When winter turns to spring, we all get giddy with the gorgeous weather.  Many of us get excited to be outdoors and experience hiking or biking.  But as always, one of my favorite things to do outdoors, is eat!  I dine out for lunch and dinner quite frequently, and each year when we turn the corner to spring, I love to meet friends at a restaurant with an outdoor patio or deck.

There are a gazillion places from which to choose, but I finally narrowed my list down to my TOP favorite spots for outdoor dining.  (You would not believe how many were on my original list!)  My list includes a mix of fine dining, family-friendly and casual dining. I put them in alphabetical order below and am not going to divide these up by city because I am encouraging you to get out of your standard circle of stops and venture to a new place!  Greensboro gals, check out some of these places in High Point!  High Point ladies, get your tush to Winston!  And Winston women, venture to these fab Greensboro finds.  It’s a great excuse to meet a friend for lunch whom you haven’t caught up with in a while!

Read below to find out more about my top picks (click on the name to visit each website) and choose one that appeals to you!  Sit on the patio, order yourself a tall cold one (whether that be sweet tea or a beer) bring the kids, or relish in some adult time, and enjoy!

1.)   Blue Water Grille – Definitely a date night spot, this is a perfect venue for those cool summer evenings where you can dine on the open air patio.  The food is extraordinary in every sense of the word as the menu includes entrees from BBQ Duck Confit  to Beef Tenderloin to Potato Crusted Salmon.  Enjoy your experience here at 126 East State Avenue, High Point.
2.)   Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill – One of the most unique things about Darryl’s is the way they treat the kids!  They get coloring sheets and stickers, plus a silly band, and a unique tour of the restaurant with photos!  You have to check it out for yourself to get the full experience.  One perk to their patio is that they have fire pits and heat lamps, so even if it isn’t the warmest weather, you can still enjoy sitting outdoors.  Located on High Point Road in Greensboro.
3.)   Emerywood Fine Foods – Located at 130 West Lexington Avenue in High Point, NC, this is one of my favorite outdoor patios due to the gorgeous flowers, ivy and wildflowers surrounding it.   I have taken many friends here when we do our fabric shopping in High Point.  (Check out my Best Kept Secrets blog for the skinny on that!) Their menu is extremely unique and I try something new each time I visit.  One of my favorites is “To Brie or Not to Brie.”
4.)   Fourth Street Filling Station – Official name is “The Old Fourth Street Filling Station.”  This patio is great for large groups, as they have ample seating.  Kids eat free on Mondays, and they currently have drink specials on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Located in downtown Winston-Salem, this is a great spot for lunch or dinner and is close to quite a few unique shopping stops as well.
5.)   Green Valley Grill – This fine dining restaurant was one of our top five nominees in our Choice Awards for the Best Place for a Ladies Lunch.  Luckily, it is located at Friendly Center in Greensboro, which is also on my list of my favorite shopping centers.   Win-win here, people!  Their courtyard has a pleasant atmosphere and includes heat lamps for those chilly evenings.  They also have an exceptional wine list, which features 50 wines by the glass.
6.)  Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches – Shameless plug here for those of you who know me well!  Jimmy John’s has super fresh sandwiches and the service is freaky fast!  Be sure to try the avocado spread on your sandwich.  I love it as an alternative to mayo.  As far as the outdoor seating, there are numerous locations within the Triad, but only a select few have a patio.  Wendover Ave in Greensboro is one of my favorites.  My kids and I have also started a tradition of picnicking in the grassy area in front of the Winston-Salem Stratford location.  I have a feeling if you go in there and tell them how nice a patio would be, they may add one!
7.)   Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery – Located at Mall Loop Road in High Point, this is a favorite for many locals.  It has a relaxed atmosphere and you will often hear cheers and yells from the bar area during football and basketball season.  Very family friendly, but also perfect for an adult night out.  Log on to their facebook page for the most recent brews, events and specials!
8.)   The Loop Pizza Grill – You can dine at two Triad are locations – South Main Street, Kernersville or Thruway Center in Winston-Salem.  The Loop was nominated in our Mom’s Choice Awards as one of the top five Kid-Friendly Restaurants in the Triad.  Not only is the menu kid-friendly, but the restaurant itself is very casual.  We love the patio area and meet friends here frequently.  The kids can relax and watch the action around them at Thruway Center as the adults catch up, too.  And if everyone is well-behaved … Oreo Milkshakes for dessert!
9.)   M’Coul’s Pub  – In the heart of downtown Greensboro, this is a friendly, laid-back pub with a wide variety of import drafts and food that does not fit the quintessential bar food!  You might be surprised by how tasty it can be!  Be sure to order one of their appetizers … they are awesome.  The patio here is open, spacious, and great for a cool summer evening!
10.)   Mellow Mushroom – This place has been a favorite of mine ever since I dined at the one in Boone back in my ASU days!  The pretzel knots alone keep me coming back, not to mention the wide variety of pizza, salads and sandwiches.  The downtown Winston-Salem location has a perfect space for dining “semi” outdoors with the glass doors open as you sit inside, or you may choose to sit along Fourth Street and watch all the passers-by.  Great venue for kids and adults.
11.)   Mi Pueblo – Or as we refer to it in my family, “The Pweeb.”    Love this place!  This is always our default dining locale because we know the entire family will find something they enjoy here.  As with most Mexican Restaurants, the chips and salsa are endless, which keeps the young ones happy.  There are ten locations in our area, which you can see here.  I have only dined at the Stratford Road, Winston-Salem location, but I can tell you that the patio is huge.  Great for larger parties, kids, etc.  It sits on Stratford Road, but the atmosphere is calming with their manmade creek running through the dining area.  The waitstaff is always extremely friendly, too.
12.)   Noble’s Grill – If you have not been to Noble’s in a while, you need to stop by!  What was once thought of as a restaurant where you would never take children or wear your jeans, it is now a casual dining experience with cuisine that is still fine-dining worthy!  I think the most appealing part of dining at Noble’s Grill is that you can order lunch and a beverage for less than $10, but can reach the other end of the spectrum with skillet seared fillet for dinner.  Children are welcome and are even invited to color their own rooster coloring page!  Enjoy your patio dining at the Winston-Salem Knollwood location.
13.)   Panera Bread – Ever since I began this website, Panera has become my new best friend.  This is the ideal place to gather for a meeting or find some quiet time to work.  Since there are about twelve locations  in the Triad, I am never at a loss of a suggestion when someone asks me where we can meet.  As far as I know, most Panera locations have some sort of outdoor dining area, and all are perfect for a business meeting or a bagel & chocolate milk with your little buddies as well.  Don’t forget to ask for the “My Panera” card!  You can earn lots of free goodies!
14.)   Southern Roots – The atmosphere alone can draw you to Southern Roots, but once you taste the food you will be hooked!  This restaurant is located in the quaint downtown area of Jamestown, NC.  If you have not been here yet, be sure to make an afternoon of it and pop in the shops along the main street.  Southern Roots supports local farmers, and all of the meals are packed with the freshest of ingredients.  Try the “Billy Bob” sandwich!  Wow!
15.)   Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro – Mozelle’s is located in downtown Winston-Salem and is a great spot to people watch as you dine on their outdoor patio or along the strip in front of the restaurant. They even provide blankets so that you can still dine outdoors even when it is a little chilly! I love everything on the menu, but one of my faves is the tomato pie. Be sure you give it a try!
16.)   The Village Tavern – There are two locations in Winston-Salem and one in Greensboro. The Hanes Mall location in Winston-Salem has a special treat with live music on the patio on select evenings. Check our event calendar for dates.  Although this restaurant won best Date Night in our Choice Awards, we frequent this locale with the children quite a bit and they never leave hungry!
17.)   Willow’s Bistro – A fairly new restaurant, this place won my heart the first time I dined here and ordered the purple sweet potatoes.  They taste completely different than the orange sweet potatoes, but are not always served, so cross your fingers and hope it is on the menu when you dine here!  Willow’s Bistro is next to the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem in the Historic Railroad Building.  (South Liberty Street)  The patio extends along the length of the front of the building and is an exquisite destination for a ladies lunch or couple’s night out.

Did I mention one of your favorites above?  When I  shortened my original list did I take out one of your favorites?  Share your comments below!