With only a few short months as Wisconsin's summer, it seems that Milwaukee restaurants take FULL advantage of that warm weather, and most restaurants offer some sort of outdoor dining, be it a full-blown patio, or just a few tables outside on the sidewalks. 

Many people head to the river for some of the biggest and best patios.  Starting on the north end of the city - you have the long time favorite Harp Irish Pub.  Their riverside deck, with pub tables and picnic tables, has long been a favorite of locals.  Known for great burgers and pub fare, as well as a mean bloody mary, you can often find live music on this popular deck.  Get there early as it can get crowded. I once spent an afternoon dining on the deck of the Harp in February, when the unusual weather warmed the deck up to a pleasant 72 degrees!

Just south of the Harp, across the river, is Yaffa Lounge, offering mediterranean food in a trendy setting.  Their outdoor patio includes a bar.  Great spot for Happy Hour, where you can sample one of their delicious $5.00 martinis (try the pomegranite).

Heading across the street you will find the chain restaurant, Rock Bottom Brewery.  Huge outdoor patio with bar - a good spot for boaters. This chain restaurant has consistent service and food, and a great Happy Hour.

Skipping back across the river, you can pretend you're across the pond instead, at the British themed John Hawk's.  A beautiful patio, you can eat pub fare surrounded by flowers, while watching the boaters go by.  Live music on weekends.

Working your way down the new stretches of the riverwalk you will come aross the Milwaukee Ale House, an original brewpub and Water Buffalo a new casual american restaurant and bar.  Both built in spacious loft style, these sprawling restaurants have both an upper and lower patio.  Another popular stop for boaters.

If you can find your way by boat or by car to the seafood restaurant  Riptide, you will find yourself on yet another "riverside" patio.  Built behind the Marcus Amphitheater at the Summerfest grounds, this casual restaurant features great appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and crabs.  It may take them some time to get their legs; the menu seems a bit confused.  This diner likes to stick to the appetizer menu as entrees, especially the steamed shrimp - some of the best I've had.

Walking throughout the downtown area and neighborhoods, you don't have to go far to find more outdoor dining options, from upscale restaurants such as Bacchus and Coast, to Greek gyro joints such as Apollo on Brady. 

The North avenue area provides sidewalk cafes at Twisted Fork, Hooligan's, and a hidden patio at Pizza Man, as well as many others. 

This diner has a favorite just a bit West of here, in what is called Riverwest.  The Tracks bar and grill has a wonderful outdoor patio complete with gas bonfire.  Fish fries here are excellent, and can be had Wednesday and Fridays - get the fish and shrimp basket. Also known for great burgers, the best nachos in town, a wonderful bloody Mary bar, and home to sand volleyball every night of the week.

Near the Brady street area is a patio consistenty voted as one of the area's best - stop in Trocadero for lunch or breakfast on their gorgeous, multi-leveled patio complete with center stage fountain, outdoor ceiling fans, and tiki torches.  Brady Street offers sidewalk dining at most restaurants, including the popular Hi-Hat for trendy small plate food and weekend brunch, and the colorful Mexican Cempazuchi.

The East side also offers Irish food on the sidewalk at the County Clare.  Try the popular root soup, and my favorite, meatloaf or Shepherd's pie.  Just around the corner,  fun and funky The Knick offers its huge menu, with great apps, salads, and burgers.  They also mix a mean martini.  Also open for breakfast.

Heading south into Walker's Point, the popular Slim's offers weekly specials including AUCE crablegs, peel n eat shrimp, and steak specials. Consistently good food and friendly staff, their outdoor trackside patio is a fun spot to relax with pints of Harp or Guinness.

Heading a few blocks West to "little Mexico", fifth street is home to the long popular La Fuente and La Perla restaurants.  While both offer less than authentic Mexican fare, the prices are good and the food fast.  Margaritas are the top seller here.  La Fuente has expanded ten-fold over the years, and their huge outdoor tiled patio, complete with fountain and bar, fills up fast.  La Perla is currently (summer of 2006) adding a rooftop patio in addition to their outdoor patio.  If you find yourself at La Perla, slow down after two red, white and blue margaritas, and be sure to ride the pepper.

Back east, Steny's is home to wings, bloody mary's, and bikers, with their popular bike night.  Outdoor beer graden.

Heading further south in Bayview, Palomino's tiny patio fills up quick for "southern-fried food".  Tiny patios can also be found at Annona Bistro, Svens European cafe, for great salads and hot sandwiches, as well as free internet, and the Italian restaurant Tenuta's, with sidewalk dining.

This diner's Bayview favorite is Taqueria Azteca.  The owner has built an enclosed patio that makes you feel south of the border.  Their food is a far cry from tacos and burritos, be sure to order off the specials board, and try the flourless chocolate cake made with chile pepper.

When you're stuffed to the gills, be sure to stop at Paddy's Pub, an Irish Pub near North Avenue.  Definitely THEE most gorgeous patio in all of Milwauke, the friendly owners keep adding on.  You can't get food here (except those snacks on the bar), but the Guinness will keep you full.