By Wendy and Mike Pramik
Posted On: Jan 31, 2021
Throughout last year, Ohio restaurants have been increasing their outdoor dining accommodations, which often allows for better social distancing.
The cold, winter weather hasn't placed that trend in the deep freeze. Many restaurants and bars have set up igloos and similar enclosures, which offer warmth and separation, to take advantage of their exterior spaces.
For instance, The View at Shires' Garden in Cincinnati offers several outdoor structures that guests can reserve for up to two hours. They include igloos and greenhouses with controllable heating and Bluetooth, so guests can play their own music. There's also a heated tent with a private bar for up to 10 people.
"We receive hundreds of requests a week, and have a full-time person dedicated to scheduling and managing these requests and reservations," says Lisa Colina of The View. "Weekends fill up quickly, so weekdays have the most availability."
"The greenhouses are separate and intimate, yet still visible, allowing diners to embrace the energy of one of downtown Cleveland's most prominent street corners," says Nicole Bakker of Betts. "It makes for a totally unique and special experience."
There are several places around Ohio where you can eat and drink in an outdoor, heated bubble or greenhouse. Take a look at the list below for some ideas for more unique outdoor dining experiences.
Remember to check before you go, as several of the restaurants require advanced reservations and/or food-and-beverage minimums.
Mudlick Tap House in Dayton
This gastropub serves classy cocktails and craft brews and killer grub, such as fried leeks and homemade meatloaf. Three igloos that seat up to eight are outfitted with air purifiers and electric fireplace heaters.
The Vault Wine Bar in Shelby
Wishmaker House Bed & Breakfast in Bellville
Reserve one of five unique, themed igloos at this mid-Ohio retreat that has its own winery and wine bar that also features local and craft beers and a menu of small plates, flatbread pizza, sandwiches and entrees.
Check out Delaware's cool downtown with a bite or a drink at one of four winterized spaces.
Amato's Woodfired Pizza has three igloos on its outdoor plaza, just off Sandusky Street. Choose from several wood-baked dishes, including pizza and a delectable appetizer of roasted veggies. We enjoyed lunch recently at Amato's igloo, which an employee sanitized with a misting machine before we entered. No reservations were required.
Restoration Brew Worx has two outdoor heated pods where guests can enjoy on a first-come, first-served basis.
Greenhouse-style pods also are in the offing at the nearby 1808 American Bistro. Savor custom cocktails and innovative, modern cuisine from chef Josh Dalton in one of three outside spaces.
Just down the street, Dalton's Speck Italian Eatery has four greenhouses with space heaters, air filtration systems, a speaker and carpeting.
VASO Rooftop Lounge in Dublin
Reserve an exquisitely decorated igloo for up to two hours atop the AC Hotel by Marriott in Dublin’s vibrant Bridge Street District. Feast on Spanish small plates and craft cocktails and take in the views of city's new S-shaped pedestrian bridge that spans the Scioto River. Igloos are cleaned between uses with electrostatic disinfection technology.
The Royce Columbus in Columbus
Feast on Creole cuisine in one of nine igloos at The Royce, a new gastropub that opened in 2020 at Polaris Fashion Place. Shop then pop in for brunch, served every day from 11AM - 3PM, and warm up with an order of eggs Benedict and a Bloody Mary. Igloos will available by reservation through mid-April.
Merwin's Wharf in Cleveland
Enjoy fresh, seasonal meals with great views of water and wildlife at this eatery on the Cuyahoga River's Irishtown Bend. Merwin's offers several well-furnished igloos with special menus and seating for up to eight.
The Blarney Irish Pub in Toledo
Sip on a British stout, ale or lager, and dine on shepherd's pie or fish and chips, at this downtown pub, where groups of four to eight can reserve one of four igloos.
NOTE: While these structures are a fun way to experience the Ohio outdoors in the winter, you should always make sure your restaurant is following the right safety protocols for your meal and time inside the igloo.