you really want to indulge. 

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.

Copy of irish lion


Taco Tuesday anyone??

Laughing Planet Cafe

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

Siam House

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

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.

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

Taste of India

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

Topo's 403

The spanikopita is a tasty vegetarian starter. For mains we're loving the trout wrapped in grape leaves. 

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 :)

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!


Beer Cheese Fries + Ice Cold Beer + Patio = Happy Hour perfection

Cafe Pizzaria

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

cafe pizzaria


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. Thye also have daily drink specials like $5 moscow mules on Monday. 

No Coast Reserve

NOCO just unveiled their little patio over Easter weekend and we can't wait to enjoy a lobster roll out there. 


What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!



Emily Hines

Emily Hines

Emily Hines is a Bloomington transplant by way of St. Simons Island, Georgia and is the digital content Coordinator for Visit Bloomington. When she's not blogging or grammin' you can 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.