How to Create a Restaurant Patio Vibe in Your Backyard

Fiesta table spread

Turn your patio, deck, or any outdoor space into a private restaurant escape with a little atmosphere and an easy menu. Here’s a few tips to help you create your own perfect patio restaurant at home.

Set a Theme

Are you planning to make pasta? Go for an Italian bistro with a simple white tablecloth, bread and olive oil on the table, and plenty of candlelight.

Feeling like barbecue? Gather around the patio picnic table, lay down some newspapers, and put out plenty of sauces for sampling. Give everyone a kitschy bib to wear and, if you have a fire pit, get a fire going to create a smokehouse vibe.

@FourSeasonsofAutumn gets restaurant vibes from homemade pizza and nachos. "They’re shareable, delicious, and just plain amazing."

Add a Handmade Menu

You don’t need to make anything fancy. You could even turn the menu design into an art project for the kids. It’s a nice touch that gets everyone a bit more involved at the table. And your menu becomes a little memento of your special restaurant dinner at home together.

Create Ambiance

What sets restaurant dining apart from most weekday meals, aside from not having to do the dishes, is the purposeful mood they create. Luckily, this is easy to do on a budget. String up patio lights, light a few candles, put out a vase of flowers, set the table in advance—another great job for the kiddos—and have water glasses on the table with a pitcher for refills.

Beautiful Outdoor Table
@cookingwjulie creates bright, summery ambiance with colorful foods, big, cheerful flowers, and a playful tablecloth.

Make a Playlist

Think about your theme and plan your music accordingly. Or ask everyone in the family to add a song or two to the restaurant playlist.

Make a "Reservation" in Advance

Rather than everyone grabbing a seat as soon as the food is ready, set a time in advance for everyone to be seated, even if the meal isn’t quite finished. This might be harder for families, especially with young kids, than for couples, but having a fixed “reservation” makes your meal feel more like an event. Arriving early to the table also gives everyone a chance to enjoy each other’s company before eating.

Mix a Signature Drink

Give your mixology skills a spin and add a special cocktail or mocktail on the menu.

Cheers! Mixed drinks
@baranbakery added ice cream and garnish to her summer cocktail. You can’t go wrong with ice cream!

51 Responses to How to Create a Restaurant Patio Vibe in Your Backyard

  1. Machelle dunnagan August 4, 2016 at 10:31 am #

    Love these ideas, great tips.

    • Dana Wilson June 14, 2020 at 6:39 pm #

      I’m going to try this one day this week,if the weather permits

  2. Carol Wolske June 12, 2020 at 4:12 pm #

    Time to get back to planning and executing a social experience instead of doing meals on the fly! Lot’s of great ideas here!

    • Terry July 9, 2020 at 2:56 pm #

      Planning this for Saturday with crabs as the featured item, but lots of fillers because, really, who can get full on just crabs…let the feast begin!

  3. Lori A Burns June 12, 2020 at 4:45 pm #

    Love love love these ideas..

  4. Angela Atkins June 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm #

    Those are nice ideas. Especially getting all involved

  5. Debrah Stafford June 12, 2020 at 4:56 pm #

    What an awesome idea!

  6. Jessica Reynolds June 12, 2020 at 5:08 pm #

    enjoyed reading this!

  7. Donna Hansen June 12, 2020 at 5:20 pm #

    What a fun enjoyable idea, love it.

  8. Cindy GOLDBERG June 12, 2020 at 5:25 pm #


  9. Liz A June 12, 2020 at 5:34 pm #

    I’m working on doing my patio area using white lights and draping off a section for more privacy from neighbors. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Thanks for your suggestions!

  10. April Montgomery June 12, 2020 at 5:36 pm #

    Love this!!

  11. Gloria Lien June 12, 2020 at 5:36 pm #

    Love the idea of sitting down early, for a few minutes, while dinner finishes. Also having something special to drink
    adds specialness, without the hefty price.

    • Nina July 9, 2020 at 11:31 am #

      Thanka for sending this. Great ideas

  12. Susan June 12, 2020 at 5:44 pm #

    Louise is always giving us great ideas through all the seasons! Plus weddings, bridal & baby showers. We love pampered chef & the ideas she gives with new products!

  13. Mary Ryan June 12, 2020 at 5:51 pm #

    Good idea i would have my firepit going and have a bottle of wine with Shiscobob on the fire

  14. Donna June 12, 2020 at 6:05 pm #

    Nice! I love the thoughtful and festive ideas. Everyone appreciates a little extra effort!

  15. ANNETTA June 12, 2020 at 6:06 pm #

    Loved these ideas
    Got me thinking specials!!

  16. Yolanda Alusha June 12, 2020 at 6:21 pm #

    Good ideas I will keep He’s in mine thank you

  17. MarySpengler June 12, 2020 at 6:30 pm #

    Great ideas.

  18. Marsha Huertas June 12, 2020 at 6:40 pm #

    Great tips. Thanks

  19. Joyce Evans June 12, 2020 at 6:51 pm #

    Those were awesome ideas. I will be trying a few of those in the next few weeks. Thank you for the tips.

  20. Norene Brock June 12, 2020 at 7:05 pm #

    This looks like so much fun

  21. Kathy June 12, 2020 at 7:10 pm #

    Fun ideas!

  22. Lisa Massa June 12, 2020 at 7:52 pm #

    Love this!! Thank you😊

  23. Trish mullins June 12, 2020 at 8:25 pm #

    Great idea.

  24. Christine Scheutzow June 12, 2020 at 8:33 pm #

    Cute. Love these ideas. Perfect with grown children too. Great way to catch up.

  25. Joan Stewart June 12, 2020 at 9:13 pm #

    Sounds like a lot of fun!

  26. Tammy Renee Poquette June 12, 2020 at 9:18 pm #

    Oh my goodness!! Perfect for the summer around the patio!!!

  27. Cecilia June 12, 2020 at 9:43 pm #

    Thank you!
    Fun, doable ideas!!

  28. Lisa Nazzaro June 12, 2020 at 10:09 pm #

    I am going to try these out as soon as my backyard is finished. You’re invited!!!

  29. Tree June 12, 2020 at 10:30 pm #

    Thank you for the email suggestions, I’m definitely going to try one of these very soon and will definitely send pictures.

  30. Tina Schroeder June 13, 2020 at 5:14 am #

    Great idea

  31. Sue Vansuch June 13, 2020 at 6:02 am #

    This was very good! I loved the suggestions!

  32. Greta Fellenz June 13, 2020 at 8:47 am #

    Thank you kindly for sharing your Beautiful Thoughts to make things Simple and Easy

  33. Michelle Pink June 13, 2020 at 10:12 am #

    Fantastic fun! I especially love the Italian bistro. Mexican taco night with chips and salsa already at the table would be fun. An Asian restaurant. Oh the ideas!

  34. Marilyn Canna June 13, 2020 at 12:22 pm #

    I want that pizza recipe!

    Hey, and what about zooming dinner together with the neighbors?

  35. Oralia Durazo June 13, 2020 at 2:18 pm #

    Great idea for celebrating your family and meal times. I love the idea of the playlist and personalized menus.

  36. Patricia Dale June 13, 2020 at 3:17 pm #

    Great ideas! Very attractive looking environment. Great for outdoor fun.

  37. Joan Minarik June 13, 2020 at 6:06 pm #

    Amazing. Such great ideas

  38. Debra Maxwell June 13, 2020 at 8:28 pm #

    A fun way for family and friends to share a meal outside when the weather is nice.

    • TracyJoW August 7, 2020 at 12:30 am #

      What fun ideas, thank you!

  39. Janet Rennells June 14, 2020 at 7:28 pm #

    This is a great idea!

  40. Ronnie June 15, 2020 at 11:11 am #

    Excellent idea

  41. Joyce Gerstenlauer July 7, 2020 at 2:26 pm #

    I love all of these creative ideas!

  42. Michele R Smith July 9, 2020 at 10:55 am #

    What all is on that pizza?? It looks DELICIOUS!!

  43. Janine July 11, 2020 at 9:27 am #

    Bottle of wine on ice for the Italian Bistro. Salute!

  44. Lora J Coats August 14, 2020 at 11:39 am #

    Such fun ideas@

  45. BethAnn August 24, 2020 at 10:40 pm #

    Together Again-Remembering favorite memories and foods with strawberry lemonade in the quick mix pitcher.

  46. Joanna August 26, 2020 at 7:22 am #

    I love charcuterie boards! I find them so mesmerizing and beautiful! It’s amazing how a simple design can turn a deli meat sandwich into a beautiful plate on the table for a buffet. Personally I prefer the classic crusty bread meats cheeses olives and dipping sauces grapes and other fruits or veggies as decor to the board.

  47. Jamie Foushee August 26, 2021 at 3:19 pm #

    Great tips!

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