Sharon and I are starting to dip our toes into leaving the house for extended periods of time. While we’re getting more comfortable about being in public and staying overnight somewhere besides our own home, the one thing we still avoid is eating inside at a restaurant. If we’re sitting down around a bunch of other people who are not wearing masks, that’s only going to be happening outside.
During our first trip to Helen, GA, it was relatively easy to find places with outdoor seating since the town was small and we were able to look in person for places that met our criteria. Since it was still pleasant outside, many places offered seating on outdoor decks or even in closed parking lots.
It was a little more difficult to find places during our trip to Vero Beach, FL. We stayed at the Disney Vacation Club in Vero Beach, which is actually a 15-minute drive from the rest of the town. The one on-site restaurant only offered indoor seating with social distancing guidelines still in place (despite Florida now allowing restaurants to seat at 100% capacity).
That was a no-go for us so we looked online to find places that offered outdoor seating, which is harder than you’d think.
At first, I looked on Yelp. my go-to website when searching for restaurants. The reviews often provide insight into if the restaurant is the type of place we want to go. Fortunately, Yelp has added a filter to find places that offer outdoor seating.
On the left, you can see “Outdoor Seating” as one of the features.
We looked at the pictures of the places listed and found one that looked suitable for our needs.
Sure, it wasn’t fancy but the seats were outside, the seafood was fresh and the beers were cold. We found it interesting that the restaurant was advertising the dining room was now open to 100% capacity but they still offered tables that featured social distancing. We arrived later in the evening and were the only table seated outside, which was just fine for us.
On our next night, we were looking for something a little more upscale. We aren’t eating out very often so why not go and treat ourselves. On our last visit to the area, we ate at the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel, which had outdoor seating. While it was good, it was expensive for what we got and we wanted to try somewhere else. Yelp showed the same places we picked from last night so cast a wider net and checked Open Table.
On the left side menu, they have a filter for outside dining. The reservation system also supposedly will reserve an outside or inside table depending on your selections.
We picked the Citron Bistro from the list, as their outdoor seating looked really nice.
As we were leaving the hotel, we received a call from the restaurant. While we made an 8 PM reservation on Open Table, the kitchen also closed at 8 PM. We told them we were on our way and should be there 15 minutes early, which we did.
However, when we arrived it was raining so sitting in the plaza was out of the question. We asked about takeout but they said that three outdoor tables were under the awning and didn’t get wet. We decided to chance it and we ended up having a wonderful dinner on our private outdoor plaza.
While our insistence on eating outdoors will limit our choices, that’s a trade off we’re willing to make. As the weather gets colder, the number of places we’ll have to choose from will decrease and we’re well aware of that. For the winter, getting takeout and bringing it back to our hotel room might be necessary.
We know these concessions will only be temporary. Eventually, the US will either get the coronavirus under control or restaurants will upgrade their air circulation systems where we’ll feel better about eating indoors. Until then, we’ll keep checking online reviews for the best places with outdoor seating (preferably heated during the winter months.)
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary