Meet Me on the Patio

Seven & A Half Sensational 
Spaces for Summer 
Outdoor Dining A most magical thing happened last month: the earth’s axis shifted to its maximum tilt

Seven & A Half Sensational 
Spaces for Summer 
Outdoor Dining

A most magical thing happened last month: the earth’s axis shifted to its maximum tilt on June 20, making the northern hemisphere the closest to ol’ Sol as we’ve been in a year. This move, the June solstice, officially ushered in summer, or what I like to call, the Al Fresco Season.

Folks are flocking outdoors for a myriad of activities—lazy afternoons by the pool, strolling through parks under canopies of shading trees or attending a baseball game rooting for the home team.

The days—and evenings—are long now, our closest star high in the sky for upwards of 15 hours. It’s a darn good time to participate in another outdoor activity—enjoying a meal.

Across Lynchburg, there are many great restaurants offering courtyards, decks and patios to grab a seat and a bite to eat. The phrase al fresco is borrowed from the Italians and roughly means “in the cool [air].”

Dining outside—like summer—is usually casual and has celebratory undertones, even if the celebration is simply life itself. It can be done in the morning at breakfast and throughout the day, well after the sun sets and the sky fades to a deep purple studded with twinkling stars.
Ready to head outside? Here are some of my favorite places…

The Corner At Rivermont
The Feel: The Corner at Rivermont is a fun, casual and relaxed eatery honoring locally-sourced and crafted foods from Executive Chef Sean Meeks’ kitchen. A focus is on Southern and Low Country cuisine. The patio seats 52.

The Features: Umbrellas shade seating.

The Food: Lunch and dinner are offered, but come for brunch and ease into the weekend with the Creole Shrimp & Grits, topped with a poached local egg and Nueske bacon. Mimosas are just six bucks.

The Corner at Rivermont is at 2496 Rivermont Ave., Lynchburg. Call 434-219-6035, or visit

Magnolia Foods
The Feel: This is the region’s premier gourmet grocer, with a delightful deli and other offerings to grab and go. Or not. You can also grab and sit and relax over lunch and dinner offerings, too, from salads and sandwiches to delish desserts. The patio seats 20.

The Features: Umbrellas shade seating; enjoy the mini-garden in raised beds.

The Food: I’m drooling on my keyboard right now thinking about The #4 sandwich: rich, creamy hummus stuffed in a flour tortilla along with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, lettuce and parsley vinaigrette.
True story.

Magnolia Foods is at 2476 Rivermont Ave., Lynchburg. Call 434-528-5442, or visit

Waterstone Pizza
The Feel: Warm, inviting, relaxing and urban, Waterstone Pizza, located downtown at the James River, serves up delicious starters, salads, sandwiches, pasta and, of course, pizza.

And oh, the pizza: hand-tossed, fire-roasted and topped with fresh ingredients. The patio seats 30.

The Features: Umbrellas shade seating.

The Food: Let’s just skip right to the pizza. Make mine the Wild Mushroom: basil pesto, crimini, Portobello, shiitake, goat cheese and sun-dried tomato. Yum.

Waterstone Pizza is at 1309 Jefferson St., Lynchburg. Call 434-455-1515, or visit

Mister Goodies
And while it’s not technically a restaurant (hence the “half” in our list of seven and a half places), we couldn’t talk about enjoying a treat al fresco without mentioning this Central Virginia tradition.

The Feel: Festive and carnival, lovers of sweets come to this brightly lit trailer—festooned with a large ice cream cone—for everything from sundaes to splits and, of course, just some good, old-fashioned, soft-serve ice cream.

The Features: The fun atmosphere and good eats is the draw; grab a cone and stand around visiting with family and friends, and enjoy the summer.
The Food: The Strawberry Shortcake is the perfect edible example of summer.

Mister Goodies is at 21556 Timberlake Rd., Lynchburg, or find them on Facebook.

Shoemaker’s American Grille
The Feel: This is a gorgeous restaurant, located on the Bluffwalk downtown and showcasing a sophisticated, industrial feel. The fine dining menu is unabashedly American regional, with great Happy Hour and dinner offerings. The patio seats 20.

The Features: Umbrellas shade seating.

The Food: Onion Rings with Spicy Ketchup pleases as a starter, and the Kona Filet—a Kona coffee-rubbed filet mignon—is a winner.

Shoemaker’s is at 1312 Commerce St., Lynchburg. Call 434-455-1510, or visit

RA Bistro
The Feel: This bistro offers a comfortable, modern dining room in a 75-year-old charming building. Chef/owner Alex Richardson serves up a menu that offers delicious, seasonally-inspired American cuisine. There are two patios; a front patio seats 36 while a rear patio seats 24.

The Features: Natural shading cools the front patio while umbrellas shade seating on the rear patio.

The Food: Start with a martini—they are done proper here—and consider Bistro Wings (in Teriyaki) as a starter. The Bistro Top Sirloin is a fabulous 10-ounce center-cut sirloin topped with—are you sitting—boursin cheese, asparagus and cracked pepper bacon.

RA Bistro is at 1344 Main St., Lynchburg. Call 434-845-1601, or visit

Isabella’s Italian Trattoria
The Feel: Isabella’s is a sophisticated-but-approachable eatery that is relaxed and delicious. The buzz centers around contemporary Northern Italian cuisine showcasing many products from Central Virginia farms. The patio seats 20.

The Features: A fabric awning shades seating.

The Food: Start with the Bruschetta Platter to share (who can say no to grilled bread topped with fresh ingredients?), and try the Spicy Chicken & Sausage Orecchiette tossed pasta entrée or perhaps a brick oven-baked pizza.

Isabella’s is at 4925 Boonsboro Rd., Lynchburg. Call 434-385-1660, or visit

El Jefe Taqueria Garaje
The Feel: The focus at El Jefe is definitely South of the Border with deliciously prepared, Mexican-inspired dishes, including an array of artisan tacos. A recent special featured grilled flour tortillas stuffed with grilled snapper and fresh pineapple salsa. There are three patios; two seat 20 folks and one seats 30.

The Features: Umbrellas shade seating.

The Food: Tacos are the bomb, as well as delightful (largely tequila-centric) cocktails like the Melon Margarita.

El Jefe is at 1214 Commerce St., Lynchburg. Call 434-333-4317, or visit

By Patrick Evans-Hylton
Photos by Jim Pile

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