||Warm weather and Memorial Day weekend typically signal the beginning of the outdoor barbeque season. The same can also be said for outdoor dining opportunities in the area where patio dining offers more breathing rooms, sights, sounds and just plain fun than eating behind four walls. The al fresco season is here. Stop, sit and soak it all in at some of our outdoor dining favorites.
Bistro Provence, Bethesda
The outdoor hideaway at this French gem is about as private as it gets in Bethesda. Hidden behind the bistro's main dining room, the patio is a stone walled refuge from the hectic pace beyond the walls. Thanks to executive chef Yannick Cam, a native of Concarneau, France, the menu at Bistro Provence is authentic south of France fare. Cam's 40-plus years of experience at the top restaurants and hotels in France and the U.S. show in his flawless presentation of entrees like roasted saddle of lamb and duck confit.
Black Market Bistro, Garrett Park
Given its wooded neighborhood setting, outdoor dining on the Victorian front porch at Black Market Bistro may be the quietest in the area. Notice that the tranquil environment is about to change dramatically is given in the form of a distant air horn before a freight or passenger train explodes in a fast moving display of noise and power. But that's part of the charm of Black Market Bistro where the modern American cuisine is uniformly outstanding. Soups, mussels and entrees like pan seared French cut trout make it a local favorite.
Mrs. K’s Toll House, Silver Spring
As the last operating toll house in Montgomery County, Mrs. K’s has a unique history. Operators would collect about four cents a horse as travelers navigated along what is now Route 29 in the early 1900s. Thankfully, there isn't a toll to dine outside at Mrs. K’s, where tables are sprinkled around a garden patio with stately gingko and beech trees and flower beds in near perpetual bloom. The signature entrees of crab cakes, duck breast, Atlantic salmon and wild mushroom risotto, among others, are as fresh as the garden setting.
Old Angler’s Inn, Potomac
If you can't find a dinner setting that appeals to you at the Old Angler's Inn, then maybe you'd better stick to TV dinners and black and white TV. Inside the inn on MacArthur Boulevard across from the C & O Canal is a classic, but modernized bar, fireplace and dining room. In front of the inn is a garden terraced patio with large shade trees and twinkle lights. It can seat 200 guests, but the tables are spaced well apart so there's always a feeling of having more than enough space. On the opposite side is an outdoor beer garden and stone bar. Chef Nick Palermo deserves top marks for his appealing and splendid menu.
Rio Washingtonian Center, Gaithersburg
Few places in Montgomery County can match the outdoor dining experience of the Rio Washingtonian Center. The setting is vibrant but soothing and city and suburban all in the same place. The location overlooking Washingtonian Lake is ideal for a night of casual dining under the stars. Five outstanding and diverse restaurants – Cafe Deluxe, Guapo's Cantina, Tara Thai, The Bench and Union Jack's – offer outside seating within earshot the live music that performs every Friday and Saturday night from 6 p.m to 9 p.m. through September 27.