Surely this is one of the sweetest summers on record.
We've had our share of hot, humid weather, but nothing like the usual July. If things go along as they have been, we'll continue to see spectacular, blue-skied days with highs in the 80s, cooling down at dusk. In other words, perfect weather for eating outside.
Restaurants that have a terrace, patio, courtyard or deck are doing a booming business. We can't list them all, but the following will give you some idea of the range of possibilities. One conspicuous omission is the eating places right around the Inner Harbor. There are too many to mention individually, but you can get a great view of the water on any of these restaurants' decks or terraces.
Be prepared for the possibility of less attentive service outdoors and be warned that smoking is usually allowed. Don't be surprised if you get bitten by a greedy mosquito or two. But the delights of lingering over a good meal outdoors are so great you shouldn't let such minor annoyances drive you indoors.
Now and Wow
Atlantic, 2400 Boston St., 410-675-4565. $$$
This innovative seafood restaurant has a real outdoor dining room with seating for 30--- around a goldfish pond! You can order from a happy hour menu on weekdays; it isn't available inside.
Bicycle, 1444 Light St., 410-234-1900. $$$
The walled-in garden of this edgy little gem is unexpectedly pretty, done in lavender and white with potted flowers and a silver maple tree. The bad news: It has only five tables.
John Steven Ltd., 1800 Thames St., 410-327-5561. $$
Enjoy inventive dishes like crab empanadas with peach salsa, and coriander- and pepper-encrusted tuna with seaweed salad on a cozy patio with a small garden.
Kali's Court, 1606 Thames St., 410-276-4700. $$$
With that name, you know there's a courtyard. You'd better reserve one of the three outside tables (they seat six each); this Mediterranean and grilled- seafood restaurant is always busy.
Suzie's Soba, 1009 W. 36th St., 410-243-0051. $$
And you thought Korean food couldn't be elegant. Wait till you try Suzie Hong's field greens, shiitake and pickled ginger salad or the chicken don casserole in the attractive little courtyard.
On the Waterfront
Bo Brooks, 2701 Boston St., 410-558-0202. $$
In spite of the move to Canton and a fancy new chef, crabs are still king at Bo Brooks. The outdoor tables seat 100 with a great view of the water.
Carrol's Creek Cafe, 410 Severn Ave., Annapolis, 410-263-8102. $$$
It's an Annapolis tradition to eat on the deck here and watch the end of the Wednesday night sailboat races, but you can come just to enjoy the contemporary American seafood menu.
Clyde's of Columbia, 10221 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, 410-730-2828. $$
This is the granddaddy of the sev-eral restaurants here that offer a fine lakefront view. You can get everything from burgers to pasta to seafood; but if one of Clyde's 14 outdoor tables isn't available, move on to the next eatery.
Phillips Annapolis Harbor, 12 Dock St., Annapolis, 410-990-9888. $$
The new crab deck has steamed crabs and a limited crab house menu. It's a great seat for the Navy Band concerts at the dock.
Victor's Cafe, 801 Lancaster St., 410-244-1722. $$
Victor's circular deck offers a fabulous view of everything from the harbor to the city lights at night. The American menu with an Italian accent is wide-ranging as well, from pizza to seafood.
A Drive in the Country
Antrim 1844, 30 Trevanion Road, Taneytown, 410-756-6812. $$$$
The choices for outdoor dining are varied: a patio, a veranda overlooking formal gardens, a courtyard cafe. The fixed-price menu is eclectic, but based on classic French cuisine.
Manor Tavern, 15819 Old York Road, Monkton, 410-771-8155. $$
The terrace is under a tent, but the flaps roll up. Here you can get steamed crabs Thursdays and Sundays; other days the menu is mostly light fare, although you can order the continental fare served inside.
Milton Inn, 14833 York Road, Sparks, 410-771-4366. $$$$
The canopied flagstone terrace is the romantic setting for wedding receptions and other special occasions, but ordinary mortals can also get chef Brian Boston's new American cuisine here.
Oregon Grille, 1201 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, 410-771-0505. $$$$
Chef Mark Henry's steaks and seafood taste even better on the flagstone patio surrounded by a beautiful garden and hidden by ornamental grasses.
Peerce's Plantation, 12460 Dulaney Valley Road, Phoenix, 410-252-3100. $$$$
The patio is close to the road, but the woodsy setting is so beautiful it almost doesn't matter. It's a worthy setting for chef Michael Gettier's food.
Al Fresco Ethnic
Ambassador Dining Room, 3811 Canterbury Road, 410-366-1484. $$
This fine Indian restaurant has a pleasant little patio in back that overlooks hidden gardens.
Austin Grill, 2400 Boston St., 410-534-0606. $$
Tex-Mex was never this upscale. Eat it at the stylish umbrella tables surrounded by bright flowers. Yes, you can get a glimpse of the water across the street.
Kawasaki Cafe, 907 S. Ann St., 410-327-9400. $
This hip little cafe has great sushi, noodles and Japanese food. What better place to eat them than at one of the five umbrella tables?
Luigi Petti, 1002 Eastern Ave., 410-685-0055. $$
Little Italy was made for al fresco dining, but this palm tree-lined deck is the only place I've found. The specialty is southern Italian food.
Mexican Cafe, 975 Bay Ridge Road, Annapolis, 410-626-1520. $
Don't be fooled by its unassuming looks. People come in droves to sip margaritas and eat the authentic Mexican food and seafood at the tables out front.
Donna's, Village of Cross Keys, 410-532-7611. $$
You can eat roasted vegetable sandwiches and sip lattes outdoors at most of the Donna'ses, but the view here is wonderfully sylvan for a city setting.
Gertrude's, 10 Art Museum Drive, 410-889-3399. $$$
The setting for John Shields' Chesapeake cuisine is the Baltimore Museum of Art sculpture garden. Need we say more?
Joy America Cafe, 800 Key Highway, 410-244-6500. $$$
Look one way and you have a view of the harbor; look the other and you see the whirligig sculpture and Federal Hill. The balcony is a perfect place to enjoy the Southwestern cuisine.
Have I missed your favorite? I'd love to know about it. E-mail me at elizabeth.large@ baltsun.com, fax me at 410-783-2502, or write to me c / o the Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.