Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lively Streets 2 - Foodservice Al Fresco

The rains are beginning to thin out ... the clouds are fewer ... and the days are growing both sunnier and crisp. A great combination for outdoor dining or just coffee-and. I'd guess we have a good month to enjoy our food al fresco up here in the mountains.

The outdoor creekside dining offered by El Gato Azul is delightful. For years, a non-food business occupied what I always envisioned as a prime restaurant location; it seemed a pity that the neat little yard next to Granite Creek was not used for pleasure.

Streetside food -- even a simple ice cream cone -- helps keep streets lively and thus safer and more entertaining. There's nothing like watching the passing parade of pedestrians. It's one of the secrets of Continental European charm; it surely has taken a long time to become fixture in our semi-Puritan world.

But then we're a offshoot of the English culture, which was never big on sidewalk cafes. Besides, American city fathers are more inclined to give space to autos than to walkways.

Today, even our local Thai take-out over on Goodwin at the Park Plaza has added a couple of tables and chairs to keep customers happy.

You can enjoy your coffee and a paper up the hill on Gurley at the Apple Pan or over on Cortez Street (below).

Maybe the anti-smoking crusade is part of the reason for the increasing popularity of outside tables and chairs. For example, this cast-cement table at the title company at Gurley and Grove is a hang-out for smokers as well as for brown-baggers.

Outdoor seating seems almost always to be a winner -- except at this setting on Montezuma. Hugo's customers overwhelmingly prefer the picnic tables out back. But it's still outdoors!


catalyst said...

Back in '85, on a month-long vacation in Europe, I enjoyed sitting at a streetside table watching the pedestrians going by . . . at midnight! Those Italians (and Spanish) like late nights.

Granny J said...

Even in much of communist Eastern Europe, the streetside cafe or outdoor garden table was common when I visited. Not in the colder climates, tho.

Lane said...

It always sounds like such a good idea, eating outdoors, especially in California, it sounded good...but I can't seem to manage cutlery and nature very well at the same time. Or maybe it is the lighter than air paper napkins... I don't know, maybe I'm just a wimp.

It STILL looks like a good idea.

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