When a restaurant has a patio open for outdoor seating do you prefer it, or do you prefer to eat inside?
Certain conditions have to be met for me to sit at an outside table:
The weather must be pleasant (not too hot/cold, little wind)
No direct sun
There’s a view of something
It’s not close to the street
Some people I know love to eat outside, and they don’t seem to mind that the conditions aren’t perfect. I’ve often been the kill-joy in the group because I’ll be the only one who doesn’t want to sit at the outside table.
other than too hot/too cold, there are very few times that I won’t choose the outdoor table.
In the heat of a Florida summer, there really aren’t many places to eat that don’t have shade.
Do keep in mind that “perfect conditions” are by your definition, not everyone else’s. If I were in a big group and the only one who didn’t want to eat at a given table, I’d just suck it up and go with the flow, not make everyone else in the group step to MY definition of perfection.
Generally my preferences are the same as the OP, although I don’t care that much about a view. I really dislike eating outside in NYC, though, because EVERYTHING is near the street and noisy. If a place happens to have a backyard area off the street, though, I’m all about that.
My preference is usually outside unless the view is really objectionable or if weather conditions (too windy) cause problems. I’m happy to wear a sweater or jacket if it’s a little cool out. The al fresco dining season is too short here in PA – gotta take advantage of it while it lasts.
I also prefer eating outdoors when I’m at home, and this time of year we’re almost always outside for breakfast and dinner. I’ve often thought it feels a lot like being on vacation when I’m dining outside at home – the birds, the bullfrogs, the occasional deer – why stay inside and miss all that?
my only exception is if there’s a cigar smoker nearby – and I will go inside and wait until he (because it’s usually a guy) either finishes it or stubs it out. Not because I care if he’s smoking a cigar, but my lungs just stop working abruptly when I’m around cigars, so I’ll excuse myself, but not insist anyone else follow me. (I am allergic to them, and my reaction to them is asthmatic in that I simply cannot breathe any more – I don’t wheeze, I don’t cough – but I have to leave immediately, rummaging for my rescue inhaler as I bolt away)
Although i love eating outside there are a few dealbreakers for me, I really do need some sort of shade so my winter white self doesn’t burn to a crispy bit. And i am also in nyc where much of the outdoor seating is literally in the middle of the sidewalk and maybe ten feet or less from the traffic. Something about the honking, smell of exhaust and having stangers that walk by stare makes me less than enthusiastic about that option. When with a group I won’t be the stubborn one but i much prefer rooftops, enclosed patios, or gardens.
I will echo what others have said. We have 2 favorite restaurants where the attraction is the water- in one case, the Gulf of Mexico and an occasional dolphin sighting, and the other, the activity along the intra-coastal waterway. The shaded, tiki-bar shaded dock in each instance is a special place and a wonderful time. Over the weekend, we ate inside at a large deli-type restaurant where the food was delicious in every bite. Only on the way out did we notice some tables and chairs outside, almost hugging the sidewalk and baking in the mid-afternoon sun. They were empty. Our enjoyment of outdoor dining has nothing to do with 90 degree temps in Florida, but is more dependent on the view and, when available, the sea breeze.
Quite a few places in my section of Berkeley, CA have patios in back, and these are great retreats. We’ve had a string of unusually warm winters, and eating outside in the January sunshine is always remarkable to this East Coaster. On the other hand, right now on July 4th, the temperature is the same as it was on January 4th, 62F, and it’s too breezy to sit outside comfortably.
I love sitting outside, but I’m very picky. I am heat intolerant; I’ll eat outside when others think it’s too chilly, but rarely if it’s above the mid-80s. A lot of “outdoor” dining in my area is really "eating in the parking lot. However, on perfect days I will absolutely seek out the few spots that have pleasant outdoor patios/gardens/courtyards/decks (like CindyJ, I am in SE PA so the opportunities aren’t all that frequent).
Must be a SE PA thing because also like CindyJ we often eat outdoors at home. We have a very large outdoor patio that is screened in that we can enjoy without the bugs. Although in our case it’s the birds, squirrels, deer and occasional groundhog.
Usually, I prefer inside, but it really depends many things. First, it depends it is a good day outside, and second (probably more important), it depends if I had already been spending too much time indoor vs outdoor. If I have been in a 2-3 days indoor conference, then I probably will want to be seated outside even if the weather isn’t the best.