Summertime ends Sept. 21, but for many folks, it's over now that school's in session. However, there's still time to enjoy the outdoors. Just jaunt on over to a restaurant with an outdoor patio: There are several in the area from which to choose. And for those who are worried about the smoking ban in Toledo, it does not apply to outdoor dining.
IT'S THE second summer for the outdoor patio at McGeady's in Monroe. Owner John Martin said when Toledo started the smoking ban, he went right ahead and built an outdoor cafe to accommodate smokers because he figured Monroe would follow Toledo with the no-smoking law.
"Smokers will walk outside in zero degrees if necessary, so this was to accommodate them" Mr. Martin remarked.
Nonsmokers as well enjoy the outdoor scene, which is located on the main drag in downtown Monroe. The place is noted for the best burgers in town, but ribs are tasty too as are its Lake Erie perch sandwiches.
The Docks at International Park on the Maumee River is a hot spot for outdoor dining and just sipping a drink or two. Navy Bistro's outdoor bar and patio are busy most any night. It's a relaxing place, or until things start hopping later with music for the see-and-be-seen crowd.
John and Yolanda Szuch and their guest from Hungary strolled on down to Navy Bistro after dining at Real Seafood, which also has outdoor seating. Sandwiched between the bistro and Real Seafood is Tango's Mexican Cantina, which was a place for Lisa Spaulding, Darrah Nowak, and Beth Sheets on their "girls' night out." Steve Goldman was there with friends too.
Farther down is Zia's, where folks sip wine and watch the boats. Gumbo's Bayou Grille, at the end of the line, has a great upper deck for viewing river activity, including watching the drawbridge open and close. On the ground level, the vast patio wraps around to an outdoor bar with seating and bistro tables. It's a great place to sip and see speed boats and scullers zip by.
El Camino Real at the corner of Douglas and Sylvania has an outdoor patio with a bar that attracts all ages. Music spun by a DJ keeps it hopping, and on Thursdays there's a live band.
The Carnivore Cafe at the Toledo Zoo has outdoor seating in the former animal cages. It's a popular place to snap pictures of friends behind bars.
Attending a Mud Hens game at Fifth Third Field is a good excuse to dine outdoors on hot dogs and beer. For those not inclined to see the game, there's an outdoor patio on the back side of the suite level, which is a good place for those who want a smoke break. Across from the stadium, the Bronze Boar has a back deck where one can sip a brew or two and puff away on their favorite cigar or cigarette. The Durty Bird's outdoor patio is nothing fancy: It faces the parking lot and street, but no one seems to mind. Also in the stadium area is The Emporium, which has a big patio, and the bar at the back is packed on game nights. Other nights are fun too and a bit less congested. No one really cares that the patio has no view to speak of: Maybe it's the oxygen bar that draws a crowd.
The outdoor patio of Pepe's Mexican Restaurant on Sylvania Avenue is harbored behind the building with high walls, screening the area from street traffic. Julie Shanks and Alex Parks frequent the cozy place, a little south-of-the-border haven that makes one dream of Acapulco. Mexican tunes fill the air as a waterfall cascades down a wall of rocks. Tables and chairs surround a big fountain and trees. Booths are on the perimeter, where a cabana bar has seating for those who prefer stools. The lunch crowd seems to be more business types; about 5 or so the after-work folks drag in for margarita or two - there are 15 from which to choose. Families stop by for dinner, and as dusk settles, in pours the younger crowd.
Pepe's Downtown at Erie Street Market also has a patio, but it's more European in style: on the street so guests can watch the traffic and nibble on fresh salsa. A full low-carb menu at the downtown site makes it a popular lunch spot for Atkins and South Beach dieters.
On the corner of Michigan and Monroe Street is the Easy Street Cafe, which has an outdoor patio and bar with live music on the weekend.
One wouldn't know they are on Airport Highway if they are sitting on the back deck of Joe's Crab Shack, which is decorated like an old seafood shanty. The deck overlooks an area of trees and grass. Lighted with strings of colorful lanterns, the spot is a place for one of the restaurant's spirited concoctions and a few clam strips, peel-and-eat shrimp, or crab claws.
The multilevel and partially covered deck at the Lighthouse Cafe on Broadway gets a lot of boat traffic as well as street-side guests. Live bands crank up the volume for the late-night crowd on Thursdays through Saturdays. The specialty drinks say summer fun: Long Island Iced Teas, Rum Runners, and Pina Coladas. Salads and perch sandwiches are popular menu items, but you'll have to hurry: the last day is Sunday.
Jan and Lee Lanfare frequent Shorty's Bar-b-Que's new outdoor patio, where one can watch the traffic go by on Monroe Street, yet be removed from the hustled and the bustled. Stixx Asia Bistro's patio lets patrons keep up with the fast pace of city life, yet enjoy a leisurely meal or drink.
In Sylvania, Village Inn and Ciao Ristorante let diners stay in the great outdoors if they choose.
Manhattan's triangle-shaped patio on the corner of 16th and Adams streets is surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. It's a popular spot on summer nights, as well as on mornings with a cup of latte to jumpstart one's day.
Suzanne Carroll is a frequent diner with her husband, Denny Witherell. On any weekday lunch, one usually spots a politician or two. Sunday brunch is popular with folks from Fr. Michael Billian, who stops by after church, to Mayor Jack Ford and his family.
MargoT and Jim Quick enjoy margaritas at Casa Barron, especially when weather permits the use of the outdoor patio. It's a laid-back atmosphere in a city-deck scene with a musician on most nights. Bernie Murphy, Gerry Danes, and a few friends enjoyed appetizers and margaritas there after work.
Loma Linda Restaurant is always busy, and warm weather is the perfect time to enjoy a refreshing drink and some spicy food on the outdoor patio. Jim and Vicki Tanner and their daughter Laureen, 15, sat on the terrace overlooking the parking lot, but they didn't seem to mind: They were outside.
It's not summer without a trip to Webber's, says Liz Koster of Lambertville, Mich. She and her husband, Ed, always pick a nice day to go so they can enjoy dining on the outdoor deck. Mrs. Koster says, "Webber's pickerel fillet is the best around with a light and crispy breading." The perch is a favorite too.
Next door at the River Cafe, the view is about the same: Docks and boats on the Ottawa river. But it has it's own crowd of regulars, including Sarah Strong, Marcia Deeb, and Lois Laurent, who were headed there last Friday until heavy rains delayed their voyage.