WE WELCOME the long, sultry nights of summer and what a wonderful time to enjoy dining alfresco! Take the opportunity to meet up with family and friends to try out that new restaurant you’ve been meaning to visit or enjoy old favorites. Many Orange County restaurants offer outdoor seating, so come out and leave the cooking to them!

In Chapel Hill, plan to head over to Carolina Brewery for their Local Burger made with  two smash burgers from Lily Den farms, Chapel Hill Creamery local cheese on a Pittsboro Bread Shop bun and one of their award winning micro-brews or Kipos for a traditional Greek meal – you’ve got to check out their menu.

The Carolina Brewery on Chapel Hill's West Franklin Street

What about the outdoor picnic tables at Heavenly Buffaloes for boneless breaded nuggets of chicken with their fancy Peri Peri sauce and a side of waffle fries or how about the famous BLT at Merritt’s, you’ll be saying, make it a triple please -either one you can’t go wrong!

Merritt's outdoor dining

Enjoy the outdoors at the Weathervane and peruse their brunch menu. Crook’s Corner has a terrific area to enjoy their famous shrimp and grits. Come out for the Sean’s Bacon Cheddarburger and the Crispy or Sweet Potato Fries, yum! at Al’s Burger Shack or hot dogs at Sup Dogs because everyone knows they just taste better when it feels like a picnic!

In Carrboro, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a cup of fresh roasted coffee sourced directly from farms such as La Providencia in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala outside at Open Eye Café?

Elmo’s Diner has an outdoor area that you can sit out in almost all year. Enjoy a glass of wine and a meal at Glasshalfull in their outdoor space.

Elmos and Glass Halfull outdoor dining

Head north to Hillsborough and order the BBQ plate at Hillsborough BBQ where the smoky flavor hits your nose before it hits your appetite.  If pizza is on your mind go to Radius Pizzeria to eat your Pesto Passion pie under the sky.

Hillsborough and Radius Pizzeria Outdoors

If you are on Churton Street you’ve got choices to make: Antonia’s, Wooden Nickel or James Pharmacy – you can’t go wrong with any of them! When you are ready to wrap up dinner with a dessert, start thinking of Carolina Crunch, Ginger Lemonade (only available during the summer!) or how about Maple Bacon because – you know, it has bacon! And make it Maple View Ice Cream! It’s worth the drive out to the country to enjoy your ice cream out on the huge front porch in one of the rocking chairs.

Mapleview Ice Cream & Country Store