Outdoor Dining in Westport: Top al fresco spots for summer

Photographs: bartaco by Manny Vargas; LaPlage by Garvin Burke; all the rest Alexandro Loayza & contributed
above:
Dining Al fresco is a worthwhile treat at The Whelk on the Saugatuck

The month of June means it’s time to start seeking out the best outdoor dining in Westport. The marriage of fresh air and fresh flavors is the rejuvenation we all need as we come out of our winter hibernation. Lunches become a little longer, maybe the laughs are louder at dinner. Westport seemingly has more outdoor dining options than ever and just as you were sprucing up your own patios and decks over the past few years, our local restaurants did, too.

“When dining outside, we love feeling physically comfortable, immersed in atmosphere and connected to our surroundings in a fun way,” says Patrick Jean, co-owner of Nomade on Main Street. “When elements are involved you never get the same exact experience twice! It really is about triggering the senses through local and organic connection.”

Come join us at some of the best outdoor tables in town for the patio-dining season.

Octopus and a refreshing summertime cocktail at Casa Me

Best Outdoor Dining in Westport

Casa Me

Casa Me’s mission is to immediately transport diners to the Italian holiday they’ve dreamed of. The address reads Sconset Square, but the flavors are from another world: arancini with a bit of heat from spicy sausage, homemade pastas (Spaghetti Frutti di Mare to keep the vacation fantasy alive!) and patatine– French fries with truffle oil and Parmesan.

The space is designed as an “outdoor square,” says Pina Ferlisi, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Mario Fontana. “Surrounded by European cafe tables, umbrellas, herb gardens, music and candles in a ‘dolce far niente’ way, we hope to transport our guests to a moment where they can lose track of time and place and dream about the sweetness of doing nothing on a warm summer’s day.”

left: Filetto de Branzino. right: Celebrating the simplicity of authentic Italian cooking and bar culture.

NÔMADE

Culinary exploration continues at Nomade, the former Tavern on Main space that simultaneously modernized its look and feel with custom-made touches while warming up its welcome. Inspired by a true melting pot of favorite places, the menu reflects flavors from North Africa, Spain, France, Greece and other Mediterranean locales–and the space, with its indoor-turns-outdoor terrance, aims to enhance the overall sensory experience.

“You hear the singing of birds, a spring rain shower or the sounds of a summer breeze as you enjoy the terrace. It always brings a smile to everyone when they see it for the first time. Add our music from Ibiza, cuisine from around the world and handcrafted artisanal creations from Morocco and beyond and you’ve got something to keep you coming back again and again for a completely new experience,” Jean says.

left and right: Both the globally-inspired cuisine and and the décor is inspired by some of the world’s most cherished cultures from natural destinations like North Africa and Santorini.

Terrain

Terrain, meanwhile, blurs the line between an outdoor oasis and a dining space. Borrowing from its greenhouse-like house-and-garden retail space, the restaurant reflects an appreciation for nature, forging partnerships with several local growers. Its dishes are seasonally inspired and carefully curated with products from Gilbertie’s Farm, Holbrook Farm and Arethusa Dairy Farm, among others.

One of the best spots to enjoy Westport’s waterfront–and that’s why we love it, right?–is La Plage on the ground of Longshore Club Park. This newest incarnation of a local legendary spot creates a perfect-but-not-precious vibe. Enjoy locally harvested seafood, including oysters, along with fresh produce and sustainable meats, in a space that turns any meal into a full-on beach day.

LaPlage

One of the best spots to enjoy Westport’s waterfront–and that’s why we love it, right?–is La Plage on the ground of Longshore Club Park. This newest incarnation of a local legendary spot creates a perfect-but-not-precious vibe. Enjoy locally harvested seafood, including oysters, along with fresh produce and sustainable meats, in a space that turns any meal into a full-on beach day.

This beachy spot with a bar and patio serves unique street tacos and specialty cocktails while overlooking the waterfront.

The Cottage

The Cottage, though, is appointment dining. It’s everything you want for a thoughtful, creative experience that you know has the best interest of area artisan farmers and growers at heart. The tables that spill out onto its patio carry through the cozy intimate feel and gracious hospitality of the restaurant that boasts hand-cut pastas and outstanding seafood.

The indoor, outdoor flow at Chef Brian Lewis’ restaurant perfectly accompanies the seasonal New American plates and signature cocktails.

The Whelk

The Whelk also boasts a waterfront view, this time of the Saugatuck River. When the sun streams onto the patio, every bite of seafood stew or salt-and-pepper squid from James Beard Award-nominated chef and owner Bill Taibe is that much more special. Like many of our favorite outdoor spots, the menu features as many sustainable and locally-sourced ingredients as it can.

Poached sardines with Meyer lemon and aioli

The Boathouse Restaurant
at Saugatuck Rowing Club

A stone’s throw away sits The Boathouse Restaurant at Saugatuck Rowing Club, where longtime favorites (think crab cakes and lobster rolls!) are as fresh as the catch of the day. Diners are reminded here that Westport is a coastal community and can hold its own in the company of New England’s best waterfront towns. And the river-front setting is picture perfect, which is why it’s one of our favorite spots for outdoor dining in Westport: there’s officially a reason to share a staycation photo on social.

A world-class rowing and fitness with the best waterfront dining Westport on the Saugatuck

Don Memo

Don Memo has a unique window into all of Westport from its front-lawn tables in the heart of town. Another Taibe creation with his right hand, Chef Anthony Kostelis, this home–and it really does mimic the friendly, convivial experience of gathering at the home of someone you know–for creative Mexican food is inspired by travels around Mexico. Dishes such as tuna crudo and countless variations of tacos and tamales filled with fresh ingredients come alive with vibrancy and sometimes a dash of heat.

Poblano and potato taquitos, pepper jack, mint, cilantro, nuac cham; Margarita season has arrived

bartaco

A festive spirit comes alive at Bartaco, a friendly, casual neighborhood spot that just happens to have a panoramic view of the river AND downtown. If the tacos–and the signature margarita–didn’t have as many fans as they do, one could imagine spending the day here, dreaming of wanderlust adventures with a side of guacamole.

Oko

The last but definitely not least is our very own Oko, the best worst-kept secret Westport has to offer. Also from Brian Lewis of The Cottage, diners enjoy an innovative take on traditional Japanese recipes from this outdoor hideaway behind the historic Vigilant Hose Company Firehouse. The fresh and truly fabulous sushi–and let’s do justice for the sashimi and OKOnomiyaki (suckling pork belly with egg, mayu mayo, nori and scallion)- fills the craving for light and bright on a summer’s night.

left: Using ingredients from local farms and waters and the Tsukiji fish market in Japan; right: The restaurant features an open design flowing from the kitchen through the bar and into the dining room.

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