Spicing up date night or drinks with friends can be tricky these days, as we try to simultaneously stay social and socially distant. Charleston’s weather affords local spots the opportunity to serve guests outdoors year round, meaning several restaurateurs work outdoor areas into their initial designs. For dates or drinks with friends, you want open air options that are comfortable yet lively, shaded and of course photogenic. COVID times call for courtyard cocktails, and these eight Charleston establishments are the places to be.
Frannie and the Fox
181 Church St.
This modern Italian bistro is located in Emeline, a new boutique hotel in downtown Charleston. After quietly opening earlier this summer, Frannie and the Fox has quickly become a well known destination for inventive small plates, wood-fired pizzas and handcrafted cocktails. The restaurant’s increasing popularity among tourists and locals alike is due in part to the large courtyard, which maintains the restaurant’s energy due to its close proximity. Grab a table next to the fire and try a negroni on tap or one of several house cocktails like the Il Cavallo, which combines Virgil Kaine rye, High Wire amaro and ginger beer.
197 Jackson St.
Eastside newcomer Tobin’s Market, located in the renovated Jackson Street Freedman’s Cottages, is the place to go for drinks, dinner and live music. Patrons enter the small market to place their order before heading outside where the ambiance really is different from most downtown restaurants. There’s bar seating, chairs and cozy couches on the expansive Astroturf-covered back patio that also boasts a small stage for musicians. The musical acts vary, from roots country to reggae or jazz.
Muse Restaurant and Wine Bar
82 Society St.
Tucked away on Society Street downtown, Muse is one of Charleston’s best kept secrets. We recommend checking out the Italian/Mediterranean eatery for a full meal, but it’s also an ideal outdoor escape for a classic cocktail or glass of wine. On date night, grab a pre-dinner drink on the secluded upstairs balcony where you can faintly hear the King Street hustle and bustle.
Blind Tiger Pub
36-38 Broad St.
You might not expect a picturesque setting at one of Charleston’s oldest watering holes, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in the sprawling courtyard at Blind Tiger. There are tables, couches, space heaters and an outdoor bar where you can grab a Moscow mule or local draft beer.
82 Wentworth St.
You’ll find a quaint patio that’s perfect for a full meal with friends or a cocktail before dinner behind Basic Kitchen, a Wentworth Street restaurant that puts a healthy spin on familiar dishes and drinks. There’s beet margaritas, local craft beers and a long list of natural wines that pair well with cauliflower wings or a veggie burger.
122 E. Ashley Ave.
Folly Beach getaway Chico Feo’s vibes are funky, the beer is local and affordable and you’ll often find live music outside on the patio, which has plenty of seating. If you want a bite with your beer, check out the smoked pork taco, which is topped with house-made kimchi and sambal aioli.
545 King St.
Vintage Lounge’s outdoor area sits in the back of the spacious King Street cocktail bar. The best part about this patio, which boasts its own bar, is that it’s partially covered allowing you to take shelter if it rains. Oh, and we can’t forget the Instagram-able green wall surrounding the patio, making patrons feel like they’re drinking in a hidden garden. For drinks, check out a glass or bottle from the lengthy wine list or try a wine cocktail like the New York sour, a combination of bourbon and lemon with a red wine float.
Kiki & Rye
656 G Long Point Road
Kiki & Rye fits the “open, airy and farmhouse chic” description owners Kelleanne and Ryan Jones were after when they opened the Mount Pleasant eatery earlier this summer. The 60-seat outdoor area provides space to spread out, while maintaining that sought-after lively atmosphere, which gets even more energetic after a few cocktails from beverage director Kevin Regan. Pair the booze with some coastal inspired bites from the wood-fired kitchen, and be sure to stop by at brunch when you’ll find steak and eggs, sweet potato waffles and more.