After a year of literal and emotional hibernation, it feels like the sun is coming up for the first time.
That means it’s patio time in the Triangle.
Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon for the first time, the Triangle is likely in search of a drink.
For this first brush with patio weather and the, hopefully, winding down pandemic, here are some of the Triangle’s best outdoor spaces to for snacks, meals, cocktails and beer.
401 E. Main St., Carrboro. 984-999-4357 or 401main.com
Billed as a dog-friendly dive bar, this spot straddles the thin line between Chapel Hill and Carrboro, with a row of tables and a shady patio offering a view of Main Street.
316 W. Geer St., Durham. 984-569-2003 or instagram.com/accordionclub
Strings of Chinese lanterns swing over picnic tables in the backyard patio of this Durham dive bar, which boasts some of the Triangle’s best hot dog chili and an encyclopedic menu of cheap American lagers.
Bond Brothers Beer Co.
202 E. Cedar St., Cary 919-459-2670 or bondbrothersbeer.com
In the heart of downtown Cary, Bond Brothers is one of North Carolina’s most acclaimed breweries. Its wide brick patio is strung with lights and spaced-out tables.
427 W. Main St., 919-682-3061 or bullmccabesirishpub.com
This Irish bar keeps a grassy patch of picnic tables in the heart of downtown Durham, which, pandemic or not, has long been one of the Triangle’s best spots for an outdoor drink.
610 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill. 919-929-7643 or crookscorner.com
Tucked amidst walls of bamboo and dozens of plants, this legendary Southern restaurant keeps a well-tended garden oasis, serving famous bowls of shrimp and grits in a world that seems very far from Franklin Street. What it understands most about seasonal eating is the seasonality of the soul.
Downtown Durham, downtowndurham.com/streetery
On March 19-20, Durham is bringing back its Streetery, the downtown outdoor dining district created last fall during the pandemic. More than a dozen bars and restaurants, many without full-time outdoor seating, will set up tables outside for the weekend. This time, there will be buskers as well, and locations are expected to move through downtown this spring.
726 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. 919-438-2337 or fullsteam.ag
Fullsteam, perhaps Durham’s best known brewery, helped make the Geer Street District the night-life scene it is today. There’s a courtyard beer garden just outside the taproom, but the coveted spots are the tables along Rigsbee Avenue that seem like front row seats to the city’s sunsets — if beer and sunsets are your thing.
910-B W. Main St., Durham. 919-390-2338 or facebook.com/gojobygoorsha
Essentially the backyard of Ethiopian restaurant Goorsha, this coffee shop and afternoon hang space has been discovered by many remote working folks finding a shady spot to take a laptop.
2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham. 919-401-2600 or guglhupf.com
Guglhupf, the ultimate beer garden, has reigned as one of the Triangle’s few German restaurants for more than 20 years. Its popular patio, done up in industrial chic wrought iron artwork, took on a new life in the pandemic, but remains an idealized spot for schnitzel and crispy German lagers.
317 S. Harrington St., Raleigh.
919-829-9222 or humblepierestaurant.com
A Raleigh classic, this Warehouse District spot has a beloved and breezy patio and always-in-season margaritas.
703 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. 919-294-9661 or instagram.com/kotukusurfclub
In the Before Times, this Durham bar bustled with a packed backyard and active bocce courts. Today its picnic tables remain a constant refuge for those seeking a shot and a beer or one of the city’s best taplists.
1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Raleigh
919-424-7533 or lynnwoodgrill.com
This brewery taproom and diner mashup join in the middle with a bustling and dog-friendly patio in Raleigh Dock 1053 development.
411 W. Morgan St., Raleigh. 919-307-4481 or morganfoodhall.com
At the center of Raleigh’s first food hall is a large outdoor bar, shaded with a pergola and trees and anything you’d care to drink.
723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. 919-901-0875 or motorcomusic.com
While live music is on hiatus, Motorco flung open its giant windows and put tables on the dance floor. Beyond the bands, the patio has always been Motorco’s draw, lit by strings of lights and stocked with a dozen long tables. For COVID business, Motorco perfected contactless ordering, putting everything online.
309 N. Dawson St., Raleigh. 919-838-8595 or mulinoraleigh.com
Order an Aperol spritz, and don’t jump in the pool of this Italian garden at the gateway to downtown Raleigh.
5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham. 919-251-9794 or namudurham.com
Carrying the torch of the former Straw Valley art campus, the owners of Bulkogi, a Korean food truck, keep a kind of paradise just off the highly trafficked Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard. This garden of bamboo ebbs and flows throughout the day, starting as a morning coffee shop and morphing into an outdoor beer hall serving bibimbap and craft beer. Namu is the stuff of outdoor dining dreams.
301 Glenwood Ave., #100, Raleigh. 919-828-0018 or plateskitchen.com
A Glenwood fixture, Plates’ patio looks out on Raleigh’s busiest stretch of nightlife but manages to stay above the fray. Look for sunny cocktails with a view.
219 Hood St., Durham. 978-482-7701 or ponysaurusbrewing.com
The open air is never nearer than at this Durham brewery, which is less a taproom than a tap-yard. Most of Ponysaurus is an open space of picnic tables and grass. Soon there will be pizza, when Raleigh’s popular Oakwood Pizza Box opens a second location within the brewery. It’s slated to open this spring.
614 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. 919-324-3415 or theraleighbeergarden.com
One of the Triangle’s largest beer bars is also one of the state’s largest outdoor beer gardens, as the name might imply. Dozens upon dozens of draft beer lines flow with elbow room for miles.
608 N. Mangum St., Durham. 919-908-8970
2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham. 919-237-3499
On picnic tables under umbrellas, both locations of this famous Durham fried fish shack pull the North Carolina coast a whole lot closer.
205 E. Franklin St., Raleigh. 919-322-1499 or standardbeerandfood.com
The folks behind Bond Brothers and Ancillary Fermentation recently opened the latest iteration of the Standard, focusing on beers that pair well with food. While their kitchen comes online and the dining room remains closed, the beer garden backyard serves up not-so-basic basic beers.
701 N. Person St., Raleigh. 919-977-1567 or stationraleigh.com
Arguably the busiest spot on Person Street, the Station serves up popular burgers and hosts an outdoor bar that buzzes for blocks.
500 E. Davis St., Raleigh. 984-232-8122 or transfercofoodhall.com
On one side of this popular downtown Raleigh food hall are a few coveted seats at Burial Beer’s taproom, serving some of the best beer in the country. On the other side are yellow umbrellas and a wide patio hosting Transfer’s food stalls and bar.
827 W. Morgan St., Raleigh. 919-803-4849 or trophybrewing.com
For a long time, the original Trophy on Morgan Street has been one of the most in-demand patios in Raleigh. After an expansion, there’s more room and a few fire pits.
201 W. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-803-3181 or whiskey.kitchen
Looking out on Nash Square, Whiskey Kitchen earns its reputation as Raleigh’s front porch. Its patio handles all seasons and is best when bustling. Hopefully those days are near.
201 S. Boylan Ave., Raleigh. 984-200-1189 or wyehill.com
This two-year-old restaurant and brewery inherited Raleigh’s best view from the former Boylan Bridge Brewpub, but upgraded the menu and taplist. A shady canopy takes the edge off any day’s heat in this spot of a million selfies.