Nothing screams summertime as loudly as a relaxed afternoon or pleasant evening on a great patio. Open air, a mix of sun and shade, tasty food and cool drinks are a recipe that delivers every time. Many of Salt Lake's most welcoming neighborhoods each have their share of fantastic patios, including a few you may not have tried yet. Treasure the summer weather before it leaves by checking out our picks for five of the best patios in the valley!
Arlo – Capitol Hill271 N. Center St.
Salt Lake City, 84103 385.266.8845
Brand new to the local restaurant scene is Arlo, a seasonal-produce-driven restaurant from Chef and Salt Lake native Milo Carrier. Arlo may have inherited its amazing patio in the mostly residential Capitol Hill neighborhood from comfortable mainstay Em's, but with an updated kitchen and fresh feel, the outdoor dining experience gets even better! A large trellis overgrown with grape vines into a welcoming canopy plus a veritable wall of vegetation on the street side make this deck feel isolated and special. Additional shade from suncovers on tension cables and a balcony railing allow you to take advantage of your elevation and drink in the view.
The weather isn't the only thing that makes summer at Arlo amazing; the focus on seasonal vegetables and fruits means the menu changes constantly, using whatever's fresh to accent staple dishes like pizza and house-made pastas. Even the cocktails are daily preparations, listed only by their primary spirit and rotating quickly. Don't miss the Heirloom Braised Beans & Clams ($19), a mix of carefully prepared legumes, tender clams, herby ham broth and crunchy breadcrumbs for texture. The Beet Tartine ($10) that I tried during one visit featured local bread covered in refreshing goat yogurt, smoked beats and colorful chicories. Every visit to this incredible patio is unique and unforgettable.
Hopkins Brewing Company – Sugar House1048 E. 2100 South
Salt Lake City, 84106
Summer wouldn't be complete without bike-ride visits to local breweries for a craft beer in the open air, and Hopkins Brewing Company is one of the best. This small operation produces all their beer in a modest space directly below the dining room, with the brewhouse visible over a balcony. The small patio sits right outside these windows on the Sugar House Monument Plaza that comprises the very center of the bustling Sugar House neighborhood, offering drinkers some amazing people-watching. Umbrellas and the buildings themselves provide ample shade, and there's plenty of space for a round of whatever board game you pull from the stack inside.
The stars here are, of course, the array of craft brews with innovative techniques and unique ingredients brewed by Owner Chad Hopkins and his team. Try the Old Merchant Cream Ale on nitro or the Friendly Introduction Pale Ale, or go for more exotic faire like the Raspberry Gose or the Twilight Saison. Even more exciting, every other Friday, Hopkins does a Small Batch Sample Night where a handful of nano-batches are offered in small pours, which show off the brewery’s creative side. The kitchen shouldn't be left out either, whether for meals like the Carne Asada Tacos ($14), or classic bar snacks like Fried Pickle Chips ($6) or the Nashville Cracklins ($4). Regardless of what you order, relax on this patio and watch the district amble by with a beer in hand.
Finca – 15th & 15th1513 E. 1500 South
Salt Lake City, 84105
Finca was a well-loved Spanish-style tapas concept from well-respected Pago restaurant owner Scott Evans. After two previous locations in SLC closed, the restaurant was recently resurrected at a new location that happens to have one of the best patios in the state. Hidden down a tunnel-like entrance in the middle of the 15th & 15th commercial district, this private and secluded outdoor-dining area lets you get away from the busy feel of the city and the heat of the day. Plenty of shade and vegetation makes it perfect for afternoon lunches as it stays pleasantly cool, while dinners take on a romantic feel, complemented by candlelight.
The menu varies between lunch, dinner, and brunch, but always presents a wide variety of Spanish- and North African-inspired dishes of various sizes, from pintxos to platos. If you stop by for lunch, don't miss the Bikini Bocadillo ($14), a skinny pressed sandwich of manchego cheese and pork light enough to leave room for more. Great anytime are Finca's take on Elotes ($7), de-cobbed corn with sour cream and smoked paprika or the Tosta de Boquerone ($8), a piece of grilled bread heaped with avocado, white anchovies and imported sherry vinegar. And that's just scratching the surface. The tapas style of dining allows for a slow but seemingly never-ending parade of dishes, allowing you to relax for hours with a glass of wine or chilled Spanish cider.
Nohm – Central Ninth165 W. 900 South Salt Lake City, 84101 T. 801.917.3812
Another new addition to the Salt Lake restaurant scene is Nohm, a Japanese-style izakaya from Chef David Chon in the heart of Central Ninth. The patio here opens up onto a busy area of 900 South packed with restaurants and other small businesses and directly abuts hip cocktail bar Water Witch's small outdoor area. Perfect for enjoying either the more casual lunch menu or the more small-plate-focused dinner menu, Nohm's patio is like its interior, spartan and comfortable.
For lunch, don't miss the Chicken Katsu Set ($11), with super-crispy chicken cutlet and house tonkatsu sauce, or the Stir-Fried Udon ($10) with perfectly tender shrimp and bonito shavings that makes the dish seem alive when it arrives. For dinner, the possibilities seem endless! Pair the exceptional selection of imported sakes and sochus with round after round of yakitori skewers, piles of fresh sashimi or perfectly composed larger plates. The idea here is Japanese-style drinking food, and it's way too easy to spend hours at Nohm in the cool evening sampling fresh fish, grilled meats and artisan rice wine.
Eva – Downtown317 S. Main St. Salt Lake City, 84111 T. 801.359.8447
The patio at Eva is almost a secret weapon, hidden down a long hallway behind the main dining room and kitchen. It's a narrow space with high brick walls graced by remnant scraps of graffiti and a few potted plants. The setting insulates you from the constant noise and movement of Main Street right outside the front door. This makes it feel unique and special, even being tightly packed with tables and diners. The light wooden frame even supports a metal roof that, along with radiant heat lamps and even a fireplace, makes this the only patio on this list that's open year-round.
Whatever the season, Eva's selection of Mediterranean-influenced small plates makes for a satisfying and eclectic meal. Chef Charlie Perry took inspiration from his great-grandmother and her comfort-food standards, which lean somewhat Greek, like the unique interpretation of a Spanikopita ($8) or the Grilled Lamb Chops ($15) with a side of refreshing yogurt and cucumber salad. Also not to be missed is the Bread and Butter ($3), featuring fresh bread from sister establishment Eva's Bakery just down the street. The in-house slate oven elevates pizzas like the classic Eva's Pie ($10), featuring three cheeses, sausage and arugula, or a simple Flatbread ($10) served with house-made dips, while the menu also rotates to show off different influences like the Togarashi Fried Chicken ($14). With so many options, the temptation is, again, to relax and soak in the atmosphere in this comfortable retreat of a patio.
Wherever you travel in Salt Lake City and whatever your desire, there's a patio to satisfy your needs. Long, relaxing evenings or quick lunches safe from the summer heat both benefit from an outdoor setting, good company and cool drinks. There are far too many options to really do justice to here, and we hope you enjoy these five picks of some of the best patios and outdoor dining in town!