Peter Varela well understands the appeal of alfresco dining.
“What’s funny is up until right now, everybody wants to sit inside, and they have certain tables that they want,” the general manager of Vintner Grill said last week. “In a couple of weeks, I’m going to have a 30- to 40-minute wait for the patio, and a half-empty restaurant inside.”
It’s officially springtime in Southern Nevada, which means it’s prime time for dining outdoors. And local restaurants that have the real estate are readying for the alfresco rush.
Sometimes, that real estate is a little surprising. Vintner Grill, for example, is in an office park on busy West Charleston Boulevard, but management has managed to carve out an attractive alfresco dining area.
“The building itself looks like what it is, an office building,” Varela said. But people who walk through the doors and look to their left are greeted by a pastoral scene.
“There’s some sumac trees out there that are very eye-catching,” he said. “Obviously the canopies stand out. The fabric itself is a lime green, brown and white pattern. We have beautiful Mediterranean lanterns hanging from the trees and two fire pits. They’re very surprised at the patio.”
Other settings are obviously tailor-made for dining alfresco.
“In this town, so many outdoor dining spaces overlook a parking lot,” said Rhonda Wyatt, co-owner of Marche Bacchus. “It’s not a very tranquil setting. That’s something I really appreciate about this setting.”
The setting, in the case of Marche Bacchus, is that rare thing in Las Vegas: a lake. It’s Lake Jacqueline, in Desert Shores, and it’s home to quite a variety of wildlife.
“The swans have been multiplying,” she said. “Even though they’re in the distance, they definitely improve the tranquility.”
Wyatt said the lakeside terrace at Marche Bacchus is far more popular than their 40-seat dining room. The fact that they’ve enclosed sections of the terrace with foldaway glass panels and have added misters for warm weather and fireplaces for when it’s chilly definitely helps, she said.
“Now that we have over the years made efforts to make it more weatherized, we rarely have anyone sitting inside,” she said. “People prefer outside 95 percent of the time.”
And then there’s alfresco dining with views of Las Vegas’ prime asset: the lights of the Strip. Sal Casola Jr., co-owner of Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro at the Palazzo, said customers frequently are surprised to learn the restaurant has outdoor seating, but tend to prefer it when they do.
Casola said the restaurant’s management tries to keep the patio open all year. The most popular times are spring and fall, although during the summer months it remains popular for breakfast, in the cool of the morning, he said. There’s a strong happy-hour contingent during spring and fall, too.
And Casola said “temperate” tends to be relative on the Strip.
“During the winter cold vortex that just happened, it could’ve been 50 degrees outside and people that were experiencing the vortex said ‘Yes, we want to go outside,’ ” he said.
Morel’s position on a slight bend in the road is an advantage.
“The view is right down the Strip,” Casola said. “We have a complete view of The Mirage volcano erupting. Just with the energy and looking at the Strip and all the lights, the point where we’re at is pretty magical. It’s a lot of fun. You realize, ‘Wow, I’m in Vegas.’ ”
Here are some restaurants that offer alfresco dining; it’s not intended to be a complete list.
■ Annie’s Gourmet Italian, 1716 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson: Pet-friendly patio near a residential intersection.
■ Back Room Burger, Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road: Patio overlooking pool area.
■ Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dining in cabanas around private lagoon.
■ Beach Cafe, Tropicana, 3801 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dining among waterfalls and greenery of pool area.
■ Bernard’s Bistro: 15 Via Belcanto at Lake Las Vegas and 2021 W. Sunset Road, both in Henderson: Patios overlooking the lake and a parking lot, respectively.
■ Bier Garten, Plaza, 1 Main St.: Enclosed garden area along Main Street.
■ Border Grill, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Two floors of patio dining overlooking Mandalay Bay beach and pool.
■ Botero, Encore, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Lunch served poolside from an abbreviated menu.
■ Brooklyn Bowl, The Linq, 3435 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking promenade and the High Roller.
■ Cantina Laredo, Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd.: Patio with LED-lighted trees and fire pits.
■ Chayo Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar, The Linq, 3435 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Two patios with views of the High Roller and the Strip.
■ Chocolate &Spice, 7293 W. Sahara Ave.: Outdoor seating in strip center.
■ Comme Ca, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking the Strip.
■ County Club, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dining overlooking 18th hole of resort golf course.
■ Culinary Dropout, Hard Rock Hotel, 4455 Paradise Road: Large patio with fire pits overlooking resort pool.
■ Diablo’s Mexican Cantina, Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Second-floor patio with view of the Strip.
■ Distill, 10820 W. Charleston Blvd.: Outdoor space with fire pits and couches.
■ Double Helix, Town Square, 6599 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dog-friendly patio with fire pits in shopping area.
■ Echo &Rig Butcher and Steakhouse, Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd.: Downstairs patio and upstairs balcony.
■ Ferraro’s Restaurant and Lounge, 4480 Paradise Road: Large patio with tables, couches and putting green, screened off from parking lot.
■ Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse &Wine Bar, Town Square, 6515 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking shopping area.
■ Gilley’s Saloon, Bar-B-Que and Dance Hall, Treasure Island, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking the Strip and the resort’s Sirens Cove.
■ Grand Cafe, Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.: Patio overlooking resort grounds.
■ Honey Salt, 1031 S. Rampart Blvd.: Patio overlooking shopping area.
■ King’s Fish House, The District at Green Valley Ranch, 2255 Village Walk Drive in Henderson: Patio overlooking village shopping area.
■ La Cave Wine &Food Hideaway, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking pool and gardens at resort.
■ Lakeside, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dining overlooking resort’s Lake of Dreams with water show.
■ Lavo, Palazzo, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking the Strip.
■ Le Thai, 523 Fremont St.: Walled patio with pergola and misters.
■ Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, The District at Green Valley Ranch, 2245 Village Walk Drive, Henderson: Views of shopping area.
■ Luna Rossa Ristorante, 10 Via Bel Canto, Lake Las Vegas, Henderson: Views of the village and lake.
■ Marche Bacchus, 2620 Regatta Drive: Terrace overlooking Lake Jacqueline in Desert Shores.
■ Marquee Dayclub, The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Poolside overlooking the Strip; food available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
■ Mix, The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Balcony off the lounge, featuring a limited menu.
■ Mizumi, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Private pagoda table surrounded by private gardens, koi pond and waterfall.
■ Mon Ami Gabi, Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Popular raised patio overlooking the Strip.
■ Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro, Palazzo, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking the Strip.
■ Nine Fine Irishmen, New York New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking the Strip, with walk-up bar.
■ Olives, Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dining overlooking the Fountains of Bellagio.
■ Park on Fremont, 506 Fremont St.: Walled garden just off Fremont Street.
■ Picasso, Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking the Fountains of Bellagio.
■ Pink Taco, Hard Rock Hotel, 4455 Paradise Road: Dining overlooking resort’s tropical pool complex, with glowing mural by tattoo artist.
■ Pool Cafe, Mandarin Oriental, 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South: On eighth-floor pool deck; open to the public from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
■ Poppy Den Asian Bistro, Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd.: Downstairs patio with garden and Buddha fountain and upstairs outdoor deck.
■ Prime Steakhouse, Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dining overlooking the Fountains of Bellagio.
■ The Pub at the Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking Monte Carlo pool.
■ Rao’s, Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio includes boccie court and view of the Garden of the Gods pool.
■ Sinatra, Encore, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Dining within a walled patio.
■ SW Steakhouse, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Terrace overlooking Lake of Dreams, with water show.
■ Tableau, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Poolside dining.
■ Tao Beach, The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Poolside dining all day.
■ T-bones Chophouse and Lounge, Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.: Patio with fire pit overlooking pool area.
■ Terra Rossa, Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd.: Patio overlooking resort grounds.
■ Terrace Point Cafe, Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio with views of the gardens and pools.
■ Terra Verde, Green Valley Ranch, 2300 Paseo Verde Parkway in Henderson: Patio overlooking resort grounds.
■ Tommy Bahama, Town Square, 6635 Las Vegas Blvd. South: Patio overlooking center’s play area.
■ Vintner Grill, 10100 W. Charleston Blvd.: Curtained dining areas overlooking landscaping.
■ Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant and Lounge, Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd South: Patio overlooking the Fountains of Bellagio.
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at email@example.com or 702-383-0474.