Eating Out: 5 great places for outdoor dining in the Valley

The Fresno BeeJune 9, 2014 

Warm weather is here and it's time for what Fresno does so well: dining outdoors.

We asked readers where some of their favorite patios are, and boy did they respond. From quiet patios for a private chat to party patios, there's so many good places to wine and dine outdoors in the Valley.

We highlight five, but we know we left off some old stand-bys such as Campagnia, Irene's and The Patio Cafe (and if you really want to share your favorite, hop on and tell us about it).

Fresno is about to get even more alfresco dining options. At Fig Garden Village, newcomer Jack's Urban Eats is under construction and will have a patio when it opens in the coming months.

Plus, earlier this year the city of Fresno streamlined a clunky process for restaurants wanting to add patios or outdoor tables on sidewalks. Instead of a lengthy permit process, now restaurants can file a simple document and get quick approval without even adding a fence.

Peeve's Public House and Los Panchos Mexican Restaurant on the Fulton Mall are going through that process right now. Expect more restaurants on the mall and in the Tower District to follow.

Piazza del Pane, 799 Palmdon Drive, (559) 229-7263. The Piazza del Pane at Palm and Herndon avenues has two patios, but it's the casual one that is a peaceful escape from the world. It was added last year and looks like an outdoor living room with couches, vines, a soothing water fountain and umbrellas.

The nonsmoking patio is so relaxing that it has developed a following among cancer patients looking for a calm place to chat, the restaurant staff tells us.

Elbow Room, Fig Garden Village, (559) 227-1234.This patio gets busy with people of all ages throughout the week, but after 7 p.m. on weekends it turns into the place to party for the young professional crowd.

Expect to see guys taking gals on dates and women who feel comfortable hanging out alone or with a girlfriend, says the owner. The patio got an overhaul recently and has misters to combat the heat.

Veni Vidi Vici, 1116 N. Fulton St. (559) 266-5510. Affectionately known as "Veni's," this Tower District restaurant and bar has a patio with a big green leafy canopy of trees that keeps it a few degrees cooler in the summertime. The patio is open for dining, but after 10 p.m. it turns into more of a bar atmosphere with smoking allowed.

The outdoor bar opens up and the 20-somethings start pouring in to sip the Stockholm Royale martinis for which the place is known.

Red Caboose Cafe, 5054 N. Academy Ave. (559) 297-9545. Diners desperate to get away from cigarette smoke that plagues some patios flock to the Red Caboose Cafe in Clovis.

The nonsmoking patio — actually a screened, covered and handicapped accessible deck with a wooden fence — has a backyard feel.

The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch all week, and open late for dinner — often with live music — Thursday through Sunday.

Pinot Wine Bar, 805 E Olive Ave. (559) 445-1800. The hidden little patio in the heart of the Tower District is part of the Tower Theatre property, with its neon namesake Tower providing quite a view after dark. Customers sip wine and eat dinner while surrounded by lots of plants and a fountain.

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