A patio can mean a number of things. Sure, they're all outdoors. But beyond that, they can be about getting more shade, sun, views or even space. That's what separates these comfy courtyards of Albany. There's something for whatever you're looking for. And, of course, great food, too!
14 Green St.
This downtown beacon is more often considered a winter restaurant. The interior, covering the designs of swanky and cozy, even boasts a beautiful vintage fireplace. But don't let that fool you. Before entering, look to the left and notice the courtyard that provides a more-current look to complement a building that dates to 1829. Located just a block from the Times Union Center, Palace and Capital Repertory Theatre, it's comfortably tucked between downtown high rises. Now go there, sit outside, and bask in some vintage Italian dishes al fresco.
234 Western Avenue
An Albany classic, Ginger Man is still a prime place to go with a strong wine list, along with knowledgeable and professional staff. It's cozy in the winter, but in the summer becomes like a friendly French bistro with an outdoor patio that becomes a perfect see-and-be-seen spot.
The 30-year-old restaurant is tucked into a neighborhood that caters largely to college student residents (with a variety of campuses, like Saint Rose and the University of Albany nearby) but this is a quaint enough location for a date night or a gathering with good friends. Food always tastes better outdoors. An eclectic menu that includes everything from shrimp to grits to lamb meatloaf is a perfect spot to savor the combination.
One of the critical first signs of summer in Albany is to take a peek to the back of the Olde English and see if those famous red umbrellas have been raised.
The hidden-away spot sometimes has live music. If that's not your jam, there are also some picnic tables at the front of the nearly 300-year-old Quackenbush House. You probably wouldn't be surprised to read this place serves some of the best beers, fish and chips and other pub food in town. But there's also a strong seasonal menu.
Perhaps the most addictive French fries in town are served here, too. And if you're in the mood for a rollicking little game with friends or strangers, give your hands a try at the massive Jenga game that can be set up out back.
42 Howard StreetCBH draws what might be the most diverse crowds in Albany, everyone from millennial hipsters to long-time politicians going there for a fun post-work atmosphere that includes getting free pizza with most beer purchases. Apparently no one can resist a place that has an area called the "Rodeo Room" with an actual mechanical bull.
But the patio, called the Beer Garden, is the place to be on a summer night. Strung with lights and offering more than enough umbrellas, there are views of some of the high rises that let you know you're still in the city - but you've found an oasis where the beer is cold and the conversation is lively.
The patio at this downtown (arguably the keystone of the revitalized Warehouse District) classic is admittedly quite small - a couple of thick picnic tables. Wolff's is known as a sports bar where large-screen TVs often showcase international soccer games inside. Peanut shells are strewn all around. But it merits mention because this is one of the most communal spots in town. It's a perfect spot to try a German-style beer and make a new friend. (One warning here: It's a rare Albany place that is cash-only).
300 Delaware Avenue
Even those who want to dine indoors at this landmark Albany restaurant have to love the patio. Why? Because having the outdoor space makes it possible for New World to accommodate even more locals and visitors that want to check out the place that's made a major name for itself in the world of locally sourced, tastefully crafted menus. The patio is almost always bustling, mixed with a friendly array of visitors who have heard about this institution, special-occassion guests and locals who just want to enjoy good food and company.
54 Philip Street
Our list is full of tucked-away spots and shade, and those are awesome. But to get some city sizzle, and some final local products, it's worth heading over to the Mansion Neighborhood and checking out a two-year-old bar. Jay Bowers has made a name for himself in Alabny by using only New York-made products for all of his beers and other drinks. There's even an Empire State-themed menu of food. All good to enjoy on the small array of tables in front of the establishment, which is inviting to state government workers on their lunch breaks or those headed out to a downtown show in the evening. You'll get some sun out on the pavement, but a view up the hill to a little park and some glorious old houses is well worth not necessarily being made in the shade.