SUMMER MEANS AL FRESCO DINING

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The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. And that means it’s the perfect time of year for dining al fresco! Nothing beats enjoying some fresh air and sunshine along with a delicious meal.

Luckily for residents of central NJ, our area is rich with great places to eat and drink outdoors. Just in time for the start of summer, here’s our list of great outdoor dining options in Greater Princeton:

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Despaña Restaurant & Tapas Café – Princeton

Billed as “the best of Spain in NJ,” this Tapas and small plates bistro serves fare that’s perfect for sharing. For diners looking for a quick trip to the Old World without the airline ticket, Despaña offers an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy hot Flamenco music and cool Sangria.

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Witherspoon Grill – Princeton

This classic American steakhouse has become a destination for carnivorous Princetonians. In addition to a vibrant beer and cocktail bar, the Witherspoon Grill features an expansive patio right in the center of downtown Princeton. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a hearty meal and take in the sights and sounds of the town during the summer months.

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Mediterra – Princeton

This Princeton gem specializes in Mediterranean flavors. Their signature dish – the Spanish paella – is a generous portion best enjoyed with company and washed down with a glass of one of their many Spanish wines. Fans of al fresco dining will delight in savoring their meal next to Mediterra’s beautiful outdoor fountain – you might close your eyes and think you’ve been transported to Barcelona!

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Vidalia – Lawrenceville

At this “Kitchen with Passion” in Lawrenceville, Sicily-born chef Salvatore Scarlata prepares fresh recipes from his native land. His attention to detail and masterful command of flavors earned him a loyal following, along with rave reviews. This BYOB doesn’t charge a corkage fee (bonus!), and their canopied outdoor seating area, softly illuminated with strings of lights, offers diners whimsical escape.

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Nomad Pizza – Hopewell

This funky Hopewell pizzeria gets its name from its origins as a pizza truck, but its BYOB outpost in Hopewell is a now great place to stay put. Pies range from classic margherita to more adventurous interpretations, such as “Gorgonzola-pear” or shitake mushroom. Diners in their quirky yet refined outdoor area can see their historic 1949 REO Speedwagon pizza truck and take in their large garden of fresh herbs and arugula, which they use to season their food.

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The Boathouse – Lambertville

The Boathouse in Lambertville is a classic bar on the Delaware River. It’s cozy, but tipplers who can secure seating will delight in the establishment’s charming nautical décor, rustic ambiance and some of the best margaritas around. Their vine-covered patio is a model of vintage charm, and it can become quite lively with revelers during the warmer months.

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Lambertville Station – Lambertville

Another destination along the banks of the Delaware, the Lambertville Station is situated in an old train station (hence the name). This rustic inn and pub serves modern American fare and features an extensive wine list. Their outdoor dining area – complete with stunning views of the Delaware and New Hope, PA – makes it irresistible.

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Antimo’s Italian Kitchen – Hopewell

Antimo’s Italian Kitchen in Hopewell specializes in dishes from Italy’s southern regions. Called a trattoria and a pizzeria, guest can’t go wrong ordering either. Their monthly specials all feature handmade pasta, and they serve both thin crust and thicker crusted,“Brooklyn” style pizza. The atmosphere here is casual and their outdoor patio area is large enough to accommodate bigger parties. A great place to come with friends or the kids after a soccer game or a day at the pool.

Beyond great food made from fresh, seasonal ingredients, summer also offers a chance to explore your own backyard. We certainly find new places to love everyday! So we’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite local spots for al fresco dining?