Al fresco a fantastic way to dine during warmer weather

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Sometimes the smell of fresh air trumps even the most fabulously fragrant of dining rooms. As the weather warms up, area eateries are welcoming patrons to take their pick between indoor and outdoor seating. “Outside dining is always fun,” said Jim Bril, owner of Downtown Auburn’s Monkey Cat Restaurant. “I think it lends itself to a more casual and not so much of a white-tablecloth environment.” Monkey Cat features an outdoor palapa patio, which gives off a tropical vibe. Bril opens the back bar on Fridays and Saturdays and offers a special appetizer menu, making it even easier to head outside. Pacific Gas and Electric Company employees Steve Pettigrew, Tony Twiddy, Nancy Avilla and John James put on their shades and headed over to Pasquale T’s for lunch Tuesday. The foursome admitted to being quite happy lunching on the patio, which offers diners a clear view of High Street and Lincoln Way in Downtown Auburn. “I will always choose to be outside instead of inside,” Avilla said. Pettigrew said there are a couple reasons why patio dining is an appetizing option. “Maybe it’s because most of our lives we’re forced to eat inside,” Pettigrew said. “It’s neat too, you still feel connected to what’s going on.” Twiddy agreed. “If you have to spend your entire day inside, you want to get out when you can,” he said. “It’s kind of like a treat.” Kimberley Worley, owner of the recently relocated restaurant, said the patio has been a well-received feature. “It’s nice to be able to offer options to people,” she said. “I think people just love the fresh air and I think they feel like a part of what’s happening — they can see and be seen by friends and neighbors.” Down the hill in Granite Bay, Michael and Molly (Hawks) Fagnoni are reaping the benefits of the U-shaped patio that hugs the back of their place, Hawks Restaurant. “As you drive through Roseville, patios tend to be in the front (of restaurants) so you’re sitting curbside,” Molly Fagnoni said Tuesday. Hawks’ patio features a fire and water sculpture, couches, chairs and tables. “It’s nice out there because you lose the noise from the street,” Fagnoni said. “It’s just quiet and tranquil out there.” Whether seeking tranquility or just a nice, al fresco experience, patio dining can’t be beat. “I think it’s a celebration of the season,” Fagnoni said. “It’s nice to get a change of atmosphere — you can sit inside anytime.” Tell us about your favorite foothill spots for outdoor dining by posting a comment to this story. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at