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If there's one thing Portlanders know, it's that it's never too cloudy, rainy or cold to sit outside. That's why so many patios are built to stay open all year long. But sometimes the sun does shine, and when it does, you'll most likely find yourself soaking it in or relaxing beneath an umbrella while enjoying a cheeseburger, digging into a vegan rice bowl, or kicking back with a cup of joe or a nice, cold beer.
Looking for such a place? Keep reading.
Prior to its public unveiling in the summer of 2011, the unused space behind this living room-style bar and music venue was nothing much to look at. Now, it’s one of the city's largest, most relaxing patios comprised of wooden decks and picnic tables, complete with long wooden benches that wrap around the patio's perimeter and (surprisingly comfortable) red plastic chairs. And if you'd rather not sit, you can always challenge your friend to a match at the Ping-Pong table.
Forecast: The entire space, inside and out, is licensed to hold up to 550 people and about 70 percent of the seating is out back, so you should never have trouble finding a table.
SPF: The space near the patio's outdoor bar (only open on weekends) is covered, but the rest of the patio is exposed to the rain and sun. But since the bar opens at 4:30 p.m., the sunlight is of the late-afternoon and setting-sun variety.
Advisory: Smoking is permitted, but dogs and kids are not. In fact, you must be at least 21 years old to enter. Also, the very narrow inside path near the bar leading to the back patio is often crowded with bodies waiting for a drink. So be patient and polite when making your way to the patio.
Barometer: Vegetarians will enjoy the grilled cheese and tomato soup, while carnivores will like the hamburger topped with seasonal ingredients. And while Rontoms has no specialty cocktail menu, it does have a full bar and a staff of knowledgeable people tending it.
Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., 503.236.4536
Bernie's Southern Bistro
This patio has it all: a large, walled space, wooden decks, free-standing trees, shade provided by a canopy of oak branches, bamboo shoots, an azalea arbor, vines, potted plants, flower beds, and a gardener to tend it all.
Forecast: If you show up when the doors open for happy hour, you'll definitely find a table. However, even though it seats 85, the patio can fill up quickly, so reservations are highly recommended.
SPF: Whether you worship the sun or seek out the shade, this deck patio has plenty of options for you and your tablemates. And if the weather turns cold, there are plenty of free-standing heaters to help warm you up.
Advisory: Kids are most certainly welcome, but dogs and smoking are forbidden. And most importantly, when summer is in full swing, Bernie's doesn't even bother with indoor seating. To grab a table, enter the restaurant via the patio entrance on NE 29th Avenue.
Barometer: There is almost nothing better than a fried oyster po'boy paired with a glass (or two) of quality bourbon, served neat.
Bernie's Southern Bistro, 2904 NE Alberta St., 503.282.9864
Floyd's Coffee Shop
You're forgiven if you pass by Floyd's outdoor patio without stopping. At first glance, it seems more like the courtyard of an apartment building than a patio. But if you're looking for a quiet, outdoor spot to catch up on some work while enjoying a strong cup of coffee, or even a bottle of beer, then Floyd's patio is for you.
Forecast: Because the patio is fairly hidden from the street and still, relatively, undiscovered, finding a seat should never be a problem. But since there are only five tables that seat four, you might have to ask to join someone.
SPF: Since the patio closes before dusk, it's always well lit, but if the sun shines too brightly, each table has a large umbrella.
Advisory: Dogs, kids and smoking are all permitted, but the patio doesn't stay open late. The shop closes at 7 p.m. on weekdays and at 6 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively on Saturdays and Sundays.
Barometer: If you're looking for something quick and affordable, try the red beans and rice with a Mexican Coke. If you work nearby, the patio is also a great place to knock off early and unwind with a cold bottle of Session lager before riding the MAX home.
Floyd's Coffee Shop, 118 NW Couch St., 503.295.7791
Produce Row Café
It's not evident when looking at it from the street, but this nearly 40-year-old restaurant has a large outdoor patio. Because it's a destination—tucked away in the Central Eastside Industrial District—you won't necessarily stumble upon it. But if you do and have never been before, you're in for a pleasant surprise.
Forecast: The patio seats about 70, and the best time to grab a table is either during lunch or right when the 4 p.m. happy hour starts. It's much harder, though, to find tables on Friday and Saturday evenings and nights, so be warned.
SPF: The only true way to catch some direct rays is to dine during lunch, grabbing a seat in the patio's uncovered center. Otherwise, the seating is protected from the sun, rain and wind by high walls and porticos. And in the winter, the patio is covered, so you're protected from the cold as well.
Advisory: Children are allowed until 9 p.m., but dogs are not allowed. Smoking is permitted, but is relegated to a cluster of three tables.
Barometer: The drinks menu features a half-dozen beer and whiskey pairings. Add to that a glass of Scotch and tap your inner John Lee Hooker. If you do, you're going to need some fuel, so try the Row Burger, a half-pound of beef served with crispy onions and the usual fixings on a poppy Kaiser roll.
Produce Row Café, 204 SE Oak St., 503.232.8355
The Bye and Bye
With two patios flanking the building, The Bye and Bye pretty much is a patio. Most of the seating is of the outdoor kind, and when the restaurant's two floor-to-ceiling garage doors have been rolled up, you can sit indoors and still feel like you're outside.
Forecast: It would be rare for you and your friends to not find an outdoor table. The front patio seats 40 (until it closes at 10 p.m.) and as many as 50 can sit out back.
SPF: If you're looking for sun, definitely sit out front. But if shade's your thing, the back patio has high walls and is covered by a roof, which still lets in a little natural light. And if you thought the air back there might get stale, think again: half a dozen ceiling fans hang from the roof. Also, the back patio is equipped with heaters, which keeps it open all year long.
Advisory: Dogs are okay on the front patio and kids are allowed on both, but only until 8 p.m. Also, order at the bar. And don't bother calling the phone number—it works but goes straight to voicemail. Smoking is permitted on both patios.
Barometer: The food is vegan, thoughtfully prepared, and delicious. Try the Eastern Bowl (tofu, broccoli and sesame seeds with spicy peanut sauce) and wash it down with a pint of draft Anchor Steam or the Bye and Bye, a Mason jar filled with cranberry juice, peach vodka and peach bourbon.
The Bye and Bye, 1011 NE Alberta St., 503.281.0537
The Ecotrust Building is home to two Portland micro-chains, Hot Lips Pizza and Laughing Planet Café, as well as the new Red E Café coffee kiosk, and the three share the patio's nine picnic tables and eight four-seat tables. You may be surrounded by plenty of concrete, but both patios are located far from 9th Avenue traffic, and a garden of trees, shrubs and plants buffer your view of the building's parking lot.
Forecast: Your chances of finding a seat are good, but because the building is home to several businesses and organizations, lunches are busier.
SPF: There is no roof or portico, so if you're a sun worshipper, you'll get plenty of sunshine from the setting sun. But if you prefer shade, the tables on the Laughing Planet side each come with large umbrellas.
Advisory: Smoking is prohibited, but there is plenty of room for your leashed dog to stretch out, and kids, of course, are okay. Both restaurants even have high chairs to borrow.
Barometer: Laughing Planet prides itself on its burritos, so unwrap and have at the Holy Mole (chicken, pinto beans, brown rice, and jack cheese with pico de gallo and housemade mole) and wash it down with a local draft microbrew, sold in pints and pitchers. Hot Lips sells pizza by the slice and offers whole veggie, vegan and gluten-free pies. And, Hot Lips bottles its own sodas too. Add a scoop of ice cream and make it a float. Of course, you can always simply take a seat with a fine cappuccino from Red E and a good book.
Ecotrust Building, 721 NW 9th Ave.: HOTLIPS Pizza, 503.595.2342; Laughing Planet Café, 503.505.5020; Red E Café
Want more patios? Check out parts one and three.