Six of our favorite patios for summertime dining

Story by G.A. Benton l Photos by Will Shilling

Everybody wants to eat outside this time of year, and why not? It's a "carpe diem" kind of thing for an overworked society toiling away indoors and tethered to technology.

Luckily for a landlocked city in the Midwest, we're blessed with plenty of scenic restaurant porches and patios. There we can catch liberating breaths of fresh air while digging into memorable dishes and captivating settings.

So why not unhook yourself from the chattering Twitterverse for a bit and take advantage of these terrific al fresco specialists? This weather's not going to last forever, you know.

Bel Lago

The patio:

Above is a shade-granting awning equipped with gently spinning fans. Below are pleasant, unshaky tables. And stretching out before you is a mirage-like boundless horizon-sky merging with the boat-etched expanse of placid liquid mirror that is Hoover Reservoir.

The plates:

Bel Lago serves midscale Italian-American fare with an emphasis on fresh pastas, like a skillful spaghetti and meatballs. Other nice picks are the Italian Wedding Soup, steaks and Italian Beef Sandwich.

Barcelona

The patio:

Snazzy and secluded, Barcelona's urban and urbane patio is the most famous in Columbus. And no wonder-it's a stunner. Lush flowers and foliage sprout from potted plants and sway from shady trees amidst a tall privacy wall and cedary wood. At night, seductive lighting flickers from romantic, old-timey lanterns.

The plates:

Barcelona's Spanish tapas platters and paellas are their specialties, but give the lamb shank (Cordero) and Tres Cerdos (three pork entree) a shot, too.

Cabo Cocina

The patio:

Hanging out from this comfy stone-lodge-riffing restaurant is Cabo's chocolate-brown wooden deck. It's a foresty perch providing an unrivaled, nest-like vista hovering high near the dense treetops lining the Scioto River where the water snakes its way from Dublin. Spiky, Southwestern-style plants hint at Cabo's flavors.

The plates:

Cabo's Mexi-Caribbean cuisine includes some interesting, non-traditional dishes like their unique Sweet Plantains, Spicy and Crunchy Tilapia, and Jerk Chicken Chili Relleno.

Lindey's

The patio:

Lindey's titillating black-and-brick-themed patio exudes a casual elegance. It's super sharp, with a gazebo-like bar trimmed in black and copper, a gaze-worthy black three-tiered fountain and lots of handsome plants. A fountain-matching fence encloses this cocktail playground but doesn't seal off Lindey's lovely German Village neighborhood.

The plates:

Lindey's excels at lusty bistro dishes like lobster bisque, chopped salad, terrific crabcakes and tournedos in bearnaise sauce.

Mezzo

The patio:

Ducks blithely slice Vs through the greenish ripples of Big Walnut Creek. On another side of Mezzo's ravishing patio, manmade waterworks geyser up in spurts. A patio fire pit wards off the evening chill as patrons on nifty sofas and wicker chairs leisurely sip wine, surrounded by sculpted bushes and fragrant flowers.

The plates:

For a substantial shared snack, go for the gigantic Mezzo Trio (a combo of mozzarella fritters, braised meatballs and prosciutto-wrapped scallops). Also nice are the arugula salad and pizzas, like the meaty Raguso.

Eleven

The patio:

Eleven's colossal column arcade on "the Cap" rhymes with the nearby city arch proclaiming "Short North." The party-people-watching patio there flaunts posh indoor-worthy couches and furniture, plus a granite bar jutting out from the bar inside. Dramatic blue drapes dangle regally from Eleven's mammoth Cap columns.

The plates:

Eleven's tapas-y menu shows its Hyde Park lineage with steaky Angus Sliders. Likewise good: tuna carpaccio, pork sliders, ginger calamari.