If you live in an urban environment, outdoor dining can be a bit of a letdown.
The search for a meal that can be enjoyed in the fresh air and sunshine often results in cramming yourself into a hot metal chair on a sidewalk while a city bus chugs by.
Need to get away? Check out six of the country’s best farm-to-fork al fresco dining venues, including a chic metropolitan rooftop farm and a sweeping ranch-side winery.
(Photo: Outstanding in the Field/Instagram)
OUTSTANDING IN THE FIELD
This tried and true “roving culinary adventure” makes stops from coast to coast on local, sustainable farms. Chefs from well-known restaurants jump at the chance to cook a 5-course meal served during dusk at a very long table. Guests enjoy cocktails and a farm tour before dinner, and the tradition of bringing your own plate makes the family-style service feel like home.
Tickets are steep ($250 per person), with the most coveted being the “Big Sur” secret spot dinner, which usually sells out within minutes. Tickets go on sale once a year.
Related: The Summer’s Best Pop-Up Restaurants
(Photo: Apple Street Farm/Facebook)
APPLE STREET FARM: ESSEX, MASS.
Apple Street Farm in Essex offers a 5-course meal and wine pairing enjoyed in a rustic, outdoor setting. The evening starts with a tour of the farm followed by seasonal cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. The celebrated chefs of Boylston St. restaurant, L’Espalier, prepare the organic dinner with seasonal dishes such as pork loin with baby gem lettuce, or grilled bass with corn pudding.
Dinners will be held July 11 & 12, August 8 & 9, September 5 & 6, and October 3 & 4. Call L’Espalier at 617-262-3023 for reservations. Cost: $180.
(Photo: El Dorado Kitchen/Facebook)
EL DORADO KITCHEN: SONOMA, CALIF.
Let the farm come to you at this upscale yet relaxed restaurant in California’s Sonoma Valley. Ask to be seated on the restaurant’s lush terrace and dine on farm fresh poultry, fresh fish, and seasonal vegetables. El Dorado Kitchen embodies Sonoma’s laid-back vibe while serving produce that feels freshly picked from the backyard and the wine options are (of course) plentiful.
The current summer menu includes starters like roasted young beets and wagyu beef along with entrees like lemon ricotta ravioli, Liberty Farms duck confit and seafood paella. Make sure you save room for dessert – the profiteroles are to die for.
The restaurant is part of El Dorado Hotel, and offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all diners, not just hotel guests. Reservations recommended.
(Photo: Soter Vineyards)
SOTER VINEYARDS: CARLTON, ORE.
Opened in 2007, Soter Vineyards is a 240-acre property located on Mineral Springs Ranch, southwest of Portland. The vineyard specializes in Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling wines and for $20 per person, visitors can make an appointment to enjoy a small group wine tasting in the lodge while overlooking the sprawling sustainable vineyard. (Bonus: the tasting fee is waived if you purchase a bottle.) Though snacks are not offered, this place is worth visiting for the breathtaking views alone.
(Photo: Blackberry Farm/Instagram)
BLACKBERRY FARM: WALLAND, TENN.
This sprawling countryside luxury hotel beckons to guests who long for the life we only see on Country Time Lemonade commercials. Guests at Blackberry Farm can lunch on farm fresh options (selections change daily) in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, which in itself seems worthy of a taking a long getaway.
The 62-room resort also provides the option of enjoying a full-service “Creekside Picnic” anywhere on the 4,200 acre property, though near the boat house or on Walland Pond are two popular locations.
(Photo: Riverpark NYC/Facebook)
RIVERPARK: NEW YORK CITY
If you just can’t escape the city, and that city happens to be New York, you can at least escape the sidewalk and take refuge at Riverpark Restaurant. Located on E. 29th St. and Riverside, Tom Colicchio's urban rooftop farm restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with sweeping river views during summer months.
Cool off with a “Summer Storm cocktail” (white rum, rhubarb and ginger juice and tarragon) before dining on seemingly endless dinner options, including ceviche, white asparagus gazpacho, pea panna cotta with Peekytoe crab salad, and grilled rack of lamb with green chickpeas, cucumber and mint.
Bring your friends and book a “Farm Dinner” which includes three seasonal courses and is available for groups of 6-14. Cost: $85 per person.