The humidity's been up lately, but the heat has been decidedly down. It's prime time to indulge in a little alfresco dining.
"We're getting back into that time of the year when it's delightful to be outside," said Jim Mullay of Henderson.
And how. We all know being outdoors in the valley can be pretty unpleasant in the summer and winter, but spring and fall are great opportunities for dining out - truly out - and breathing in the (comparatively) fresh air, and more and more restaurants are accommodating.
Just as outdoor kitchens have multiplied in residential areas, outdoor dining has done the same in commercial districts. (But please note that this story is not intended as an encyclopedic listing.)
Mullay said he favors Lake Las Vegas in Henderson for outdoor dining, particularly at Luna Rossa.
But a quick survey of the resort community's MonteLago Village reveals that nearly all of the restaurants there offer outdoor seating, with views either of the lake or the cobblestoned shopping village.
Another hotbed of alfresco dining is The District at Green Valley Ranch Resort, which offers it at nearly all of its restaurants, including a large covered patio at Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ and a more open space at King's Fish House.
Another is Town Square on Las Vegas Boulevard South, which offers it at most of its restaurants, including Tommy Bahama's, Brio, Double Helix and Blue Martini.
The Strip is alfresco central, with most resorts offering numerous opportunities.
Mullay said he likes breakfasting at Bouchon at The Venetian, which has an elaborately landscaped patio overlooking the Venezia pool area, and at the Verandah at the Four Seasons, which offers much the same sort of view.
"We love that on a special occasion, on a Sunday or a holiday," Mullay said of the Verandah.
Other prime alfresco venues on the Strip include Border Grill at Mandalay Bay; Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York; Olives, Prime, Picasso and Yellowtail overlooking Bellagio's fountain displays; most of the restaurants at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore; Morels at the Palazzo; and El Segundo Sol at the Fashion Show mall.
Then there's the laid-back appeal of Senor Frog's at Treasure Island, PBR Rock Bar & Grill at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and the Harley-Davidson Cafe across the street.
The resort trend has extended to the newer properties in the suburbs; many of the restaurants at M Resort in Henderson and Red Rock Resort offer outdoor dining.
There are plenty of parking lot possibilities, and sometimes, even though the view's not much, it's great just to be outdoors. Those would include Kona Grill in Boca Park, Vintner Grill and Agave nearby, Grape Street on Lake Mead Boulevard, the Baguette Cafe on Sunset Road, The Griddle on Eastern Avenue and Firefly on Paradise.
Some outdoor dining areas are even on well-traveled roads. Mullay said he dines outside at Siena Italian Authentic Trattoria on West Sahara Avenue.
"It's right out front, streetside," he said. "It can be a little bit noisy, depending on the time of day you're there. But generally the food quality is good."
And then there's Desert Shores, which offers a true anomaly: lakeside dining in the desert, available at Garfield's and Marche Bacchus, both in a strip center on Regatta Drive.
Marche Bacchus is a favorite of Norm and Barbara Lubke of Palm Springs and Santa Ana, Calif., who are frequent visitors to Las Vegas.
"Of the few where we've eaten outside, I'd put that at No. 1," Norm Lubke said. "We've eaten both inside and outside. Outside is certainly preferable if it's not 100 degrees; that's the problem in the summertime.
"The view of the lake is terrific, with ducks and geese swimming by. That's nice. And it's a terrace, so you get a view of the water wherever you're sitting."
Matt McMillan, general manager at Marche Bacchus, said the alfresco dining area is one of the biggest subjects of customer feedback.
"They say it's just a beautiful patio outside," he said. "The scenery is gorgeous, and they really enjoy the ambience."
McMillan said the restaurant has installed misters for hot-weather dining - something Lubke said is far more common in Palm Springs - and overhead heaters and see-through curtains for cold weather.
"There are some people who dine out in the dead of summer and the dead of winter," he said.
But McMillan isn't kidding himself; he knows the food has to be at least the equal of the atmosphere.
"I would say it's a combination of both," he said. "The food here is fantastic. Obviously the lakeside setting is a huge draw as well."
Lubke is definitely in agreement.
"The main reason we go there is for the food," he said.
McMillan recounted a memory of a restaurant-with-a-view that they had stopped frequenting because the food quality dropped off.
"Now it's pretty good. We wouldn't have gone back just for the view."
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review journal.com or 702-383-0474.