With spring currently sprung, and summer's swelter hopefully taking its time getting here, the last thing on our collective minds is taking refuge indoors.
Lucky for us, over the past 18 months, at least seven restaurants have opened in Tarrant County, and they feature the same great lure: an alluring patio.
The following is a list of some of the select new dining spots where "alfresco" isn't the name of the sous-chef but denotes a breezy way to enjoy your restaurant meal.
Opened : December 2009
Tale of the tape : Patio accommodates 42 over 400 square feet.
Look and feel : Cozy sleek. Almost the entire area is shielded by a cedar arbor and is fringed by rosemary and creeping jasmine hedges. The young trees will eventually produce a 6-foot canopy of shade for the already cool patio.
Outside eats : Trio of fries ($9); laughing bird shrimp ceviche ($11); crispy pork soft corn tacos ($9).
Special feature : The fireplace nook is surrounded by nifty furniture, including a rock 'n' roll sofa in midnight-blue synthetic leather. Tillman's patio is very pet friendly; its kitchen prepares homemade dog biscuits and there are water bowls for visiting canines and felines.
The basics : Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday. 2933 Crockett St., Fort Worth. 817-850-9255; www.tillmansroadhouse.com
Opened : September 2009
Tale of the tape : "Backyard" patio accommodates 503 over 3,000 square feet (104 customers on a separate deck, which is spread out over 2,000 square feet).
Look and feel : Capital Bar offers one of the most striking views of downtown Cowtown from its rooftop deck. The patio is dotted with cedar picnic tables amid aluminum-stainless steel regular and high-top tables. The tops of nearby palm trees only accentuate the deck's tropical feel.
Outside eats: Order in from such restaurants as Sushi Axiom (beef asparagus roll $8); Perrotti's Pizza (pizza and wings special $18.99); and Rocco's Wood Fired Pizza (lasagna al forno $8.99, Marguerita pizza $11.99).
Special feature : The freshly installed patio has a large stage for live bands.
Basics : Open 2 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. 3017 Morton St., Fort Worth. 817-820-0049; www.capital-bar.com
Opened : October 2008
Tale of the tape : The patio, which measures 60 feet by 50 feet, accommodates 120 (plus an additional 100 on a side patio that is often covered).
Look and feel : The inside-outside bar spills onto the sprawling patio, which is raised, like a stage, to show off its often party-hearty clientele. Big shade trees offer a thick canopy over much of the space. And several strategically placed columns hold a high-tech mister system. Dotted throughout the patio are pine planters filled with azaleas and hibiscus.
Outside eats : Super Bowl nachos ($6.99); boneless wings ($6.99); Southwestern chicken salad ($7.99).
Special feature : The kinetic, sports-bar atmosphere extends to the patio, as 16 high-def TVs are suspended from columns and outdoor partitions. Occasionally, BoomerJack's will convert one of its patio corners into a stage area and host small live-music combos.
Basics : Open 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. 2300 W. Airport Freeway, Suite 222, Bedford. 817-267-0267; www.boomerjacks.com
Opened : December 2009
Tale of the tape : Patio accommodates 70 over 2,300 square feet.
Look and feel : Jakes can alternate which side-wall tarps it opens or closes in order to regulate how open-air the patio is. Magnolia trees line one wall and also boast the patio's signature water feature: a miniature waterfall. Four plasma-screen TVs are on hand.
Outside eats : Mozzarella cheese wedges ($3.95); chicken tenders ($4.25); grilled chicken Caesar salad ($5.95).
Special feature : A big projection screen can be lowered for important sporting events. Live music on Fridays and Saturday nights.
Basics : Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. 6333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Suite 240, Fort Worth. 817-737-5253; www.jakesburgers.net
Opened: March 2009
Tale of the tape : Patio accommodates 100 over 4,000 square feet.
Look and feel : With a billiards table and an outdoor bowling lane, Splitsville's patio immediately establishes itself as unique. Bordered by a silver grill railing that positively screams '60s retro, the patio's numerous low-rise tables are surrounded by luxurious bucket seats done in royal red vinyl. They alternate with a series of high-top tables that offer a better view of the patio's two high-def TVs.
Outside eats : Three pepper calamari ($9); steak fajita salad ($11); black 'n bleu chicken slider ($8); hot 'n spicy pizza ($12); filet mignon ($19).
Special feature : This patio contains a historic first: unofficially, the country's only outdoor regulation bowling lane. Splitsville's recently started patio special: 6-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, and only on the patio, specialty drinks all normally $5 are discounted to $3. There is also live music Friday and Saturday nights.
Basics: Open 4-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; noon-2 a.m. Saturday; noon-11 p.m. Sunday. 401 Curtis Mathes Way, Arlington Highlands, Arlington. 817-465-2695; www.splitsvillelanes.com
Opened: November 2008
Tale of the tape: Patio "terrace" accommodates 30 over 600 square feet.
Look and feel: Sofas and chairs face each other, creating little social nooks, separated by sleek, glass-topped tables. Separating the terrace-patio from the hustle and bustle of pedestrians is a gleaming stainless-steel rail and a series of planters filled with horsetail reeds.
Outside eats: Berkshire baby back ribs ($13); microbrew onion rings ($6); chorizo stuffed dates ($8).
Special feature: The patio's little enclave offers some of the best urban people-watching possibilities up and down the bustling sidewalks of Fort Worth's Main Street.
Basics: Open 4-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-midnight Friday; 5:30 p.m.-midnight Saturday (closed Sunday). 777 Main St. Fort Worth. 817-877-3388; www.gracefortworth.com
Opened: January 2010
Tale of the tape: Patio accommodates 60 over 1,500 square feet.
Look and feel: Brick from the downtown sidewalk becomes the floor for this outdoor dining area. Gently squeezed into a narrow lane between two buildings, the space's 11-foot-span parasols ensure it is almost always bathed in shade.
Outside eats : Breakfast: biscuits and gravy ($7.55), Lone Star omelet ($9.95); lunch: bacon-wrapped, deep-fried deviled eggs ($8.95), fried catfish basket ($9.95); dinner: meatloaf sliders ($8.95), smothered pork porterhouse ($15.95).
Special feature : The patio has food service available till 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Basics : Open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. 305 Main St., Fort Worth. 817-332-9555; www.thecowtowndiner.com
Andrew Marton is a Star-Telegram senior arts writer, 817-390-7679