Life is better outside, just not in Alpharetta

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday. Today we feature an article from Mike Christensen. Follow Mike on Twitter @SCSA31274.

It’s that time of year again. The days are longer, the temps are warmer, the pollen is coming and the legs are whiter than ever. It’s springtime. Residents are venturing out of their homes to take advantage of all the outdoor activities the Alpharetta area has to offer, and that includes dining.

Many restaurants offer some sort of patio or deck for alfresco eats. The problem is that the vast majority of them are terrible. They’re just add on spaces with no real reason to exist. A few tables and chairs with umbrellas, a unique outdoor dining experience does not make. Places like Scratch, The Corner Deli, The KFC (sorry, Salt Factory) and Burger Fi have smallish patios where you can enjoy your entrees with a side of exhaust and nothing to look at but concrete.

Why can’t we have a cool place to eat outdoors? This is Alpharetta after all, the place where the elitists can drive high tech golf balls into giant nets.

Crab shack tybeeOne of the best outdoor spaces that I’ve eaten at is the Crab Shack on Tybee Island. It’s a true experience. Huge trees adorned with Christmas lights cover a deck overhead with a view of the marsh in the distance.

Now I know we have no such marsh or water feature here, save Lake Lanier or a rare retention pond, but can we at least have a view of something that wasn’t made by man?

Hop Alley’s front deck is pretty cool. The view isn’t too great, but at least there is shade (and beer) and you’re protected from the traffic. The potential rooftop deck at South Main Kitchen in downtown would be a large step in the right direction. Taco Mac on Windward as well as the nearby Hudson Grille have patios with giant TV’s all over. It takes away from the connecting with those around you, unless you want to stare at Sportscenter, then by all means.

The rooftop deck at Cincos as well as the patio at Tanners in Vickery Village are both winners in my book. The whole vibe of Vickery is pretty cool. You feel as if you are in a neighborhood.

Some places can transform to bring the outside in by opening up garage type doors like Pure or Marlow’s at the Collection. Nice, but it’s just not what I’m looking for and what Alpharettians deserve.

We’ve got great weather in the south. That’s why we all live here. Why are we trapped inside to eat? I would love someone to step up and make a truly unique outside eating experience. Your hard work will be rewarded.

Photo credit: jeanphony (creative commons)

17 Responses to “Life is better outside, just not in Alpharetta”

  1. Jeff March 14, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Pure taqueria might have Alpharetta’s best patio, and it’s not even a real patio. Just a space where they can roll up the garage doors for an open air feel.

  2. JP March 14, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Excellent topic, Mike! Alpharetta is sorely lacking in “al fresco” dining/drinking experiences. I totally agree it’s a fantastic opportunity waiting for someone to capitalize on. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Avalon or City Center offers some upgrades for us all to enjoy.

  3. Travis Allen March 14, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    From the designs I’ve seen, Tower Burgers on Hwy 9 will have a neat patio and outdoor space…if they ever finish building it.

    The other negative will be the location, there is nothing around it. It will be near the intersection of Hwy 9 and Upper Hembree Road.

  4. Greg March 14, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    I don’t think you can have it both ways…

    Most of the area’s popular restaurants are all located quite close to a major thoroughfare (like Hwy 9 or Windward Pkwy)

    If those places have a patio or outdoor seating, then it’s probably got a view of the road or parking lot.

    In order to have a scenic view from the patio, you’d probably need to be located off the beaten path and that doesn’t seem to work very well for restaurants here.

    It’s not limited to Alpharetta, I don’t think Roswell, especially Canton St, is really any better.

  5. ccastro March 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    In hindsight, it would have been great if the 4 corner parcels at the Collection facing the park would have been designated / designed as restaurant spaces wtih outdoor seating… but I think too much emphasis was placed on car parking and not enough on making that a truly pedestrian friendly shopping /dining experience.

  6. Bob Strader March 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Don’t forget Sip and 850 Bar Pizza in Crabapple

  7. Cool Papa Bell March 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    I think I’m a common demographic. If I want to just eat, put me in air conditioning and away from flies. If I want to spend a few hours drinking with friends, then I want a nice deck. That’s not really family-oriented Alpharetta’s niche, it’s more the former.

    I don’t agree with Greg at all. Sure, the area where Ceviche, Diesel, and Salt are among those not far removed from car fumes, but Vin 25, Plum Street Café, Table & Main, Rice, Slate, NoCA, Fickle Pickle, Oak Street Café, Artisan Bakery, Mac MaGee’s, Pure, Roswell Tap, Osteria Mattone, Moxie Burger (forthcoming)…all have nice decks or patios. That’s a comprehensive list IMHO.

    Lucky’s and VG Bistro I guess are a bit gray, probably too close to the fumes, but not too bad.

  8. Scott Dumon March 14, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    The deck at Miltons is very nice…

  9. My Belly Has A Name March 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    DaVinci’s Donuts opened this morning. Make the stop for this family business. The assortment I picked up was super fresh and delicious.

    Be warned though, if you’re looking for meandering streams, woodlands, and wildlife, there is none. That’s not what makes a good food experience, never has been. Trust your belly, eat where the good food is, stretch out and relax afterward.

  10. Mala March 15, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Good article. I actually like the patio at “spice” in northpoint. I think it’s ok if a patio overlooks a street. The challenge for restaurant owners from me is to make the “urban” patios more attractive with potted flowers, vines, maybe a nice water feature, etc. I did a review or the corner deli in yelp a few years ago asking them to get rid of the ugly plastic patio furniture And to spend a few dollars at garden ridge and get wrought iron outdoor furniture. Not sure if they read my post , but was delighted to see them Ditch the plastic a few years ago!!!

  11. Mala March 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Also, I like the patio at figo. Overlooks a street, but it’s a quiet one.

  12. FoodSnob March 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Bahama Breeze has a nice outdoor area during the warmer months. But, I know how we feel about chains.

    La Parilla has a decent outdoor area.

    Tuscany Cafe is okay.

    etc etc… like most of Atlanta, we lack any significant feature. There is no river. No public lakes. No riverwalk or riverfront.
    No water, period. No mountains. No hills. No nuthin’.

  13. mary March 16, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    I really enjoy Village Tavern’s patio.

  14. Cool Papa Bell March 17, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Tuscany Cafe? Near the Northpoint Mall? Hasn’t that been gone for years?

  15. FoodSnob March 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    I hope it’s still there, otherwise ghosts served us! I ate there Thursday.
    http://www.tuscanycafebistro.com/

  16. Jeff March 19, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Funny you mention Vickery and it’s nice vibe. When the city started to take input on the downtown redevelopment I along with others urged the city to visit Vickery and talk with the developers.

  17. Travis Allen March 19, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Wow, I’ve never even heard of it…didn’t realize there were any restaurants there.

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