Kent’s Hidden (and Not-So-Hidden) Patio Gems

Katy Coduto

With spring finally feeling like, well, spring and summer only weeks away, Kent’s many patios are opening up. Whether you want to grab a bite to eat or sit outside while you drink, you have more options for enjoying the great outdoors than you may even realize.

While some of Kent’s patios are legendary – three stories at the Zephyr, anyone? – others are carefully hidden, and you may not even think of them when considering your outdoor options.

No worries, we’re here to help you navigate the patios and find your perfect sunny day, moonlit night venue.

If you’re trying to grab a bite outside…

If you’re within walking distance of campus, there’s a 50 percent chance you’re in walking distance of Chipotle, and of course you can sit outside at everyone’s favorite burrito chain. But they aren’t the only eatery with a patio geared for outdoor eating.

Laziza has a patio out front that opens up in the nicer weather, and you can enjoy their wide selection of Mediterranean items while looking down Erie Street. The added bonus now is that your view isn’t construction on the Bricco/apartment complex across the street, and you can also laugh at people using Bricco’s valet.

Bricco also has a patio, which stretches along the whole front of Bricco on Erie. Bricco has become everyone’s “go to” restaurant for first (and many) dates, so if you’re going to be like everyone else, you should do it on a nice summer night when you can take advantage of enjoying the outdoors.

Bricco and Laziza are both known for their food, and you can sit outside at any time of day to enjoy a good meal. However, if you’re really enjoying your meal at either restaurant, you shouldn’t leave without at least looking at both drink menus. They’re extensive and full of interesting cocktails that you can only get at that location.

If you just want a drink…

Plenty of Kent’s bars have patios, although some are much better known (and more visible) than others. The clear standout here is the Zephyr Pub’s three-story patio, which attracts huge crowds on spring and summer weekends. It also helps that the Zephyr is equipped with two bars and heaters throughout their patio space, so even if it gets chilly, you can stand outside and enjoy the view of Water Street (and your friends drunkenly strolling by you). Soon, Taco Tontos will also be serving outside again, in a partnership with Zephyr that only increases your reasons to hang out in the great outdoors.

If Zephyr isn’t your style, don’t fret: You can always escape to Water Street’s rooftop patio. As long as the patio is open, it’s yours. All you have to do is sneak back on Water Street’s main floor toward the second bar, by the stage, and slip out the door. Plenty of people don’t know that this door is hidden there, but once you do – it changes your Water Street experience forever.

Just before you get downtown, though, there’s 101 Bottles, which also has a patio. Nestled in the middle of the Exchange and Penn Station, 101 Bottles’ patio isn’t huge but it’s perfect for grabbing a craft brew and trying some local beers instead of chugging Bud Lights downtown. It’s more laid back than party-centric Water Street and rarely as crowded as Zephyr. Bottles’ patio is a nice detachment from the craziness of Main Street.   

And for the best of both worlds…

There are two go-to options that give you an outdoor setting for full meals and plenty of drinks. Panini’s and Bar 145 both have full menus and a wide selection of drinks to enjoy outside. During the day, you can sit around at Panini’s and bask in the sun while being served the renowned Panini sandwich and choosing from a wide selection of beers. At night, the bar stays open, and some snacks are still served. Fires are lit so that even on cooler nights, you can enjoy your time outside. Panini’s has two bars, and one of those bars is partially outside so you never have to jump in and out to get a drink.

If you need a burger while you’re outside, though, you have to shift gears and head over to Bar 145. 145’s patio wraps around the building, with some seating available near the front and a lot of it stretching back (almost up against Bricco). Grab a burger for lunch or dinner; go at night to take advantage of drink specials and more fires. Similar to Panini’s, Bar 145 has fire pits arranged in the back so that you can bask in the warmth. While their bar doesn’t go outside, it’s easily accessible as it stretches all the way back and reaches the garage-like end of Bar 145. It opens up in warmer months and usually ends up being one of the most crowded spots.

It says a lot for a restaurant that’s relatively new to downtown Kent. Plus, even if you’re outside at Bar 145, you can still hear the band playing on weekends, so you aren’t sacrificing entertainment by jumping outside.

One other gem for eating and drinking that you might not think of? Fresco, the little Mexican eatery at the end of the block from Bar 145, is a great option for a quick meal outside. The patio at Fresco is actually pretty large, and it’s grown as the weather has gotten warmer. Plus, you can get a margarita or frozen sangria (or a mix of the two!) at Fresco and take it outside while you enjoy a Water Street burrito. It’s not always an obvious choice, but it’s one you won’t regret.

As the weather warms up, you’ll want to take advantage of all of these patio options. You may as well enjoy the warmth with your friends, some food and some drinks while you can – because this is Ohio, and we could have a snowstorm in August before you know it.

Contact Katy Coduto at [email protected]