FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Looking to dine with a side of sky?
Fairfield County is loaded with "hot" spots - everything from rooftop decks to waterside terraces and secluded patios.
The following is a list of spots that serve up a healthy dose of sunshine, ideal for sipping icy margaritas, digging into a tangy lobster roll, relishing a juicy burger, or simply soaking up the sun.
Artisan Restaurant, Southport: Farm to table food with New England flare defines the food at Artisan at Delamar Southport. But it's the gracious atmosphere and spacious outdoor patio that cinches its deal as a summertime fave. Dine Alfresco: 275 Old Post Rd,. Southport, (203) 307-4222.
Baldanza Organic Cafe, New Canaan: Farm to table meals and a cozy atmosphere make Baldanza a popular spot, especially among those who crave innovative dishes comprised of fresh, all organic ingredients from local farms. Come evening, patio dining includes linen tablecloths and candles. Dine Alfresco: 17 Elm St, New Canaan, (203) 966-4000.
Captain's Cove, Bridgeport. Folks come from all over the county for the postcard perfect Long Island Sound backdrop. The casual atmosphere and affordable menu items like hand-battered fish and chips, fried seafood, shellfish, and gluten friendly dishes continually win rave reviews. There's also a nice assortment of craft beer and inventive cocktails. Dine Alfresco: 1 Bostwick Ave., Bridgeport, (203) 335-1433.
Cask Republic, South Norwalk: A newly built patio as well as a sidewalk café offers a birds-eye view of dining (and stargazing) in the heart of downtown SoNo. Dine Alfresco: 99 Washington St, Norwalk, (203) 354-0163.
Down the Hatch, Brookfield: Half pound burgers are among the offerings at this lakeside restaurant where, with just one look at the expansive lake view, you'll find your muscles relaxing. Steak, sandwiches and seafood -- hello lobster!! -- all seem to taste better with the air of the great outdoors. Dine Alfresco: 292 Candlewood Lake Rd., Brookfield, (203) 775-6635
ECCO Rooftop Eatery & Bar, Bethel: Locally sourced food is important at this American farm to table bistro where you'll find airy, light-filled space with a retractable glass roof and a brick oven that churns out signature dishes including its ever-popular pizzas. Dine Alfresco: 8 PT Barnum Square, Bethel, (203)744-7500.
INDIA New Canaan: Master Chef Prasad Chirnomula of "Chopped,"Thali, Thali Too and Oaxaca Kitchen fame offers locally sourced, farm-to-table fare featuring traditional Indian cuisine and bright new dishes with British Colonial overtones. The outdoor patio elevates the experience making for a "hot" night. Dine Alfresco: 62 Main St., New Canaan, (203) 972-8332.
Knapp's Landing, Stratford: Located at the mouth of the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound, outdoor dining doesn't get any better than this. Enjoy the picturesque patio while you dine on the day's daily specials -- freshly caught on the East Coast. Dine Alfresco: 520 Sniffens Ln., Stratford, (203) 378-5999.
L'Escale, Greenwich: You'll feel far, far away when you dine at this French beauty, housed at the elegant Delamar Greenwich Harbor. The restaurant, which offers Provençal and Mediterranean cuisine, has an extensive outdoor terrace that runs along a considerable stretch of dock, giving you views of boats coming in and out of Greenwich Harbor. Dine Alfresco: 500 Steamboat Rd., Greenwich, (203) 661-4600.
Overton's, Norwalk: Folks come by boat or car to this casual family eatery where seafood reigns supreme. Sure, there's hotdogs and hamburgers but to get into the New England spirit - and feel like you're at a lobster shack in Cape Cod, go for one of the shrimp or scallop rolls, then drink in the view. Dine Alfresco: 80 Seaview Ave, Norwalk.
Sign of the Whale, Stamford: The view is expansive from the rooftop bar at Sign of the Whale where there seems to always be something going on. Every Monday it's all you can eat crablegs for $29.95 and then later, Big Pop Trivia Night with Carlos of Big Pop Productions. Happy Hour goes from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday. Dine Alfresco: 6 Harbor Point Rd., Stamford, (203) 883-8282.
TerraSole Ristorante, Ridgefield: Authentic Italian food -- a product of Owner Pietro Polini’s culinary upbringing in Puglia -- and a meticulously renovation makes this cheerful eatery reminiscent of an Italian piazza and sidewalk café, which opens up onto a bustling retail neighborhood. Now open is their lovely garden-like private patio that seats 50, adding to the 65-seat main dining room. Dine Alfresco: 3 Big Shop Lane, Ridgefield, (203) 438-5352.
Terra, Greenwich: Wood -oven pizza and handmade pasta keep guests coming back to this casual bistro. But it's the fun people watching from the outdoor patio that ups the ante come summer. Dine Alfresco: 156 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich, (203) 629-5222.
The Whelk, Westport: The Whelk, long known for pleasing even the pickiest of foodies, is just as well known for its flagstone patio where communal tables have gorgeous views of the Saugatuck River. Indulge in the extensive raw bar with fresh clams and oysters from as nearby as Norwalk. Or opt for one of the eatery's inventive cocktails. With this view, you can -- and should -- enjoy a leisurely meal. Dine Alfresco: 575 Riverside Ave., Westport, (203) 557-0902
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