This list is from 2016. See our updated list right here!
Photos by Chad Ulam. (Feature photo is Lucrezia, Chesterton)
Here in the dunes, we love our summers. When the weather is nice, we want to be outside as much as possible – even while dining. Dig the Dunes decided to do a little research on the best outdoor dining decks in the area (and we enjoyed every bite of it!). There were so many to choose from, but with the help of our social media followers, we decided the restaurants listed below were definitely in our top 20. Each of these offered something unique, delicious food & drink, and all a great experience. Read up…and eat up. Cheers!
(in no particular order)
Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill* (Beverly Shores). At Bartlett’s you will find casual dining, great drinks, live music on occasion, and Buckin’ Good Bloody Mary’s. The outdoor deck is contained, comfortable and even has a children’s play area in the back so that adults can enjoy a quiet meal. DF
Lucrezia* (Chesterton & Crown Point). Want to feel like you are dining in an Italian trattoria? Lucrezia is where to go! Amazing Italian food, delicious drinks and an intimate and beautiful garden in which to enjoy your meal.
Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill
Overboard at the Marina (Michigan City). Located in the old Yacht Club, at Overboard you will dine on a deck overlooking the Michigan City harbor. Overboard has an outdoor tiki bar, live music on weekends and a nice casual menu. DF
Duneland Pizza (Chesterton). Want to enjoy your pizza on an outdoor deck? Head to Duneland Pizza! They are currently building a new deck and will be ready for summer. This long standing pizza parlor is known for their delicious pizzas. The deck is casual, comfortable, and the perfect spot to watch folks stroll down Broadway.
Fiddlehead (Michigan City). Located right in the heart of the uptown arts district, this relatively new restaurant is in the perfect spot to do some serious people watching! Head down on a First Friday, grab a table located in the front of the restaurant and enjoy dinner and drinks while watching the crowds pass by. DF
Fire & Water (Michigan City). Fire & Water got a late start last year, not opening until August, but this year they will be ready to go full time come Memorial Day weekend. There is no other spot in the area where you can sit right off the beach or on the rooftop deck and watch the sunset. This is a concession stand and a whole lot more. Wonderful food created by Mohamed Mroueh and beer and wine to boot! Fire & Water offers many events, so be sure to like them on Facebook to see what is being offered.
Latitudes at Marina Shores (Portage). Just across from Ogden Dunes along Hwy. 12 is Latitudes. A gorgeous restaurant with a deck that overlooks Marina Shores. Watch the boats come in as you sip on a cocktail or dine on some fresh fish. Live music on occasion. The Beach House, located downstairs, is more casual and is DF
Lemon Tree (Chesterton). Looking for a quick meal to enjoy outside? Head to Lemon Tree. This unique spot offers mediterranean fare that you order at a counter. Pick your meat, veggies or fixings, grab a soda or beer and head on out. The deck offers a great view of bustling Chesterton and the food is delicious. DF
Fire & Water. Located on the beach in Michigan City.
Spire Farm to Fork (Laporte). Spire’s deck overlooks the beautiful Legacy Hills golf course. Chef Brad Hindsley prepares delicious menus that change depending on what is fresh at that time. It’s quiet, refined and a gorgeous spot to dine.
Wagners Ribs (Porter). Wagner’s deck is tucked out back and many don’t even know it’s there! Once you walk outside, you feel like you are in a different world. Enclosed, it’s a large space, yet remains cozy. The ribs are delicious and there’s always a great beer on tap.
Bridges (Michigan City). At Bridges you can hang out on the deck and watch the Bridge turn when the train comes. There is also an amazing selection of beer, great food and downstairs the kids can even feed the ducks! DF
Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizzeria (Michiana Shores). Hidden away in Michiana Shores is stop 50 pizza. This fresh, local pizza shop offers unique pizzas in a small, yet quaint side patio. Get away from the hustle and bustle and feel like you are on vacation.
Sage (Valparaiso). There is so much outdoor dining to choose from in downtown Valpo, but we decided to highlight Sage. Chef Joe Gaal can always be found in the kitchen cooking up something delicious, and this spot just off the square, is perfect to people watch. DF
Wells Street Beach (Miller). Located on the beach in Miller, this concession is a hidden gem. Find burgers, beer and a great place to sit and relax after taking a stroll down the beach. Lots to see, especially on weekends!
Tree House Cafe (Michigan City). At Tree House Cafe, you are not just dining, you are playing! Volleyball nets, obstacles for kids, ping pong, whiffleball and an outside bar all make up this casual dining spot.
Bentwood Tavern (New Buffalo). As we head into New Buffalo for these next few restaurants, you will feel like you are truly on vacation. Bentwood offers fine dining and a beautiful view. This artisan comfort cuisine hits the spot when looking out at the beautiful marina and waterfront. DF
Stray Dog (New Buffalo). Looking for some fun and a big crowd? Head to Stray Dog and hit the upstairs rooftop deck. It’s always a good time and the food hits the spot after a day at the beach.
Brewster’s (New Buffalo). Brewster’s offers a quieter spot to eat in New Buffalo. The garden is gorgeous and the food is amazing. Want to impress your date? Head to Brewster’s!
Casey’s (New Buffalo). Our last stop in New Buffalo is Casey’s. This spot features hand cut steaks and chops and a bar with a huge selection of Michigan beer. The outdoor patio is out back with a small bar and lots of seating.
Greenbush (Sawyer). This popular brewery offers outdoor dining as well. Expect a crowd, but also some of the best beer and food in SW Michigan. The annex is located across the street and offers additional outdoor seating. DF, but outside fence
Greenbush Brewery in Sawyer, Michigan
With so many options to choose, we know we missed many, like the strip of restaurants in downtown Porter (which are always bustling on summer weekend nights!) and the triangle in Miller beach which includes Flamingo, Miller Vintage Kitchen and Beach Cafe. Feel free to add any additional places in the comments below!
* In an online Twitter poll, Bartlett’s and Lucrezia tied for first place as the premiere outdoor dining spot in the area.
DF = Dog Friendly
THIS LIST IS FROM 2016. SEE OUR UPDATED 2017 LIST RIGHT HERE!