Patio Season: The Top 10 outdoor bars in Detroit
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants:
We’ve created a to-do list for you on the best patio bar and outdoor restaurants in Detroit now that the quarantine has been lifted. It’s been an unprecedented start to the year to say the least, but if we’re determined to do one thing this year it’s to not take a single day outside for granted. We’ve been getting calls with questions like, What restaurants have outdoor seating, what bars with patio seating can we hit on our tour, after the tour what are some restaurants with patios ? Regardless if you’re doing a tour with us we’ve made a to-do list for you guys on the best places to sip your favorite bevvie and soak in some vitamin D. Check ’em out! And if you want to make a day out of it you can choose to hit any of these during a HandleBar tour!
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants #1: Fountain Beach Bar in Campus Martius
The only place in the city that you can have your feet in the sand while being surrounded by skyscrapers sipping a frozen daiquiri. Unique to any other patio scene in Detroit, a large beach is installed next to The Fountain, where you can enjoy your drink, while putting your toes in the sand. Tons of picnic tables, outdoor bar stools and beach chairs are available, as you can enjoy the views of skyscrapers while you’re smack dab in the middle of the Detroit business district (Which means it’s perfect if you’re looking for an office team builder). The Fountain is located in Campus Martius Park steps from all the hot spots you might want to hit after and unlike just about every other bar in the city, kids are welcomed (and love) to play in the sand. Delicious food includes sliders, tacos, wings, fries, and salads, but our favorite (don’t judge) is probably the White Claw because if you’re on a HandleBar tour you get it at a discount ;). The Fountain is easily among the top Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants in Detroit.
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants #2: The Skip
If we told you to head down an alley in Detroit and promised there was a cool bar once you got to the middle, would you believe us ? Well you should! This formerly desolate alley has transformed into one of the most dynamic pedestrian-friendly public spaces in the country (Also known as The Belt). The artwork everywhere throughout the alley makes for a beautiful backdrop for an Instagram pic (or is it Tik Tok now?), but there is also a really cool outdoor bar in the middle, called The Skip. They’re known for serving fun frozens, tropical cocktails, killer grub and island vibes right in the heart of downtown Detroit. Happy Hour is on weekdays from 4-6:30pm. This includes $5 “Skip Favs” (mixed drinks) and $3 select beers and shots. Whether you want to drink on an outdoor bar stool or not, we always recommend taking a stroll through to check it out the murals and artwork.
–> Fun Fact: Before the Skip became a reality in 2015, the space was planned to be home of The HandleBar. A last minute change to install a “tiki bar” (eventually called The Skip) was decided and the plans moved us across the street. We weren’t sure about the decision at the time, but Bedrock and Library Street Collective have crushed it with the design; coolest alley we’ve ever been down. Don’t miss it! As far as Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants go, this one for sure needs to be on your to-do list.
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants #3: Tin Roof
There are actually multiple options for outdoor seating at Tin Roof and with it’s prime location there’s no better place to try if you’re looking for a spot to hit before a game or a concert. There is a grass covered beer garden 20ft from the entrance to Comerica Park (Also only 1 block from Ford Field, Little Caesar’s Arena, Fox Theatre, The Fillmore, etc) equipped with a stage for LIVE music and a food truck in case you’re hungry and don’t want to leave the sun to grab a bite (Inside they have a full kitchen that specializes in Southern inspired, made from scratch ‘Better than Bar’ food) If you’re not familiar with Tin Roof, it has 4 floors of entertainment and the roof has a bar with some of the best views of the city as well. If you’re in the right spot you can even see some of the Tigers game! New to the D in 2020 Tin Roof is without question one of the Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants you need to visit.
Once the sun sets if you’re not done partying head inside for a legit party. Over the years, their stages have hosted the famous, the should have been famous, and everyone in between! They have a LIVE act every night of the week.
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants #4: Founders Tap Room
If you’re from Michigan you know the drill during spring. It’s 60deg one day and 40deg the next. BUT when the sun is out you gotta be outside regardless of the temperature. If it’s a little chilly out & you still want to soak some rays, Founder’s patio is the perfect spot because it has some awesome (and warm) fire pits (pic below). It’s a great spot any time of year, but we especially love hitting it on those days a little extra heat would be nice. Located in Midtown on Charlotte St., between Cass Ave. and 2nd Ave., Founders Brewing Co. has brought the All Day IPA, KBS & Dirty Bastard to Detroit with their local taproom. Their food menu is mostly sandwiches, which doesn’t sound impressive… until you try them! Legit spot for food and no doubt one of the nicer patios in the D.
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants #5: Detroit Shipping Co
This one is our hidden gem. You can’t tell from the outside, but Detroit Shipping Company has a ridiculously cool courtyard surrounded by 2 stories of seating and string lighting, not to mention often LIVE music on an outdoor stage. Located in Midtown on Peterboro St., between Cass Ave. and 2nd Ave. it’s an outdoor oasis. The bar and restaurant includes 5 food-truck style eateries, two full service bars of microbrews, and even a coffee and ice cream shop. Each shop specializes in something unique from amazing chicken to tacos and nachos to Thai food (you gotta try the Pad Thai Roll!) to homestyle Nepalese dumplings and of course Burgers. You can find all of the menus here. And the coolest part? The building was constructed from refashioned shipping containers and the walls double as an art gallery (you can even purchase the art if you want). Put it on your to-do list, trust us!
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants #6: 2nd Best
Whether you want to drink with your pup or grab a beer before the game, Second Best’s intimate patio has you covered. If you’re not familiar this spot is like a really cool, hip dive bar. Our favorite thing about 2nd best is their drink selection, but right behind that is the service & staff. These guys are super creative and seems like they’ve always got something fun going on. They serve 40’s of High Life with champagne glasses, drinks out of honey bear containers & ask your server about a fun way to “ice” someone).
Their sister bar/restaurant, Grey Ghost, is also across the street if you want to step it up a notch (they have a patio!). Something a lot of people don’t know is after 11pm you can get one of our favorite deals in the city: Fries, a double burger (you HAVE to try) a beer and a shot of whisky for $18. You’ll often find your favorite HandleBar driver cashing in on this deal after a long day of tours!
Fun Fact: The name 2nd Best is somewhat of an inside joke w/ the owners. They kept getting 2nd place at national cocktail competitions and the name is an embraced declaration to the notion that you don’t need to be lauded as ‘the best’, to provide the best time.
Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants #7: Checker Bar
An absolute Detroit classic and a spot that won’t break the bank either. Well known for their fresh patty burgers & fries, $2 ready to go pizza slices upstairs, but probably even more so among our crew is their $2 Shorts beers, you can’t go wrong w/ Checker Bar. Plus, if you want to see your HandleBar driver after tours it’s highly likely we’re upstairs at the arcade eating pizza to a few rounds of Strohs or Shorts. Their outdoor seating has cool string lighting and is one of the few spots downtown that still feels like a local, hometown bar. More days than not you’ll see multiple bicycles chained to the patio while locals enjoy a few drinks on the outdoor setup. The upstairs has massive open windows that span the side of the building as well. A dive no doubt, but Checker will remain a staple for many years to come.
#8: Parker’s Alley
Parker’s Alley is a half block from Woodward Avenue and right behind The Shinola Hotel. It’s full of beautiful artwork/design and retail like DROUGHT, The Lip Bar, Good Neighbor, MadCap Coffee, Flowers for Dreams, Detroit is the new Black, Madewell, etc. The biggest bar in the alley is The Brakeman which is stocked with big screen TV’s, foosball, table shuffleboard, beer pong and ping pong tables with garage doors that open into Parker’s Alley and Farmer Street in the warmer months.
There’s a lot of foot traffic in the alley so it’s great people watching and a legit spot to get a beer. The Brakeman has a unique system where they don’t allow tipping or paying the bartenders. Instead you buy a beer token from a booth and all beers are priced the same; pretty unique and definitely worth checking out. You can also reserve a beer table here and drink by the hour! If you’re hungry grab some chicken and biscuits next door at Penny Reds and eat at your table.
Somehow we run into a ton of people that are unaware of Lumen, which is located right in the beautiful Beacon Park. One of the coolest things about the patio is you get an awesome castle as your backdrop (also known as the GAR building). The owner’s of Lumen also own Griffin Claw Brewing Company so you’ll almost always find that on tap, but they carry all sorts of options for beer. They have some delicious cocktails that are perfect for a sunny day and a food menu the is LEGIT. Don’t sleep on Lumen!
#10: Monarch Club
The sickest rooftop bar in Detroit that not even 2 years ago was covered in grass and overrun with rodents. Don’t believe us; check out some transformation pics here. Don’t worry though, in Detroit 2 years ago is almost a lifetime. The Monarch Club is definitely fancy now, so if you’re trying to impress that special someone, this is your spot. The pictures show you everything you need to know…
Honorable Mention: Old Miami
We almost didn’t put this one on the list because we wanted to keep it to ourselves, but the backyard space at The Old Miami is an absolute oasis in the sea of cement that is downtown. Don’t let the front of the bar fool you, it’s a classic dive bar, but the outdoor space is super unique. The backyard has a bar and a huge open grassy space surrounded by tall fencing. If you’ve never been there before, you’ll be amazed how much it feels like a massive backyard. We scoured the internet for a good picture and since we couldn’t find one we didn’t want to be the first to post one. So… if you haven’t been and want to see it; just trust us and check it out! Old Miami is one of the Patio Bar and outdoor restaurants you’ll want to hit, for sure.
Honorable Mention: Queens Bar
There’s no better patio to see the construction transformation of Detroit happen LIVE and up close. Queen’s Bar patio is across the street from what will soon be the tallest building in Detroit and currently under construction. Grab a $3 Strohs or a fancy cocktail and keep it chill. Queen’s is often a chill spot for locals, but they often also have a DJ spinning once the sun sets. It’s between The Belt and Parker’s Alley so a good spot to wet your beak if you’re walking in between the two. (full disclosure we’re talking about less than a 1block walk, but we don’t judge!)
In conclusion, whatever your summer looks like, we recommend making some to-do lists because if there was ever a year to not take a day for granted this sure feels like it! And remember, we can hit every single one of the above bars during your HandleBar tour so if you want to customize a patio tour just let us know! If you want to see more downtown Detroit bars you can hit on your tour go to FAQ and look at question #8 🙂 Each bar is clickable so you can scope out the vibe of each spot before you arrive.
Interested in knowing what a HandleBar tour is all about ? Check out our promo video!