Wading through the options for restaurants and bars in Ann Arbor may leave you wondering which ones are truly special for alfresco open air dining. We have done the legwork for you with this curated list of the most remarkable outdoor eateries and bars available in the Ann Arbor area.
Casa Dominick’s – Old Ann Arbor Standby
Dating back to the 1960’s, Dominick’s is considered an Ann Arbor classic. Many consider this to be the best outdoor cafe available in town. Loved by locals and college students alike, Dominick’s features large outdoor benches and a famous mason jar sangria. Their menu offers many sharable appetizers, pizza, and comforting Italian menu items, making this a great spot for entertaining any group in a casual backyard setting.
“People of all ages and backgrounds are warmly welcomed, just read the signs, follow their instructions for how to order and pick up your food and beverages and lean in to the experience. My folks have been coming here since the late 70s and we are so glad that this gem is still around. My secret tip? Don’t pass on the food – the prices are super affordable and the portions are huge.” – Ebru H.
Be sure to make reservations if you’re with a large group before enjoying this truly peaceful, charming space.
Dominick’s is located near the Law Quadrangle on Monroe making this an excellent place to stop after walking through the university or downtown. Street parking may be limited, however there is a parking garage on Forest Avenue and a parking lot on Division Street available.
Bill’s Beer Garden – Downtown West Side Pop-Up Bar
One of the coolest bars in Ann Arbor, Bill’s Beer Garden actually isn’t actually a full time bar at all.
Sharing a location with Downtown Home and Garden, the bar is only open on certain days from March to October each year. Each day around 5pm the parking lot of the garden store empties as they close their shop; this is the moment Bill’s Beer Garden opens up shifting the scene to one of the most uniquely located bar spots in town.
The spot itself is fun, casual and a good place to bring groups to sit or stand by the fire pits and sip tasty beer. Bill’s features local craft beers, including NA beer, from favorites such as Arbor Brewing Company, Bell’s, Founder’s and more.
While Bill’s doesn’t serve food itself, there are plenty of options within walking distance in downtown. Each year there are events like Oberon Day and Festifools, come join the merrymakers at the beer garden this summer!
For parking, First and Washington Public Parking and First and Huron Parking Lot are nearby. If the weather is inclement, the beer garden will not be open.
York – Largest Outdoor Backyard Patio
York on Packard Street is a neighborhood oasis serving a menu of handmade cheeses, estate-bottled wines, expertly crafted espresso drinks, and European-inspired sandwiches all while sourcing all ingredients locally.
Townies recognize this dedication and voted York the “Best Wine Shop in Ann Arbor”. On your way out be sure to check out all the artisan offerings in their retail shop.
Ricewood Barbeque is in the same building offering Texas-style BBQ, pulled pork, and Szechuan chicken.
Unique pop-up food and live music events happen in the corner of their large outdoor patio all throughout the summer season. To keep apprised of these special events be sure to frequently check their events page.
Parking is ample with plenty of neighborhood street parking available.
The Grotto – Dog Friendly Watering Hole
The Grotto is an industrial-chic bar featuring 36 rotating craft beer taps from all over the world, a curated wine list, creative cocktails, and world-class spirits. People can bring their own carry-in food or order from a delivery menu provided on location.
Dogs are welcome in their outdoor seating area as well, so don’t be afraid to bring Fido along!
An excellent outdoor open air location for people-watching, all who have visited The Grotto consider the atmosphere to be welcoming and unforgettable. Many discover their new favorite beer or wine by being able to sample all the new offerings.
“They always have new beers!” – Happy B.
Parking is readily available at the S Ashley Street Parking Lot and the First and Washington Parking Garage.
Biercamp – Microbrews and Artisanal Eats
With a newly expanded outdoor area, Biercamp is upping its game while providing the best artisanal meats and microbrews in Ann Arbor. Curing meats and brewing small-batch craft beers which are available by the pint, half pint, growler & half growler, a husband and wife duo started Biercamp in 2011 and created all the handmade products available in their shop. Availability changes depending on the season, so stop in to see what’s new!
There is plenty of parking available in their parking lot so it is easy to stop in anytime.
Get out there and have fun!
We can assure you will enjoy fine eats and cool drinks with any of these well-loved and atmospheric options for alfresco dining. Each one offers something unique and will be the perfect atmospheric backdrop to your summer evening.