It's Top Ten Tuesday again, and we're going through a spell of pretty good May weather -- just right for al fresco dining, as the high falutin' food magazines like to call it. I like eating on a beautiful terrace or well-landscaped patio so much that the setting is sometimes as important as the food in where I decide to eat this time of year.
Here are my current 10 favorites -- restaurants that have great outdoor seating -- in no particular order ...
(Michelle Gienow/Special to the Sun)
My one caveat is that I haven't been back to them all yet this spring, so I'm basing some of this on what they were like last summer. Let me know if any of them has changed:
1) Babalu Grill's appealing patio-lounge in Power Plant Live. It's hidden away with plants and has comfortable furniture. A great place for drinks and as much of the restaurant's Cuban menu as they're serving outdoors this year.
2) The Metropolitan's wonderfully chic rooftop dining room in Annapolis. The owner told me the fact that they couldn't duplicate it here was the main reason they weren't opening another Metropolitan in Baltimore. (Its sister restaurants, Lemongrass and Tsunami, are both coming in late summer.)
3) The terrace at Donna's in Cross Keys. It has lovely landscaping (and even herbs and miniature vegetables in among the flowers when summer rolls around), but the real draw is that it's set back from Falls Road so you're away from the traffic, and it's surrounded by lots of big trees and other greenery.
4) On the other hand, I love being right on Charles Street at one of Tapas Teatro's tiny tables, rubbing elbows with the people next to me, feeling like I'm part of the action, drinking sangria and eating small plates of good things.
5) The pretty courtyard patio in the middle of Green Spring Station. I'm not even sure what restaurant will be there now that Longo's is closed, perhaps for good, perhaps not; but I hear that people are taking carry out from Stone Mill Bakery and eating it at these tables.
6) I said I wasn't going to do any restaurants in the Inner Harbor, because you already know about them. But I bet you haven't considered the Peacock Cafe in the Pier 5 Hotel. The hotel has a small, charming wooden deck for its upscale casual dining room. It's right on the water.
7) The courtyard in back of Arcos, the Mexican restaurant in upper Fells Point. It's a series of spaces created with old bricks and recycled wood. Some of the tables are copper-topped, some vintage wood, some marble. I hope they get rid of the tiki hut this summer, but otherwise it's great.
8) I haven't actually eaten outside at b in Bolton Hill. But we had a very good meal there recently before it was warm enough to sit outside, and I love the fairly quiet street lined with enormous trees the bistro is on. It's on my list to try soon.
9) Gertrude's in the BMA has a terrace overlooking the museum's sculpture garden. It's set so far away from the street you get almost no traffic noise, plus greenery, a fountain, and of course, art with your Eastern Shore cuisine. Life doesn't get any better than this.
10) The Ambassador's patio overlooking the apartment house's flower garden. If you don't want to be in the sun, they open up the sunporch so it's almost like being outdoors. The space will be even nicer later in the summer, but this is a lovely, flowery space to eat good Indian food.
I have a couple of Honorable Mentions, the Wine Market and Brasserie Tatin, but last year I didn't think they did enough with the spaces they have. Both have promise.
I haven't seen or eaten at the Grove at Vin in Towson. But it's supposed to be very good looking, and the restaurant's full menu is now being served on the patio, which even has its own bar.
Comments? Suggestions? Please post below. Remember, you don't have to give us your e-mail address or full name if you don't want to.
I haven't decided on next week's top ten yet, so check back later in the day for an update. Even better, let me know what you'd like for next week's Top Ten Tuesday.