Michigan weather is a fickle beast at best — we get one 90-degree-plus bust-out-the-flippy-floppies day, then it plunges back down into subzero overnight lows and you have to scrape frost off your windshield to go to work in June. Well, maybe that's exaggerating just a little, but it's not unheard of. We may have jinxed ourselves by running a warm-weather-eats list back on April Fools' Day, but now with the slow upturn in the weather maybe it's time to bust out the flippy-floppies again and go grab some grub.
Andiamo Lakefront Bistro 24026 E. Jefferson Ave., Harbor 9 Marina, St. Clair Shores; 586-773-7770: Andiamo features two different outdoor areas: the main floor deck which serves their restaurant menu — ribs, steaks, chops, seafood, homemade pastas — and the upper-floor Bar Lago, which has a more casual menu, including pizza, fish tacos, salads and burgers. The upper deck even has a fire pit and "the best view of Lake St. Clair the Nautical Mile has to offer."
Anita's Kitchen 22651 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-0680: The food is what really shines at Anita's, but the covered patio is a real treat in the summer, while you nosh on the salads and veggie-intensive appetizers that fill a good portion of the menu. There are even a few unique pita pizzas. As with most Mediterranean cuisines, Lebanese is considered to be a very balanced, healthy diet. If meat is your thing, you can easily fill up with kebabs or one of a few fish dishes. The ideal sampler is Anita's "mixed mezza" — a plate of hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush and crunchy pickled vegetables with a touch of heat and a few other plates. Comes in a vegetarian version. For a fine finish to a meal, order a pot of Turkish coffee and a tender, not-too-sweet piece of baklava.
Arbor Brewing Company 114 E. Washington, Ann Arbor; 734-213-1393: A cheerful brewpub with house-brewed suds and good, upscale pub food, Arbor Brewing Company has a streetside patio with about 10 tables, some picnic-style and some patio-style with umbrellas. A good place to rest your feet, try one of dozens of unique beers, have an appetizer (or some ribs) and chat with friends while staying in the middle of the action in downtown Ann Arbor. And the people-watching is great.
Beach Grill 24420 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores; 586-771-4455: "Deck space" doesn't begin to cover it. The Beach Grill has five thousand square feet of it, with thirty-two tables and a full tiki bar, along with a dance floor and a spectacular view indoors or out. Enjoy burgers and pizza on the patio or filet mignon inside, or take in an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch overlooking the water. It's not Cancún, but the breeze and the sunlight'll do you good nonetheless.
Boulders 1020 W. Ann Arbor Rd., Plymouth; 734-459-4190: With 20-odd tables on a covered patio and a casual atmosphere, Boulders is a good place to catch up with friends or watch the game. They boast about their Mexican food and are currently running $10.99 New York steak or all-you-can-eat shrimp specials in addition to their ribs and deli sandwiches. And the entertainment goes most of the week with open-mic night on Tuesday; karaoke-and-trivia night on Wednesday; a live DJ on Thursday; and cover bands on Fridays and Saturdays. The people are friendly and the food is good, and the patio is a plus on hot summer nights — which we should be getting any time now.
Copper Canyon Brewery 27522 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; 248-223-1700: In addition to their indoor space, Copper Canyon Brewery has an outside area that seats about 70, and it's open till the wee hours if the weather's good. There are plenty of umbrellas, so you can sit in the shade while you have a beer — the seasonal ones are $2.50 on the deck, instead of the usual $4.50. If the weather's good, it can make your happy hour that much happier. And the food ain't too shabby either — steaks, ribs, pasta, fish, burgers, pizza, soups, salads and desserts all keep this microbrewery going. And if the weather decides to suck, they've got a game room inside to keep you entertained out of the rain (or, given this "summer," snow?).
Great Baraboo Brewing Co. 35905 Utica Rd., Clinton Twp.; 586-792-7397: They've got 17 tables on their covered patio, so you can stay dry until it starts raining sideways; three 42-inch TVs, so you can watch the game while you chow down on all-you-can-eat Mexican (on Mondays, it's $7.95 and comes with a 10 oz. Margarita); and it's a patio! So enjoy the breeze while you bask in the glow of happy hour, every day from 3 to 6 p.m. with buy-one-get-one-free appetizer deals and $1 off drinks. If you still hate Mondays, they've got $3 margaritas and Coronas to help you make it through till Tuesday.
Guy Hollerin's Sports Bar 3600 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-769-4323: The words "Sports Bar" and "with patio in view of sand volleyball court" go together like ... well, sports bars and volleyball. On top of the volleyball and patio and overall chill atmosphere, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with a brunch on Sundays. Sandwiches are in the $5-$7 range (entrées $8 and up), and it's no-frills, just good food. So take a load off, play some trivia or Virtual Golf, and just hang out and enjoy the summertime.
Moose Preserve 43034 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; 248-858-7688: Northern exposure aura with outdoorsy grub to match. Spicy venison, buffalo steaks and campfire whitefish wrapped in foil make it like camping (without the bugs or tent or drive to some remote area without cell phone reception). They have a half-covered patio in back with plenty of tables for those nice days, when you want to actually soak up some nature, and happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m. with 50 cents off drinks.
Picasso Café 39915 Grand River Ave., Novi; 248-427-0600: Picasso Café is not your ordinary sandwich café. Their special-recipe tuna, chicken, and turkey salads are made from scratch every day. Deli sandwiches are made from the highest quality meats and are served on breads baked fresh daily. They have quite an assortment of soups, salads, sandwiches, and espresso beverages — as well as a patio with a few tables you can park it on outside. It seats about 15 to 20 out there. But the highlight of Picasso is by far the ever-changing local art that changes on the first of every month. For July, they're featuring the work of Barbara Eko Murphy, so you can have some local culture with your sandwich.
Sgt. Pepperoni's Pizzeria & Deli 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-833-7272; Sgt. Pepperoni's makes quality pizza pizzas with Eastern Market-fresh toppings, and it doesn't stop there. They've got a variety of fresh-made pasta dishes featuring Mama Mucci's Pasta; deli sandwiches and salads; and roasted chickens and a variety of sides. You can hang out on the Alley Deck upstairs (along with about 99 other people) while enjoying their daily pizzeria specials or happy hour (it runs from 3 to 6 p.m. daily).
Special thanks to editorial intern Julia Fitzgerald for her help compiling this column.