By Vaughn Roycroft
al ˈfreskō/ adverb & adjective
1. in the open air. “There’s nothing quite as delightful as dining al fresco in Harbor Country.”
As I write this, we’re nearing summer’s final month, and already I feel like I’m getting behind on my outdoor dining opportunities. I suppose by most standards I’ve had more than my fair share—at least a dozen outings so far this year. But that’s nothing around here. When one lives in or regularly visits Harbor Country, the opportunities abound, and the venues are delightfully varied.
I console myself that come late September, and summer’s official end, not only will there still be ample opportunity for some weeks to come, but that by I’ll then be enjoying autumn’s crisp, cool air, brilliant blue skies, and even more colorful landscapes. There’s just no better way to enjoy the region’s burgeoning local foodie and craft beverage fare than with friends at an outdoor table.
With that in mind, I thought I’d offer just a few of my very favorite Harbor Country outdoor dining spots. But it’s far from complete, so I highly recommend going to the Dining section and checking out all that our abundant restaurant scene has to offer.
Let’s start with Bentwood Tavern, located inside The Marina Grand Hotel, in New Buffalo. Popular in any season, but when the weather’s fine, there’s nothing quite like taking in the ebb and flow of the bustling marina as you dine right at its very edge.
Not too far up the road, also in New Buffalo, is Brewster’s Italian Café, where your table in the garden will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a cozy nook in a Mediterranean piazza, complete with a babbling fountain.
Heading up the Red Arrow Highway to Harbert, don’t miss out on Café Gulistan, where you’ll find exotic Middle Eastern flair served amidst a profusion of flowers and greenery, including the fragrant herbs the chefs use to create their tasty treats.
Moving on to Sawyer, Greenbush Brewing Company is a must-stop for craft beer fans. Take a table in the Annex and quench yourself with one of their fantastic brews paired with the perfect charcuterie platter while enjoying the breeze and people-watching in the heart of the bustling village.
Also in Sawyer, Mesa Luna offers not one but two outdoor seating experiences. At brunch, sit at a terrace high-top and enjoy the sunshine, and come evening settle in at a table with a lush forest view in the screened-in comfort of the back porch.
Back in New Buffalo, there’s no place that feels quite so cheery and resort-like as a table on the rooftop deck at The Stray Dog Bar & Grill, where you can savor the lake breeze and the lazy parade of boats along with your hearty pub fare.
Last but certainly not least, make your way through the lobby of The Harbor Grand Hotel and down the stairs to the Terrace Room. In the heart of the harbor district but hidden away from the bustle, a table on the terrace feels like your own personal waterfront fine dining retreat.
As I said, I feel like I’m getting behind, and now I’m getting hungry, as well. I can picture myself in each spot. The only tough decision I face now is choosing which one to head to tonight. Join me in making fair weather memories of dining al fresco in Harbor Country. They’ll sustains us as seasons inevitably change. Before you know it, we’ll be cozying up by the fire at mealtime instead. Which will call for another list! Cheers!
About the Author: In 2003, Vaughn Roycroft and his wife escaped the hustle and bustle of the business world by moving to their beloved cottage in Harbert, MI, where Vaughn spends his days writing fantasy fiction.