Outdoor Dining with Garden Appeal

By: Elena Acoba

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February 3, 2016

Nourish your senses and your hunger at these 13 Arizona eateries tucked in garden settings.

About the author

Elena Acoba

Elena Acoba

Since moving to Tucson in 1988, freelance writer Elena Acoba has enjoyed traveling to the four corners of Arizona. Her favorites spots in her adopted state: the natural wonders and the rich historical sights.

Whether you like picnicking in an orchard, snacking among desert cactus or dining alongside a riot of colorful flowers, you can find the perfect setting for alfresco dining in Arizona. Discover your secret garden to savor outstanding food in beautiful surroundings.

Public Gardens

Two restaurants at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix set you near spectacular exhibits of saguaros, yuccas, agaves, palo verde trees and other iconic desert greenery. The patio at Gertrude’s presents fine American cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. The Ullman Terrace allows for casual eating at the Patio Café during a visit to the garden. 

Hummingbirds and butterflies also catch a meal by the Garden Bistro where the Tohono Chul gardens in Tucson have planted a hummingbird garden. Enjoy breakfast, Sunday brunch or lunch – try the house specialty, prickly pear lemonade – under the shade of palo verde trees or patio umbrellas.

During your visit to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, take a break at Café Botanica, where the gardens contribute to the ingredients used in the light fare. Nosh on soup and salads on the patio that’s set among desert-plant exhibits. In the spring, aloes are in full bloom, as well as the desert wildflowers that surround the patio. 


Snag a picnic table in the 100-tree olive grove at Queen Creek Olive Mill to savor an Italian-inspired breakfast, lunch or dinner made with the mill’s
homegrown olive oil. The trees’ tiny white flowers open in late April, preparing to bear fruit by May.

Mesquite trees provide the shade and organic gardens provide the views for enjoying hearty breakfasts and brunches at the Morning Glory Café. It’s one of three eateries at The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, which focuses on the farm-to-table experience. Pack a picnic from the offerings of The Farm Kitchen for a meal under shady pecan trees. Elegant dinner offerings at Quiessence are served alfresco, surrounded by colorful flowers.

Admittedly, the most popular outdoor deck at Page Spring Cellars & Vineyards in Cornville overlooks the naturally flowing Oak Creek. But the other patio provides vistas of eight acres of vineyards. Take in the hilly views while ordering bistro-style fare crafted specifically to pair with the vintner’s wines.


The owners of BeDillion’s bought a cactus garden with 85 species and built a restaurant next to it. The Casa Grande eatery gets rave reviews for its eclectic menu, which features everything from salads and burgers to steaks and seafood. The elevated patio gives you a good look at the private cactus collection with strange-looking specimens from around the world.

A riot of vines make the patio at Josephine’s in Flagstaff a cozy gathering spot for sampling fine modern American cuisine. Much of the landscape was around long before the 1911 Craftsman bungalow was a restaurant. The Virginia creeper vine blooms purple flowers in the spring. Also in view is the herb garden with its aromatic rosemary, thyme and mint.

Agritopia in Gilbert is a community centered on urban agriculture. The Coffee Shop is smack in the middle, dishing up homemade breakfast and lunch, creative coffee drinks and heavenly cupcakes. Relax on the tree-shaded patio, scented by rose bushes and grape vines.

Dine outdoors in the relaxing hideaway that is The Garden Cafe in Yuma. The grounds were once owned by a prominent 19th-century family. Colorful flowering bushes and vines and sweet-scented lemon trees surround the patio, while residents of the aviary provide chirpy songs. Family recipes fill the breakfast, lunch and sweets menu. 

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