Balmy days seeming more June-like than early May have sparked people to flock to their favorite spots to dine outdoors, and any restaurants with the means have planted tables and chairs in any space available to add a dash of al fresco to their menus.
In Annapolis and environs, tables pop up along slivers of sidewalks in front of the city’s eateries, but other establishments have larger outdoor seating spaces, from waterfront crab decks to biergartens, patios to rooftop perches.
And the offerings range from the obvious Chesapeake country seafood to Italian, American bistro, German, Mexican and more.
In a couple of weeks the popular Dinner Under the Stars kicks off its season May 29. The weekly Wednesday evening event closes off the first block of West Street at 6 p.m. and loads the roadway with tables and chairs for wide-open outdoor dining fun. Several restaurants that line the block, from Luna Blu and El Toro Bravo to 49 West and Tsunami, entertain all comers. Reservations are highly recommended via the event website: dinnerunderthestars.org.
Until then, here are 10 spots to enjoy:
Sam’s on the Waterfront, in Chesapeake Harbor outside Annapolis, has been a mainstay for waterside dining for over 20 years. Nestled on the edge of a marina with several dockside tables, the place offers up many local favorites: crabcakes, fried oysters, rockfish, calamari, scallops and non-seafood entrees, too. 2020 Chesapeake Harbor Drive. 310-263-3600. samsonthewaterfront.com
Upscale food wine and a view of the Severn River and the U.S. Naval Academy from a dockside patio — that’s the story at the Severn Inn. Steaks, seafood, tony ambience. Plenty of salads and appetizers, individual or for the table. Seafood options include Carolina red snapper and Nova Scotia halibut, and for steaks, there’s the classic N.Y. strip or the Bavette cut (from the bottom sirloin), among others. 1993 B&A Blvd. 410-349-4000. severninn.com
Carrol’s Creek Cafe in Eastport is a perennial favorite spot overlooking Spa Creek with great views of the Annapolis waterfront, especially from the tables on its expansive patio. Its creative fare has brought back both Annapolitans and the city’s visitors for over 30 years. Both full entree and small plate menus featuring seafood are available for lunch and dinner. 410 Severn Ave., Eastport. 410-263-8102. carrolscreek.com
The Inn at Pirate's Cove in Galesville has a solid following from across South County and beyond. With views of West River, the restaurant attracts diners with its the homey atmosphere and solid menu featuring cioppino and the old favorite The Gabby Crabby, along with classic comfort food like meatloaf and liver and onions. There are a few dockside tables, plus seats under a roofed patio. The adjacent Pirate’s Cove Dock Bar has a similar menu in a more casual setting at the foot of marina docks. 4817 Riverside Drive, Galesville. 410-867-2300. piratescovemd.com
The Point Crabhouse and Grill overlooking Mill Creek off the Magothy River, with loads or outdoor seating, both covered and not, draws a good crowd both weekends and weeknights during the season It’s tucked away in the back of the Mago Vista neighborhood in Arnold, but worth the hunt. Crabs are a big draw, but there are other surf-and-turf offerings in addition to an interesting array of tacos. 700 Mill Creek Road, Arnold. 410-544-5448. thepointcrabhouse.com
Down in Deale, Skippers Pier Restaurant and Dock Bar draws plenty of crowds. The seafood is served with a nod to southern cooking, featuring po’ boys, rockfish, and shrimp and gritsSides of hushpuppies and biscuits to add to a menu chock full of local favorites, especially on its expansive dock seating. 6158 Drum Point Road, Deale. 410-867-7110. skipperspier.com
Reynolds Tavern's 1747 Pub and its patio offer bangers and mash, shrimp and grits and buttermilk-fried chicken. The garden patio is a popular gathering place for happy hours and draws a crowd, especially on weekends. 7 Church Circle. 410-295-9555. reynoldstavern.com
The biergarten at the Old Stein Inn, with covered outdoor seating that has retractable glass walls and some seating under the stars, in Edgewater features an old-world German menu of wursts, spaetzle and schnitzels plus authentic German beers and live music featuring local bands and German oom-pah on the weekends. 1143 Central Ave., Edgewater. 410-798-1544.oldstein-inn.com
Mexican Cafe’s deck was a big draw at its old location off Bay Ridge Road, and it’s just as much a favorite after the restaurant’s move to West Annapolis several years ago. The street-side deck seating is covered by a pergola and awning. The no-frills Mexican food features the standards plus Sofia’s chicken mole and Fransisca’s tamales. People go for the food and stay for the potent margaritas. 609 Melvin Ave. 410-626-1520. themexicancafe.com
Middleton Tavern has Colonial bonafides with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson among its 18th Century customers. Its menu is grounded in classics like stuffed filet of sole, seafood crepes, veal Francaise and steak Diane. And its covered front porch offers a front-row seat to the hustle and bustle of City Dock. 2 Market Space. 410-263-3323. middletontavern.com