The summer of 2020 has been the summer where I do exactly none of the things that I enjoy about summer, and that absolutely includes drinking wine on as many restaurant patios as possible. (It also includes the College World Series and the Maha Music Festival, but I probably shouldn’t get started down this path.)
Anyhow. The patios on this list are my absolute favorites. They’re the places I wish I were spending the summer of 2020 instead of where I am mostly spending it, at my desk in the guest room of my apartment writing posts about the patios I wish I were sitting on.
I’ve also got a new recommendation for you: takeout in parks or green spaces. It’s a surprisingly good one, and hell, the least the summer of 2020 can do for us is give us one, small, socially distanced place to enjoy a meal and watch the sun set on another Saturday night.
At the end of my list, you’ll find more than 20 reader recommendations I received via email and social media from patio-loving Omahans. If your favorite is missing, let us know in the comments.
La Buvette, 511 S. 11th St.
My dearest La Buvette isn’t quite open yet. And while I have no official word on when it’s going to reopen, I know there’s work happening on the inside of the space. I walked by the other day and the grocery shelves, usually stocked with all sorts of goodies near the back coolers, were sitting outside, freshly painted. It looks like our love is getting a bit of a refresh. I’ll sit on the patio even if its 50 degrees by the time it reopens, just to spite this year.
The Trap Room, 733 N. 14th St.
You may have noticed that The Trap Room has stepped up its social media game considerably, and that’s likely thanks to the new owners who recently took it over. The Trap Room has always flown comfortably a tad below the radar, and that is one of my favorite things about it. That, and the reliably good drinks (including the Bloody Mary we called the best in the city) and its petite, cozy patio, which is now open. You can also check out the bar’s list of fun to-go cocktails and cocktail kits if you’re not quite ready to take off your sweatpants and socialize just yet.
Corkscrew Wine & Cheese, 10924 Prairie Brook Rd. & 3908 Farnam St.
Corkscrew just really knows how to do a good patio. Both of its locations have some of the most engaging patios around: fire pits, lots of trees, twinkle lights, comfortable seating, and, above all else, wine. Both locations are open for business inside and out, and even if it weren’t Covid Times, I’d suggest snagging that patio seat along with some snacks and a bottle of rosé. It’ll do you good.
Nite Owl, 3902 Farnam St.
Nite Owl has been one of our saviors during Covid Times. We have ordered several cheeseburgers with sides of tater tots and, of course, sampled from their ever-changing list of boozy slushies and on-tap cocktails. Nite Owl is the best kind of comfort food after a tough day, and its patio is small and cozy and a place I just generally really like hanging out. The patio is now open by reservation only (I’d not be surprised if it’s extremely booked) and reservations are limited to 75 minutes for parties smaller than seven. All the responsible changes the restaurant has made to ensure our safety are yours to read right here.
Krug Park, 6205 Maple St.
The patio at Krug is small and it has always been challenging to get a seat outside. I think that’s why I love it even more. Krug is known locally for its massive beer selection, but I have to say I’m more a fan of its cocktails, which are always seasonal, creative and delicious. The new setup includes four cocktails plus two rotating specials. The patio is open and has been arranged to accommodate social distancing. Krug has an extensive video on its Instagram account about all the safety measures it put into place before reopening, and you can read all about it here before you go.
Inner Rail Food Hall, 1911 S. 67th St., behind HDR
Matthew and I had a socially distanced lunch on the Inner Rail Food Hall patio — which is enormous! — earlier this week. The west wall of the hall becomes open-air in the summer, so even when we walked inside to order, it felt safer than being in a small space. The tables outside are spread far apart, so no one came near us, and all the restaurants and the central bar are open. I’ll have more coming soon on what we ate and some new dishes we got to sample from one of the Inner Rail vendors.
We’ve been spending a lot of time outside this summer, and one of our ideas early on was one we’d never explored before: the picnic. We’ve found several new favorite parks in our neighborhood and in midtown Omaha where all you have to do to dine alfresco is spread a blanket under a shady spot and eat your takeout. It’s fun. You can watch other people. You can chat. It’s almost as good as the real thing.
A whole slew of reader favorites
- Twisted Cork Bistro, 10730 Pacific St.
- J. Coco, 5203 Leavenworth St.
- Marks Bistro, 4916 Underwood Ave.
- Varsity, 144th and F Streets, Millard
- Beacon Hills, 6750 Mercy Rd.
- Lombardo’s, 13110 Birch Dr.
- Nicola’s, 521 S. 13th St.
- Upstream Brewing Company, 514 S. 11th St.
- Bella Vita Ristorante, 2620 N. Main St., Elkhorn
- M’s Pub, 422 S. 11th St.
- Jams, various locations, patios at the Old Market and west locations.
- Jimi D’s, 6303 Center St.
- Barchen Beer Garden, 6209 Maple St.
- Spezia, 3125 S. 72nd St.
- Jukes Ale Works, 20560 Elkhorn Dr., Elkhorn
- Roja Old Market, 1212 Harney St.
- Jaipur Brewing Company, 10922 Elm St.
- El Basha, 7503 Pacific St.
- Mantra Bar & Grille, 6913 Maple St.
- September’s Upscale, 11008 Prairie Brook Rd.
- Charlies on the Lake, 4150 S. 144th St.
Editor’s note: Some of the restaurants on this list remain temporarily closed because of COVID-19. Please call to double check hours of operation before you go.