The Best Al Fresco Restaurants in America
A Lure Chowder House & Osteria
Southold, New York
This spot is nestled on the tip of Long Island’s North Shore, overlooking a quaint marina. If the soft sway of the docked ships isn’t mesmerizing enough, consider navigating the restaurant’s seafood-heavy menu that includes can’t-miss dishes like Thai chili shrimp and macadamia coconut-crusted flounder; 631-876-5300 or alurenorthfork.com.
Newport Coast, California
While this Crystal Cove hangout is revered for its breakfast menu, the view is just as big of a draw. Get comfortable at a beachside table, order up a stacked omelet or crab cake-laden eggs Benedict, and enjoy; 949-376-6900 or thebeachcombercafe.com.
Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar
Charleston, South Carolina
Snag a seat on the pierside deck of this Holy City eatery (reservations are recommended) for one of the best waterfront restaurant views in Charleston. The menu features a slew of coastal Southern fare, like fried flounder, shrimp and grits, and hush puppies filled with lobster; 843-722-8100 or fleetlanding.net.
George’s at the Cove
San Diego, California
Dubbed the Ocean Terrace, the rooftop restaurant at George’s boasts sprawling views of the palm tree-dotted Pacific coast and a California mod menu that complements the scenery. The fare has a fresh, healthy bent, with apps that range from hummus to ceviche, while the mains feature an assortment of seafood-centered dishes (think grilled Faroe Island salmon nestled over a bed of watercress, chermoula, and Anson Mills faro); 858-454-4244 or georgesatthecove.com.
It’s one thing to dine next to the water, but here, you can float directly atop Portland’s North Harbor while enjoying a honey sriracha chicken sandwich or basket of breaded oysters. The stunning backdrop of stately Mount Hood is the cherry on top of this al fresco gem; 503-283-0362 or islandcafepdx.com.
You’d be set with just about any view you can get on the Hawaiian Islands, but there’s a reason locals flock to this harborside haunt. Both an outdoor bar and full dining room offer breathtaking views of Maui’s coast, so you can watch the waves with a Mai Tai in hand, and plate of seared ahi at the ready; 808-661-4811 or kimosmaui.com.
Nantucket Sound is quite captivating as is, but this Cape Cod restaurant’s beach bar flaunts the best seats on the water. There, peruse a menu brimming with dishes like lobster rolls drizzled in lemon aioli, linguini tossed with garlic shrimp, and locally harvested Matunuck oysters; 508-394-0700 or oceanhouserestaurant.com.
Red Fish Grill
Maybe it’s the palm trees and calm waters of Biscayne Bay. Maybe it’s the fresh seafood menu showcasing everything from Caribbean Bouillabaisse with prawns and lobster to a pan-fried snapper glazed with a lemon ginger vinaigrette. No matter the reason, the allure of this glitzy hideaway is undeniable; 305-668-8788 or redfishgrill.net.
The Turtle Club
Beachfront hangs meet locally sourced seafood at this restaurant, situated in the Vanderbilt Beach Resort. There are plenty of signature platters to enjoy alongside the roar of the ocean, like the house lobster bisque with aged sherry, or a batch of coconut shrimp served with a citrus remoulade dipping sauce; 239-592-6557 or turtleclubnaples.com.
From the Adirondack chairs on Westward restaurant's waterfront patio, the view of the Seattle skyline across Lake Union is the only reminder of city life. If it weren't for that, diners might believe they were feasting on whole branzino with eggplant caponata or radishes cooked in goat butter somewhere in the Greek isles. "You can take a bite, close your eyes, and imagine being somewhere else," says chef Zoi Antonitsas of the "water-inspired" restaurant; westwardseattle.com.
Boathouse Restaurant and Bar
When it comes to water views in Stuart, it’s tough to beat the patio of this two-story restaurant and bar on the St. Lucie River. It gets major points for fun décor - you can dine at a custom-built boat table! - and for simple, fresh seafood paired with truly humongous cocktails. Located adjacent to the Stuart Riverwalk’s band and entertainment stage, it’s also a convenient stop before or after the Rock’n Riverwalk’s year-round free weekly concert; stuartboathouse.com.
Bucky’s Birdcage Lounge at the Grand Hotel
Point Clear, Alabama
The best spot to watch the sun set over the Mobile Bay is from the waterfront patio of Bucky’s. With lawn games for family fun and firepits for romantic lighting (or warmth when a chill comes in off the water), this is an easygoing spot to post up day or night; marriott.com.
Locals congregate around the fire pit and bocce court at the harborfront Bar Bocce patio for sourdough-crust pizzas and pitchers of sweet and tangy house sangria, but the best spot at this popular hangout may be on the restaurant's little strip of beach, where waiters deliver right to your blanket by the water; barbocce.com.
The Verandah at Ocean House
Watch Hill, Rhode Island
This historic Rhode Island beauty has been named our Best Beach Hotel in the World, and with good reason: It has stunning water views at every turn, and takes advantage of them with ultra-wide wraparound porches and well-appointed outdoor seating areas. In the summer months, the Verandah Raw Bar is the place to be. There’s nowhere better to feast on fresh local shellfish and creative ceviche dishes while staring out into the Atlantic and Little Narragansett Bay. It also offers a front row seat to the property’s legendary waterfront croquet court; oceanhouseri.com.