The Best outdoor seating restaurants in Grand Rapids, Mi

Best Outdoor Dining Spots in Grand Rapids, Michigan: A Foodie’s Guide to open air Eating


Introduction: Embracing Outdoor Dining in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan, known for its vibrant food scene and craft breweries, offers an array of delightful outdoor dining options. As the weather warms up, locals and visitors alike flock to restaurants with patios, rooftops, and sidewalk seating to enjoy the city’s culinary delights in the open air. This comprehensive guide will take you through the best places to eat with outdoor seating in Grand Rapids, ensuring your al fresco dining experience is nothing short of spectacular.

Riverside Retreats: Dining with a View

Grand Rapids’ location along the Grand River provides some of the most scenic outdoor dining spots in the city. Here are some top picks for riverside eating:

1. City Built Brewing Company

Located in the Monroe North district, City Built Brewing Company offers a vibrant outdoor dining experience that combines craft beer, Puerto Rican-inspired cuisine, and a lively atmosphere.

What to Try:

– Empanadillas: Traditional Puerto Rican turnovers with various fillings
– Pernil: Slow-roasted pork shoulder with arroz con gandules
– Prague Underground: Their popular Czech dark lager

Why It’s Special:

City Built’s outdoor seating area provides a unique urban oasis in the heart of Grand Rapids. The spacious patio features a mix of high-top tables and comfortable lounge seating, perfect for both casual drinks and full meals. Strings of lights overhead create a warm, inviting ambiance as the sun sets.
What sets City Built apart is its fusion of craft beer culture with Puerto Rican flavors. This unexpected combination is reflected in both their food menu and their beer offerings. The outdoor space becomes a cultural melting pot where patrons can enjoy innovative brews alongside traditional Puerto Rican dishes, all while taking in views of the Grand Rapids skyline.
During the warmer months, City Built often hosts outdoor events on their patio, including live music performances and beer release parties. This adds an extra layer of excitement to the dining experience, making it a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike.

2. Linear Restaurant

Located in the trendy Downtown Market, Linear Restaurant boasts a beautiful outdoor seating area overlooking the river.

What to Try:

– Linear Catch: Fresh fish of the day with seasonal vegetables
– Market Pizza: Topped with ingredients sourced from the Downtown Market
– Craft Cocktail Flight: Sample their innovative drink menu

Why It’s Special:

The combination of farm-to-table cuisine and riverside views makes Linear a must-visit for outdoor dining enthusiasts.

Rooftop Rendezvous: Dining Above the City

For those who prefer a bird’s-eye view of Grand Rapids, these rooftop restaurants offer exceptional outdoor dining experiences:

1. Haute Rooftop Bar

Perched atop the AC Hotel, Haute offers panoramic views of downtown Grand Rapids.

What to Try:

– Charcuterie Board: Perfect for sharing while enjoying the view
– Haute Cocktail: Their signature drink changes seasonally
– Rooftop Sliders: Mini burgers with gourmet toppings

Why It’s Special:

The sleek, modern design of Haute combined with its stunning views makes it one of the most sought-after outdoor dining spots in the city.

2. Mertens Rooftop

Located atop the historic New Hotel Mertens, this rooftop restaurant offers panoramic views of downtown Grand Rapids.

mertens rooftop

What to Try:

– Moules Frites: Classic Belgian-style mussels and fries
– Croque Monsieur: A gourmet take on the French sandwich
– Rooftop Spritz: Their signature cocktail, perfect for warm evenings

Why It’s Special:

Mertens Rooftop combines French-inspired cuisine with stunning city views, creating a sophisticated outdoor dining experience.

Sidewalk Cafes: Urban Al Fresco Dining

Experience the buzz of city life while dining outdoors at these popular sidewalk cafes:

1. Bistro Bella Vita

This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant offers a spacious sidewalk patio in the heart of downtown.

What to Try:

– Wood-Fired Pizza: Crispy thin crust with fresh toppings
– Bella Vita Pasta: House-made pasta with seasonal sauces
– Aperol Spritz: The perfect summer cocktail

Why It’s Special:

Bistro Bella Vita’s outdoor seating area allows diners to enjoy gourmet cuisine while people-watching in the bustling downtown area.

2. The Green Well

Located in the charming East Hills neighborhood, The Green Well’s sidewalk seating is perfect for casual outdoor dining.

What to Try:

– Green Well Mac & Cheese: A gourmet take on the comfort food classic
– Michigan Salad: Featuring local produce and cherry vinaigrette
– Craft Beer Flight: Sample some of Michigan’s best brews

Why It’s Special:

The Green Well’s commitment to sustainability and local sourcing shines through in their outdoor dining experience, offering a true taste of Grand Rapids.

Beer Garden Bonanza: Outdoor Dining with Craft Brews

Given Grand Rapids’ reputation as Beer City USA, it’s no surprise that some of the best outdoor dining can be found at local breweries:

1. Founders Brewing Co.

This world-renowned brewery features a spacious beer garden perfect for outdoor dining and drinking.

What to Try:

– Beer Cheese Dip: Made with their famous All Day IPA
– Founders Devil Dancer Sandwich: A spicy chicken sandwich that pairs well with their beers
– Seasonal Beer Flight: Try their latest brews

Why It’s Special:

Founders’ outdoor space often features live music, creating a lively atmosphere for enjoying great food and world-class beer.

Grand Woods Lounge

Nestled in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, Grand Woods Lounge offers a unique outdoor dining experience with its expansive, forest-themed patio.

Grand Woods Lounge

What to Try:

– Woods Burger: A hearty burger topped with their signature sauce
– Bonfire Nachos: A crowd-pleasing appetizer perfect for sharing
– Woodsman’s Mule: Their twist on the classic Moscow Mule

Why It’s Special:

Grand Woods Lounge’s outdoor seating area is a hidden oasis in the city, featuring lush greenery, a waterfall, and twinkling lights that create a magical ambiance. The spacious patio is divided into different sections, offering both intimate nooks for quiet conversations and larger areas for group gatherings.
The rustic, cabin-like decor extends to the outdoor space, making diners feel as if they’ve been transported to a woodland retreat. Fire pits scattered throughout the patio add warmth on cooler evenings, allowing for comfortable outdoor dining well into the fall season.
Grand Woods Lounge is also known for its extensive drink menu, featuring craft cocktails and a wide selection of local beers. The combination of creative drinks, satisfying pub fare, and the enchanting outdoor setting makes it a popular spot for both after-work drinks and weekend brunches.

Park-Side Patios: Dining in Nature

For those who prefer a more natural setting, these restaurants offer outdoor seating near some of Grand Rapids’ beautiful parks:

1. Rose’s on Reeds Lake

Situated on the shores of Reeds Lake, Rose’s offers stunning water views from its expansive patio.

What to Try:

– Lakeshore Perch: Locally sourced fish with a view to match
– Rose’s Famous Olive Burger: A Grand Rapids classic
– Sunset Sangria: Perfect for sipping as the sun goes down over the lake

Why It’s Special:

The combination of lakeside views and proximity to Reeds Lake Park makes Rose’s a top choice for nature lovers.

2. The Sovengard

Located near Millennium Park, The Sovengard’s biergarten offers a unique outdoor dining experience.

What to Try:

– Smørrebrød: Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches
– Pork Schnitzel: A crowd-pleaser with seasonal sides
– Nordic G&T: Their twist on the classic gin and tonic

Why It’s Special:

The Sovengard’s commitment to Nordic-inspired cuisine and sustainability is reflected in their beautiful outdoor space, which often hosts community events.

Neighborhood Gems: Local Favorites with Outdoor Seating

Explore Grand Rapids’ diverse neighborhoods through these beloved local eateries with outdoor seating:

1. Brewery Vivant

Housed in a former funeral home in the East Hills neighborhood, Brewery Vivant offers a unique outdoor dining experience in their courtyard.

What to Try:

– Duck Confit Nachos: A gourmet take on the pub classic
– Farm Hand Cheese Plate: Featuring local artisanal cheeses
– Belgian-style Beer Flight: Sample their unique brews

Why It’s Special:

Brewery Vivant’s courtyard feels like a secret European hideaway, perfect for enjoying their Belgian-inspired beers and farm-to-table cuisine.

2. Donkey Taqueria

This popular Eastown spot offers a vibrant patio perfect for enjoying tacos and margaritas.

What to Try:

– Street Tacos: Choose from a variety of traditional and innovative fillings
– Elote: Mexican street corn with a spicy kick
– House Margarita: Made with fresh-squeezed lime juice

Why It’s Special:

Donkey’s colorful patio captures the essence of a Mexican cantina, providing a lively atmosphere for outdoor dining.

Seasonal Delights: Pop-Up Outdoor Dining Experiences

Grand Rapids embraces the changing seasons with unique pop-up outdoor dining experiences:

1. Downtown Street Eats

During the summer months, various food trucks gather in downtown Grand Rapids, offering a diverse range of cuisines with plenty of outdoor seating.

What to Try:

– Varies by truck, but always features local favorites and innovative new concepts

Why It’s Special:

Downtown Street Eats provides a constantly changing outdoor dining experience, allowing you to sample different cuisines each visit.

2. Winter Wonderland Igloos

Several Grand Rapids restaurants offer heated igloo dining experiences during the colder months, allowing for a unique outdoor dining option year-round.

What to Try:

– Seasonal menus often feature warm, comforting dishes perfect for cold weather

Why It’s Special:

These cozy igloos provide a magical outdoor dining experience even in the midst of Michigan winters.

Tips for Enjoying Outdoor Dining in Grand Rapids

Check restaurant websites or call ahead for outdoor seating availability
Consider making reservations for popular spots, especially on weekends
Dress in layers, as Michigan weather can be unpredictable
Be prepared for seasonal changes in outdoor dining options
Try visiting during off-peak hours for a more relaxed experience

Conclusion: Savor the Flavors of Grand Rapids in the Open Air

Grand Rapids, Michigan, offers a diverse and exciting outdoor dining scene that caters to all tastes and preferences. From riverside retreats and rooftop rendezvous to sidewalk cafes and beer gardens, the city’s restaurants have embraced al fresco eating with enthusiasm and creativity.
As you explore the outdoor dining options in Grand Rapids, you’ll not only taste the flavors of the city but also experience its vibrant culture and beautiful surroundings. Whether you’re a local looking to rediscover your city or a visitor eager to sample the best of Grand Rapids’ culinary offerings, these outdoor dining spots provide the perfect setting for memorable meals and moments.
So, gather your friends and family, soak up the sun (or stars), and enjoy the best outdoor dining that Grand Rapids has to offer. Bon appétit and cheers to dining in the fresh air of Beer City USA!