Last week Matthew and I had dinner around 6:30 p.m. on a patio in West Omaha and, I’m not going to lie: it was cold. The patio didn’t have heaters. We were the only people outside. But it brought me to a realization: I can do several things as a diner to make my outdoor cool weather dining experiences a lot more pleasant this fall.
There’s been a lot of conversation lately about what restaurants are going to do as the temperatures cool and are faced with the challenge of keeping patios open. (We’re building a list of heated patios in Omaha.) But I also think the diner can do some things to make the experience more pleasant. I know I’m going to.
Inspired by this clever story, about how New Yorkers should stuff a lap blanket in their bag to dine out this fall, I’m giving you my own list of suggestions on how to make dining out this fall more pleasant, and even fun.
Warm socks and Ugg boots
Generally I am not a person who goes around town in Ugg boots (no offense if you are.) But last week, when I got to the restaurant, I had on a pair of loafers without socks. I swapped out for the pair of Uggs that happened to be hanging out in the back seat of my car, and wow, did it ever make a difference.
If you’re not going to invest in warm boots, I think a pair of warm wool socks would be another great solution. I like merino socks in particular, and ordered this set, which looks warm but not too thick.
An insulated jacket and a base layer
Usually in the fall, I’m all about the leather jacket, but this year, especially while dining outside, even my thickest leather jacket isn’t going to cut it.
I have a few puffy down vests, and one thin down puffer jacket, and when it’s around 50 degrees, a base layer, a sweater and one of those does the job. But as it gets colder, I’m going to need more than that. I think it’s finally the year to buy one of those insulated jackets that cover me from neck to ankles. I’ve got my eye on this one, even though I will most definitely look like I’m wearing a sleeping bag. Send recommendations!
BYOB: Bring your own Blanket
I think this is going to be the “BYOB” for fall dining, and that, of course, means bring your own blanket. I have lots of mid-weight pashminas that I use as blankets on planes, and I’ll always have one in my bag.
But if you want to level up, bring an extra tote and shove a blanket in it. I’ve already seen one woman doing it this season. She looked cozy, I have to say.
Hot food and red wine
So far I’ve ordered the Guinness beef stew you see above, a bowl of chili, a hot crab dip and several other hot foods, which are especially helpful to warm you up from the inside out when it’s a chilly day.
I also think a glass of red wine can go a long way toward warming one up, and it’s why I’ve fully pivoted from white wines and roses of summer to fuller bodied reds.
I’m calling it now: We’re going to see a lot of hot cocktails this fall. I’m looking forward to it!
If all else fails, get your own heater
I spent time last weekend at the fabric store buying several yards of fleece to make outdoor blankets using that simple knotted edge pattern (which took a lot longer than I anticipated, to be honest, but will be worth it later.)
Matthew and I also invested in a couple of outdoor heaters. We went with the Presto Heat Dish, which we’ve seen at many restaurants over the years, and they keep our outdoor space plenty warm and include many safety features that we feel comfortable with.
If you have a bigger outdoor space, we had one of these when we lived in a house, and it kept us (and friends) warm many a cooler evening.
Paired with some solid fleece or wool blankets and, of course, a whiskey drink or a red wine or a hot toddy, I’d say you’re set.