Benefits of Outdoor Dining

As I continue my quest to find the best outdoor dining spots across Metro East, I’ve discovered more than just the lure of a good meal under the sky. Dining outdoors has a set of unique benefits that I’ve come to appreciate deeply.

The first major perk is the undeniable ambiance. There’s something inherently relaxing about eating outside. Whether it’s the gentle breeze, the warm sun, or the soft hum of nature and city life merging, the experience becomes more than just a meal—it’s a moment to savor. Each restaurant in our area offers a different backdrop, from bustling street views to tranquil garden settings, providing a variety of atmospheres for every mood.

Health benefits are another big draw. Being outdoors means getting that much-needed dose of vitamin D from natural sunlight, which is essential for bone health and boosting one’s mood. Moreover, I’ve noticed dining al fresco often encourages lighter, fresher meal choices, aligning perfectly with a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s not forget the social aspect. Outdoor dining naturally feels less confined than indoor settings, making it a fantastic option for gatherings. The casual environment encourages conversation and laughter, making meals with friends and family even more enjoyable. Here are some key points on this:

  • Ambiance enhances the dining experience
  • Natural sunlight provides health benefits
  • Outdoor settings promote social interactions

And for those of us who are pet owners, many outdoor dining spaces welcome furry friends. This inclusivity means I can enjoy a day out without worrying about leaving my dog at home. It’s a small detail that makes a significant difference in planning a weekend brunch or dinner.

Throughout my journey to find the best spots, I’ve realized that outdoor dining also supports local businesses. These restaurants put a lot of effort into creating comfortable and appealing outdoor spaces. By choosing to dine at these establishments, we’re contributing to the vitality of our local community, which is something I’m passionate about.

In Metro East, each restaurant with outdoor seating offers a unique perspective on the joy of dining alfresco. Whether it’s for the ambiance, health benefits, social atmosphere, furry friend inclusivity, or community support, there’s no denying the allure of dining under the open sky. As I explore more venues, I’m constantly reminded of these benefits, which make every meal an adventure worth sharing.

Top Metro East Restaurants with Outdoor Seating

Exploring the Metro East’s vibrant dining scene, I’ve stumbled upon a few gems that stand out not just for their culinary delights but for their superb outdoor seating options. Each of these spots offers a unique combination of great food, an inviting atmosphere, and the unbeatable charm of dining al fresco.

The Riverfront Grill instantly comes to mind as a must-visit. Situated along the scenic waterfront, it’s the perfect place to savor fresh seafood dishes while soaking in views of the gentle river waves. Their spacious patio is adorned with twinkling lights, adding a magical touch to evening dining experiences.

Then there’s Tavern on Main, nestled in the heart of Belleville. I love spending time at the Tavern on Main! Their cozy brick interior and friendly staff create such a welcoming atmosphere. Whether I’m grabbing a casual lunch on their patio or settling in for a delicious dinner with friends, I always have a good time. They have a great menu too, with something tempting for everyone. If you’re looking for a relaxed spot with tasty food in Belleville, Tavern on Main is a great choice.

Picture this: a canvas of Artisan cheeses, delicious cured meats, juicy seasonal fruits, crunchy nuts, tangy olives, crispy pickles, and sweet jams – all arranged with care and ready to be devoured. Come on in; we can’t wait to meet you!

For a more upbeat outdoor dining experience, Bella Milano is the place to go. Step into a little slice of Italy at Bella Milano’s enchanting patio. Surrounded by lush greenery and twinkling lights, savor their authentic Italian dishes and feel transported to a romantic Tuscan evening.

Peel Wood Fired Pizza Gather with friends and family on Peel Wood Fired Pizza’s expansive patio. Enjoy their signature wood-fired pizzas and soak in the vibrant atmosphere – it’s the perfect spot for a casual and delicious outdoor meal.

Here’s a quick overview of what these places offer:

The Riverfront GrillWaterfrontFresh Seafood & Twinkling Lights
Tavern on MainOld world feelHardy Dishes
Bella MilanoItalian Authentic Italian
Peel Wood Fired PizzaOpen and airyWood fired pizza

Ambiance and Decor

Stepping into any of Metro East’s outdoor dining spots, I immediately notice the effort put into creating a unique ambiance and decor that sets each establishment apart. At Riverfront Grill, the freshness of the sea is not just in the menu but also in the nautical-themed decor, with ropes, nets, and wood that make me feel like I’m dining right on the dock. The cool breeze coming off the water complements the setting perfectly, making it hard not to relax and enjoy.

Moving on to Tavern on Main, it’s like stepping into a secret corner of time. Whether under twinkling stars or warm sunlight, the tree-lined sidewalk area creates a magical effect as the sun sets. The wrought-iron furniture adds a rustic charm, blending seamlessly with the setting. Each table isn’t just beautiful; it’s a testament to the bistro’s commitment to a farm-to-table ethos.

At the Bella Milano, sophistication is the key. The sleek, modern decor with glass railings ensures nothing obstructs the view of the city skyline. The lighting is kept subtle, allowing the city lights to take center stage. Plush seating encourages guests to stay and soak in the urban atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where I can’t help but feel a bit glamorous just by being there.

Peel Wood Fired Pizza offers a completely different vibe. It’s cozy and welcoming, with an area dedicated to our friends where they can slip a craft beer and mingle. The fiery embrace of our oven imprints a distinct signature on every dish: each pizza sports a characteristic charred bubble on its crust, while our wood-fired wings boast a tantalizing, caramelized char that’ll keep you coming back for more.

Each restaurant and café I’ve visited in the Metro East has its character and charm, with outdoor seating that invites diners to enjoy the food and the whole experience. Whether looking for a tranquil garden, a breezy waterfront, a stunning cityscape, or a pet-friendly nook, there’s a place that seems tailored just for those moments. The decor and ambiance of these establishments are thoughtful and immersive, proving that dining out is truly an experience for all the senses.

Menu Highlights

When I wandered into the outdoor dining scene in Metro East, the vibrant menus at each spot caught my attention. Every restaurant featured here not only has a stunning ambiance but also a remarkable culinary experience to offer. Let’s dive into the menu highlights that are a must-try.

Riverfront Grill surprised me with its seafood extravaganza. The Grilled Salmon with a side of asparagus and the signature Seafood Paella teeming with fresh mussels, shrimp, and clams are standouts. It’s like they’ve managed to capture the essence of the sea and serve it on a plate. The freshness of the ingredients shines, making these dishes unforgettable.

Heading over to Tavern on Main, I was enchanted by their old pub table approach. The Tavern Chicken and the Sweet Italian Salad bursting with garden-fresh vegetables reflect their commitment to healthy, yet flavorful eating. Their wide-ranging bar selection had me at the first look. It’s vibrant, fresh, and a divinity place to visit.

At Bella Milano, the cuisine is as sophisticated as the view. I loved their Chicken Spiedini – its flavor is rich, and has an aroma of Milano dressing that’s irresistible. For the gluten-free dinners, they have a host of menu items that are tasty and a wide range of favors. Pair these with one of their signature martinis for an elevated dining experience.

Lastly, Peel’s Wood Fired Pizza is more than just an oven-baked pizza. Your pizza is baked at 800 degrees over an oak fire using white and red oak wood. This allows the pizza to be cooked with a clean taste. The ovens bring just the right amount of charring to the crust. It creates a taste that most pizzas never experience.

In each restaurant, the menus are thoughtfully crafted, blending local flavors with unique twists. Whether you’re in the mood for seafood, organic fare, gourmet experiences, or simply enjoying good food with your furry friend at your feet, Metro East’s outdoor dining spots have something special to offer. The creativity and care put into each dish reflect the overall essence of these dining havens – they’re not just about eating; they’re about experiencing.

Tips for Enjoying Outdoor Dining

In my years of exploring and enjoying outdoor dining, I’ve picked up a few tips that can turn a good meal into a great experience, especially in the vibrant dining scene of Metro East. Here, where the settings range from riverfront views to cozy garden spots, knowing how to make the most of your al fresco dining experience is key.

First and foremost, checking the weather is a must. While it might seem obvious, nothing dampens a mood quite like unexpected rain or a sudden drop in temperature. I always recommend having a backup plan, just in case Mother Nature decides to surprise us.

When planning an outdoor meal, the time of day can make a significant difference. For instance, brunch under the soft morning light can be magical, while dining at sunset offers an ambiance that simply can’t be replicated indoors. Remember, golden hour isn’t just for photos – it also casts a beautiful glow that can make your dining experience extra special.

Here’s a quick look at the best times for enjoying outdoor dining, based on my personal experiences:

Meal TimeSuggested Outdoor Dining Time
Brunch9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Lunch12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
DinnerJust before sunset around 6:30 PM

Remember always to consider the restaurant’s busiest times and possibly make a reservation. There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at your favorite spot only to find out there’s a long wait or, worse, no available seating outdoors.

Choosing the right outfit is also important. While outdoor dining is all about relaxation and enjoying the ambiance, preparing for temperature changes will ensure comfort throughout your meal. I’ve found that layering is the best strategy – it’s easy to adjust to changing conditions, be it a sunny afternoon turning into a breezy evening.

One of my favorite parts of outdoor dining is reconnecting with nature and the community. So, when you’re dining out, take a moment to put away your phone and soak in your surroundings. Whether it’s the bustling streets of downtown Metro East or the tranquil shores by the Riverfront Grill, there’s so much to appreciate.


Exploring Metro East’s outdoor dining scene has been a journey filled with delightful flavors and unforgettable moments under the sky. By embracing the tips shared, I’ve found myself savoring meals in a whole new way, from the joy of a gentle breeze to the pleasure of a well-timed sunset dinner. It’s been more than just about food; it’s about creating memories and enjoying the simple things in life. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, I hope you’ll take the chance to experience these gems for yourself. Trust me, it’s worth stepping out for.

We hope you are enjoying these articles and are willing to continue to follow along as we share our adventures of learning about life in southern Illinois, This is an exciting area and we are so happy to be part of this area. Our lives are being fulfilled by the people we are meeting. Bruce & Karen.

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We’re Bruce and Karen Carlson. We recently moved to the Metro East area of Illinois. This area is east of St. Louis from the Mississippi River north to Alton, east to Carlyle, back south to Waterloo and the Mississippi River, finally north to Columbia. The center is Fairview Heights, Swansea, Belleville, Shiloh, and O'Fallon. Not to be forgotten is Southern Illinois University (SIU) in Edwardsville. It’s a whole new world out there. Our goal with this website is to share our exploration of the Metro East area. As we find businesses and services we use in our daily lives, we’ll share how these businesses and services have helped make our lives better and easier to live.

We’re calling our move to the Metro East area retirement, but we’re not quite sure what that means. By sharing our story with you, we hope you too will gain a better sense of what the Metro East area has to offer and how their businesses and services can improve your lives and build a better community.