Where the Pros Dine Al Fresco

If you’re stuck inside a restaurant for up to 16 hours a day cooking and serving food to others, when you finally do get some time off, you’re going to want to see the light of day and enjoy a meal prepared by people who take as much pride in their job a

click to enlarge Dutch’s chef-approved charcuterie board
Dutch’s chef-approved charcuterie board

If you’re stuck inside a restaurant for up to

16 hours a day cooking and serving food to

others, when you finally do get some time off,

you’re going to want to see the light of day and enjoy a meal prepared by people who take as much pride in their job as you do. 

This is exactly why we asked some hard-working industry folks where they spend their warm-weather time dining so you too could enjoy an excellent meal out of doors.

Dutch’s

“Dutch’s gets my vote,” says Daniel Klemens, principal owner and CMO of Waterfields. “There’s something soothing about sitting out back on a cool night with wine, charcuterie and good company. The patio has a backyard neighborhood-type vibe.”

While the patio isn’t huge, it’s well-hidden from the noise of the street and features a bocce court and fire pits. As for food, the artisanal cheese and charcuterie boards are exactly what chefs want to snack on while enjoying Dutch’s gargantuan refrigerated beer selection and more than 200 wines available for carryout or enjoyment in-house. If you’re in search of a heavier meal, go for the rich and satisfying short-rib grilled cheese or the super-stacked muffuletta. 3378 Erie Ave., Oakley, 513-871-1446, dutchscincinnati.com.

Frida 602

“A shout out for the outdoor tables at Frida’s,” says Renee Schuler, chef and owner of eat well celebrations and feasts. “In addition to fantastic margaritas and killer queso, they offer corn hole and foosball to keep you entertained.”

This Covington spot, named after artist Frida Kahlo, serves authentic Mexican cuisine and is the second restaurant Otto’s chef Paul Weckman and his wife Emily run in MainStrasse. If you’re a fan of tequila, try a house cocktail made with close relative mezcal. 602 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-815-8736, facebook.com/frida602.

Hang Over Easy

When he’s not rolling meatballs, chef Jason Louda of Corryville’s Meatball Kitchen likes to hang with his pooch at the dog-friendly Hang Over Easy.

“The outdoor lounge is spacious and closed off from the street to maintain a certain level of intimacy,” he says.

With chef-friendly hours (the restaurant is open until midnight during the week and until 2:30 a.m. Friday through Sunday), this is also a great place for post-work drinks and grub for the industry crowd. 13 W. Charlton St., Corryville, 513-221-5400, hangovereasycincinnati.com.

The Littlefield

It’s not often that Sleepy Bee Café chef Frances Kroner gets a day off —she’s super busy overseeing the two Sleepy Bee locations (and soon to be three; there’s a new downtown location in the works). When she does have some free time, you might be able to catch her with kids and dog in tow on the giant patio at The Littlefield.

“Littlefield in Northside sets the bar for me,” she says. “Great food, amazing cocktails, kid- and dog-friendly, and they always have a great cocktail for a cause.”

Each month, The Littlefield features a new cocktail, and a portion of proceeds from the sale of the beverage go to a different nonprofit. This month it’s the “Julepalooza,” a white pepper and mint sorbet julep that benefits Building Value. 3934 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-386-7570, littlefieldns.com.

The Rookwood

Brad Gilpin, owner of Gilpin’s, Hunter Hebert, owner of Tiger Dumpling, Lee Ann Kiser, server at Nicola’s and many others are huge fans of The Rookwood.

“Joe Creighton (owner) got it right with The Rookwood,” says Hebert.

Swings, fire pits, cocktails and chef Jackson Rouse’s cuisine — think beer-friendly appetizers like Devilish Eggs, Hanky Pankys and Buffalo Cracklins — on the freshly refurbished deck with a stellar city view make this one of the most popular places for restaurant folks to dine when they’ve got some free time. 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-421-5555, therookwood.com.

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