outdoor dining Phoenix
Photo credit: Ocotillo

It might be better known for golf and spas, but Phoenix has many great places to eat and drink. Everywhere you look, there’s a backdrop of the painted Sonoran Desert skies. With warm temperatures year round, alfresco dining options are especially popular for dinner when the heat breaks. Here are some of the best outdoor dining spots in Phoenix.

Ocotillo (3243 N. 3rd St., 602-687-9080) Midtown

New York magazine has lauded Ocotillo for its “fresh local ingredients,” while Architectural Digest has praised its industrial-inspired indoor-outdoor design. Multiple outdoor spaces include a lawn, beer garden and also an elegant terrace. Named for the bright red flowers of the Sonoran Desert, Ocotillo puts a creative spin on simple ingredients. Think herbed ricotta and sun-dried strawberries, homemade pasta and wood-fired ribs in a mole espresso barbecue sauce. “Each meal was so outrageously good that we had to stop talking because we were too busy eating!” raved one TripAdvisor reviewer. “From their perfect curated outdoor space to the delicious, vibrant menu, Ocotillo never disappoints,” says one Yelp user.

The Vig Fillmore (606 N. 4th Ave., 602-254-2242) Downtown/Central City

Phoenix New Times readers rated the patio at the Vig to be the best in the city for 2020. This centrally-located retreat invites diners with comfy chairs, a bocce court and fireplaces on the open-air terrace. “The outdoor atmosphere was relaxing and cute, really a great place to hang out with friends,” one Tripadvisor reader raved. There’s something for everyone on the menu. Options include fun snacks like pretzels with beer mustard, Wagyu beef burgers or big, decadent salads. “During a very difficult time, the staff at The Vig Fillmore goes above and beyond to provide amazing service and delicious food,” one Yelper says.

Chelsea’s Kitchen (5040 N. 40th St., 602-957-2555) Arcadia

No list of prime outdoor dining spots in Phoenix would be complete without this place. Set next to the historic Arizona Canal, Chelsea’s Kitchen boasts an expansive patio and bar shaded by umbrellas and towering trees. “When you walk up to the front door you are hit with this amazing smell from their outdoor BBQ pit,” gushed one TripAdvisor user. The menu showcases small bites like ceviche and tuna tartare and short rib tacos. But whatever you do, don’t miss the aged Angus prime rib from its smokeyard. “Since this steak is aged around 25-35 days, the tenderness, the flavor profile is so fulfilling to the palate.” says one Yelper.

Cibo (603 N. 5th Ave.; 602-441-2697) Downtown/Central City

Close your eyes, and this garden outside the 1913 bungalow can transport you to Italy. One Yelp user says this “incredibly adorable” patio is a “full escape from the city.” The Italian menu ranges from pies made with fresh greens and prosciutto to a large variety of pastas. “They have a lovely wrap around patio with large trees and lights creating a cozy and enjoyable atmosphere,” says one reviewer.

True Food Kitchen (2502 E. Camelback Rd.; 602-774-3488) Camelback East

While known for its affordable and healthy dishes, True Food Kitchen is perfect for a fun brunch after shopping at Biltmore Fashion Park. “The patio is so inviting and you’ll want to stay a long time,” says one reviewer. You’ll stay cool because of the misters, fans and shaded spots. Healthy foods are on the menu, from hearty bowls featuring ancient grains to tasty Korean noodles. “All dishes are made fresh to order and are very flavorful,” says a local Google guide.