Last night I dreamed about restaurant patios
For a city that has long dreary winters, Portland has an amazing number of Outdoor Dining Areas. Our original list stretched to over 300 entries, but the information was pretty basic – “tables along the sidewalk”, “patio”. The list was so long, adding more information would have made it unwieldy. So, last winter we started a new project: an easy to search list, where a detailed information page and photo of the outdoor area for each restaurant is one click away.
This was not an easy project. My friends are tired of me yelling, “Stop! There’s a patio” wherever we go. Now I’m tired of them yelling the same thing when I’m driving. They have so much enthusiasm for the project, that a single sad table in a parking lot results in a deluge of photos. The best part is we have found some amazing patios we didn’t even know existed. I tracked one down the other day just from hearing the noise of people talking, held my camera above the fence, and got a reasonable enough photo of everything to add it to the database. One was taken through a knothole, my attempt at being artistic, which was sadly out of focus.
It turns out, that people don’t like having their picture taken while dining out. Though we blur faces on the images we take, we’ve gotten lots of glares. A couple of times I couldn’t help but wonder if people though we were some sort of PI gathering proof of their affair. Gathering all the associated information has also been a bit of a trial; you may find this a shock, but restaurants don’t generally answer email from their contact forms and social media.
Now there are over 300 restaurants in the new database – closing in on 400, as I’ve got another big batch as soon as I get the rest of the photos processed.
Instead of a long list, you can search the outdoor dining list by neighborhood or cuisine and results will magically appear below. You can even narrow down your list by clicking boxes such as “Italian restaurant open on Sunday which has a patio with shady areas, allows minors, and is wheelchair accessible”. You will currently get six results from that, all with photos. There are 15 different terms you can search by. If you have suggestions, drop me a note.
A few notes: Thank you to the restaurants and PR people who have been very helpful. It has made a big difference. If we missed you, fill out the easy form here. We are constantly adding more outdoor dining areas – the goal is ten a week until we hit 400 (and all the big ones). Many of the new patios were not on the old list. If the area consisted of a few dirty little tables in a parking lot, or a few seats along the sidewalk, it has probably been eliminated. Though we have done our best to provide accurate information, I’m sure there are a few errors, and I have someone going through and calling to fact check every location. Feel free to leave a comment below any listing with your own opinion, or a note. I rarely make comments about the quality of the food, that’s up to you to decide. However, if you read between the lines…
Without further ado, you’ll find the new search here.
For those who prefer the old, single page list, here is a link on the page.
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