Nothing draws people outside in The Bend quite like the arrival of warmer temperatures. They want to see flowers in bloom. They want to catch some baseball at Four Winds Field. And they certainly anticipate the start of patio dining season.
Whether you like the bustle of downtown or a view of the St. Joseph River, several restaurants and bars around The Bend offer outdoor seating. Here are some of the best spots to dine al fresco on your next trip.
Note: Visit South Bend Mishawaka partners are marked in red.
Café Navarre has been a fine dining destination in downtown South Bend since opening its doors. You can take that elevated experience outside with a patio that runs alongside its historic building. The menu — with everything from oysters to roast chicken — landed Café Navarre on the South Bend Foodie Trail, as chosen by the editors of Midwest Living magazine.
The Carriage House Dining Room & Gardens
Another fine dining restaurant, The Carriage House offers a special menu every year just for its guests that choose to dine al fresco. Doing so means being seated in one of the most unique environments The Bend has to offer: beautifully landscaped gardens that are fit for an Instagram post. If the flowers don’t catch your attention, the food certainly will.
Doc Pierce’s Restaurant
Doc Pierce’s is long on history and charm, a local place in downtown Mishawaka that hasn’t changed much over the years. That’s good thing. One of the major additions to the restaurant was a garden patio, which often runs at capacity on summer nights. It’s considered by locals one of the best outdoor dining spots in The Bend.
Another local favorite when it comes to outdoor dining, the Emporium benefits from its views of the St. Joseph River. The patio faces west toward downtown South Bend. You can see bridges crossing the river, the city skyline and “Keepers of the Fire,” a landmark sculpture. That’s if you take time to look away from a robust lunch and dinner menu.
Evil Czech Brewery and Public House
Wander out back at this local brewery and you’ll find one of the most unique patios around. It’s mostly covered for plenty of shade, has community tables and is complete with a double-decker bus that serves food. After grabbing a spot to sit, head over to the bus for an order of tacos.
Hensell’s Oaken Bucket
Think of the Oaken Bucket as a little slice of nature in the city. Located near the Indiana University South Bend campus, “the Bucket” has a multi-level deck with a panoramic view of the St. Joseph River (pictured below). It was a finalist for best burger in The Bend during 2014’s Burger Wars competition and dares guests to take the King Burger Challenge — finish a 4-pound burger in 45 minutes and the meal is free.
Head into Kanakakee Grille, located inside the Four Winds Casino in South Bend, and you’ll find a laid back atmosphere that serves up “comfort food with a twist.” Its patio, which seats about 50 people, is at the back end of the restaurant but faces out toward the casino’s main entrance. Get settled in outside before order pizza from the wood-fired stove or one of the many craft beers available.
O’Rourke’s Public House
It’s hard to go wrong by visiting an Irish pub, especially one practically in the shadow of the Golden Dome. O’Rourke’s is situated across from Notre Dame with a patio that looks across Angela Boulevard and onto campus. Stop by on game day and (if you’re lucky enough to grab a seat) you’ll be right in the mix as fans head toward the stadium.
Simeri’s Old Town Tap
Outdoor experiences don’t come much more authentic than Simeri’s, a family owned establishment with one of the most well-known patios in the area. Walk through the cozy main bar and you’ll find a sprawling setup outside with plenty of seating, plus a stage for local bands. Live music is a summer staple. It transforms the local bar into an entertainment destination.
South Bend Brew Werks
Another downtown South Bend spot, South Bend Brew Werks gets a little bigger in the spring with the addition of its fenced in patio. Tables fit for big groups or multiple parties foster the sense of community on which the local brewery was built. Kick back, order a pint and relax.
Wind Family Fireside Terrace
Located in the heart of Notre Dame’s campus, the Morris Inn offers outdoor seating at Wind Family Fireside Terrace (pictured at the top) adjacent to Rohr’s. You can relax with a drink in soft seating or grab a table. Wind Family Fireside Terrace often hosts events like Smoky Sunday, which serves up delicious barbecue. Don’t worry about parking: valet at the Morris Inn is free if you’re dining inside or you can make a short walk from the Hammes Bookstore.
It’s hard to cut any list short. We stopped at 11 for this one, but there are several other patios worth your time. Parisi’s Ristorante Italiano a hidden gem. Others include Aloft South Bend, The Exchange Whiskey Bar, Bar Louie, Brothers Bar & Grill, Coach’s Sports Bar & Grill, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, South Bend Chocolate Café and Tapastrie.