Side dish: unique patios marry local nightlife with the great outdoors

Cleveland's restaurant and bar scene has undergone tremendous growth in recent years. However, even the most party-hearty nightlife aficionado may not know every nook and cranny of the city's happening hangouts. With patio season upon us, here are a few unique outdoor gems where adventurous patrons can sip a Manhattan or hoist a craft beer.
Bar 32 at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown
100 Lakeside Ave.E., Cleveland
Soaring 374 feet above downtown, Bar 32 provides a sleek indoor-outdoor space where patrons get an eyeful of gleaming landmarks including the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and FirstEnergy Stadium. Lake Erie, the Cuyahoga River, Burke Lakefront Airport and the city of Lakewood are all within sight of the brave souls willing to scale 32 floors of Hilton's $272 million glass-and-steel edifice. Craft drinks, a raw bar and domestic and imported artisan cheeses combine nicely with the stunning views.
Bodega Restaurant & Lounge
1854 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights
Back on terra firma, there's an abundance of warm-weather chill out options. One is Bodega, a Moroccan eatery on the west side of Coventry Road that offers small plates, a huge martini selection and a comfortable patio located near the side entrance. Bodega's outdoor space is the perfect complement to calamari and Sangria.
Felice Urban Café 
12502 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland
Felice Urban Café has been a  home away from home for hungry Clevelanders since 2008, a happy coincidence considering the charming restaurant is set in a turn-of-the-century house on Larchmere.
As no house is complete without a patio, owner Margaret Mueller added her seasonal outdoor hideaway in 2010, transforming an old garage into an outdoor bar with oversized doors that slide out of the way. Additional open-air and closed seating areas on either side of the garage add to the homey ambiance, while a large side garden gathers the scent of herbs and summer vegetables grown on the premises. Bonus: a fivespot goes a long way during happy hour. Try a glass of wine or steamed bun with smoked pork, crushed black beans, chiles, radish and orange hoisin.
The Tavern Company
2299 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights
Last summer, the Tavern Company opened its new digs at the former Brennan's Colony, which itself had been a mainstay of the Cedar-Lee neighborhood of Cleveland Heights for decades. Tavern Company brought its eclectic menu and kept the Colony's spacious dining room, larger kitchen and a beautiful gated back patio that's perfect for first-date drinks or a family dinner. A covered outdoor bar dispenses spirits as TavCo's wait staff brings out menu must-haves such as the salmon row salad and Ohio City Pappardelle Pasta. 

Porco Lounge and Tiki Room
2527 West 25th St., Cleveland

Billed as a taste of Polynesia between Ohio City and Tremont, Porko is a fun and funky west side staple. Transform a steamy summer night on the rear patio with a mind-boggling Zombie. Served up in a tropical tiki mug, this classic is so potent, Porco limits customers to just two a night, so you'd best make plans for Uber to provide transportation. Also: Plantar's Punch, Mai Tais and Hurricanes. Ease the landing of any of them with chorizo tacos, pork sliders or "Closing Time" nachos.

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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