The window for perfect al fresco dining in Wichita can be fleetingly short.
Much of the year is too hot, too cold or too fly-infested.
But when the weather in Wichita is good for outdoor dining, it’s really good, and over the past several years, many restaurateurs have been adding, beefing up and beautifying their outdoor dining spaces.
Following are my picks for the top 10 best patios for outdoor dining in and around Wichita.
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1. Newport Grill, 1900 N. Rock Road, 316-636-9555: When the patio was first built for this space’s original tenant, Cibola, it was gorgeous – secluded, quiet, serene, surrounded by lush landscaping with a view of a small lake. Now that the patio belongs to Newport Grill, it’s even more amazing. Last year, the upscale seafood restaurant expanded the patio to make it two-tiered. It now seats about 300 people and includes comfortable couches on the lower level for cocktail sippers and minglers. And starting in May, the patio will feature live music – mostly jazz – Tuesday through Sunday evenings. Patrons can make reservations for the patio, which is sometimes completely booked on nights that Bradley Faire is hosting events. “You sit on our patio and you don’t feel like you’re in Wichita anymore,” said Joe Wilcox, the restaurant’s general manager.
2. Larkspur, 904 E. Douglas, 316-262-5275: The corner of Douglas and Mosley downtown is the entryway to Old Town, and one of Wichita’s most enduring restaurants has one of Wichita’s most beautiful patios, perfect for watching the Old town comings and goings. Larkspur’s patio is sheltered by a vine-covered pergola that in the early spring has a ceiling of fragrant and lovely draping wisteria. It has a nice mix of short and tall tables, and outdoor ceiling fans keep it comfortable even when the weather warms up.
3. Ziggy’s Pizza, 3700 E Douglas, 316-613-2529: Ziggy’s, a locally owned pizzeria, wins the award for the best-ever use of a Clifton Square patio. It’s tiny, but the brick patio has just enough wooden picnic tables and a few metal tables and is bordered with hanging, glowing lights. It’s so comfortable and chill that, once you’ve enjoyed it, dining inside at Ziggy’s seems out of the question. And because the restaurant looks sort of like a house and the patio is lined with a white picket fence, you’ll feel like you’re dining with a friend who knows how to make the best rectangular pizzas ever.
4. YaYa’s Eurobistro, 8115 East 21st St N. 316-634-1000: The patio at this classic Wichita fine dining restaurant is large and about to get larger. Managers are preparing to expand it out toward the parking lot, which will add at least 30 more seats. In the summer, the patio is landscaped with lush and colorful flowers and plants, and on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, live bands play outside. Wednesday nights are a particularly popular night to hang out on YaYa’s patio in the summer: It’s $5 martini night.
5. Chester’s Chophouse, 1550 N. Webb Road, 316-201-1300: The luxurious covered patio at this upscale steakhouse has secluded seating, gorgeous stone accents, comfortable tables, a glowing fireplace in the corner and a view of a pond — and an office building. But it’s still one of Wichita’s most beautiful.
6. Granite City west, 2661 North Maize Road, 316-721-8500: It’s a casual, west-side brewery, but the patio that faces Maize Road off the back of Granite City feels pretty upscale. It’s gated off, features shady umbrellas, and faces a scenic pond that’s fitting with a spouting fountain. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a pint on your way to Target.
7. Hereford House, 1400 Terradyne St., Andover, 316-733-7800: Hereford House’s luxurious patio juts off the back of the Terradyne Country Club, a mansion-esque building that sits on a golf course. Patrons can gaze out on the course while sitting under an umbrella in cozy seating while enjoying a steak and a martini.
8. P.F. Chang’s, 1401 N Waterfront Parkway, 316-634-2211: The most picturesque restaurant patio at the upscale Waterfront development is at P.F. Chang’s, a Chinese bistro that overlooks the lake and its fountains. It’s shaded, landscaped and a nice spot to enjoy lettuce wraps and a summertime breeze.
9. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, 1725 E. Douglas, 316-267-7687: Last summer, owner Tanya Tandoc had a pretty covered pergola built, which adds some serious summertime space onto her popular and crowded restaurant. She and her crew recently spruced it up by adding lots of flowers and a fence that provides more of a barrier between the patio and bustling Douglas Avenue. Tanya’s is open for evening meals on Fridays and Saturdays, when she has live music on the patio.
10. Paleteria La Reyna, 2925 Arkansas, 316-831-9196: The festive patio at this Mexican ice cream store is nicely outfitted with umbrella-ed tables and chairs, all enclosed by a tall fence. Even better than the atmosphere is the summer goodness found inside — Mexican ice cream treats ranging from tequila ice cream to mango ice cream bars. And if you’re hungry for more than dessert, Paleteria La Reyna makes wonderful tacos and tortas as well.